Research seminar

Reconfiguring the subject of (human?) rights in the age of the Anthropocene

Welcome to the spring 2022 Research Seminar. Find all the dates and information about the seminars in our calendar

Miia Halme-Tuomisaari & Emelie Lantz
Seminar time 1:15-3pm (Central European Time)
Zoom link: ID 433 693 7151 


What is the meaning of rights in the age of the Anthropocene – and who or what are their subjects? How should the notion of rights change in order to grasp increasing challenges posed by the climate urgency? What about the anthropocentrism of rights: is it continually meaningful – and justifiable – to distinguish human rights from the rights of animals as well as such inanimate entities as rivers? What kind of ontological assumptions do prevailing rights regimes both uphold and sustain, and how should they be readjusted?

This seminar series engages with these questions from multi-disciplinary perspectives including anthropology, engineering, law and philosophy. The invited speakers are both leading and forthcoming scholars in their respective fields. The talks build on projects ranging from ongoing work to finalized publications. What they share is a keen interest in these topical and compelling questions which hold the potential to revolutionize the entire human rights field.

Together the seminar series opens compelling reflections on the future of rights. In the post-world war II era we saw the ‘strange triumph of human rights’ (Mazower 2002). Will this triumph continue in the era of the Anthropocene – or are we witnessing a shift toward another ‘last utopia’ (Moyn 2010) embodied by the values of sustainability? Or rather a new utopia of the rights of everyone and everything?


2 February “Human rights and human duties vis-à-vis the Arctic fragile environment” Reetta Toivanen, Professor of Sustainability Science, University of Helsinki

16 February “Social sustainability: What does it mean?” Emelie Lantz, PhD Candidate, Human right studies at Lund University

23 March “The mine-loving state: Colonial continuity in the Swedish push for green steel?” Valentin Vogl, PhD candidate, Environmental and Energy Systems Studies at Lund University & Georgia de Leeuw, PhD candidate, Department of Political Science at Lund University

6 April ”The value of cash: Cash dependence and economic justice in a digital economy” Lena Haldenius, Professor in Human rights, Human right studies at Lund University

27 April “Rights of Nature, non-human rights and the Anthropocene: some legal anthropological reflections” Lieselotte Viane, Anthropologist and Professor at the Department of Social Science of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

4 May “NGO identities – how origin stories, values, donors, and the state construct a moral duty bearer” Therese Boje Mortensen

11 May “From human to more than human” Danielle Celermajer, Professor of Sociology, Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney & Alexandre Lefebvre, Professor of Politics and Philosophy, University of Sydney

We have put together a bibliography for the seminar series to invite you to further reading on this interesting topic.


Baxi, U. (2019). "Intergenerational justice, water rights, and climate change". In Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Bétaille, J. (2019). “Rights of Nature: Why it Might Not Save the Entire World”. Journal for European Environmental & Planning Law, 16(1)

Bourke, Joanna (2020). ”Are women animals?” The rise and rise of (animal) rights. In Celermajer, Danielle & Lefebre, Alexander 2020: The Subject of Human Rights. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 64-78.

Campos, Andre Santos (2018). “Intergenerational Justice Today”. Philosophy Compass, Vol 13, issue 3.

Celermajer, Danielle, David Schlosberg, Lauren Rickards, Makere Stewart-Harawira, Mathias Thaler, Petra Tschakert, Blanche Verlie, and Christine Winter. (2021). “Multispecies Justice: Theories, Challenges, and a Research Agenda for Environmental Politics.” Environmental Politics 30 (1/2): 119–40. doi:10.1080/09644016.2020.1827608.

Celermajer, D., Chatterjee, S., Cochrane, A. et al. (2020) “Justice Through a Multispecies Lens”. Contemp Polit Theory 19, 475–512 (2020).

Celermajer, Danielle & Lefebre, Alexander (2020). The Subject of Human Rights. Stanford University Press, Stanford.

Cruft, Rowan; Liao; S. Matthew, and Massimo Renzo (2015) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Grear, Anna (2021) International law, legal anthropocentrism and facing the planetary. In: Mégrét Frederic, Narajaran, Usha & Chapaux, Vincent eds. The Handbook of Anthropocentrism and International Law. Routledge, New York.

Grear, Anna (2018): Human Rights and New Horizons? Thoughts toward a New Juridical Ontology. Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 43(1) 129-145.

Grear, Anna (2016) Human rights and the environment: a tale of ambivalence and hope. In: Fisher, Douglas (ed). Research Handbook on Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Law, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 146-167. 

Halme-Tuomisaari, Miia 2021: New Paradoxes in Human Rights. Sage Handbook of Cultural Anthropology, SAGE, 604-611.

Mazower, Mark (2004) ‘The Strange Triumph of Human Rights, 1933-1950’, The Historical Journal, 47, pp.379-98.

Moreton-Robinson Aileen (2021) Incommensurable sovereignties: Indigenous ontology matters. Routledge Handbook of Critical Indigenous Studies. Edited by Brendan Hokowhitu, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Chris Andersen and Steve Larkin 2021.

Moyn, Samuel (2012) The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Reprint. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Nedelsky, Jennifer: The Relational Self as the Subject of Human Rights (2020). In Celermajer, Danielle & Lefebre, Alexander 2020: The Subject of Human Rights. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 30-47.

O’Donnell, E. (2020). Legal rights for rivers: Competition, collaboration and water governance (1st issued in paperback). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Spijkers, O. (2018). Intergenerational equity and the sustainable development goals. Sustainability, 10(11), 3836.

Toivanen, R., & Cambou, D. (2021). Human Rights. In C. P. Krieg, & R. Toivanen (Eds.), Situating Sustainability: A Handbook of Concepts and Contexts (pp. 51-62). Helsinki University Press.

Viaene, Lieselotte. 2021. "Indigenous Water Ontologies, Hydro-Development and the Human/More-Than-Human Right to Water: A Call for Critical Engagement with Plurilegal Water Realities" Water 13, no. 12: 166; 

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