Research Methods in Human Rights
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Research Methods in Human Rights

A Handbook

Edited by Bård A. Andreassen, Hans-Otto Sano and Siobhán McInerney-Lankford

Methodological discussion has largely been neglected in human rights research, with legal scholars in particular tending to address research methods and methodological reflection implicitly rather than explicitly. This book advances thinking on human rights methodology, offering instruction and guidance on the methodological options for human rights research.
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Chapter 7: The potential of ethnographic methods for human rights research

Sally Engle Merry


Human rights documentation frequently relies on reports of individual cases and situations. Although there is a tendency to dismiss such narratives as ‘anecdotal’ and unreliable, it is essential to examine local-level ideas, experiences and practices to assess the effects of human rights. This chapter discusses ways of paying attention to the use of human rights language, to practices of activism and network creation among advocates working on different issues, and to the conditions under which individuals adopt a sense of self that includes the entitlements and rights offered in the human rights system which provide such qualitative knowledge of human rights practice.

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