Counting the Dead: The Culture and Politics of Human Rights by Winifred Tate

By Winifred Tate

At a time whilst an international consensus on human rights criteria appears to be like rising, this wealthy learn steps again to discover how the belief of human rights is admittedly hired via activists and human rights pros. Winifred Tate, an anthropologist and activist with wide adventure in Colombia, unearths that appreciably various principles approximately human rights have formed 3 teams of human rights pros operating there--nongovernmental activists, kingdom representatives, and army officials. Drawing from the existence tales of high-profile activists, pioneering interviews with army officers, and study on the United international locations Human Rights fee in Geneva, Counting the useless underscores the significance of interpreting and figuring out human rights discourses, methodologies, and associations in the context of broader cultural and political debates.

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Extra info for Counting the Dead: The Culture and Politics of Human Rights Activism in Colombia (California Series in Public Anthropology)

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On some issues I have maintained silence at the request of my informants and colleagues, on others because of my personal judgment that certain revelations would not contribute to debate but derail it. In many ways embedded ethnography presents the same ethical challenges of all fieldwork. Complicated political alliances, friendships, gossip, and even scandal are integral parts of all ethnographic endeavors. The boundaries of the “field” are inevitably difficult to establish. In my own practice of embedded ethnography, I came to the “field” with a well-known history, benefiting from more than a decade of experience and knowledge, well versed in many of the code words and back stories of the people I interviewed.

The issue of allegiances in fieldwork is very complex, including the question of what is “owed” to those who chose to spend their time and energy assisting in the research, especially when it involves violence and attempts to raise international awareness. Many of my former colleagues who helped me during the course of this project probably thought my time would have been better spent producing human rights reports. Pursuing embedded ethnography requires confronting expectations based on former roles and performances with a new kind of project that often appears amorphous and certainly of little benefit.

For readers unfamiliar with Colombia, I paint with broad strokes the most prevalent evolving forms of violence over the past six decades. From this history, I turn to the example of complicated violence in one place, Trujillo, Colombia, where a specific set of murders came to be investigated and eventually categorized as human rights violations. I examine the factors that made this possible, factors that are the focus of much of the rest of this book: the increasing professionalization of human rights groups (and their corresponding greater credibility and research capacity), the growing acceptance of human rights in the post–cold war era, and the new state human rights agencies.

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