“The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century” by Mark Philip Bradley— Achieving Global Human Rights

the worldreimagined

Bradley, Mark Philip. “The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century”, (Human Rights in History), Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Achieving Global Human Rights

Amos Lassen

In “The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century”, author Mark Philip Bradley looks at how today’s preoccupation with human rights came into being. He gives us a historical lens for understanding human rights and maintains that historical developments elsewhere in the world fundamentally shaped how America understood human rights and this happened while we were learning :how visual culture is central to the ways in which human rights became believable to Americans, moving toward a social and popular history”. This is a new history of how Americans thought and acted in the twentieth-century world. Human rights have not come easily to the United States and we see that in the history that Bradley gives us here. We go into the background of some of the most important and mist critical issues in human rights internationally.

“This is a magnificent and much-needed book on how the United States has wrestled with the global human rights imagination in the twentieth century. Bradley’s history provides an essential discussion of the background for some of the critical issues in today’s international human rights regime.” Bradley draws on quite an array of material and this includes photography and popular culture. We see both the evolution and the limitations of human rights as the “ubiquitous moral language” of the day along with Bradley’s commentary.

It took to the twentieth century before there was any real talk about global human rights. These offered individuals unprecedented guarantees beyond the nation in order to protect political, economic, social and cultural freedoms. Bradley explores how revolutionary developments first became believable to Americans in the 1940s and the 1970s through everyday language and were seen in political and legal thought, photography, film, novels, memoirs and audio. Together, they offered fundamentally new and novel ways for Americans to understand what it means to feel free as well as to understand the language of human rights.

We can now comprehend how and why human rights have become the moral language of our time. Bradley has thoroughly explored the making of a twentieth-century global human rights imagination and its American vernaculars in times of war, decolonization and globalization during the 1940s and the1970s, two of the most transformative periods of human life.

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