Violence, Human Rights, and Justice

An image of a white shawl tied at the neck is superimposed on a red brick background.

The white scarf of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The Mothers are an association of Argentine women whose children "disappeared" during the "Dirty War" of the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. (Image courtesy of puroticorico on flickr. License CC BY.)


MIT Course Number

21A.442J / WGS.270J

As Taught In

Fall 2014



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course examines the problem of mass violence and oppression in the contemporary world, and the concept of human rights as a defense against such abuse. It explores questions of cultural relativism, race, gender and ethnicity. It examines case studies from war crimes tribunals, truth commissions, anti-terrorist policies and other judicial attempts to redress state-sponsored wrongs. It also considers whether the human rights framework effectively promotes the rule of law in modern societies. Students debate moral positions and address ideas of moral relativism.

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Related Content

Erica James. 21A.442J Violence, Human Rights, and Justice. Fall 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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