2/8: Elizabeth Borgwardt on “The Nuremberg Idea: Crimes against Humanity in History, Law & Politics”

“The Nuremberg Idea” offers a historically-informed answer to one of the key social theory questions of our time: How did “human rights” become a concept that even the most heinous regimes feel they need to buy into? In tackling this question through the vector of the term “crimes against humanity,” this history offers a new transdisciplinary analysis of how human rights norms are formed, transmitted, and sustained, both domestically and at the supra-national level. Nuremberg-infused ideas about accountability and sovereignty have unfolded throughout the postwar era, culminating in the United Nations’ official adoption of the doctrine of “the Responsibility to Protect” in 2005.

Liz Borgwardt specializes in the history of international law with a focus on human rights ideas and institutions. As associate professor of History at Washington University in St Louis, she also holds a courtesy appointment in Law. Her A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights, was published by Harvard University Press and has been recognized as the Best Book in the History of Ideas and the Best First Book in U.S. Foreign Relations by the Organization of American Historians and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, respectively. It is in its fourth printing. Borgwardt has earned History doctorate from Stanford, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. She has held fellowships with Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and NYU, as well as a Fulbright with the University of Heidelberg and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. She recently served as the Richard and Ann Pozen Visiting Professor of Human Rights at theUniversity of Chicago. Her current project on crimes against humanity in history, law, and politics is under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See www.nationalhistorycenter.org for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.  Reservations requested because of limited seating.

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