Maria Akchurin

Graduate Lecturer in Human Rights

Maria Akchurin is a PhD candidate in sociology. Her dissertation research, “The Politics of Water: Expert Knowledge and Civil Society Mobilization in Argentina and Chile,” investigates the history of water supply privatization and its consequences in Argentina and Chile from the 1980s to the present, considering the roles of states and markets in the management and distribution of a natural resource that is often simultaneously treated as an economic good and a basic human right. The study is motivated by broader research concerns about institutional change, environment and development, and policies affecting social welfare.

Maria has also carried out other research in political sociology. She studied mobilization and alliance building around the introduction of the rights of nature into Ecuador’s 2008 constitution. With Professor Cheol-Sung Lee, she published an article on the impact of different forms of women’s activism on gender pay equity and is currently participating in an NSF-funded comparative-historical study of labor politics. At the University of Chicago, she has taught writing, classic texts on economy and society in the Power, Identity, and Resistance core sequence, and worked as a TA for courses ranging from problems of policy implementation to an interdisciplinary practicum centered on food and the environment in the Calumet region of Illinois and Indiana.

More information can be found on her page at the Department of Sociology.

In the Spring 2014, she will teach a Human Rights course titled "Law, Mobilization, and Social Change in Comparative Perspective" (HMRT 22002). See the course syllabus and description below for more information:

This course examines various approaches to law, social movements, and social change. In what ways and under what conditions do legal institutions constrain movement activity and when do they offer opportunities for social movements? How do social movements use legal mobilization and claims about legal rights to pursue their goals? Under what conditions do movements choose to use institutional channels and when do they take extra-legal action? When do rights frameworks tend to be most effective in making claims on the state? What are the roles of lawyers and other experts in reproducing existing institutions or fostering social change? What is the relationship between global norms and the local realities of implementation? We will explore these questions using a series of case studies on women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, environmental justice, and other sites of mobilization drawn from the global north and south, especially in the Americas.