The Transforming Power of Cultural Rights | Helle Porsdam

15:00 - 18:00 | 17 June 2019 | SG1, Alison Richard Building, University of Cambridge.

gloknos invites you to the launch of Prof. Helle Porsdam's new book The Transforming Power of Cultural Rights. A Promising Law and Humanities Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

The event features a presentation by Prof. Helle Porsdam and a discussion with Yvonne Donders (Head of the Department of International and European Public Law, University of Amsterdam) and Christine Mitchell (Executive Director of the Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School) from 3 to 5 PM in Room SG1 in the Alison Richard Building (7 West Road, Cambridge), followed by refreshments from 5 to 6 PM in the Atrium.

To book your place, please email Samantha Peel. Download a flyer here.

Book Description & Reviews

Cultural rights promote cultural and scientific creativity. Transformative and empowering, they also enable the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, thereby working as atrocity prevention tools. The Transforming Power of Cultural Rights argues that this gives these rights a central role to play in promoting the full human personality and in realizing all other human rights. Looking at the work of the UN Special Rapporteurs in the field of cultural rights as well as UNESCO's efforts, Helle Porsdam addresses the question of how a universal human rights agenda can include a dialogue that recognizes the importance of cultural diversity without sliding into cultural relativism. She argues that cultural rights offer a useful international arena and discourse in which to explain and negotiate cultural meanings when controversies arise. This places them at the center of human rights - and at the center of law and humanities.


‘This book is original in its focus, current in its concerns, provocative in some of its approaches and at the same time shows very in-depth knowledge of the cultural, philosophical, and legal aspects needed to understand the cultural right and their dilemmas. Professor Helle Porsdam has written the work which we should all know in order to continue participating in the debate on cultural rights.' Mikel Mancisidor - Independent expert member of the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (2013–20)

‘Porsdam has succeeded in adding an innovative perspective to the debate on cultural rights. Connecting the vocabularies of human rights, law and humanities, she convincingly shows that cultural rights can provide a global discourse to address issues of identity, diversity, solidarity and inclusion. She ends her book with some pertinent issues for further study, which should encourage us all to tackle these, not in isolation, but in holistic and concerted ways.' Yvonne Donders - University of Amsterdam

‘Exploring the interconnection between cultural rights, law and the humanities, this book is an important milestone in overcoming the paucity of serious intellectual work on cultural rights. Addressing a wide array of issues, from television to education, from museums and literature to scientific pursuit, copyright and intellectual property, Porsdam shows how vital cultural rights are for better understanding and praxis in this complicated world of ours.' Farida Shaheed - former United Nations Special Rapporteur for cultural rights, Executive Director of Shirkat Gah, Women's Resource Centre in Pakistan

'An original and exciting approach for making understood the central place of cultural rights. Relying on TV shows, novels and other literary works, Porsdam, also a strong human rights analyst, convinces us that contemporary controversial issues can and should be addressed through the lens of cultural rights.' Mylène Bidault - Vice President of the Observatory of Diversity and Cultural Rights, Switzerland

Helle Porsdam is Professor of Law and Humanities at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law (CIS), Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen. She teaches American Culture and History in the SAXO Department, Faculty of the Humanities, University of Copenhagen, and Law and Humanities, the Culture and History of Human Rights and Cultural Rights at the Faculty of Law. She also holds a UNESCO Chair in Cultural Rights. Helle did her PhD in American Studies at Yale University, has been a Liberal Arts Fellow twice at the Harvard Law School, as well as a fellow at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Munich.

She received funding from HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) for a project on copyright, creativity and cultural heritage institutions (2010-13) and is currently heading the project, The Past's Future (2015-19), which is funded by the Velux Foundation.

Among her monographs and edited volumes, the following may be mentioned: The Transforming Power of Cultural Rights: A Promising Law and Humanities Approach (2019), Negotiating Cultural Rights: Issues at Stake, Challenges and Recommendations (2017, with Lucky Belder), From Civil to Human Rights: Dialogues on Law and Humanities in the United States and Europe (2009), Copyright and Other Fairy Tales: Hans Christian Andersen and the Commodification of Creativity (2006), Legally Speaking: Contemporary American Culture and the Law (1999).



Image courtesy of Cambridge University Press.