In her paper "The Humanities, Human Rights, and the Comparative Imagination" Sophia A. McClennen argues that understanding the relationship between culture and human rights depends on humanist perspectives attentive to the relationship between storytelling and identity, mass culture and ideology, text and audience, critical thinking and engaged citizenship. After briefly considering how the divide between the humanities and human rights advocates developed and how it might best be overcome, she suggests that comparative cultural studies grounded in an ethical commitment to study the relationship between culture and society offers an indispensable perspective on the ties between culture and identity integral to any effort to promote global respect for human rights. Calling attention to the tyrannies of comparison that facilitate contemporary ideologies of absolutism, imperialism, and neoliberalism, she suggests that an ethical process of comparison requires translation, recognition, and imagination. Each of these comparative processes depends on a vision of the self and its other that is meaningfully relational, intertwined in conflict and tension as well as in collaboration and mutual representation.

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