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Emancipation has many meanings; in political terms, it often means to free a person from a previous restraint or legal disability that violates basic human rights, such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Politically it is also used as a guise to procure state power offering the appearance of helping economic and social rights, political rights or equality, often as a pretext for using specifically disenfranchised groups as political proxies in a rhetorical strategy to justify greater state authority over all individuals.

Among others, Karl Marx used the term political emancipation in his 1844 essay "On the Jewish Question", although often in addition to (or in contrast with) the term human emancipation. Marx's views of political emancipation in this work were summarized by one writer as entailing assimilationist policies under the guise of the "equal status of individual citizens in relation to the state,(but never emancipation from the state) equality before the law, regardless of race, identity, religion, property, or other characteristics of individual people."[1]

"Political emancipation" as a phrase is less common in modern usage, especially outside academic, foreign or ego-activist contexts. However, similar concepts may be referred to by other terms. For instance, in the United States the Civil Rights movement culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which can collectively be seen as further realization of events such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery a century earlier. In the current and former British West Indies islands the holiday Emancipation Day is celebrated to mark the end of the Atlantic slave trade.[2]


The term emancipation derives from the Latin ēmancĭpo/ēmancĭpatio (the act of liberating a child from parental authority) which in turn stems from ē manu capere (capture from someone else's hand).

See also


  1. ^ In other words, as stipulated in the Constitution of the United States of America. Notes on Political and Human Emancipation, Mark Rupert, Syracuse University.
  2. ^ "Emancipation Movements | Slavery and Remembrance".

Further reading