Recognizing the Human Right to a Name and the Implications for Giving and Changing Personal Names

Ringvorlesung "Normenkonflikte in pluralistischen Gesellschaften" des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen"

Prof. Dr. Alison Dundes Renteln (University of Southern California)

28. Oktober 2015,. 18.15 Uhr
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Campus Westend, Hörsaalzentrum, HZ 10

Abstract
Personal names generate confl ict in pluralistic societies because names are intimately connected to conceptions of the self. They serve as important symbolic representations of individual identity and as a crucial tool for documentation of persons residing within state borders. Laws governing names also function as a form of social control. For immigrants the choice of fi rst names may be especially controversial because naming customs reflect
deeply held values. This analysis considers the extent to which the right to a name is protected under international law and general principles like privacy and freedom of expression and how such a right ought to be construed. After establishing the jurisprudential status of the right to a name, we investigate disputes from various countries involving the parental naming of children and individuals who challenge government policies that force them to take their husbands’ surnames. Regulations governing the choice and use of names in pluralistic societies illustrate the limits of law. This project demonstrates the importance of onomastics and anthroponymy for sociolegal studies.

CV

Alison Dundes Renteln is a Professor of Political Science, Anthropology, Law, and Public Policy at the University of Southern California where she teaches Law and Public Policy with an emphasis on comparative and international law. She has a BA in (Modern Europe) from Harvard, a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from USC. For three decades she has analyzed cultural confl icts in domestic and international legal systems and proposed policies designed to address these. Her publications include The Cultural Defense (Oxford, 2004), Folk Law (University of Wisconsin, 1995), Multicultural Jurisprudence (Hart, 2009), and Cultural Law (Cambridge, 2010), and Global Bioethics and Human Rights (Rowman & Littlefi eld, 2014) and numerous articles. She has enjoyed teaching judges, lawyers, court interpreters, jury consultants, and police offi cers. Renteln also collaborated with the UN on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, lectured on comparative legal ethics in Bangkok and Manila at conferences sponsored by the American Bar Association, and served on California civil rights commissions and a Human Rights Watch committee. She was a Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. Her current research focuses on the intersection between sensory studies and socio-legal studies.

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