Spring 2017 Human Rights Symposium at Purdue 

In April 2017, we held our 2nd annual Symposium, titled “Refugee Crisis: Past and Present.” The event truly embodied the interdisciplinary spirit of our program – speakers on our Refugees panel gave talks on the pressing human rights issue of migration from political, philosophical, and activist perspectives. Our keynote address by professor David Kettler (Bard College) focused, from a historical angle, on the questions of displacement, diaspora, and relocation. The Symposium enjoyed a high turnout by Purdue students, faculty, and members of the local community, all of whom partook in the stimulating discussions that accompanied each talk. 

Human Rights on the Move

During the 2017 spring break, our team went on an exploratory trip to Europe on a SAIL (Study Abroad Intercultural Learning) grant awarded by Purdue International Programs to work on our upcoming Maymester 2018 study abroad program “Human Rights on the Move.” We visited Budapest, where the students will be based at Central European University and living in the well-equipped university dormitories. The CEU faculty will guide them through their legal, philosophical, and historical explorations of human rights issues, while Open Society Archives will provide them with space and resources to do their own research. We spent a day in meetings with civic organizations in Bratislava, Slovakia, where students will engage with experts and activists working on current human rights issues, such as the refugee crisis. We also visited Munich and Nuremberg – cities full of sights and institutions where our students can learn and think about how justice and resistance relate to the struggle for human rights.

What we’ve been up to

Rebekah Klein-Pejšová (Associate Professor of History, Program Director) Has recently co-authored with Silvia Z. Mitchell an introduction to the “Forum in Honor of Charles Ingrao” in the 2017 Austrian History Yearbook,  and contributed chapters to Europe on the Move: Refugees in the era of the Great War, edited by Peter Gatrell and Liubov Zhvanko (Manchester University Press, 2017), and to World War I and the Jews: Conflict and Transformation in Europe, the Middle East, and America, edited by Marsha L. Rozenblit and Jonathan Karp (Berghahn Books, 2017). She also moved into a third-floor window office in University Hall.

Ann Marie Clark (Associate Professor of Political Science, Assistant Director) participated in a preparatory meeting for the UN-led Regional Consultation for North America and the English-Speaking Caribbean on the 2020 review of the UN human rights treaty bodies in June. This is a UN-led process to provide input from scholars and practitioners on the future of UN human rights protection. The meeting was co-sponsored by Columbia University and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.  This academic year, Prof. Clark is on a research fellowship and is working on a book about human rights and justice.

Chris Yeomans (Professor of Philosophy, Assistant Director) spent the past academic year in Germany as a Humboldt fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. Besides the fact that he really enjoyed doing philosophy in German for a year, one of his other highlights was participation at the conference on Hegel’s Science of Logic at Pittsburgh.

Amber Nickell (Graduate student, Department of History, lead organizer of the 2017 spring Symposium) will spend this academic year in Odesa, Ukraine on a Fulbright research fellowship. Her research examines the changing relationships between ethnic Germans and Jews in Southern Ukraine over the twentieth century. While in Ukraine, she will conduct intensive archival research and collect oral histories. She will also help local archives digitally preserve documents and volunteer teaching English at a local orphanage.

Marcus Smith (Graduate student, Department of History, TA for the History of Human Rights Course) recently finished a research trip to Montreal, Canada for his dissertation on the Jewish community in Baghdad during the latter half of the twentieth century. While there, he attended a reunion of students from the last Jewish school in Baghdad, which closed in 1973. Marcus is conducting oral history interviews with many of these Iraqi Jews who survived myriad Human Rights abuses during the final decades of this historic community, of whom only five now remain in Baghdad.

Alžbeta Hájková (Graduate student, Department of Philosophy, Research Assistant to Program) spent the summer in her home country Slovakia interning at the NGO Foundation to Stop the Corruption, where she designed methodology for the project assessing corruption risk in Slovak public institutions. 

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