Much current politics is organized around claims to rights. But what are rights? This research and teaching cluster asks about the historical formation of "rights" in the modern world, from early modern formulations of ideas of sovereignty to 19th century constitutionalism, from civil rights struggles to the use of rights to preserve relations of power, from rights as part of state systems to the idea of human rights standing above the state. In all of these cases, it asks about the political and cultural uses and functions of rights: historicizing a concept that often claims to stand above history.
Faculty in the area include: