This original and important book examines the paradoxical yet fundamental relationship between revolutions and the discourse of human rights as it has developed over the last four centuries. In a multidisciplinary collection of essays, which includes pieces by activists as well as scholars, contributors compare times and places as remote from each other as seventeenth-century England and contemporary Kosovo, bringing to bear ideas and methodologies associated with disciplines ranging from cultural history to political philosophy. In doing so, they seek to shed light on a crucial conundrum: on the one hand, revolutionary regimes often have been responsible for horrific human rights abuses, and yet on the other, revolutionary struggles often serve as a crucible to elevate appreciation for the importance of human rights.
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is associate professor of history at Indiana University. Lynn Hunt is Eugen Weber Professor of French History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Marilyn B. Young is professor of history at New York University.