By Eduardo Sánchez Madrigal
Eduardo Sánchez Madrigal is a master’s student and research assistant at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. His research interests include human rights and public international law.
Human Rights Methodology: Relevant Literature
Michael Stohl and Alison Brysk (editors), A Research Agenda for Human Rights, Edward Elgar Publishing (December 2020).
Elgar Research Agendas outline the future of research in a given area. Leading scholars are given the space to explore their subject in provocative ways, and map out the potential directions of travel. They are relevant but also visionary. This Research Agenda maps thought-provoking research trends for the next generation of interdisciplinary human rights scholars in this particularly troubled time. It charts the historic trajectory of scholarship on the international rights regime, looking ahead to emerging areas of inquiry and suggesting alternative methods and perspectives for studying the pursuit of human dignity. Chapters written by international experts cover a broad range of topics including humanitarianism, transitional justice, economic rights, academic freedom, women’s rights, environmental justice, and business responsibility for human rights. The book highlights the importance of contemporary research agendas for human rights being centred on questions of governance and fulfilment, shifting responsibilities, rights interdependence and global inequality. This is a critical read for students and scholars of human rights law, politics and international relations. The strong forward-looking agenda and coverage of a large number of fields within human rights studies will be helpful for advanced students looking for new areas of study for research projects.
Link to Publisher ǀ £ 75.00
Damian Gonzalez-Salzberg and Loveday Hodson (editors), Research Methods for International Human Rights Law: Beyond the Traditional Paradigm, Routledge (2020).
The study and teaching of international human rights law is dominated by the doctrinal method. A wealth of alternative approaches exists, but they tend to be discussed in isolation from one another. This collection focuses on cross-theoretical discussion that brings together an array of different analytical methods and theoretical lenses that can be used for conducting research within the field. As such, it provides a coherent, accessible and diverse account of key theories and methods. A distinctive feature of this collection is that it adopts a grounded approach to international human rights law, through demonstrating the application of specific research methods to individual case studies. By applying the approach under discussion to a concrete case it is possible to better appreciate the multiple understandings of international human rights law that are missed when the field is only comprehended though the doctrinal method. Furthermore, since every contribution follows the same uniform structure, this allows for fruitful comparison between different approaches to the study of our discipline.
Link to Publisher ǀ £ 86.00
Lee McConnell and Rhona Smith (editor), Research Methods in Human Rights, Routledge (2018).
Research Methods in Human Rights introduces the reader to key methodological approaches to Human Rights research in a clear and accessible way. Drawing on the expertise of a panel of contributors, the text clearly explains the key theories and methods commonly used in Human Rights research and provides guidance on when each approach is appropriate. It addresses such approaches to Human Rights research as qualitative methods, quantitative analysis, critical ethnography and comparative approaches, supported by a wide range of geographic case studies and with reference to a wide range of subject areas. The book suggests further reading and directs the reader to excellent examples from research outputs of each method in practice. This book is essential reading for students with backgrounds in law as well as political and social sciences who wish to understand more about the methods and ethics of conducting Human Rights research.
Link to Publisher ǀ £ 96.00 (hardback) and £ 27.99 (paperback)
Bård A. Andreassen, Hans-Otto Sano, and Siobhán McInerney-Lankford (editors). Research Methods in Human Rights: A Handbook, Edward Elgar Publishing (2017).
Methodological discussion has largely been neglected in human rights research, with legal scholars in particular tending to address research methods and methodological reflection implicitly rather than explicitly. This book advances thinking on human rights methodology, offering instruction and guidance on the methodological approaches to human rights research. Seeking to bridge the methodological deficit often compounded by the interdisciplinary nature of human rights research, contributions by leading scholars in a range of evolving fields, provide an up-to-date assessment of human rights methods. The various chapters apply these methods to different substantive areas including discrimination, the right to food, the right to water, public health and gender. This book gives a comprehensive treatment of disciplinary approaches, discusses methodological options and provides advice on how best to conduct human rights research in the crossroads of different academic disciplines. Accessible and engaging, this book will be of keen interest to students and scholars working in human rights research, both those approaching it from a legal standpoint and those of other social science disciplines. Both practical and timely, the book will also lend itself to human rights practitioners and policy-makers.
Link to Publisher ǀ £ 160.00 (hardback) and £ 42.00 (paperback)
Rob Grace and Claude Bruderlein (editors), HPCR Practitioner’s Handbook on Monitoring, Reporting, and Fact-Finding, Cambridge University Press (2017).
This book offers a portrait of the practice of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding in the domain of human rights, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law. By analyzing the experiences of fifteen missions implemented over the course of the past decade, the book illuminates the key issues that these missions face and offers a roadmap for practitioners working on future missions. This book is the result of a five-year research study led by the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University, Massachusetts. Based on extensive interviews conducted with fact-finding practitioners, this book consists of two parts. Part I offers a handbook that details methodological considerations for the design and implementation of fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry. Part II – which consists of chapters written by scholars and practitioners – presents a more in-depth, scholarly examination of past fact-finding practices.
Link to Publisher ǀ £ 23.99
Sally Engle Merry, The Seductions of Quantification: Measuring Human Rights, Gender Violence, and Sex Trafficking, The University of Chicago Press (2016).
We live in a world where seemingly everything can be measured. We rely on indicators to translate social phenomena into simple, quantified terms, which in turn can be used to guide individuals, organizations, and governments in establishing policy. Yet counting things requires finding a way to make them comparable. And in the process of translating the confusion of social life into neat categories, we inevitably strip it of context and meaning—and risk hiding or distorting as much as we reveal. With The Seductions of Quantification, leading legal anthropologist Sally Engle Merry investigates the techniques by which information is gathered and analyzed in the production of global indicators on human rights, gender violence, and sex trafficking. Although such numbers convey an aura of objective truth and scientific validity, Merry argues persuasively that measurement systems constitute a form of power by incorporating theories about social change in their design but rarely explicitly acknowledging them. For instance, the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, which ranks countries in terms of their compliance with antitrafficking activities, assumes that prosecuting traffickers as criminals is an effective corrective strategy—overlooking cultures where women and children are frequently sold by their own families. As Merry shows, indicators are indeed seductive in their promise of providing concrete knowledge about how the world works, but they are implemented most successfully when paired with context-rich qualitative accounts grounded in local knowledge.
Link to Publisher ǀ $25.00 USD
Philip Alston and Sarah Knuckey (editors), The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding, Oxford University Press (2016).
Fact-finding is at the heart of human rights advocacy, and is often at the center of international controversies about alleged government abuses. In recent years, human rights fact-finding has greatly proliferated and become more sophisticated and complex, while also being subjected to stronger scrutiny from governments. Nevertheless, despite the prominence of fact-finding, it remains strikingly under-studied and under-theorized. Too little has been done to bring forth the assumptions, methodologies, and techniques of this rapidly developing field, or to open human rights fact-finding to critical and constructive scrutiny. The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of fact-finding with rigorous and critical analysis of the field of practice, while providing a range of accounts of what actually happens. It deepens the study and practice of human rights investigations, and fosters fact-finding as a discretely studied topic, while mapping crucial transformations in the field. The contributions to this book are the result of a major international conference organized by New York University Law School’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Engaging the expertise and experience of the editors and contributing authors, it offers a broad approach encompassing contemporary issues and analysis across the human rights spectrum in law, international relations, and critical theory. This book addresses the major areas of human rights fact-finding such as victim and witness issues; fact-finding for advocacy, enforcement, and litigation; the role of interdisciplinary expertise and methodologies; crowd sourcing, social media, and big data; and international guidelines for fact-finding.
Link to Publisher ǀ £ 107.50
Dyan Mazurana, Karen Jacobsen, Lacey Andrews Gale (editors), Research Methods in Conflict Settings: A View from Below, Cambridge University Press (2015).
Increasing numbers of researchers are working in regions experiencing high levels of conflict or crisis, or among populations that have fled violent conflict to become refugees or internally displaced persons. Understanding these conflicts and their aftermath should be shaped not only by the victors and their elite companions but also by the local people whose daily lives become intertwined with the conflict – this ‘view from below’ is explored in this volume. Conducting rigorous research in these contexts presents a range of ethical, methodological, logistical and security challenges not usually confronted in non-conflict field contexts. This volume compiles lessons learned by experienced field researchers, many of whom have faced demanding situations characterized by violence, distrust and social fragmentation. The authors offer options for studying the situations of people affected by conflict and, by focusing on ethical and security issues, seek ways to safeguard the interests and integrity of the research ‘subjects’ and of the researchers and their teams.
Link to Publisher ǀ £ 24.99