Categorization of Human Beings versus The Universality of Human Rights
The principle of non-discrimination is central to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the human rights discourse that surrounds it. The principle that no distinction should be made between people based on categorizations such as race and gender. Yet, discourse against discrimination is highly based on such categorizations. A discourse limited to such concepts is deeply problematic - A threefold problem of categorization of human beings versus the universality of human rights: 1. Words based on specific categories can never include everyone. 2. Each word needs to be defended against discourses that would exclude them, make them meaningless or turn them into tools of oppression by protecting stereotypes and categorizations rather than the human beings being stereotyped and categorized. 3. Discourse based on dividing people tend to divide them and lock them into these divisions, rather than bringing them together and helping them to liberate themselves. Basing the discourse on categorization of people can easily turn into a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. The solution proposed in this thesis is to expand the discourse for human rights research and advocacy by introducing a new conceptual framework around the concept of categorism, which is “prejudice, bigotry and discrimination, based on a categorization of human beings”. As a conceptual framework, categorism contains many different concepts divided into the three aspects of facets, foci and abstractions. The facets are how the categorism is done. This part of the model is based on Young's model “The Five Faces of Oppression”. The foci are categorism based on specific categorizations: The traditional concepts of racism, sexism, homophobia and so on. The abstractions are categorization itself being problematic. This part of the model is based on social constructionism and on the works of Dawkins, Leff and many other thinkers discussed throughout this thesis. As a side effect, the analysis has also spawned a range of potentially useful concepts and terms. These include dichotomism and narrativism (which are both closely related to the concept of categorism), as well as cateity and narrativization (which are both closely related to the concept of discourse). Also equivocations and discursive alliances, both signifying certain potential pitfalls of discourse. Finally, it provides a stronger yet more flexible definition of the concept of oppression: “Oppression is categorism in a severely unequal balance of power. A balance where a person, group or social structure doing categorism has a strong power advantage over the human beings who this categorism is being done to.”.