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Imaginal PoliticsImages Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary$
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Chiara Bottici

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157780

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157780.001.0001

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Imagining Human Rights

Imagining Human Rights

Gender, Race, and Class

(p.161) 9 Imagining Human Rights
Imaginal Politics

Chiara Bottici

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the transformation of the legal-rational grounds of legitimacy by disentangling the paradoxes of the contemporary triumph of human rights discourses. The paradox of human rights is that they are both a means for ideology and for utopia, for the preservation of the status quo and for its disintegration. In order to account for such a paradox, this chapter argues that we need to consider not just the power of the reasonable but also that of the imaginal. While most philosophical reflections on human rights look at them from the point of view of reason and the reasonable, the chapter shows how fruitful it can be to take the point of view of imagination and the imaginal. In particular, it explains how the imaginal enters the three major strategies of justifications of human rights, when we conceive them as “human,” as “rights,” and as “rational.” It also considers humanity in relation to gender, race, and class.

Keywords:   legitimacy, human rights, ideology, utopia, imaginal, imagination, humanity, gender, race, class

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