Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Human Rights and Care of Self

A new book by Alexandre Lefebvre, Human Rights and the Care of Self, takes an unusual 360 degree view of human rights that is both outward and inward facing.  

Here's the publisher's description: 

"When we think of human rights we assume that they are meant to protect people from serious social, legal, and political abuses and to advance global justice. In Human Rights and the Care of the Self Alexandre Lefebvre turns this assumption on its head, showing how the value of human rights also lies in enabling ethical practices of self-transformation. Drawing on Foucault's notion of "care of the self," Lefebvre turns to some of the most celebrated authors and activists in the history of human rights–such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Henri Bergson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles Malik–to discover a vision of human rights as a tool for individuals to work on, improve, and transform themselves for their own sake. This new perspective allows us to appreciate a crucial dimension of human rights, one that can help us to care for ourselves in light of pressing social and psychological problems, such as loneliness, fear, hatred, patriarchy, meaninglessness, boredom, and indignity."

Lefebvre's new book gives this issue a scholarly treatment, but three decades ago, American philanthropists Susan and Albert Wells intuitively recognized the importance of self care for social justice organizers and activists, and they created the Windcall Residencies to provide space for reflection and re-generation.  Hundreds of activists have taken Windcall breathers over the years.  More  information on this visionary program -- that puts the human right to self care into practice -- is available here.

[Editors' Note:  We are thrilled to report that the Human Rights at Home blog is this week's ABA Journal's Featured Blawg of the Week!"]

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