Click through on the event links below for more details and to RSVP where required.


"Rights in Conflict" luncheon discussion series

The focus of this year’s Human Rights Luncheon Speaker series is “Rights in Conflict.”  By this framing, we aim to focus on two distinct but related ideas:  The first is that rights discourses, by their very nature, often conflict with each other.  This raises deep problems of interpretation, legitimacy, strategies and tactics for activists, etc.  Around the world, we see many recent poignant examples of such conflicts, including US Supreme Court litigation over religious-based refusals to provide cakes for gay weddings, debates over the lines where “free speech” may become sufficiently oppressive to violate rights to dignity or equal protection, tensions between the power (some say the “rights”) of nation-states to control their borders versus compelling human rights claims of refugees, those facing deportation, women’s rights claims for equity versus “traditional” or “cultural” but often exclusionary or patriarchal norms, etc. 

The other meaning of conflict refers to actual conflicts where rights claims face increasing pressure, again often due to claims of overriding security issues (e.g., President Trump’s promise to resurrect waterboarding; the threats to journalists in Mexico, and elsewhere), deep norms of cultural or religious cohesion (e.g., the Rohingya in Burma; US and Canada removals and forced assimilation of Native children), and transnational capital development (e.g., global North’s industries’ extractive mining and/or flooding of indigenous lands for hydroelectricity in the global South).

In sum, human rights claims have increasingly come into conflict in both senses, both in the US and around the world. Invited speakers will reflect on these fault lines and consider how societies and institutions balance such competing claims, both as to specific case studies and, as part of a year long extended conversation, more broadly.

Currently scheduled luncheon discussions are as follows.  Follow the links in the event calendar above for more details and to RSVP for lunch.

September 14, 2017 (Merkert 130): Daniel Farbman, JD, Assistant Professor, Boston College School of Law:  “Resistance Lawyering.” Farbman will discuss his work looking at the historical links between abolitionist lawyers who worked within the "unjust, corrupt, and procedurally atrocious" legal system upholding slavery in the US, and the work lawyers do today to protect immigrant clients in a similarly described deportation system, and from actions emanating from the executive branch such as the travel ban. Resistance Lawyering flyer.

October 12, 2017 (Merkert 130): Mishy Lesser, EdD, Learning Director, Upstander Project and Education Fellow, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center:  “Origins of cultural genocide and white supremacy in New England," including showing of 13-minute documentary, First Light about Maine’s TRC between the Wabanaki people and the state's child welfare agency over the removal and forced assimilation of Wabanaki children.

November 9, 2017 (Merkert 130): Rosa Macz, legal researcher, AVANCSO Guatemala. “The encounter of knowledges: Challenges and opportunities for the social sciences: Threats for social researchers.” Rosa is co-author of recently published: Despojos y resistencias: Una Mirada de la Región Extractiva Norte desde Tezulutulán-Verapaz [Dispossesion and resistance: An examination of the Northern Extractive Region in Tezulutulán-Verapaz].