Joseph R. Slaughter
The decade from 1966 to 1976 represents a sort of Third-World interregnum between classical imperialism and neoliberal globalization that saw massive world-wide proliferation in the uses of the language of human rights by, and on behalf of, historically marginalized (and exploited) peoples.
Some of the more notable efforts included the Non-Aligned Movement’s demands for decolonization, the Third-World sponsored program for a New International Economic Order, which pushed for rebalancing postcolonial trade relations, development assistance, and reparations, and Peoples Tribunals that tended to emphasize the collective economic, social, and cultural rights of self-determination over possessive individualist rights of private property and personal liberty. Focusing on the Second Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America (1974-5), this talk will consider the intertwined histories of the rise of neoliberalism and our contemporary human rights language. My point of departure is Julio Cortázar’s Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires
(1975), which intercalates a superhero comic about a corporate plot to destroy the world’s libraries with Cortázar’s reflections on his participation in the Second Russell Tribunal that ultimately condemned Latin American dictatorships, the U.S. administration, and multinational corporations for “crimes against humanity,” using the language of human rights to name the economic, social, and cultural violence of a nascent neoliberalism
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