Cover of Stones of Hope by Edited by Lucie E. White and Jeremy Perelman
Stones of Hope
How African Activists Reclaim Human Rights to Challenge Global Poverty
Edited by Lucie E. White and Jeremy Perelman


280 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804769198
Paperback ISBN: 9780804769204
Ebook ISBN: 9780804776431

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Excerpts and More

Many human rights advocates agree that conventional advocacy tools— reporting abuses to international tribunals or shaming the perpetrators of human rights violations—have proven ineffective. Increasingly, social justice advocates are looking to social and economic rights strategies as promising avenues for change. However, widespread skepticism remains as to how to make such rights real on the ground.

Stones of Hope engages with the work of remarkable African advocates who have broken out of the conventional boundaries of human rights practice to challenge radical poverty. Through a sequence of case studies and interpretive essays, it illustrates how human rights can be harnessed to generate democratic institutional innovations. Ultimately, this book brings the reader down from the heights of official human rights forums to the ground level of advocacy. It is a must-read for human rights advocates, development practitioners, students, educators, and all others interested in an equitable global society.

About the authors

Lucie E. White is Louis A. Horvitz Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Jeremy Perelman is Lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School and a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School.

"Stones of Hope is a terrific book that should be required reading for anyone interested in pragmatic advocacy for economic and social rights . . . [It] provides the rare experience of reading a book that is simultaneously inspiring, analytical, and provocative. Above all, it demonstrates that the effort to make human rights relevant to the world's billion people in poverty is a worthwhile and realistic struggle."

—Dan Chong, Human Rights Quarterly

"Stones of Hope is a foundational contribution to the law and social change field. The book is impressive for both what it does . . . and how it does it . . . [Stones of Hope is] a stunning achievement that lives up to its brilliantly evocative title. It is, in my view, essential reading not only for those who care about the sociology of law, but for all students and practitioners who care about using law to make the world more just and humane. In this sense, Stones of Hope is a model of what legal scholarship should be: academically rigorous and—most importantly—deeply engaged in the project of social justice. That is the stone that we all should carry forth."

—Scott L. Cummings, Journal of Legal Education

"[A]n optimistic and progressive book . . . innovative . . . Some book reviews take it as their objective to convince their audience to read the book under review. This is one of those."

—Jonathan Klaaren, South African Journal on Human Rights

"[White and Perelman's] introduction, two theoretical essays, and epilogue underscore common strands in strategies, norm-building innovations, and the generation of institutional renovation rooted in ESR. Not unexpectedly, the case studies reveal very diverse contexts, experiences, and outcomes, not a general model of public agitation and government response. Nevertheless, the essays find creative local strategies and offer new insights into the roles of lawbreaking and lawmaking in the process of social change and public policy evolution . . . Recommended."

—J. P. Smaldone, CHOICE

"Stones of Hope presents an unusual set of case studies and theoretical essays on innovative human rights activism arising from Africa. The material on the innovative civil society initiatives in the legal and educational spheres to implement a right of access to health care in South Africa is extremely impressive and, on its own, makes this volume required reading."

—Albie Sachs, human rights activist, former member of South Africa's Constitutional Court

"A breakthrough text. This important work profoundly alters the way scholars and lawyers conceive of strategies for economic and social rights practice. Through sustained collaboration between leading human rights scholars and African lawyers and activists, this volume theorizes the crucial issues facing the field in original and illuminating ways. Stones of Hope is a must read, and one that has set a new standard for collaborative analysis and thought-provoking inquiry."

—Caroline Elkins, Harvard University, author of Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

"When I am asked to identify the most serious human rights violation in the world today, my reply is consistent: extreme poverty. Though international human rights standards are often criticized for being ineffective in the face of global poverty, creative human rights practice can offer new strategies for tackling this seemingly intractable problem. Stones of Hope shows how this promise is indeed being realized, in sub-Saharan Africa, on the ground. This remarkably timed, methodologically innovative, and illuminating collection of case studies and essays by leading activists and scholars in the socio-economic rights field, demonstrates how human rights strategies can have a sustainable impact on the livelihoods and well-being of the world's most marginalized people. The volume is a must-read for all of those interested in making rights real and working towards an ethical globalization."

—Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of the Republic of Ireland

"Stones of Hope could not have come at a better time. Between high theory and descriptive case studies, this field needed solidly researched, theoretically anchored, and empirically rich scholarship. This volume delivers it, and is a must-read for anyone interested in how to make economic, social and cultural rights real. And it provides inspiration for a better world on top of it."

— Peter Uvin, Tufts University