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 4th-6th 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.
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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.
For years, the Department of Antioquia, Colombia has been torn apart by armed conflict, displacing thousands of its residents. Consequently, many of the children living in the region have suffered from violence, homelessness, sexual exploitation, inadequate housing, and haphazard adoptions in which the state has carelessly placed children in harmful circumstances. Additionally, Antioquia's children have also been impacted by environmental pollution, illegal mining work, lack of access to healthcare, and child marriages. In an attempt to improve the situation in Antioquia, La Alianza submitted a shadow report to the Committee on the Rights of a Child (CRC) with recommendations outlining ways in which the Colombian government can work to advance the rights of children in the region.
Over the past months, the University of Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership has been working on the issue of forced resettlement in Antioquia, Colombia. Legal clinics operating in Medellín and supported by the Partnership have worked with victims who have been forcibly relocated, often as a result of armed conflict. In particular, the clinics have targeted the Colombian state's failure to adopt legislative and administrative measures aimed at protecting the rights of those affected by resettlement. After submitting a petition to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) at the end of 2014, the Partnership has recently learned that they will be granted a hearing in Washington DC on March 19th, 2015.
On February 9, the Minnesota International Relations Colloquium hosted a discussion with Séverine Autesserre, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Columbia University, about her recently published book, Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and Everyday Politics of International Intervention (Cambridge University Press, 2014). While Dr. Autesserre specializes in international relations and African studies, her current research examines how everyday elements influence peacebuilding interventions on the ground.
Images of violence have become a constant in international discourse. Videotaped beheadings are used to manipulate outrage. Advocates of global action against the violence in Syria try to raise the stakes with a provocative photo of children in a cage.In the midst of this global debate played out in images, the Holocaust, Genocide and Mass Violence workshop considered the question, what role should photographs of violence play in our own pedagogy? Do photographs assist our understanding of the violence that often at the core of our work or do they just provoke emotions that cloud and confuse our analytical understanding of human rights violations?
This international symposium will examine the dynamics of public remembrance in post-communist Europe as it reaches beyond the role of legal tribunals, truth commissions, official apologies, lustration and reparations and into less formal forms of memory, including museums, film and television series, and visual art. The highlight of the symposium is the keynote address by John-Paul Himka, Professor of History and Classics, University of Alberta. Professor Himka will discuss recent political, social and cultural developments that have facilitated a more nuanced understanding of the complexities and discontinuities in representations of the Holocaust and the role that memory plays in contemporary discussions of national identity in Eastern Europe.
On 29 December 2014, the StarTribune published the following article in its Op-Ed section:
Urban and economic planners increasingly speak about "clusters" of industries driving, and even defining, a region. Think Silicon Valley or the burgeoning med-tech industry thriving in multiple Minnesota communities. The same concept seems to be in effect locally regarding advancing global human rights. The latest indication is the recently announced collaboration between the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Human Rights Watch (HRW), an independent, international organization that documents human rights conditions and presses for "positive and sustainable change."
The University of Minnesota and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs are excited to host Meriem El Haitami and Dr. Rachid Touhtou from Morocco as visiting scholars for the 2015 Spring term. As recipients of the Andrew Carnegie Centennial Fellowship in Support of Visiting Scholars in the Social Sciences from Arab Universities, they will work with Humphrey School Professor James Ron on human rights issues specific to their interest.
The Human Rights Program talks to the two scholars about their work at the Humphrey School, their research interests, and how they see their time at the University contribute to their work. Here are excerpts from the interview: