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Study Group (Archive, Academic Year 2009-10)

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The Human Rights and Social Movements Program will sponsor a regular Study Group during the 2009-2010 academic year. The aim of the Study Group will be to explore—both in theory and practice—the relationship between social movements and human rights.

Each meeting of the Study Group will feature a guest speaker or speakers who will address a central question related to the work of the program. Discussions will be moderated by Timothy Patrick McCarthy and Elliott Prasse-Freeman.

The Study Group will meet in the Carr Center Conference Room, 219 Rubenstein, on Fridays from 3:00-4:30pm, beginning September 18. It is open to the public, and students are especially encouraged to participate. Specific topics will change from week to week, and short readings may be circulated in advance via the Center and Program web sites.

For more information, please contact

The Study Group Discussion Board
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Spring 2010 Schedule

Feb. 5  Enchanted by a Chimera: Has 'Human Rights' Discourse Colonized the "Free Burma" Movement?

With Elliott Prasse-Freeman
Note Special Time and Venue: 2:30-4:00pm, Bolton Classroom, Littauer 130.

The tentative argument, subject to challenge by study group participants, is that the discourse of 'Human Rights' has actually colonized Burma's political opposition, overwriting the socio-cultural and political experiences and idioms that emerge from Burmese society with the pseudo-'universal' normative claims and demands of 'Human Rights' discourse.

Feb. 19  Social Movements and Human Dignity: Why Do People Seek Social Change?

With James Jasper. James Jasper's research and theory on social movements has emphasized two dimensions, their emotions and their strategic choices. What these tend to share is a respect for their subject matter and a concern for human capacities.

March 22, noon-1:30pm  Shifting Patterns of Dissent and Repression in a Changing China

With Jeffrey Wasserstrom. This talk will look at continuities and changes since the late 1970s in the things that have led Chinese citizens to write manifestos criticizing the government or take to the streets, and at the ways state responses to these activities have changed.

March 26, 3-4:30pm  Our Bondage, Our Freedom: The Long History of Slavery and Abolition.

Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Director, Human Rights and Social Movements Program, will present a talk entitled, "Our Bondage, Our Freedom: The Long History of Slavery and Abolition."

April 16, 3-4:30pm  A Blight on the Nation: Slavery in Today's America.

Ron Soodalter, co-author (with Kevin Bales) of The Slave Next Door, will present a talk entitled, "A Blight on the Nation: Slavery in Today's America."

Fall 2009 Schedule

Sept. 18  Margin or Mainstream:  Is Human Rights a Social Movement?

A discussion of how social movements have shaped human rights discourse with Timothy Patrick McCarthy and Elliott Prasse-Freeman.

Sept. 25  On Gender and Justice:  Can Feminism Go Global?

A discussion of the global implications of feminism with Kim Gandy, Fall Institute of Politics Fellow and former president, National Organization for Women.

Oct. 16  The Politics of Identity:  Are Gay Rights and Civil Rights Human Rights?

A discussion of the problem of coalition building in rights-based social movements with Rev. Irene Monroe, activist, theologian, and Huffington Post blogger.

Oct. 30  On Difference and Domination:  Can Islamists Have Human Rights?

A discussion of human rights in the Middle East with Sayres Rudy, visiting professor, Hampshire College, and Malalai Joya, Afghan Parliamentarian.

Nov. 13  Opiate of the Masses or Tool of Liberation:  What’s God Got to Do With It?

A discussion of the Accra Confession with Jonathan Page, Epps Fellow and assistant chaplain, The Memorial Church, and Susan Abraham, assistant professor, Harvard Divinity School.

Dec. 2  Suspending Indigenous Rights: Paternalism and Coercion
             in Australia's 'Intervention' in Aboriginal Communities.

A special brown-bag lunch talk by Sarah Maddison, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of South Wales.

Dec. 4  Disposable or Indispensable:  Why Does Slavery Still Exist?

A discussion of modern-day slavery and human trafficking with Ben Skinner and Siddharth Kara, Carr Center Fellows.

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