The Chet Mitchell Lecture series is named in honour of the late Chet Mitchell, a former member of the Department of Law and Legal Studies, who had an irrepressible enthusiasm for research and learning in law and the social sciences. He was a source of inspiration for students and colleagues alike.
Presentations for this lecture series include high profile speakers from a variety of backgrounds. Speakers selected for this series will typically include public figures, jurists, and/or intellectuals that have broad appeal and that engage with aspects of legal studies and social justice.
October 2nd, 2020 – Shireen Hassim – Decolonising Rights: South African Women’s Claims for Sexual and Gender Equality
There is a widespread intellectual disenchantment with the idea of rights. Some analysts dismiss it on the grounds that the human rights movement is associated with western saviour politics, and implicated in neoliberal hegemony. Others argue that the idea of the rights-bearing individual is incompatible with indigenous notions of freedom in many parts of the world and must, therefore, be discarded. In the moment of the decolonial turn, rights are even denounced as part of ‘epistemic violence.’ Taking a historical approach, this lecture aims to remind critics of the investments of suppressed communities in rights as frames for a politics of resistance. The lecture draws on South African women’s struggles of the twentieth century to advance an argument for a more hopeful view of rights-based politics.