Publication date:

23 October 2014

Length of book:

274 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739184738

Human Rights and the Arts: Perspectives on Global Asia approaches human rights issues from the perspective of artists and writers in global Asia. By focusing on the interventions of writers, artists, filmmakers, and dramatists, the book moves toward a new understanding of human rights that shifts the discussion of contexts and subjects away from the binaries of cultural relativism and political sovereignty. From Ai Wei Wei and Michael Ondaatje, to Umar Kayam, Saryang Kim, Lia Zixin, and Noor Zaheer, among others, this volume takes its lead from global Asian artists, powerfully re-orienting thinking about human rights subjects and contexts to include the physical, spiritual, social, ecological, cultural, and the transnational. Looking at a range of work from Tibet, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, China, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Macau as well as Asian diasporic communities, this book puts forward an understanding of global Asia that underscores “Asia” as a global site. It also highlights the continuing importance of nation-states and specific geographical entities, while stressing the ways that the human rights subject breaks out of these boundaries.

Many of these works are included in the companion volume Human Rights and the Arts in Global Asia: An Anthology, also published by Lexington Books.
Human Rights and the Arts is a valuable and welcome contribution to the growing scholarship on human rights issues and debates in Asia. . . .This volume shows not only that art can be a powerful tool for artists and activists to depict human rights violations and call for justice and recognition, especially important in non-democratic countries, but that art can be an excellent window for students and scholars who want to understand how human rights norms, contestations, and problems are experienced by individual citizens in Asia. One would hope that this volume would inspire further studies that probe deeper into different forms of art, the relationship between art and activism in different Asian countries, and the reception of these art works in Asia.