Accepted Paper:

The grammar of intolerance: the cultural politics of human rights in transnational Eritrea  
Tricia Redeker-Hepner (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Paper long abstract:

In the mid-2000s, Eritreans in the global diaspora began engaging human rights discourse as a new model for socio-political relations in the shadow of political conflict and transnational state repression. Drawing on original ethnographic data, this paper explores the emergence of human rights discourse and its articulation with Eritrean transnational politics. I argue that while the current anthropological analysis of human rights as a cultural process has enormous interpretive and analytical utility, it falls short of accounting for how human rights may not transform power relations vis-à-vis nationalist logic. That is, human rights may become enmeshed in political struggles in ways that shift the "parole" of debate while leaving the underlying "langue" of political intolerance untouched. The cultural politics of human rights thus engages rights talk and praxis on some levels while leaving the grammar of intolerance intact. Are human rights simply politics in another tongue?

Panel W090
A regional crisis of global consequence: conflict and political imagination in the Horn of Africa and its diaspora