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Fictions of DignityEmbodying Human Rights in World Literature$
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Elizabeth S. Anker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451362

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451362.001.0001

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Constituting the Liberal Subject of Rights

Constituting the Liberal Subject of Rights

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

(p.79) Chapter Three Constituting the Liberal Subject of Rights
Fictions of Dignity

Elizabeth S. Anker

Cornell University Press

This chapter offers a reading of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children in order to show how it adjudicates the yield of liberalism as a theory of politics and selfhood. Central to the plot of Midnight's Children are human rights violations and the recovery from those abuses. By subtly deconstructing widely held assumptions about the liberal social body and bodily integrity, the novel recasts the sociopolitical meanings of human rights, along with the dominant accounts of the subject tethered to those liberal norms. This chapter examines how Midnight's Children reveals the contradictions and foreclosures that haunt rights logic, along with correlative assumptions about democracy, the rule of law, secularism, and the democratic public sphere.

Keywords:   liberalism, Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children, selfhood, human rights violations, social body, bodily integrity, human rights, democracy, secularism

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