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The Breakthrough
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The Breakthrough
Human Rights in the 1970s

Edited by Jan Eckel and Samuel Moyn

352 pages | 6 x 9 | 1 illus.
Paper 2015 | ISBN 9780812223316 | $27.50s | Outside the Americas £20.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights
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"A fascinating collection of essays . . . an eclectic set of readings bringing in perspectives from around the globe on human rights developments during the 1970s."—Human Rights Quarterly

"Editors Moyn and Eckel present an impressive European-American research effort to understand the efflorescence of human rights organizations and activity over the past century. . . . the superb essays in this collection make a well-documented and well-argued case."—Stanley N. Katz, Choice

"An outstanding volume that is poised to make a major intervention into the late twentieth-century history of global human rights politics. The Breakthrough brings together some of the most important new work on the history of human rights in the 1970s in ways that will reshape this emergent field. Eckel and Moyn have crafted a rare and welcome collection that will be especially useful for the undergraduate and graduate classroom."—Mark Philip Bradley, University of Chicago

Between the 1960s and the 1980s, the human rights movement achieved unprecedented global prominence. Amnesty International attained striking visibility with its Campaign Against Torture; Soviet dissidents attracted a worldwide audience for their heroism in facing down a totalitarian state; the Helsinki Accords were signed, incorporating a "third basket" of human rights principles; and the Carter administration formally gave the United States a human rights policy.

The Breakthrough is the first collection to examine this decisive era as a whole, tracing key developments in both Western and non-Western engagement with human rights and placing new emphasis on the role of human rights in the international history of the past century. Bringing together original essays from some of the field's leading scholars, this volume not only explores the transnational histories of international and nongovernmental human rights organizations but also analyzes the complex interplay between gender, sociology, and ideology in the making of human rights politics at the local level. Detailed case studies illuminate how a number of local movements—from the 1975 World Congress of Women in East Berlin, to antiapartheid activism in Britain, to protests in Latin America—affected international human rights discourse in the era as well as the ways these moments continue to influence current understanding of human rights history and advocacy. The global south—an area not usually treated as a scene of human rights politics—is also spotlighted in groundbreaking chapters on Biafran, South American, and Indonesian developments. In recovering the remarkable presence of global human rights talk and practice in the 1970s, The Breakthrough brings this pivotal decade to the forefront of contemporary scholarly debate.

Contributors: Carl J. Bon Tempo, Gunter Dehnert, Celia Donert, Lasse Heerten, Patrick William Kelly, Benjamin Nathans, Ned Richardson-Little, Daniel Sargent, Brad Simpson, Lynsay Skiba, Simon Stevens.

Jan Eckel teaches history at the University of Freiburg.

Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History at Harvard University, is the author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History and editor of the journal Humanity.

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