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Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive PoliticsStyles of Engagement among Grassroots Activists$
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Stephen Hart

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226318172

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226318196.001.0001

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Cultural Work in Amnesty International

Cultural Work in Amnesty International

(p.146) Chapter 6 Cultural Work in Amnesty International
Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics
University of Chicago Press

Within the context provided by the human rights tradition and the structure of Amnesty International, local human rights activists in the United States and other countries pursue the cause of individual liberty and dignity. In the course of this work, activists develop narratives, practices, and their own appropriations of the human rights tradition. They deal with the ambiguities in that tradition. They make decisions about what nature of constraints to impose on their discourse. They think about the balance of concern for private, political, and economic rights, which leads to the question of the extent to which various issues should be linked. They grapple with issues about relativism and how to ground human rights. This chapter focuses on this local cultural work with the story of one activist, a story that manifests recurring patterns in the personal narratives of Amnesty members. Then it examines, as cultural practices, the activities Amnesty members engage in and the events they organize. Finally, it considers the various kinds of discourse engaged in by local activists and the explanations they give for the constraints they adopt.

Keywords:   cultural work, Amnesty International, local human rights, individual liberty, human rights tradition, cultural practices

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