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Human Rights Program
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Human Rights Program

News

  • Paula Cuellar, Human Rights Minor, recognized, supported in her dissertation research

    Paula Cuellar Cuellar, Ph.D candidate in history and Human Rights Minor, has recently been awarded three prestigious awards for her human rights scholarship, from the Hawkinson Foundation Scholarship, the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California, and the American Association of University Women International.

    Paula's dissertation focuses on the scorched earth campaigns used during the civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador. With particular attention on the effects on women and girls, she aims to understand the situation as that of a genocide. This is bold, because contemporary international law normally defines such campaigns on the grounds of race, ethnicity, and religion.

    Nevertheless, Paula believes this to have been the case. She claims that the definition misses the mark, for it puts too much emphasis on fitting people into a narrow list of "acceptable" group identities and not enough on the form of violations that the perpetrators carry out. Her work, therefore, aims to better document the situation and its effects to increase our understanding of the situation and build a case around an argument for such a classification. Her dissertation is furthermore unique for its combination of explanatory and normative arguments around human rights within the discipline of history.

    Her research on this important topic would not be possible without the generous support of donors, such as those from the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation. Founded in 1988, the Hawkinson Foundation "encourages and inspires the next generation of peace and justice leaders." Competitively-based, the scholarship is awarded each year to students across the upper Midwest who demonstrate a commitment to peace and justice as a way to support their studies. As a Hawkinson Foundation Scholar, Paula has been recognized for her impressive scholarship and contributions to the academic community as a whole. 

    Similarly, the Shoah Foundation's Institute for Visual History and Education supports graduate fellows who are conducting advanced research on topics related to genocide. As the 2016-2017 Center for Advanced Genocide Research Fellow, Paula will be one of the first people with access to the Foundation's newest testimonies of Guatemalan Genocide survivors--an honor for her. She will conduct research from August to September 2016 and give a public talk on her work, which will allow her to further strengthen her analysis and receive additional input from scholars and practitioners.

    Moreover, Paula has been awarded an International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to support her research. Aiming at empowering women in academia, AAUW is recognizing her substantial contributions to understanding violence against women and girls and how reparation measures can be better applied to fit their needs. Her awarding is momentous, they recognize, as she is the first Salvadorean to win an AAUW fellowship.

    Her current research is the culmination of many years of schooling. Paula received an LL.B. Degree from the Central American University José Simeón Cañas in San Salvador (El Salvador), a Master's Degree in Human Rights and Education for Peace from the University of El Salvador, and a Master's Degree in Human Rights and Democratization Processes from the University of Chile. She also holds an LL.M. degree in International Human Rights Law from Notre Dame.

    Congratulations Paula!
    (Continue Reading)
  • Call for Papers/Convocatoria de Ponencias


    Third International Conference of the "Local Action in Response to Migration" Network


    With the conference just four months away, the academic bodies comprising the third international conference are seeking interested and relevant persons and institutions to submit papers for presentation.

    This two-day conference is designed to share the experiences arising from local action with regard to migration. It will support the examination of key efforts in response to migration and migrants in the framework of the most recent challenges to the dynamics in the movement of peoples that unite Mesoamerica and North America as well as their transnational effects.



    For those interested in presenting their findings or investigative work, the substantive focus should be on one of the following two topics:


    • Migration and human rights, or
    • Migration and testimonial/artistic/cultural practices

    Proposals must be submitted before June 15th, 2016, to the Human Rights Program email (hrp@umn.edu) with the following information:

    • Title of paper/presentation
    • Sub-topic to which it corresponds
    • Name of author(s)
    • Affiliated institutions
    • Email address of author(s)
    • Abstract (Maximum of 200 words)
    • Curriculum vitae (Maximum of a half page for each author)

    Presentations may be submitted in English or Spanish.


    For more details in English, click here.

    Para más detalles en español, haga click aquí
    (Continue Reading)
  • University of Minnesota Hosts Black Feminism Cornerstone Event

    Sponsored by the Winton Chair in the College of the Liberal Arts, this three-day event was made possible by the efforts of black feminists who sought to bring greater awareness to black cultural life and politics through poetry and performance. Using voice, storytelling, and deep collaboration, these artists, scholars, and intellectuals invigorate the meaning and practice of community. In the era of Black Lives Matter, the intensive Cornerstone event examined how black feminist queer existence and influence informs current practices and life by centering love, realness and each other. By incorporating art, discussion, interactive presentations, oral histories and singing, the conference entitled, Learning to Breathe: Black Feminism, Performative Pedagogies, and Creative Praxis, exuded creativity, innovation, and celebration. Here is an insight into just a few of the inspiring events:

    Thursday’s schedule kicked off with Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a self-described feminist, storyteller, poet, historian, archaeologist, and artist--a “renaissance women,” if you will. Her event, titled “Love is Life Force,” invited the audience to take part in an interactive discussion around black feminism and its present position. Attendees were introduced to such leading black women as Harriet Tubman, Toni Cade Bambara, and Essex Hemphill, learning through the influence they have throughout time and space on black imagery.

    Moving into theater and the arts, the founders of MaMa mOsAiC Theater in Minneapolis, Shá Cage and Signe Harriday, discussed their collaborative efforts in forming the theater and the bold moves they made. In an effort to bring attention to the marginalized, their theater work often focuses on women of color and their position in the arts as a way to break down the roles that have traditionally suppressed them and limited their success. Their dialogue set the stage for the community performance to follow, The Blacker the Berry.

    Combining various pieces into a whole, The Blacker the Berry featured eight different original pieces created through “radical collaborative” workshops of local black female artists. Many different generations were represented on stage, but the vast majority of the women were young and nearly all were performing for their first time with MaMa mOsAiC. Hip-hop, traditional African music, poetic text, symbolic movement and voguing were just some of the mediums used to make visible the rich but often marginalized stories of black women and black queer culture.

    Andrea Jenkins, who performed an autobiographical poem in The Blacker the Berry about coming to terms with her identity as a black trans woman, also served as the keynote earlier in the programming. Titled The “T” Is Not Silent, the goal of her talk was to raise further awareness to the tensions of trans identities in black queer feminist discourse. Jenkins is a local leader and voice for the Minnesota black trans community, taking the time to highlight the intersectionality of black feminism and black queer/trans identity in Minneapolis and elsewhere.

    There were many more events that shed light on the work being done in the arts around feminism and Black Culture. The Winton Chair sponsors events like Learning to Breathe as a way to provide space for individuals to “question established patterns of thought.” Three to five days long, cornerstone events support the campus visits of exceptionally innovative individuals or groups of scholars and artists without regard for traditional conceptions of discipline or medium. Keeping with the Winton Chair’s mission, these visits aim to catalyze new intellectual relationships within and among College of Liberal Arts, the University, and the broader community. Cornerstone visitors are encouraged to think outside conventional forms of academic presentation and pedagogy.

    -Written by Amanda Kruger and Daniel Sbriglio
    (Continue Reading)

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Upcoming Events

Human Rights Beat

  • Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'

    The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago's west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. Continue reading on The Guardian's website.

    March 6th, 2015
  • Amnesty International requests letter signing for Syrian asylum seekers pressured to return

    Reports in the media show that staff at the Manus Island, Papua New Guinea detention centre, run by the Australian Government, are pressuring Syrian asylum seekers to return to Syria where they will be in extreme danger. Read more on the Amnesty International website.

    June 10th, 2014
  • The ICRC releases video on Colombian human rights situation

    It's a crucial time for Colombia with presidential elections slated for this Sunday and ongoing peace talks between the government and FARC guerrillas continuing in Havana, Cuba. In a new Intercross video, the head of the ICRC's delegation in Bogotá, Jordi Raich, says Colombia is at a crossroads -- poised on the verge of economic growth, shrinking poverty, and the potential to put an end to half a century of war. Watch the video on the Intercross website.

    May 28th, 2014
  • US: A Nation Behind Bars

    Far too many US laws violate basic principles of justice by requiring disproportionately severe punishment, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 36-page report, "Nation Behind Bars: A Human Rights Solution," notes that laws requiring penalties that are far longer than necessary to meet the purposes of punishment have given the United States the world's highest reported rate of incarceration. These laws have spawned widespread and well-founded public doubts about the fairness of the US criminal justice system. Continue reading on the Human Rights Watch website.

    May 7th, 2014

External Human Rights Events

  • Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop Public Reading Organized by Human Rights Scribe

    On Saturday, October 24th, the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (MPWW) will hold a reading at Hamline University. The reading, organized by MFA candidate Mike Alberti as part of the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship, will feature the work of several writers currently incarcerated in Minnesota state correctional facilities. MPWW instructors will read pieces of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction on behalf of their students, and two formerly incarcerated alumni of MPWW classes will read their own work aloud for the first time. 


    This is a free reading, open to the public, so please come and invite a friend. A short Q&A and informal discussion will follow. Plus, there will be snacks! It’s sure to be a very powerful evening. We hope you can make it!


    Where:  Hamline University,
                  Klas Center, Kay Fredericks Room
                 1537 Taylor Avenue
                 St. Paul, MN 55104

    When:  Saturday, October 24th, 2015, 7:00 PM

    To learn more about MPWW and their work, please visit http://www.mnprisonwriting.org/
    (Continue Reading)

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