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Dennis Masaka

In this article, I argue that individuals could be entitled to rights, outside those that are communally conferred, as part of the primary requirement of being ‘persons’ in the African communitarian set-up if the terms ‘person’ and ‘personhood’ are understood differently from the way they are currently deployed in the communitarian discourse. The distinction between these two terms is the basis of my thesis where clarity on their meanings could be helpful in establishing the possibility of ascribing rights outside those that are communally conferred. I argue that ontologically, a ‘person’ is prior to ‘personhood’ (understood in the normative sense) which is considered to find its fuller expression in a community and by virtue of this, I think that he or she is entitled to some rights outside those that are defined and conferred by the community. This is my point of departure in this article.

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Bernard Matolino

In classical African communitarianism, individual rights have tended to be accorded a secondary status to the good of the community. What is prioritised are the duties and obligations the individual has to the whole as opposed to the entitlements one can expect to derive from a community qua individual. I seek to show that this view, by its own standards and assumptions, is erroneous in framing rights as secondary to the good of the community. I attempt to show that individual rights are an inherent component of classical African communitarian accounts. Further, I seek to argue for a non-communalist view of African communitarianism which takes into full account the multiple factors that constitute modern African communities. Such a view, I suggest, will avoid the unnecessary dichotomisation of rights which has become synonymous with the classical African communitarian account.

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Elisa Camiscioli

In her 1938 essay Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf questioned the meaning of patriotism and national belonging for British women who, because of their gender, were denied equal access to education, property, the professions, and the political world. As the growing possibility of war amplified the calls for national unity, Woolf suggested that such patriotic sentiment was illogical for women, as they played no role in the public life of the nation.

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M. Victoria Costa

This article considers why the influential neo-republicans Philip Pettit and Richard Bellamy tend to minimise or deny the role that natural or moral rights play in republican thought. It argues that their specific views about the theoretical role of such rights are motivated by methodological commitments. In Pettit’s case the commitments are to consequentialism and formalism, while in Bellamy’s it is to proceduralism. But these commitments get in the way of providing a fully adequate account of the value of freedom as non-domination: one that allows us to determine when citizens actually enjoy this kind of freedom. Finally, the article argues that a full explanation of what it means to enjoy freedom as non-domination must unavoidably appeal to normative notions.

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COVID and the Era of Emergencies

What Type of Freedom is at Stake?

Danielle Celermajer and Dalia Nassar

concern about the dangers that government measures to combat the virus pose to individual rights and democratic institutions ( Amnesty 2020 ; Owen 2020 ; Eliadis 2020 ; Freedom House 2020 ). Thus, a dominant frame that has been brought to the normative

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Reclaiming the lake

Citizenship and environment-as-common-property in highland Peru

Mattias Borg Rasmussen

claims points back to contradictory ideas of what constitutes citizenship. There is a great friction between the linkage of individual rights and national growth, on the one hand, and the entanglement of individual, collectivity, territory, and

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Between Liberal and Republican Citizenship

Feminism and Nationalism in Romania, 1880-1918

Maria Bucur

This essay explores feminism's relations with nationalism and liberalism by examining specifically how feminists in late-nineteenth-century Romania understood citizenship and how they articulated views about women's empowerment starting from specific assumptions about individual rights and responsibilities in the community (as regulated by the state through citizenship). This perspective enables me to explain the eagerness of many feminist activists to work within the dominant paternalist/patriarchal context not as a paradox, but rather as an outgrowth of locally grounded, powerful contexts that worked together to afford specific choices to women struggling against patriarchy. In the case I discuss below feminists understood women's empowerment in terms of validating and increasing women's civic duties and responsibilities, rather than struggling for individual rights. These arguments built upon a well-established, albeit not clearly articulated, concept of republican citizenship, and reconstructed it most often in the language of nationalism (frequently ethno-nationalism), which had wide currency in Romania in the late nineteenth century.

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“The Person Chosen by Me”

Runaway Brides, Orthodox Missionaries, and the Construction of Empire among the Buriats, 1870s–1917

Jesse D. Murray

This article revisits the trope of the runaway bride, a popular means of narrating the conversion to Orthodoxy of Buriat women during the nineteenth century that depicted women's conversions as pragmatic and lacking religious meaning. Using petitions and memoranda from church archives, Murray finds that encounters between Buriats and missionaries over the conversion and remarriage of Buriat women served as a powerful means of incorporating the Buriats into the Russian Empire by producing new, imperially shaped possibilities for Buriat self-definition. Women seeking conversion and remarriage utilized conceptions about women's individual rights within marriage based in discourses about marriage and patriarchy then widespread in central Russia. Men contesting the remarriage of wives and daughters treated Buriat custom as a formally sanctioned branch of imperial law, transforming flexible custom into codified, inflexible customary law.

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Changing rights and wrongs

The transnational construction of indigenous and human rights among Vietnam's Central Highlanders

Oscar Salemink

In the context of the conflict-ridden relationship with the Vietnamese state and the growing transnational interference by their vociferous diaspora, this paper analyzes particular shifts in the framing of their rights. A notion of collective group rights that are by definition particularistic and exclusive has given way to individual rights (especially religious freedom) that are universal and inclusive. Simultaneously, a localized and communal emphasis has changed to a transnational one oriented toward international fora. Local interests and aspirations thus come to be framed as universal human rights that pertain to individuals, rather than local rights that pertain to collectives. In this light, recent attempts to theorize minority or indigenous rights appear to be ineffective and will probably be counter-productive.

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Patrick Lenta

The theme of this special issue of Theoria is the relationship between constitutions, constitutional review and democracy. The four essays that make up the issue advance new arguments, offer fresh perspectives and make innovative proposals in response to a cluster of questions: what institutional arrangement of constitutional review best realizes the ideals of democracy? How does rightsbased judicial review fare, relative to constitutional review carried out by other branches of government, from the perspectives of democratic legitimacy and epistemic competence? Are courts more likely to uphold individual rights than legislatures? If democracy requires the participation of citizens in ordinary political decision making, should citizens be permitted to participate in the periodic revision of formal constitutions?