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Problematic Politics: is the notion of human rights imperialistic

12th November 2015

Problematic politics: is the notion of human rights imperialistic?

Dr Sharath Srinivasan (CGHR), Lucy Wake (Amnesty International), Prof. Stephen Hopgood (CCRI, SOAS), Dr Arath Sriprakash (Cambridge), Srishti Krishnamoorthy (Cambridge)

This discussion addresses questions such as: Are organisations such as Amnesty International and the United Nations, and human rights theory in general, inherently imperialistic because of the nature of their inception? Does the nature of their inception render their work illegitimate and/or harmful or is it irrelevant? Does the over-intellectualisation of human rights theory impede humanitarian efforts? Is ‘cultural relativism’ a form of racism? Do charities patronise the people they try to help?

Academics, students, legal minds and activists are invited to discuss these questions and the real-life implications that they have on work in the charitable and human rights sectors.


Dr Sharath Srinivasan directs the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR), and conducts research on the politics and ethics of external intervention in civil conflicts and the role of new information and communication technologies in political change.


Lucy Wake is the Government and Political Relations Manager for Amnesty International, whose role involves lobbying the UK government and Parliament on human rights issues, home and abroad. Lucy has also previously been a Board Member of the organisation, End Violence Against Women.

Professor Stephen Hopgood is the co-Director of the Centre for the International Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice (CCRJ) at SOAS and author of the ethnography, ‘Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International’.

Dr Arathi Sriprakash is a sociologist of education, globalisation, and international development at Cambridge, whose work includes global policy sociology, feminist postcolonial theory and the politics of knowledge in international development.

Srishti Krishnamoorthy is a PhD student in English at Newnham and high-class debater, whose research interests include gender and sexuality and Postcolonialism.


Co-hosted by Cambridge University Amnesty International, CGHR and Clare Politics


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