Ayten Gundogdu

Rightlessness in an Age of Rights

Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants

Oxford University Press 2015

New Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network June 26, 2016 John McMahon

How does one “rethink and revise the key concepts of Hannah Arendt’s political theory in light of the struggles of asylum seekers, refugees, and...

How does one “rethink and revise the key concepts of Hannah Arendt’s political theory in light of the struggles of asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented immigrants” (207)? In her new book Rightlessness in An Age of Rights: Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants (Oxford University Press, 2015), Ayten Gundogdu (Political Science, Barnard College) engages this question to explore both a radical critique and radical rethinking of human rights in our age. The book challenges and reimagines central dimensions to Arendt’s thought – rightlessness, the political and the social, personhood, labor and work, and the ‘right to have rights’ – at the same time that it provides incisive analysis of the precarious conditions of and political action by migrants. The book works with Arendt to offer important critiques of a number of aspects of contemporary human rights theory and practice, and ultimately develops an approach to human rights as “political practices of founding.”


John McMahon has recently completed his PhD in Political Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and will be Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Beloit College starting in August 2016. He has been a Fellow at the Center for Global Ethics and Politics at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at The Graduate Center, which co-sponsors the podcast.