Revisiting a Writing Process: an Ode to Academic Freedom

How was Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights written? When did the process begin – and how did its (lengthy) working process fit with intensifying demands for productivity and quantified ‘impact’.

Allegra Lab’s thematic week on Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights concluded with a post on Dec 3 that revisited the book’s writing process. This process was long, receiving its first articulation in 2007.

Why all this time? The book’s editors Miia Halme-Tuomisaari and Pamela Slotte discuss this and more in their ‘Ode to Academic Freedom’.

Read full post here.

Toward the Messy History of Creative Tensions

Allegra Lab – an online platform dedicated to finding creative ways for filling the dead space that customarily exists in between ongoing scholarly debates and eventual publications – ran a thematic week on the book Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights from Nov 30 to Dec 3.

In addition to featuring glimpses of the introduction written by the volume’s editors Pamela Slotte and Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, the thematic week featured a post on the launch event of Nov 19. It also included an abridged version of Conor Gearty’s afterword for the book.

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Thematic Week at

This week our book and the history of human rights are featured via a thematic week at Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art – World. The week includes in total five posts. These include the introductory post of Nov 30, which introduced the current state of research on the theme, alongside an expansive bibliography of recent relevant publications. Today the week continues via an introduction of the ‘Textbook Narrative of Origins’ by Miia Halme-Tuomisaari and Pamela Slotte. We will share more update’s on this thematic week as it continues.

Links to the thematic week’s posts:

Thematic week: History of Human Rights (By Miia Halme-Tuomisaari & Pamela Slotte)

Introducting ‘Textbook Narrative of Origins’ (By Miia Halme-Tuomisaari & Pamela Slotte)

Toward the Messy History of Creative Tensions (Abridged version of the book’s Afterword written by Conor Gearty)

Book Launch (By Ukri Soirila)

Revisiting a Writing Process: Ode to Academic Freedom (By Miia Halme-Tuomisaari & Pamela Slotte)

We thank Allegra Lab for this collaboration!


On November 19 we celebrated the launch of Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights via an event arranged at the Think Corner of the University of Helsinki.

The event featured introductions by the editors Pamela Slotte and Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, with an inside comment from Martti Koskenniemi and an outside comment from Luis Eslava. The event conluded in a panel debate chaired by Reetta Toivanen including the editors, Martti Koskenniemi and the co-author of Chapter 1 Jacob Giltaj.

A video of the 1.5 hour event is available here:


Book Launch November 19!

Nov 19, 3-4:30 pm, Tiedekulma/Think Corner, Porthania, University of Helsinki


3:00 pm Introduction: Pamela Slotte & Miia Halme-Tuomisaari

3:20 pm ‘Inside Comment’: Martti Koskenniemi

3:30 pm ‘Outside Comment’: Luis Eslava

3:40 Panel Debate – Chair Reetta Toivanen, participants Jacob Giltaij, Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, Martti Koskenniemi, Pamela Slotte
Event will be livestreamed and is available for viewing at

When did the History of human rights begin?

Did the history of human rights begin decades, centuries or even millennia ago? What constitutes this history? And what can we really learn from ‘the textbook narrative’ – the unilinear, forward-looking tale of progress and inevitable triumph authored primarily by Western philosophers, politicians and activists? Does such a distinguishable entity as ‘the history of human rights’ even exist, or are efforts to read evidence in past events of the later ‘evolution’ of human rights mere ideology? This book explores these questions through a collective effort by scholars of history, law, theology and anthropology. Rather than entities with an absolute, predefined ‘essence’, this book conceptualizes human rights as open-ended and ambiguous. It taps into recent ‘revisionist’ debates and asks: what do we really know of the history of human rights?