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Human Rights in Twentieth-Century Australia


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction: bereft of words; 1. Inventing rights; 2. Cold War rights; 3. Experimental rights; 4. Who's rights? 5. Implementing rights; Epilogue: cascade or trickle?

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Human rights in Australia have a contested and controversial history, the nature of which informs popular debates to this day.

About the Author

Jon Piccini is a historian at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. He wrote Global Radicals: Transnational Protest, Australia and the 1960s (2016) which looks at Australian protest movements in the transnational 'Sixties' and edited a collection of essays entitled The Far Left in Australia since 1945 (2018).


'In this fascinating account of how global ideas travel, Jon Piccini illuminates how Australians invoked universal human rights in pursuit of political and social reforms. By carefully charting the ways the concept was deployed by groups ranging from Indigenous Australians to anti-abortion evangelicals, Piccini offers a fresh reading of the capacities and the limits of this supple moral language.' Barbara Keys, author of Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s
'This major contribution to understanding Australia's national navigation of the human rights idea and its place within wider global rights represents a strikingly impressive intervention. It interacts with some of the key trends within the grander constellation of human rights history and connects with the changing contours of human rights as an international discourse and transnational social movement.' Roland Burke, author of Decolonisation and the Evolution of International Human Rights
'Australia has no bill of rights, but human rights talk permeates its culture and politics. Jon Piccini has for the first time explained the history of this paradox, in a significant contribution to our understanding of how the appeal to human rights became both pervasive and contested in modern Australia.' Frank Bongiorno, author of The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia

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