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CLAS Lecture Series: Between democracy and revolution: the emergence of human rights activism in Colombia (1974-1980)

April 21, 2017 -
12:30pm to 1:30pm
Bolivar House, 582 Alvarado Row

Free and Open to the Public | Lunch Served at Noon | No RSVP Necessary

Between democracy and revolution: the emergence of human rights activism in Colombia (1974-1980) with Tinker Visiting Professor Jorge González-Jácome

Recent intellectual histories about the emergence of human rights ideas in the 1970s stress how they became a plausible utopia when other idealistic projects failed. In these accounts, human rights replaced Socialist revolution and armed insurgency with a moral language that sought to transcend the dirty world of politics and the State. However, these narratives lose sight of some processes that took place in the Global South, where the dreams of Socialism and revolution were not fading away by the late 1970s. Just as human rights ideas started to take hold of legal and political imagination of thinkers and activists around the world, Colombia was one of those places where the hope of left wing revolution was still alive. The liveliness of idealistic projects in Colombia led to a particular reception of the human rights project. This talk addresses this reception of human rights and their interaction with ideals about revolution and democratization that were on the table in Colombia around the late 1970s. The talk will delve into the first human rights report published in Colombia in 1974, will assess the revolutionary environment of the country in 1977, and will ultimately focus in the emergence of self-labeled “human rights” organizations around 1979-1980. This path of reception ultimately shows how “human rights” emerged as a project with different (and perhaps conflictive) meanings.

Jorge González-Jácome is currently a Tinker Visiting Professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University. He is also a Professor at the School of Law of Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá) and was the head of the Legal Philosophy and Legal History Department at Universidad Javeriana between 2013 and 2016. He holds a Doctorate in Juridical Science (SJD) from Harvard Law School, a Master in Laws from Universidad de los Andes, and he is a Bachelor of Laws from Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá).

His areas of interest are legal history, comparative constitutional law, human rights, and law and humanities. The most representative publications revolving around these topics are: Estados de Excepción y Democracia Liberal en América del Sur (Bogotá: Editorial Universidad Javeriana 2015), Emergency Powers and the Feeling of Backwardness in Latin American State Formation in: 26 American University International Law Review 1073 (2011), and Derechos Humanos y Pensamiento de Izquierda en Colombia (1974-1978): una Relectura de “El Libro Negro de la Represión” in: 133 Vniversitas 105 (2016). He has also translated into Spanish several books and articles including: Samuel Moyn, La última utopía. Los derechos humanos en la historia (Bogotá: Editorial Universidad Javeriana 2016). He is currently writing a book on the intellectual history of human rights in Colombia between 1977 and 1991.

Event Sponsor: 
Center for Latin American Studies
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Contact Phone: 
(650) 725-0383