How Our Evolving Understanding of Individual Autonomy Led to Human Rights for All

A Cultural Historian Traces Empathy From Epistolary Novels to Abolition to Act Up

In Inventing Human Rights: A History, UCLA historian Lynn Hunt traces the modern concept of Human Rights to a series of mid-18th century epistolary novels with a strong first person perspective, including Julie by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa. Male and female readers got passionately engrossed in the experience of being “in” the body and position of the heroines of these novels. Empathizing with people outside their class and experience, Hunt argues, was part of a transformation of the idea of a “self” that occurred in Europe …

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Act of Infamy Against Japanese Americans

How a Human Rights Champion Gave in to Racist Suspicion After Pearl Harbor

In recent months, president-elect Donald Trump has said he is considering setting up a registry to track Muslim Americans and foil jihadist plots from being hatched in the United States. …

Are American Children Better Off Today Than They Were in 1989?

The Convention on the Rights of the Child Is the World’s Most Widely Adopted Human Rights Treaty. But 25 Years After Its Passage, the U.S. Still Won't Ratify It.

In 1989, as a new mom and a new doctor, I spent my days tending to young patients as a pediatrician in training, and my nights caring for my own …