March 10, 2023

What We Are Learning This Week with Instructor Erica Kunimoto

Exploring the relationship between imperialism and human rights

February 13, 2023 in POLI 481 The Politics of Human Rights 

Instructor Erica Kunimoto is exploring the relationship between imperialism and human rights 


Can you tell us a little more about this topic? 

We are exploring the relationship between imperialism, colonialism and human rights discourse, both historically and in the contemporary moment. We look at historic justifications for imperialism and colonialism, parallels between those justifications and modern human rights, and strategic uses of human rights discourse by imperial and colonized peoples. Overall, we are trying to think critically about the risks and rewards of contemporary human rights as they are currently conceived. 

Kunimoto headshot

What else do you cover in your course? 

This course has three main parts. In part one, we examine the philosophic underpinnings of human rights and critical philosophic interventions in the development of human rights. In part two, we examine different approaches to understanding human rights, both within and outside of the law. In part three, we explore the possibilities and limitations of human rights in practice, including women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and Indigenous rights. 

What do you love about teaching this course? 

There are so many things! The students are thoughtful and engaged, and I am always learning from them. I appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of the course. We are able to consider a range of theories, approaches and issues packaged into smaller thematic bundles. But by far, one of the greatest things about teaching this course has to be our bi-weekly “pet of the day” spotlight!

Finally, what other courses would you recommend for students interested this topic? 

POLI 470, POLI 455, POLI 483, as well as many of the courses in Indigenous Studies may be of interest. As well, POLI 418 and POLI 506 explore many of the underlying theoretical tensions and debates gestured at in this course.  


Our Thanks to Instructor Erica Kunimoto for sharing your course with us!