Human Rights in a New Key Podcast

Our podcast centers student perspectives and voices, including contemporary student voices at UChicago and beyond, placing them alongside and in dialogue with those of activists, academics, and other human rights experts. All our episodes have passed through the hands of UChicago student co-hosts, editors, and reviewers, with the Pozen Center for Human Rights our project’s primary supporter. We hope to showcase a breadth of human rights issues, while simultaneously tying them together through lived experience and personal stories of our guests. 

Listen on all streaming platforms: SpotifyiHeartRadio, etc.


Interested in Getting Involved in the Podcast?

Take this survey or contact us if you want to get involved with the next season of Human Rights in a New Key. This could mean heading a single episode, a series of episodes, joining a team, or whatever capacity you envision. 


Season 1

Episode 0: Introducing the Hosts - Jan. 31

Welcome to Human Rights in a New Key! This episode is a little trailer/table of contents with a little something from each of our 6 episodes. We would recommend listening to it first to get an overview of the season, and then choosing what episodes interest you to listen to!


Listen to "Episode 0: Introducing the Hosts" on Spreaker.


Episode 1: Indigeneity in Academia - Jan. 31

Manaeha and Matt share their interview with Leila K Blackbird and Leah Horowitz in this episode. Leila K. Blackbird is a PhD Candidate in the subject of U.S. History and the Pozen Family Human Rights Doctoral Fellowship Coordinator. Her research focuses on (post/de) colonialism, slavery, state violence, and the environment. Leah Horowitz is currently at the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, using ethnographic methods to examine grassroots engagements with environmental issues, especially with regards to Indigenous communities’ negotiations with and resistance to environmentally risky industrial expansion. Both Leila and Leah share their personal experiences being indigenous and working on indigeneity, respectively, especially in Academia. It can be hard, maybe even counterintuitive, to be having a discussion on indigeneity from the context of a colonial institution. How can we strive to be anti-colonial at UChicago and other institutions? Leila and Leah offer their wisdom and share specifics about their respective works to try to explore this question.

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Listen to "Indigeneity in Academia" on Spreaker.


Episode 2: Archiving Incarceration and Prisoner Unrest - Feb. 7

Welcome to Human Rights in a New Key! In this episode, Manaeha and Matt share their interview with Ryan Fatica and R. Knoll, representatives of the Perilous Collective, talking about prison unrest and solidarity in the US. Perilous is a proletarian research project working on archiving the experiences of prisoners and instances of prisoner unrest in North America for activists and researchers to use to attack the incarceration system. Listeners can support Perilous project through Patreon or by making a one time donation via PayPal at  CORRECTION: Tesfa Miller was incarcerated at Etowah County Jail in Alabama, not Cook County Jail.



Listen to "Archiving Incarceration and Prisoner Unrest" on Spreaker.


Episode 3: Entangling Human and Animal Rights in US Industrial Farms - Feb. 14

Listen to Manaeha and Matt and their interview with Dr. Alex Blanchette, a Professor in the department of anthropology at Tufts University, who got his PhD at UChicago. His book Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life is an ethnography of work within some of the world's largest meat corporations. Big thank you to Dr. Blanchette for giving his time and sharing some of his personal experiences regarding his research into American factory farms. They talk about manure lagoons, concentrated feed lots, and hopefully this episode starts a much needed conversation about what workers as well as animals endure in and surrounding industrial farms in the US.



Listen to "Entangling Human and Animal Rights in US Industrial Farms" on Spreaker.


Episode 4: Activism and China’s Techno-totalitarianism - Feb. 21

In this episode, Manaeha and Matt share their interview with Dr. Teng Biao, academic lawyer and human rights activist for China. Dr. Biao has defended cases involving freedom of expression, religious freedom, the death penalty, Tibetans, and Uyghurs. He has also provided counsel in numerous other human rights cases. They talk about his work as an activist and his research into high tech totalitarianism in China. Listeners sensitive to content about physical abuse or torture are advised to maybe skip this episode or listen carefully.



Listen to "Activism and China’s Techno-totalitarianism" on Spreaker.


Episode 5: Baháʼí Solidarity in the Face of State-led Persecution - Feb. 28

In this episode, Manaeha and Matt interview Roja Fazaeli as well as a member of the Baháʼí community. We refer to him as “A” as he requested to remain anonymous due to the possible threat this interview might pose to himself and his family. 
Roja Fazaeli is an Associate Professor in Islamic Civilisation, Near & Middle Eastern Studies at Trinity College Dublin. "A" is a refugee living in the U.S. We provide an overview of the Baháʼí Faith and its emergence in Iran. Then we explore why the Iranian state sees the Baháʼí as a fundamental threat to its regime. The state is different from its people, and there is hope for the Baháʼí community, especially within the younger generations, to resist anti-Baháʼí propaganda. We end with ways the Baháʼí create a sense of community in their daily lives; it offers a way to resist the horrible oppression and constant persecution they face. This episode might contain unfamiliar jargon, but we encourage you to listen and validate the Baháʼí community's struggles.



Listen to "Bahai Solidarity in the Face of State-led Persecution" on Spreaker.


Episode 6: Re-integrating Ex-militants, Postwar Colombia - Mar. 7

In this episode, Manaeha and Matt speak with Erin McFee and Arturo Gutierrez de Velasco. Erin is the Principle Investigator of Trust after Betrayal (, a project that examines interpersonal trust among violence-affected individuals in communities where actors from all sides of the conflicts live together. Their multi-sited ethnography spans across former members of non-state armed groups in Somalia, Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, and military veterans in the United States. They focus on Colombia, which is where Arturo, a 3rd year student at the college, did research over the summer. As a Pozen human rights intern, he helped conduct interviews with ex-militants in Colombia. They discuss what the Trust after Betrayal Project is, why it is important, and the nuance and complexity that goes into interviewing and researching ex-militants. Let’s hear from them!



Listen to "Re-integrating Ex-militants, Postwar Colombia" on Spreaker.


Meet the Creators

Manaeha Rao, Co-Host

Manaeha Rao (she/they) is a fourth year at the University of Chicago studying Neuroscience and HIPS (History and Philosophy of Science), originally from Los Angeles. Outside of academics, Manaeha is the Director of Digital Growth of Nafs, a group trying to destigmatize mental illness in the American Musim community. She is also host of the Human Variable, a science policy podcast by UChicago’s Science Policy Group. She published a paper on the disparities in smoking and tobacco usage in Asian Americans, disaggregated into ethnic groups for the first time. She has been a potter for three years, making countless bowls, cups, and planters for her friends and family. Manaeha intends to go to law school and use her degree to help in dismantling systemic health disparities.

Matt Furlong, Co-Host

Matthew Furlong (he/him) is a Social Science Teaching Fellow at the Pozen Center. Why has public housing in Latin America radically expanded during the past half-century, while public housing in North Atlantic nations like the U.S. has fallen radically from favor? This unanswered geopolitical question is at the heart of Matthew's research agenda. As an urban anthropologist whose concerns extend into land struggle history, space-making in Mexican social movements, and the anthropology of  the state, Matthew's research draws these concerns together through urban planning archives and ethnogaphic fieldwork amongst northern Mexican construction companies and residents. Set in the shadow of Latin America's largest national mass housing industry, Matthew's book manuscript, A Politics of Invasion: Housing Struggles in the Twilight of a Mexican Infrastructure-Building State (in preparation), explores how public housing has served both to foreclose and project the power of indigenous/peasant land struggle movements in Mexico, while projecting competing images of Mexico--to domestic and global audiences--as neoliberal or socialist, respectively. Matthew has taught Latin American studies as a lecturer at Roosevelt University and served as an advisor to Espacio Migrante, a Tijuana-based migrant autonomy-oriented NGO. At the University of Chicago, he has also taught courses on de/colonization in the Americas, social theory, and the relationship of anthropology and human rights. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2021.

Sherry Guo, Audio Editor

Sherry Guo (she/her) is artist and currently a student at the University of Chicago, majoring in Media Arts and Design and minoring in Visual Arts and Anthropology. She is interested in multimedia art that invites a multi-sensory engagement with the body, especially sound-image relationships. She is particularly drawn to the immersive quality and emotional capacity that sound and audio mediums have for storytelling. This has led her to the podcast world thus far, but she hopes to expand her experience to explore film and TV sound design as well as installation and exhibition work. She is the editor of The Newest Olympian, a Percy Jackson podcast and the editor and a producer for season 4 of Meddling Adults.