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Jonas Ross Kjærgård

Naturens lov: Slaveri, terror og menneskerettigheder i lyset af Olympe de Gouges’ L’esclavage des nègres, ou l’heureux naufrage (1789)

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The article analyzes Olympe de Gouges’ play L’esclavage des nègres, ou l’heureux naufrage (1789) and focus on its ambiguous concept of a law of nature. I distinguish between an inclusive, universal nature and an exclusive, particular understanding of nature, and aim to demonstrate how this equivocal concept mirrors a continuity between, on the one hand, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), and, on the other hand, the legislation of Robespierre’s Terror regime. Hence, as opposed to recent works on the human rights of the enlightenment by scholars such as Lynn Hunt and Jonathan Israel, I draw inspiration from Susan Maslan and Dan Edelstein and argue that the human rights of the eighteenth century prove to an unsolved problem of the limits of inclusion. This has important implications for the question of slavery. Instead of arguing an all-out abolition of slavery in the French colonies, Olympe de Gouges promotes an idea of order in the colonies. Basically, the principle of slavery is withheld while the concrete praxis of slavery is criticized.
Original languageDanish
JournalTidskrift foer Litteraturvetenskap
Pages (from-to)67-79
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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