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Cultural relativism def
- the view that all beliefs, customs, and ethics are relative to the individual within his own social context
- argued there is no objective criteria for judging one culture above another
- all cultures are equal since no universal standard exists
- argue that culture can be obstacle for HR
- UDHR to promote workd peace but also universal rights independent of race, sex, language, religion
- intl treaty allowing intervention in cases of HR abuse
AAA statement on HR:
- promotes respect of cultural different
- BUT argues as individuals only exist as members of social groups individual freedom cannot be recognised
- "man is only free when he lives as his society defines freedom"
AAA critque on UDHR:
- reflects Euro-American values and not humanity as a whole
- Western values despire advocating there is no place for judgement within culture - ironic!
- a form of imperialsim
- HR cannot be dictated on the rights of a single culture
- needs tolerance of difference along w/ values of freedom and choice
response to AAA statement
- Karen Engles: "shameful as it asserted tolerance without limits"
- describes relativism as incompatible with making moral judgements about societies
response to AAA statement - Scheper-Hughes
- criticises "moral relativism" of anthro
- tolerance for gross injustices under the name of culture
- calls for a "militant anthropology": obligation to assist in the struggles of people we study
"Demonisation of Culture"
- argues critiques of relativism are based on outdated anthro ideas about "culture"
- importance of cultural difference is misunderstood when culture is thought of as bounded static
- meaning that by being relative we must defend every practise and belief
- leads people to see culture as unchanging with unquestioned authority eg religion
- fluid, contested, hybradised, dynamic
- fluid boundaries and consists of habits and practices
- not just values and beliefs - diverse views
- not uniform
- ALWAYS connected to power relations
"culturalisation" of problems
- single instances of abuse are attributed to another's "culture!
- assumptions supported by stereotypes
- eg gang rape in Afganistan - women seen as victims of "traditional values" and oppression blamed on local culture
- BUT ignores wider political and economic factors
- "Following the Movement of a Pendulum"
- argues that universalism and relativism cannot be considered independently of each other
- need to accomodate each other to be sustainable
universalism as arrogance:
- when one is convinced of the righteousness of HR excludes the experience of "the other"
- what one perceives as natural is not to another
- what is natural is often nothing more than what is mainstream
relativism as indifference
- tends to assume people are more determined by their culture than they actually are
- fails to take into account historical change
- boundries are not fixed
Dembour - FGM
- justifications for GFM fail to stand up to Western rationality
- seen as maintaining subordination of women
- but important part of identity/personhood
- makes "women a woman"
France - overview
- conservative policies than emphasise integration (assimilation) rather than recognition towards difference
- FGM illegal
French prosecution argument
- force of custom must give way before law
- France has a duty to protect its children
- BUT FGM also recognised as a custom that should be valued
- the act is criminal but the intention is not
- act of love
- imprisonment would punish the victim further
French FGM result
result: jurors pass suspended sentences to FGM practitioners
- reflecting the adoption of midway psoition between universalism and relativism
- reveals the enforcement of law but also recognition of cultural difference
- Hr shouldn't be seen as opposed to cultural difference but rather should incorporate it
- HR is just one vision of how to achieve human dignity or envisage human order
- "intermediary" space should be created where universalism and relativism can be combined in HR discourse
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