Imperialism and Human Rights: Colonial Discourses of Rights and Liberties in African History

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SUNY Press, Jan 3, 2008 - History - 242 pages
Looks at the language of rights used by diverse interest groups in British-colonized Nigeria.

In this seminal study, Bonny Ibhawoh investigates the links between European imperialism and human rights discourses in African history. Using British-colonized Nigeria as a case study, he examines how diverse interest groups within colonial society deployed the language of rights and liberties to serve varied socioeconomic and political ends. Ibhawoh challenges the linear progressivism that dominates human rights scholarship by arguing that, in the colonial African context, rights discourses were not simple monolithic or progressive narratives. They served both to insulate and legitimize power just as much as they facilitated transformative processes. Drawing extensively on archival material, this book shows how the language of rights, like that of “civilization” and “modernity,” became an important part of the discourses deployed to rationalize and legitimize empire.

Bonny Ibhawoh is Assistant Professor of History at McMaster University, Canada.
 

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Contents

1 The Subject of Rights and the Rights of Subjects
1
2 Right Liberties and the Imperial World Order
29
Law Rights and Justice
55
Land Rights Discourses
85
Social Rights Discourses
115
Political and Civil Rights Discourses
141
7 The Paradox of Rights Talk
173
Notes
181
Bibliography
207
Index
221
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About the author (2008)

Bonny Ibhawoh is Assistant Professor of History at McMaster University, Canada.

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