Past events are organized by academic year. If an event was organized as part of a faculty project, a description may also be found under Projects.
Festival of Human Rights: Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
December 10, 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the landmark document that for the first time enumerated the fundamental human rights to be universally honored and protected. In honor of this occasion, the Pozen Center is throwing a Festival of Human Rights. Over an eight-hour period, attendees are invited to immerse themselves in the theory and practice of human rights through art making, literature, historical reflection, and more. Students, faculty, and community members will select one of the UDHR’s thirty articles and interpret it through a contemporary lens. Professor Carol Anderson will keynote the final session.
Human Rights in Practice Symposium
Join the Pozen Center for our annual Human Rights in Practice Symposium featuring presentations by our 2018 Human Rights Interns. Topics include: Human Rights and Labor, Public-Interest Policy, Reproductive Justice and Healthcare, Criminal Justice, Migration and Citizenship, and Organizing for Justice. Full list of panels and speakers available on our Facebook event.
Journalists Under Fire: Freedom of the Press in Mexico with Mago Torres
A free press is an essential element of human rights protection. Mexico is regarded as the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists who have been targeted and by criminal organizations and corrupt government officials fearful of independent investigative reporting. Mago Torres is a Mexican journalist and scholar whose work focuses on the right to information and data journalism. She is a co-founder of “2,000 Clandestine graves” which documents hundreds of grave-sites discovered across Mexico, and is part of the project A donde van los desaparecidos. This event is a part of our Eyes on Mexico speaker series.
The Disappeared Students of Ayotzinapa with Santiago Aguirre
On the night of September 26 – 27, 2014, Mexican police launched a brutal attack on a group of students from the Escuela Rural Normal de Ayotzinapa who had “borrowed” a bus from the central bus station in Iguala, Guerrero. 43 of the students have never been seen again; a committee of experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights discounted the Mexican government’s official story. Santiago Aguirre is an attorney with the Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro, a human rights NGO which represents the families of the Ayotzinapa students. The trail of responsibility for the students’ disappearance traces to Chicago and a heroin-importing conspiracy centered here. This event is a part of our Eyes on Mexico speaker series.
Mexico's Indigenous People with Jorge Fernandez Mendiburu
Since the Zapatista uprising in the mid-1990s, the human rights of Mexico’s diverse indigenous communities have risen to global attention. Jorge Fernandez Mendiburu is an attorney with Indignacion, a Yucatan NGO which works with Mayan communities to defend their land. Jorge has represented a Mayan community of bee-keepers whose honey has been contaminated by GMO-laden pollen from experimental fields owned by the Monsanto Corporation, winning an order that the government should have consulted with the Mayans before issuing a permit to Monsanto. This event is a part of our Eyes on Mexico speaker series.
Human Rights in Practice: Becoming a Paralegal in Prison & Working Toward Freedom with Eric Blackmon
Eric Blackmon, who was incarcerated for 16 years, became a paralegal when he was locked up at Stateville Correctional Center. With support from his family and friends, he represented himself and kept his case alive, winning a hearing by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a rare and extraordinary ruling. In January 2019, his long legal battle ended when prosecutors dropped the murder charges against him. Out on bond since May 2018, Blackmon has been working as a paralegal with the Christian Lawndale Legal Center. A former student of the Prison Neighborhood Arts Project, he is also committed to supporting education in prison. Eric Blackmon will share his journey learning the law, representing himself, and working to reform the criminal legal system. Open to students, faculty staff and community.
Central American Asylum Seekers with Helena Olea
In the past four years, thousands of Central American women, men, and children fled into Mexico from the violence in the Northern Triangle countries. Mexican civil society organizations have organized to assist the migrants whether they wish to remain in Mexico or continue to the United States. Helena Olea is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and legal advisor to Alianza Americas a coalition of immigrant-lead organizations with a regional presence in North America and Central America. In the past year, Helena has visited Mexico’s northern and southern borders, Mexico City, and other sites along the migrants’ routes to meet with Central American migrants and Mexican advocates. Helena has litigated before international human rights agencies and worked with the Inter-American Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Migrants. This event is a part of our Eyes on Mexico speaker series.
My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Torture Ring and Death Row
Ronald Kitchen was beaten and tortured by notorious police commander Jon Burge and other white detectives under his command until finally confessing to a quintuple homicide he did not commit. Convicted of murder and sentenced to die, he spent the next two decades in prison—including a dozen years on death row—before at last winning his release and exoneration. Kitchen cofounded the Death Row 10, a self-organized collective of African American men who had been sentenced to death. A book signing and reception will follow the program. More info.
Transitional Justice in Mexico with Guillermo Trejo
The MORENA-led government promises to respect human rights and address the violations of the past, and Mexican society has high expectations. Governments across the world have formed national truth commissions, human rights tribunals, or invited in international organizations to investigate human rights violations.What models will Mexico borrow from to create its own processes of transitional justice? Guillermo Trejo is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, previously at Duke University and Centro de Investigacin y Docencia Econmicas (CIDE) in Mexico City. His research focuses on collective action and social protest, armed insurgencies and political violence, and religion and ethnic identities in authoritarian regimes and new democracies. He has advised officials of the new Mexican government on options for transitional justice processes. This event is a part of our Eyes on Mexico speaker series.
UChicago Common Book Initiative Faculty Panel
Pozen Center Faculty Director Mark Bradley and Faculty Board Members Kimberly Kay Hoang and Adom Getachew will be participating in a faculty panel on The Best We Can Do, as a part of UChicago's Common Book Initiative. The panelists will explore ways in which the graphic novel approaches the politics of migration, citizenship, and the right of asylum.
Violence & the Failure to Protect
In the past decades, discussions of migration in North America and Central America centered on economic issues and political conflicts. Now violence has become the dominant force driving Central Americans and Mexicans from their homes. With thousands of people fleeing violence, the policies of the Trump Administration have created a humanitarian crisis on Mexico’s northern border. How do the region’s journalists and advocates see this new reality? Join the Pozen Center for a discussion on violence and migration.
Intimate Provocations: Theorizing Consent in the Age of #MeToo
How are contemporary debates about consent shaping conceptions of intimacy, bodily autonomy, and moral decision making? How has the concept of consent been mobilized to garner support for political movements including and beyond #MeToo? This one-day conference draws together scholars working both domestically and internationally to critically examine the social and political impacts of consent discourses in the wake of #MeToo. Plenary speakers are Ashwini Tambe (University of Maryland, Women's Studies) and Joseph Fischel (Yale University, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). The conference also features two graduate student panels with faculty discussants Natacha Nsabimana (Anthropology) and Michele Friedner (Comparative Human Development). Cosponsored by Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and the Department of Comparative Human Development.
The Tokyo Tribunal with Kirsten Sellars, Australian National University
Join the Center for East Asian Studies and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights at the East Asia: Transregional Histories Workshop on April 11, 2019 for a lecture on the Tokyo Tribunal and its controversial attempts to prosecute “crimes against peace” (now known as the “crime of aggression”). At the center of conversation will be an effort to engage with the jurisprudential theme: can retroactive law ever be justified? Kirsten Sellars is Visiting Fellow at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University, author of ‘Crimes against Peace’ and International Law, and editor of Trials for International Crimes in Asia.
The Human Rights Crisis in Xinjiang
The status of Western China’s Muslim minorities has long been a sensitive point in Chinese domestic policy. But in the past two years, state pressure on these communities has drastically increased. Most notoriously, large numbers of Uyghurs and Kazakhs have been forcibly taken to internment camps that the Chinese government terms “re-education” camps, and that activists describe as concentration camps. The arrests have had a profoundly chilling effect on traditionally Muslim communities in the region. Major cultural figures and ordinary citizens have vanished with no trace, while those who remain have been cowed into silence. The government frames this detention as a necessary measure for combating dangerous extremism, while activists say detainees have been targeted for activities as innocuous as travel abroad or religious observance. This panel brings together activists, policy experts, and leading scholars on the human rights crisis in Xinjiang.
Radical Empathy, Visual Voice, and Collaborative Quiltmaking
Quilts are powerful expressions of history and a long-standing artistic practice within the African American tradition of storytelling. As technology streams graphic images of police violence, quilting is an art form that invites the viewer to construct, craft and chronicle black narratives creatively and with care. In this quilt design workshop, participants will hear from torture survivors who fought for, and won, unprecedented reparations legislation providing redress from the city for racially-motivated police violence. The workshop will explore what justice looks like through design activities that contribute to the making of a quilt honoring the lives of Chicago police torture survivors. Workshop facilitated by Dorothy Burge, as part of the Still Here: Torture, Resiliency and the Art of Memorializing exhibition.
"Who will speak if you don't": Conversation with Vietnamese political blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, know by her pen name Mẹ Nấm (Mother Mushroom), is a Vietnamese blogger who drew attention for criticizing the Communist Party - controlled government. In 2017, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “propaganda against the state”. In October 2018, Quynh was released in a freedom-for-exile deal. Now in the U.S, she vows to continue highlighting abuses to her home country. “I was totally terrified and I decided to keep silent,” she says. “But then after that, I realized... if you know what it is that you are afraid of, then you can go and do exactly what you wish to do.” (The guardians and the war on truth, TIMES, December 2018) Mẹ Nấm will tell us her story of gaining political awareness and becoming a political and environmental activist in Vietnam. She will also share with us how she intends to continue to contribute to democracy in Vietnam from the USA where she now lives.
Are Municipal IDs the Key to Urban Inclusion?
With the launch of CityKey, Chicago became one of many cities around the country that has recently enacted a program to issue municipal ID cards. Although having a valid government-issued ID is necessary for accessing essential institutions and services, many disadvantaged communities are less likely to have such an ID. Do these municipal ID programs successfully reach vulnerable populations and increase access to important institutions and services? Join us for a discussion about urban citizenship and inclusion with Chicago public officials and community leaders who designed and implemented the CityKey ID program, and officials from other cities with municipal ID cards.
Rights for Women in Prison and the UN Bangkok Rules: A Global Symposium
The Pozen Center will be co-sponsoring an all-day symposium focused on how countries around the world have used the UN Bangkok Rules to reduce the number of women in the criminal justice system and ensure women’s health and humane treatment during imprisonment. This symposium gathers leaders and advocates from around the world – for the first time – to discuss and share the innovative ways they have incorporated the UN Bangkok Rules to promote women’s rights in prisons. This is a rare opportunity to learn how the guidelines have been successfully applied in various countries, the impact of implementation, and how the Rules can and should be put into practice, especially in the U.S.
Cognitive Evolutionary Foundations of ConflictMore info here.
Philosophers and emotion researchers have long known that the emotions anger and hatred are - at least in part - distinct from one another. By using evolutionary theory and analyzing the reproductive problems faced by our ancestors, we can derive functional accounts of both of these emotions. In this seminar, Aaron Sell and Anthony Lopez will discuss how these two emotions are triggered and moderated by distinct situational cues that regulate a range of direct and indirect retaliatory responses, including but not limited to what might be called “revenge."
Literature for Justice: Exploring America's Carceral System
The National Book Foundation’s Literature for Justice program brings broad awareness to the issue of mass incarceration in America through the power of books. Join us for an evening with two of this year's Literature for Justice's picks, James Kilgore and Robin Levi, in conversation with Sergio de la Pava. The authors will discuss their books and how literature can transform our understandings of America’s carceral system. A limited number of complementary books will be available to attendees.
Ethical Refugee Community DevelopmentMore info here.
Join us for a discussion with Dr. Ifrah Magan (SSA '11) on how to ensure that humanitarian work, specifically refugee community development, remains ethical and true to the community's needs. How do we avoid harming the communities we aim to serve? Dr. Ifrah Magan, an SSA graduate, currently serves as a Faculty Fellow/Associate Professor at NYU. With over a decade of experience working in refugee and immigrant communities, Dr. Magan's primary research focuses on the intersections of race, gender, religion, and class in refugee resettlement and integration. Her other research interests include access to health and mental health services among Muslim refugees, national and international immigration policies, community-centered research models, international social work, and indigenous methodologies.
Resistance & Democracy on the Ground: Black Women’s Struggles against State Violence from Brazil to Chicago
Brazil and the United States have both seen the rise of democratically elected leaders who campaigned on and delivered policies intended to increase police violence and mass incarceration, subvert democratic norms, and constrain the rights of marginalized communities. But both countries have also seen the emergence of important resistance movements led by black women who have been directly affected by racialized state violence and other exclusionary policies. Join us for a conversation about shared struggles and strategies of resistance and mobilization in Brazil and the United States, centering the work of black women to reclaim rights and transform democracy from the ground up.
Nick Estes: "Our History is the Future"
Join us for a book talk by Nick Estes on his new work, "Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance." His talk will be followed by a round-table with Chicago-based organizers from NoDAPL and BLM, responding to the book. Estes is Kul Wicasa and a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is an Assistant Professor in the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico. For 2017-2018, Estes was the American Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. His research engages colonialism and global Indigenous histories, with a focus on decolonization, environmental justice, anti-capitalism, and the Oceti Sakowin. In 2015, his reporting on bordertown violence and racism for Indian Country Today won a Third Place Prize for Excellence in Beat Reporting from the Native American Journalism Association. Estes’ writing is also featured in Jacobin, Indian Country Today, The Funambulist Magazine, High Country News, and La Jicarita. This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Comparative Literature, History, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, and the Pozen Center for Human Rights
Seeds of Solidarity: A Garden Reimagined
Please join UChicago’s Art Against the Law class for a celebration of the Seeds of Solidarity Garden. The Art Against the Law class has been working to reimagine and revitalize a small garden behind OMSA—a space for contemplation and reflection, where words from incarcerated and formerly incarcerated writers and poets are showcased. This event celebrates a space on campus that facilitates thought and dialogue about mass incarceration and the criminal justice system. Join us for an evening of food, readings, solidarity activities, and discussions with your peers and other Chicago-based artists and activists!
2019 Annual Kirschner Lecture with Dean Spade Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival
This annual lecture honors the life and work of Robert H. Kirschner, noted forensic pathologist and a founder of the UChicago Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law.