Human Rights Workshop Series

2014-2015 Human Rights Graduate Workshops

Wednesdays (even weeks of the quarter): 5:00–6:30pm

John Hope Franklin Room, Social Science Room 224

1126 E. 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 [map]

About the Workshop Series:

The recourse to Human Rights has become a defense against tyranny and the foundation for a multitude of actions to redress injustice and to effect peace.  Notwithstanding persistent and widely held doubts about the legitimacy and practicability of Human Rights, they have become significant tools both of change and of reconciliation.  Human Rights have turned into a rich and diverse international “institution” which even the worst abusers acknowledge.  At the beginning of the 21st Century, the issue  nature and the reach of Human Rights regimes has emerged as one of the foremost controversies in debates on the future of international order and, indeed, on the survivability of the global community.

In this context, this year’s Human Rights Workshop Series will take on the issue of humanitarianism and its relation to human rights.  Humanitarian initiatives and humanitarian mobilizations have never been as prominent as in the past forty years.  By the same token, contemporary humanitarianism has come under sharp attack from disparate quarters – as imperialist, as hopelessly inefficient, and as plain reactionary.  And yet, humanitarian practice flourishes and, as social work, has gained political prominence in the resurgence of religious movements and their politicization.  More importantly, the crisis of humanitarianism as idea and practice is but the consequence of actual humanitarian crises that have overwhelmed individual states, entire regions, and the international community. 

It is this syndrome – a flourishing and culturally diverse humanitarianism, a deep distrust in the humanitarian idea and practice, and the proliferation of humanitarian crises – that we hope to explore in the present and in the past.  For while social scientists, anthropologists, and humanitarian aid professionals may be inclined to think of this syndrome as a condition of the present, historians and literary scholars are keenly aware that the dilemma of “doing good” or, if you wish, of “care” and the “love of the world” have accompanied humanitarianism all along and in most every part of the world.

The workshop sessions will include common readings, graduate student presentations, and guest presenters on the theme of humanitarianism.  We welcome ongoing suggestions for papers, texts, and visitors and will accommodate requests as the schedule allows. 

For questions or to request papers, please contact:

Dongyoung Kim
PhD Student, Department of Anthropology
Human Rights Workshop Co-Coordinator                                                              dongyoungkim@uchicago.edu     

Emma Stone Mackinnon
PhD Student, Department of Political Science
Human Rights Workshop Co-Coordinator                                                              mackinnon@uchicago.edu

The 2014-2015 workshop schedule will be announced soon.