Mila Versteeg

The Future of Human Rights Scholarship

CO-AUTHORS James Loeffler
Law & Contemporary Problems


By any measure, the study of international human rights and humanitarian law is flourishing throughout the academy like never before. This golden age of human rights scholarship has been accompanied by a growing unease, if not crisis, in some academic circles about the utility and legitimacy of the human rights movement, and, relatedly, of human rights studies. Making sense of this fraught moment of promise and conflict for human rights research requires patient dialogue and self-conscious reflection by scholars of human rights. This issue presents selected work from an international interdisciplinary conference devoted to the future of human rights scholarship held at the University of Virginia in the spring of 2017. Conference participants were asked to reflect on “what’s next for human rights scholarship?” This introductory article surveys the development of human rights research in three fields: law, history, and international relations. It then proceeds to examine larger patterns of convergence and divergence in methods and themes, and sketch out future directions for the field.


James Loeffler & Mila Versteeg, The Future of Human Rights Scholarship, 81 Law & Contemporary Problems i-xi (2018).

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