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The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2008
Editor: Wes Williams

This book addresses the relationship between human rights and religion. The original blurb for the Oxford Amnesty Lectures of 2008 invited speakers and audiences to ponder arguments for the God-given source of human rights. The book explains how biblical inspiration (both Old and New Testament) fuelled the anti-slavery protests and later the civil rights movement in the United States. It develops the particular relevance, for arguments over human rights within Islam, of the writings of the medieval philosopher Muhammad al-Ghazali who justified an openness towards constructive engagement with other traditions. The book shows where the philosophical worldviews that inform the religion of Islam and the rights discourse may be distant from each other. It illustrates the challenge of taking the real world of human practice seriously while avoiding simplistic arguments for pluralism or relativism. The book focuses on Simon Schama's evocation of the religious fervour which helped feed the long struggles for liberation among American slave communities. It discusses the understanding of human rights in the Roman Catholic tradition. The book also shows that the Christian experience of Pentecost and what it means to learn to speak as well as understand another's language, is a continuing resource God has given the church to sustain the ability to suffer as well as respond to those who suffer for the long haul. The book argues that moral progress consists in the universalisation of Western liberal democracy with its specific understanding of human rights.

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Melissa McCarthy

9780719079740_A02.qxd 22/2/10 15:09 Page 1 Introduction Oxford Amnesty Lectures (OAL) has as its first raison d’etre the raising of funds for Amnesty International. It does so through an annual series of lectures which consider human rights in light of a particular theme. In 2007 the theme was incarceration, an apposite topic when one remembers Amnesty International’s founding narrative, that of Peter Benenson reading about two Portuguese students being imprisoned. The result was international mobilisation, political pressure, and the talking out loud about

in Incarceration and human rights
Chantal Mouffe

9780719082542_C06.qxd 8/9/11 15:51 Page 121 6 Can human rights accommodate pluralism? Chantal Mouffe There are many ways to approach the topic selected for this year’s Oxford Amnesty Lectures. I have chosen to examine it from the following angle: Can human rights accommodate pluralism? I am especially interested in two questions: (1) Do human rights transcend cultural and religious differences? (2) What does the answer to this question imply for our understanding of democracy in a global context? I will begin by examining the supposedly universal relevance

in Religion and rights
The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2007

This book examines the intersection between incarceration and human rights. It is about why independent inspection of places of custody is a necessary part of human rights protection, and how that independence is manifested and preserved in practice. Immigration and asylum policies ask crucial questions about national identity, about human rights, and about our values as compassionate citizens in an era of increasingly complex international challenges. The book deals with the future of prisons and shows how the vulnerable population has been unconscionably treated. To arrive at a proper diagnosis of the expansive use and abuse of the prison in the age of economic deregulation and social insecurity, it is imperative that we effect some analytic breaks with the gamut of established approaches to incarceration. The book explores the new realities of criminal confinement of persons with mental illness. It traces the efforts of New Right think-tanks, police chiefs and other policy entrepreneurs to export neoliberal penality to Europe, with England and Wales acting as an 'acclimatization chamber'. In a series of interventions, of which his Oxford Amnesty Lecture is but one, Loic Wacquant has in recent years developed an incisive and invaluable analysis of the rise and effects of what he calls the penal state.

Nicholas Bamforth

Religious Discourse (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 85–100. Charles E. Curran, Loyal Dissent: Memoir of a Catholic Theologian (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2006), p. 73. Ibid., p. 239. Ibid., p. 73. For discussion, see Nicholas C. Bamforth and David A. J. Richards, Patriarchal Religion, Sexuality and Gender: A Critique of New Natural Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), ch. 6. [See also N. Bamforth (ed.), Sex Rights: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2002 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) – ed.]

in Religion and rights
Chris Miller

moral considerations are alien transplants will be less urgent. At least to the extent that this is true in the West, Iranians may come to find it wrong that the state should torture or detain arbitrarily. They have found out that when a regime customarily engages in these activities, anyone may become its victim; this makes for unsatisfactory government, whether religious or secular. Notes 1 See Shayk Muhammad Afifi-al-Akiti and Dr H. A. Hellyer, ‘Response to Khaled Abou El Fadl’, in Chris Miller (ed.), ‘War on Terror’: Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2006 (Manchester

in Religion and rights
Ahdaf Soueif

not to say that every Egyptian from then on behaved impeccably. It is not even to say that Egyptian society of the time offers a model for today. But it is a noteworthy example of a people appealing at a time of crisis to the highest ideals of their narrative – ideals still worthy of our attention today. In an Oxford Amnesty Lecture in 1993, the philosopher Richard Rorty, discussing the old problematic of the ‘nature’ of man, suggested that man is a ‘flexible, protean, self-shaping animal’ and that the most useful aspect of human nature to focus on is ‘our

in ‘War on terror’
Pamela Sue Anderson

9780719082542_C02.qxd 8/9/11 15:52 Page 67 Response to Stanley Hauerwas Pamela Sue Anderson Stanley Hauerwas focuses explicitly on the remit for the 2008 Oxford Amnesty Lectures (OAL): ‘Rights are sometimes thought to derive from the God-given nature of man. Yet today human rights and religion may find themselves at odds.’ Hauerwas finds rights and religions at odds, opting for the Christian religion over rights and any other religions. The OAL remit acknowledges that ‘the universal claims made for rights can run counter to the revealed truths from which

in Religion and rights
A South African response to Jack Mapanje
Jack Mapanje and Jonny Steinberg

returns he reaped were indeed for a long time very meagre. But with his persistence, and with the gathering appreciation for the obvious value of what he was providing, came success. Hence the Oxford Amnesty Lecture to which this is a response: an essay by a man who, after a long and uncertain battle, has made of a potentially ruinous experience a vocation and a career. 9780719079740_C06.qxd 22/2/10 15:33 Page 147 A South African response to Jack Mapanje 147 As stories of incarceration and its aftermath go, this is a very warming one. To pluck from so grim and

in Incarceration and human rights
Lan Loader

, not in all of them – the turn towards penal confinement is also apparent and inmate numbers swell. The prison today looms large in the political and social imagination. In a series of interventions, of which his Oxford Amnesty Lecture is but one, Loïc Wacquant has in recent years developed an incisive and invaluable analysis of the rise and effects of what he calls the penal state.2 If he and it did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them. There is much in the contemporary economic, social and penal condition that properly calls for the kind of analysis he

in Incarceration and human rights