Human Rights, Security Politics and Embodiment

Human Rights, Security Politics and Embodiment

By Aneira J. Edmunds

Anthem Impact

How have human rights been entangled with state control of the body? And how have they failed to intervene effectively on tipping points such as the US’s endorsement of torture that removes the victim’s control over their own body? This book explores the way institutional human rights have glossed over such abuses and been complicit in security politics which see the Muslim body, especially the Muslim woman’s body, as an object of control.

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December 2023

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December 2023

£19.99, $23.80

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About This Book

Major theories of securitization have been indispensable in shedding light on how governmental security politics have been articulated through discourses or through institutionalized practices. While theorists in the field have acknowledged their state-centred focus, they have yet to remedy this. This book provides a rare opportunity to consider such theories in a non-state centred way, focusing instead on ‘virtuous’ or supra-national organizations such as judicial human rights institutions in Europe. This book aims to explore the ways such organizations, illustrated with particular but not exclusive, reference to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), have been complicit in governmental security agendas to the extent of losing their role as neutral arbiter of state actions to colluding with state-led security politics. Thus, it will link the socio-legal study of human rights with the politics of securitization and with European Studies, re-appraising the aspect of the ‘European Project’ that anticipated closer harmonization and integration of nation-states through the operation of supranational courts like the ECtHR. The situation in the United States will be used for comparative purposes. 

The first theme of the book will be to consider the relationship between human rights, embodiment and the violation of bodily integrity. It will demonstrate and explain the subordination of international rights to national security through the issue of ‘embodiment’, the most fundamental of human rights being to protect bodily integrity. 

The book seeks to tease out the contextual background to the way women’s bodies have been treated by judicial human rights. Building on a decade of research by the author, it shows that the steady expansion – in democratic countries – of laws restricting women’s dress and conduct, and [Muslim] women’s lack of success in contesting this via the national or supranational judiciary, are in part due to the liberal individualism that has characterized human rights from their inception.


This is a seminal, ground-breaking, and compelling study that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections. -- Midwest

The entanglements between human rights, the politics of security and embodiment are the key preoccupations of this book. It is a must-read for all who want to think more clearly about the conditionality of human rights in the world around us. With characteristic rigour and clarity, Edmunds’s intervention is timely and combative. — John Solomos, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick

Against the burgeoning literature on human rights, Aneira Edmunds offers a unique sociological perspective on rights, vulnerability and the body. In the process, she brings into sharp focus security, feminism, governance and post-colonialism, while exposing the “virtuous” reputation of the judicial apparatus. An indispensable guide to feminist debates about human rights and covered Muslim women. — Bryan S. Turner, Australian Catholic University

Author Information

Aneira J. Edmunds is an authority on human rights. She tackles controversial and topical issues relating in particular to human rights’ control over the woman’s body and the limitations of ‘virtuous’ institutions such as the ICC and the ECtHR.


Anthem Impact

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction: An Outline; 1. Sociology, Human Rights and the Body; 2. Securing Undesirable Bodies; 3. Virtuous Institutions and the Securitisation of Women’s Bodies; 4. The Conditionality of Human Rights; Conclusion: Desecuritising Human Rights; Bibliography; Index


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