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Making space for the human: Rights, the Anthropocene and recognition

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This article addresses the tension between two expressions of post-war spatiality. It was the aim of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the article observes, to achieve a formulation of the human from which no person might fall out. At the same time, as the category of the human as attribute of persons struggled to extend itself, so the effects of the so-called Anthropocene became greatly accelerated. The article argues that these forms of spatiality must be thought in relation to one another. It contends that to understand the degree to which the Universal Declaration was spatial in its understanding, it is necessary to read that document alongside such post-war writers as Charles Olson and Hannah Arendt. It considers how far, in various post-war geopolitical imaginaries, one finds resources for thinking about human movement in our own moment, and how such thinking can address the Anthropocene and its still accelerating effects.
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Keywords: Anthropocene; movement; nonpersons; recognition; space; work

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 0000000122322818University of Kent 2: 0000000419367494Simon Fraser University

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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