Professor John Nguyet Erni, Keynote Speaker at The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2015 (ACCS2015) in Kobe, Japan, considers the conditions of possibility for overcoming the apparent non-correspondence between critical cultural humanism and rights, or between culture and law. His abstract reads below.
“In the persistent (re)turn to questions of representational, identity-based, and political economic justice today, how will Cultural Studies make space for human rights as a global legal and humanitarian practice? Of late, the new and unremitting atrocities linked to state, inter-state, and private violence have precipitated new social movements that act in concert with international human rights law. To these movements, Cultural Studies has had little dialogic or institutional connections. Professor Erni outlines a critical model of analysis that on the one hand incorporates insights of postcolonial legal theorists and jurists from the Global South and important cultural theorists from the North, and on the other hand, fuses a critical combination of law, social movements, and modernity. This would entail a reconception of human rights and international public law – including the assumptions, institutions, geopolitical relations, and grounded practices of the rights discourse, as it is imagined politically and legally – in order to remap the ethico-political commitments of Cultural Studies from within a “rights imaginary.”
John Nguyet Erni is Chair Professor in Humanities and Head of the Department of Humanities & Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. He also serves as Adjunct Professor at the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong and elected Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities. He has published widely on international and Asia-based cultural studies, human rights legal criticism, Chinese consumption of transnational culture, gender and sexuality in media culture, youth popular consumption in Hong Kong and Asia, and critical public health.