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Jonas Ross Kjærgård

The Community of Rights: Human Rights and the Concept of Nature in the Context of the French Revolution and the Terror

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The article presents the argument that in order to have human rights in the years of the French Revolution it was necessary to be and act in accordance with an ambiguous concept of the natural. While the idea of the natural or of human nature could be an inclusive and universal one, it could also be used in a particularistic and excluding way which was the case in the legislation of Maximilien de Robespierre’s Terror Regime. Situated somewhere between inclusion in and exclusion from the community of rights, the playwright and political activist Olympe de Gouges sought to propagate an understanding of the natural that could better accommodate women and nonmarital children. Her attempts were futile, however, and in 1793 she was sentenced to death according to a newly written law meant to prosecute enemies of the Republic’s natural community.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAkademisk Kvarter
Issue5
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages12
ISSN1904-0008
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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