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The Cambridge History of Rights

Tue 17 March 2020

First image: Magna Carta, 2015; Second image: Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, 1789; Third image: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

"Rights” have now become a centre-piece of the legal systems of the majority of the peoples of the world, and the grounds on which most of today’s international institutions have been built. The ubiquity of the political and legal weight of “rights” has made them a central preoccupation of contemporary legal and political philosophy, but also of contemporary historiography: questions of how to grasp the history of the concept, and the practices and vocabularies connected with it, have become increasingly prominent in current historical studies. 

The Cambridge History of Rights project's output will be a 5-volume series, produced under the general editorship of Nehal Bhuta (University of Edinburgh), Anthony Pagden (UCLA) and Mira Siegelberg (University of Cambridge), published by Cambridge University Press. It will be a history not only of the ever-increasing importance of what we take to be “rights” for all significant legal and political claims, but also of the ways in which our understanding of what rights are has changed. Together, the volumes of the collection will explore that history from the ancient world to the modern. The Cambridge History of Rights project will be the first systematic attempt to do so.

Learn more about the Cambridge History of Rights