Jo Butterfield is a Visiting Assistant Professor of history at the University of Iowa. Her research examines the history of modern human rights by examining the intersections between policy, ideology, and activism. Her book manuscript (in progress), “Social Justice, Not Charity:” International Women’s Activism, Gender Politics and the Making of Modern Human Rights” explores how feminist activists navigated international politics and ideas about gender in their efforts to promote a global “social revolution” for women in the aftermath of World War II. Activists’ efforts centered on the creation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which serves as the foundation of human rights standards to this day. During the drafting process, feminist delegates lobbied to incorporate long-standing women’s rights claims into the new, emerging human rights framework. Ultimately, feminist activism and ideas about appropriate gender roles influenced UDHR drafters’ views about human rights in ways that expanded, but also significantly curtailed postwar human rights standards for men and women alike.
She currently teaches courses on the World since 1945, the US in World Affairs, the History of Human Rights, and Cold War America.