School of Social and Political Sciences - Theses

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    The Life of Human Rights: An Everyday Approach to Understanding Human Rights in an Australian Parliamentary Enquiry on the Involuntary Sterilisation of People with Disabilities
    Hernandez Ruiz, Maria Paula ( 2022)
    This research questions how ‘human rights’ are used in a parliamentary inquiry on the coercive or involuntary sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia. Throughout three chapters, the thesis breaks down ‘human rights’ as a concept and as a practical approach in development programming. Chapter two delves into the multiple understandings of rights in the development literature and incorporates contributions from legal anthropology and the field of the social studies of science and technology to understand human rights in the development context. Chapter three proposes an “ethnography in the archives” as a methodological design that pushes disciplinary boundaries to understand the value of documents and arguments in how different stakeholders inside and outside of the development field engage with issues such as the coercive sterilisation of people with disabilities. Finally, chapter four offers an analysis derived from 82 documents presented in the parliamentary inquiry in Australia. This chapter shows this thesis’s main argument: That human rights differ from what this research calls ‘everyday rights’, which are the claims articulated by people drawing upon their lived experiences rather than human rights treaties or arguments. This argument sheds light on how development practice often faces a gap between what the stated outcomes are in terms of Human Rights-Based Approaches and the practical realities of rights claims.