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RESIST Report Summary

Project ID: 262761
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Belgium

Final Report Summary - RESIST (Human Rights versus Democracy? Towards a conceptual genealogy of skepticism about human rights in contemporary Political Thought)

The objective of the RESIST project is to investigate the different faces of critiques of human rights since 1789 with a view to deepening our understanding of the current controversy over the tension between human rights and democracy. Consequently, the research has fallen into two major lines of inquiry. First, the RESIST team has focused on six major critiques of human rights made in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries in order to offer a critical typology of the arguments advanced against the Declaration of 1789. More precisely, the project has analysed five types of critical arguments against human rights: conservative (Edmund Burke); theological (Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Bonald); progressive (Jeremy Bentham), revolutionary (Karl Marx) and nationalist (Carl Schmitt). Secondly, the RESIST team has investigated the contemporary debate on the alleged tension between human rights and democracy. The project has notably analysed contemporary critiques of the use made of human rights both in English-speaking and French-speaking worlds and has divided these critiques into three subgroups: the anti-modern critique, the communitarian critique and the radical critique. Finally, the project has elaborated a "political" conception of human rights which draws on the works of Hannah Arendt, Claude Lefort, Etienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière. The most important outcome of the project is the publication of a monograph which came out at the Editions du Seuil (Paris) in March 2016 and which is entitled Le Procès des droits de l'homme. Généalogie d'un scepticisme démocratique (Authors: Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère). Thanks to the ERC grant, the book has been translated into English and is currently under review with major American and British publishers. In addition, articles related to the projects have been published by members of the RESIST team in journals such as Political Studies, Constellations, Revue française de science politique, Raison publique and in publishing houses such as Oxford University Press.

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