Go to the U of M home page


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mark Goodale Comments on the Constitutionalization of Human Rights and "the Violence of Ambiguity"

,mb. ,vhjv.pngIn his public talk titled "Law's Labors Lost: Constitutional Revolution and the Problem of Radical Social Change," Mark Goodale presented a thought-provoking analysis of the social revolution in Boliva that has taken place with the rise of Evo Morales and his unprecedented "Refundicion." Advocating contemplation of the applicability of human rights outside of the spotlight of genocide and atrocity, Goodale highlighted the necessity to consider forms of "violence of ambiguity" which are perhaps epitomized in the new Bolivian constitution.

By attempting to completely renegotiate both the social contract and the structure of the state, this document, says Goodale, has adopted such a broad scope that it is in reality a paragon of "normative promiscuity" which obscures more of the structural problems within Bolivian society than it reveals, let alone solves. Through this illustrative example of the danger of the "judicialization of politics" within Latin America, he showed how a revolution that is simultaneously bracketed with and embodied by a complete legal overhaul of the constitution may have actually served to cheapen the currency of rights in Bolivia. Within the broader context of human rights and the phenomenon of atrocity, his analysis provides a unique window into the more subtle forms of violence which often pervade the political landscape of a country and whose remedy is likely not a "legalization of revolution" but rather an adherence to human rights at their most fundamental level and an understanding of underlying structural realities that contribute to the perpetuation of injustice.
Written by Jenny Cafarella