On April 24th, in memory of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Institute for Global Studies, the Human Rights Program, the Department of Sociology, and the Ohanessian Chair hosted a conference to promote understanding of mass violence, in general, and the Armenian Genocide, in particular, and analyze the implications of such events in a public context. The first session of the conference consisted of three different speakers who spoke on the topic of survival, trauma and resilience.
Professor Alejandro Baer from the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Yagmur Karakaya from the Department of Sociology led the penultimate session of this series of HGMV workshops by presenting their work on Holocaust memory politics in Spain and Turkey. Particularly relevant due to the timing of Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Day of the Republic of Spain and the criminal implications of their work in Turkey today, Baer and Karakaya spoke on the effects of recognition and memory of genocide, in general, and the Holocaust, in particular, in the countries of Spain and Turkey.
Mike Alberti, the Human Rights Scribe for 2015, is a second-year Master of Fine Arts candidate in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota. Alberti comes to the fellowship with an interest in the connection between writing and expression for prisoners in Minnesota. For the past year, he has been working with a group called the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (MPWW), a local non-profit organization that provides creative writing classes in Minnesota state prisons. The Scribe fellowship will allow him to continue teaching in prison over the summer, as well as to assist with administrative duties, including helping to organize a public reading of the work of incarcerated writers.
This summer, five students from colleges in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area will begin their work at the new, Minneapolis-based non-profit organization, Prison Nursery Project. The focus of their work will be on investigating the impact of incarcerating mothers with their young children in prisons throughout the world, with the overall goal of documenting and bringing to light the serious developmental and human-rights-related implications of such imprisonment.
As part of the University's Guy Stanton Ford Lecture Series, author and activist Bryan Stevenson spoke to a full crowd at Northrop Auditorium on issues surrounding contemporary and historical injustice in the legal system of the United States. Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, working primarily to advocate for young children, juveniles, and adults who are facing mandatory life sentences and/or a death penalty.
Earlier this semester, Carrie Oelberger presented her research project called "A Thousand Wildflowers or a Formal Garden? International Grantmaking and the Structuring of Transnational Society" at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The project addresses the way in which foundations disproportionately disperse the majority of their grant money to NGOs in first world countries rather than concentrating on giving money to organizations located in developing countries. She questions if grant giving takes the organized form of a metaphorical garden or if funding is more scattered and diverse, as in a field of wildflowers.
Each spring, the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies celebrate the tremendous work of students in human rights with the Inna Meiman Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to nominate an undergraduate student who has truly been impressive in their human rights work. Self-nominations are also accepted. The awards will be given out at a luncheon ceremony on Friday, May 8th.
Early in March, we welcomed several of the foremost experts and scholars on post-Communist Europe to the University of Minnesota to engage in a three-day discussion about social memories and human rights in the region. Organized within the IAS "Reframing Mass Violence Collaborative" by the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies from March 4-6, scholars from the U of M and other U.S.-based and international institutions engaged in lively exchanges aimed at creating a better understanding surrounding the re-interpretation and reframing of the atrocities and the transitional justice mechanisms adopted afterwards.
As part of the first workshop of the Holocaust, Genocide and Mass Violence Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Group workshop series, Amber Michele, a graduate student in the interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Studies program delivered a talk on "American Islamic Organizations: Response Narrative to Counterterrorism Initiatives." Michele's current research examines how counterterrorism initiatives impact Muslim organizations in America and is particularly interested in examining how the pressure of policing destabilizes Islamic civil society in the U.S. Michel works extensively with local Muslim communities on issues of civil rights, law enforcement and discrimination.
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.