The Female Inheritance Movement in Hong Kong: Theorizing the Local/Global Interface

Current Anthropology, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 387-408, June 2005

23 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2008

See all articles by Sally Engle Merry

Sally Engle Merry

New York University (NYU) - Department of Anthropology

Rachel E. Stern

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Jurisprudence & Social Policy; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Abstract

Human rights concepts dominate discussions about social justice at the global level, but how much local communities have adopted this language and what it means to them are far less clear. As individuals and local social movements take on human rights ideas, they transform the shape and meaning of rights to accommodate local understandings. At the same time, they retain aspects of the global framework as signs of a global modernity that they wish to share. How and when individuals in various social locations come to see themselves in terms of human rights is a complicated but critically important question for anthropologists of globalization as well as for human rights activists. Using the female inheritance movement in Hong Kong in the early 1990s as a case study, this article argues that localization of global human rights ideas depends on a complicated set of activist groups with different ideological orientations along with translators who bridge the gaps. As it explores the local appropriation of global cultural products, it reveals the instabilities of global and local and the importance of tracing the processes of translation and collaboration that make communication across this continuum possible.

Keywords: Globalization, human rights, frames, indigenization

Suggested Citation

Merry, Sally Engle and Stern, Rachel E., The Female Inheritance Movement in Hong Kong: Theorizing the Local/Global Interface. Current Anthropology, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 387-408, June 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1119525

Sally Engle Merry (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Anthropology ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Rachel E. Stern

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Jurisprudence & Social Policy ( email )

School of Law
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-2150
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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