Knowledge Production Methods in Human Rights Research: Constraints and Opportunities for the Promotion of an Interdisciplinary Approach

  • Cristina De la Cruz-Ayuso Pedro Arrupe Human Rights Institute, University of Deusto
Keywords: human rights, epistemology, knowledge production, interdisciplinary, research, institutionalization, academic structures


This article asks about the current modes of production in human rights research and how they are (or may be) determined by the structures where that knowledge is generated. These questions will be answered by looking at the results of a preliminary study on the reception and subsequent institutionalisation of studies on human rights in stable structures that are dedicated to their research, training and dissemination in Spanish universities. The starting hypothesis is that this institutionalisation causes conceptual, epistemological and methodological biases in the rationales for knowledge construction in the field of human rights that determine and hinder the interdisciplinary approach demanded by its study. Interdisciplinarity has become a dominant aspect of human rights research. The question about how this feature is articulated and who articulates it in the academic institutional framework is pertinent in a field of knowledge that cannot avoid asymmetries in the production and circulation of knowledge. The results show that human rights research has been mainly institutionalised in stable university structures in Spain within the field of legal sciences, with a clear predominance of the area of the Philosophy of Law. It can be concluded that this has been conditioned by the reception and subsequent development of the study of human rights in Spain. While it has been found that the line developed by these centres and research groups has been consolidated and recognised, it can also be confirmed that their modes of knowledge production do not match the rationale of interdisciplinary research. These limitations are not just endogenous. There are some features of Spanish institutional R&D&i culture that make interdisciplinary research on human rights difficult.


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How to Cite
De la Cruz-Ayuso, C. (2019). Knowledge Production Methods in Human Rights Research: Constraints and Opportunities for the Promotion of an Interdisciplinary Approach. The Age of Human Rights Journal, (13), 75-98.