Cultures, Citizenship and Human Rights


28 November 2017
11:00 - 16:00
University College Roosevelt

Seminar on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity

Culture and human rights: discourse, dialogue or domination?



University College Roosevelt, Tuesday 28 November 2017, 11:00-16:00

Organizers: J. Friedman, B. Oomen, C. Sanchez, R. Vazquez

Raadzaal, Stadhuis, Lange Noordstraat 1, Middelburg


This seminar brings together state-of-the-art research by young researchers on the intersection between cultural diversity and human rights, seeking to relate the theme to wider contemporary socio-legal and normative theory from different disciplines. Many social scientists do not view culture as a given, but as implicit and explicit values, ideas, concepts, symbols and activities shared but also permanently negotiated within a group in order to strengthen coherence within that group. This can be visible in ideas and practices pertaining to the division between human beings and nature, the individual and the group, marriage and the family and the equality of forms of living together. Such ideas and practices can, and often do, stand uneasily with key human rights principles like “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”, as stated by the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In this seminar, researchers discuss issues such as: “How do cultural practices in today’s world relate to international human rights?”, “What, in processes of recognition, gets lost in translation?”. Human rights can not only be considered as law, but also as just one discourse amongst others, like discourses emphasizing of social justice or altruism. On the basis of specific case studies, scholars from different disciplines discuss relevant social-scientific and normative perspectives like vernacularization and pluri-universality. This seminar will thus be of interest to all students and researchers with an interest in either human rights or expressions of cultural diversity in today’s world.



11:00 – 12:30:

  • Welcome: Prof. Bert van den Brink
  • Introduction: Prof. Barbara Oomen
  • Keynote presentation: Prof. Ann Stewart
  • Naema Tahir, Arranged marriages of British Pakistani women
  • Niels Rijke, Struggles about and inside reformed schools: on cultural differences, human rights and appointment policies
  • David Ngira, Children’s Rights in Kenyan customary courts

Discussants: John Friedman, (tbc)


12:30-13:30: Lunch and continued discussions


13:30 – 16:00

  • Carolina Sanchez, Walking the roads of dignity and the rights of nature through Indigenous cosmologies: from the right to life to the right to exist?
  • Maurice Swirc, The influence of Dutch colonialism on human rights for minorities
  • Lisenne Delgado, Race, human rights education and art. 7 CERD in Curacao

Discussants: Rolando Vazquez, (tbc)


16:00   :           Closing, tea


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