Vernacular rights cultures and the ‘Right to Have Rights’

Robin Dunford, Sumi Madhok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use a case study of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil and the Via Campesina network of which they are part to develop the concept of ‘vernacular rights cultures’. Vernacular rights cultures calls attention to the way in which demands for the right to have rights call on particular cultures, histories and political contexts in a manner that can transform the rights inscribed in constitutions and political imaginaries. What Ranciere (1999) and Balibar (2002) call the democratization of democracy, we therefore argue, does not just involve a logic of equality and inclusion through which dispossessed groups demand already existing rights. Rather, it also occurs as mobilisations alter the means through which rights are delivered and transform the content and meaning of the rights demanded.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-619
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Citizenship Studies on 25/08/2015, available online:


  • human rights
  • citizenship
  • vernacular rights cultures
  • Landless Workers Movement
  • acts of citizenship


Dive into the research topics of 'Vernacular rights cultures and the ‘Right to Have Rights’'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this