Spring/summer 2020 issue of the section newsletter Check out my featured write-up on “A Praxis of Witnessing in these Migratory Times” https://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/asa_aa_section_newsletter_spring_2020_rev.pdf
I want to share the review of Migrant Crossings. Deep appreciation to Dr. Ceron-Ananya at Leigh University. Some highlights of the review:
“Migrant Crossings offers an anti-racist, feminist, and decolonial analysis of the act of crossing borders, particularly concerning violence and human trafficking. In the current world, where the voices calling for higher walls and stricter policies against documented and undocumented migrants are on the rise, Migrant Crossings seeks to emphasize the colonial tropes that dominate most narratives about migration, even the good ones. The book uses multiple legal cases to demonstrate how gender, class, and racial dynamics profoundly informed the binary paradigms—that is, victim/ criminal, legal/illegal, and honorable/deviant—through which migration is understood in the United States and the West. The book invites the reader to develop new forms of seeing and witnessing the highly complex issues of migration and human trafficking” (pp. 237 – 238).
“Overall, the book draws from multiple theoretical traditions that will require scaffolding when assigning it to undergraduate students. The book, however, will be an appropriate reading for graduate courses on immigration, human rights, gender, women studies, global economy, ethnic studies, and criminology. For policymakers, it raises important considerations of how implicit theories and assumptions translate into discriminatory practices, even as we set out to liberate those we have identified as victims” (p. 239).
Footnotes: A publication of American Sociological Association’s May/June 2020 special issue is a Special Issue: Sociologists and Sociology during COVID-19. My co-authored article, “The Sociology of Human Rights and COVID-19,” is included; this submission is co-authored with Joachim J. Savelsberg, an amazing human rights sociologist at University of Minnesota.
Four axioms show the effect of the COVID-19 situation on human rights and the relevance of the sociology of human rights in the current era. Each axiom is followed by U.S. (Fukushima) and global (Savelsberg) illustrations.
Guest Editors’ Introduction by Wanda Alarcón, Dalida María Benfield, Annie Isabel Fukushima, and Marcelle Maese
Love has to be rethought, made anew.—María Lugones (1987)
We are in good company in our engagement with María Lugones. This special issue arrives soon after the 2019 anthology Speaking Face to Face: The Visionary Philosophy of María Lugones and anticipates more collections gathering various conversations and points of entry into her important decolonial feminist thought.1 We chose Lugones’s 1987 essay “Playfulness, ‘World’-Travelling, and Loving Perception” as the invitation to this conversation because of how it positions love as central to the project of coalition.2 We are so in need of both at the present moment. The importance of making political the loving relation between women of color also echoes Lugones’s early 1983 conversation with Elizabeth Spelman about feminist coalition, “Have We Got a Theory for You! Feminist Theory, Cultural Imperialism, and the Demand for ‘the Woman’s’ Voice.”3 In this innovative essay, Lugones and Spelman write in different voices and in Spanish and English, retaining the textures of their differences, to arrive at a sense of solidarity, even when as they write “[they] could not say we.”4 Lugones and Spelman appeal for a theory-making process in which theory or an account is helpful if among other qualities, “it enables one to see how parts of one’s life fit together”; it allows one to “locate oneself concretely in the world”; and “there is reason to believe that knowing what a theory means and believing it to be true have some connection to resistance and change.”5 Theory and coalition are helpful if they not only comprehend worlds but also remake them. They also affirm friendship, not reducible to sameness nor alienated by differences, as the only viable motive for white or Anglo women to make theory with women of color. As Lugones states: “The [End Page x] only motive that makes sense to me for your joining us in this investigation is the motive of friendship, out of friendship.”6 Without these frameworks of theory, coalition, and friendship, it is difficult if not impossible, to see the politics and the practices of radical women of color writing.
We also structured our call for this special issue with language invoking another movement in Lugones’s writing, “Toward a Decolonial Feminism,” with a desire to think about the concepts of women of color and decolonial feminisms in complex interrelation.7 We take the opportunity here to amplify Lugones’s contribution to decolonial theory. Using the framework of coloniality and decoloniality elaborated by Anibal Quijano and Michael Ennis8 and many other scholars, activists, and artists, Lugones’s critical engagement with the shifting contours of women of color, the coloniality of power and gender, and decolonial feminisms produces new proposals for resistance. In “Hetero-sexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System,” Lugones analyzes the colonial/modern gender system and its imposition of the gender binary and heterosexualism.9 This analysis creates a new field for praxical coalition and reconstructing non-binary subjectivities outside the colonial matrix of power. Lugones also interrogates origin stories and the times and places of our pasts and futures, including a recognition of Indigenous thought and practices that persist in their resistance to coloniality. In tandem, let us also consider as a consequence, Lugones’s different way of thinking of the term “women of color” as one that expands our understanding to include women who are not “backed by a collective memory” of belonging to a legible diaspora within the United States.10 Through this deepening of women of color as a coalitional term, Lugones echoes her earlier appeal to enact what she conceives of as “world”-travelling.
“World”-travelling must not be forgotten in a praxis of decolonial feminisms. It encourages us to drop our enchantment with naturalized ideas about community and offers a pedagogy for learning “an ethics of coalitionin-the making.”11 In “Playfulness, ‘World’-Travelling, and Loving Perception,” Lugones’s loving solution to arrogant perception is accompanied with an exploration…
It is such an honor to announce that my book Migrant Crossings: Witnessing Human Trafficking in the U.S. has been selected to receive the American Sociological Association Section on Asia and Asian America’s Book Award on Asian America.
There are so many people to thank including my press and the people who birthed the project, the Ethnic Studies Division at the University of Utah, and many, many friends and family who support my work. I also want to appreciate the award committee: Drs. Emily Walton (chair), Sebastian Cherng, and Helene K. Lee;
A virtual award ceremony will be held during the AAA business meeting on Saturday, August 8, 2020, at 4:30-5:10 pm (Pacific Time) as scheduled in the ASA program. Please join us to celebrate the recipients for their achievements.
Topic: ASA AAA Business Meeting
Time: Aug 8, 2020 04:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
8 June at 8am PDT / 3 pm UTC. See more and sign up here https://bit.ly/2LBrmKW
Join us for a webinar to discuss the role of #technology in #humantrafficking with @jlynnemusto, @mitalithakor, @LeighGoodmark, @anniefukushima, and others on 8 June at 3 pm UTC. See more and sign up here https://t.co/PkLCbdFCKt pic.twitter.com/PWu2rGWpih— GAATW (@GAATW_IS) May 19, 2020
Anti-Trafficking Education: Pedagogy, Policy, and Activism
Guest Editors: Annie Isabel Fukushima, Annie Hill, and Jennifer Suchland
Deadline for submissions: 15 November 2020
Teaching and learning about trafficking far exceed the boundaries of the traditional student and classroom. Students range from novice to expert across various professions and industries as well as survivors of, and witnesses to, trafficking. From short-form workshops to long-term engagements, anti-trafficking education is a growing field that impacts multiple sectors, including the medical profession, social work, hospitality, travel, and law enforcement. In response to the proliferation of anti-trafficking education, this special issue of Anti-Trafficking Review will endeavour to assess, understand, and share pedagogical approaches and practices within the anti-trafficking movement.
Although anti-trafficking education is often localised, it has global and transnational implications. Educational offerings aim to cultivate a breadth of skills from identifying trafficking situations to training and supporting survivors, with impacts that not only affect practices and policies but also create knowledge about what constitutes trafficking. Programmes for survivors may be optional or mandatory and include vocational, language, or financial literacy classes. Anti-trafficking education is also institutionalised by local and national governments, and it appears in college classrooms, MOOCs (massive open online courses), and even, in some contexts, as part of legislated local responses to trafficking.
In addition to facilitating teaching and learning that prioritises trafficking interventions and survivor support, some educational strategies try to prevent human trafficking. As such, anti-trafficking education targets groups deemed at risk, particularly young people and potential migrants. For example, pre-departure trainings in Asia and Africa reveal how such interventions have grown from a public awareness focus to actualising efforts that prevent trafficking at its ‘source’.
This special issue of Anti-Trafficking Review invites scholars, activists, practitioners, survivors, and others involved in anti-trafficking education to evaluate and share how they disseminate knowledge about trafficking. In addition to generating much-needed assessments of anti-trafficking pedagogical practices, the special issue will consider how anti-trafficking education is a growing field where facts, truths, lessons, and approved interventions become established. This established (yet contested) knowledge circulates and competes for audiences and funding. Moreover, social justice projects – such as those advocating for the rights of migrants, workers, and incarcerated survivors of domestic and sexual violence, or demanding justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women – challenge racialised, gendered, colonial, and economic violence. Yet, there are tensions about whether and how anti-trafficking education diverts attention and resources away from these longstanding efforts.
We invite submissions that analyse anti-trafficking education in a variety of contexts and from diverse perspectives, as well as contributions that assess instructional materials, use or propose innovative pedagogies, and/or advocate for coalitional practices that teach about trafficking from an intersectional and cross-issue framework.
Contributors are invited to engage with, but need not limit themselves to, the following questions:
- What are the promising practices for educating anti-trafficking stakeholders (e.g., social service and healthcare providers, lawyers, activists, community-based organisation workers, etc.) and the people deemed vulnerable to trafficking, such as migrants and youth? What obstacles, assumptions, and side effects exist, and are they addressed by instructors and instructional materials? How are instructors trained and supported to deliver educational materials on trafficking?
- How do indigeneity, race, class, gender, nationality, and/or sexuality impact pedagogical approaches, practices, and student-instructor dynamics? Have western perspectives on human trafficking furthered imperial forms of knowing? What types of education are modelling practices that centralise indigenous and alternative ways of knowing, skill sharing, and disseminating information about human trafficking?
- How has the development of survivor-led outreach and educational programming altered teaching and trainings on human trafficking?
- What is the current landscape of online instruction on human trafficking? What opportunities and consequences arise when teaching in online contexts rather than in person? Additionally, what results from the proliferation of online and in-person pedagogical platforms as tools in anti-trafficking agendas?
- What might we learn by analysing the various constituencies that are drawn to, or required to, become informed on the topic?
- What are the goals and results of trafficking education for scholars, activists, practitioners, students, and people affected by trafficking and anti-trafficking agendas? How are goals and results measured, and how might negative effects (e.g., misinformation, re-traumatisation, misguided interventions) be mitigated against when planning and implementing educational materials and experiences?
- How can anti-trafficking pedagogical practices connect to and reinforce longstanding social justice initiatives, such as those advocating for the rights of migrants, workers, incarcerated survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and indigenous and native sovereignty? How are trainers and educators creating and advancing anti-trafficking curricula and content in coalition with affinity movements (e.g., immigration, anti-racist, feminist, labour, etc.)? How can such education connect social justice work with other critical anti-trafficking approaches?
Deadline for submissions: 15 November 2020.
Word count for full article submissions: 5,000 – 7,000 words, including footnotes, author bio and abstract.
In addition to full-length conceptual, research-based, or case study thematic papers, we invite authors to contribute short pieces for a Forum Section on the topic of trafficking and education. We particularly encourage practitioners with diverse expertise in trafficking education to reflect on their experiences, teaching strategies, curriculum design, and/or target audiences in order to provide practical examples and advice for others in the field of trafficking education. We envision contributors potentially offering sample exercises, syllabi, or education materials as well as exploring the challenges and benefits involved in educating different groups about trafficking.
Word count for Forum submissions: 1,000 – 1,200 words, including footnotes and author bio.
We advise those interested in submitting to follow the Review’s style guide and submission procedures, available at http://www.antitraffickingreview.org/. Manuscripts should be submitted in line with the issue’s theme. Email the editorial team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries.
Special Issue to be published in September 2021.
The purpose of this study is to contribute to the social understanding of stigma as a societal and cultural barrier in the life of a survivor of human trafficking. The findings illustrate several ways where stigma is internal, interpersonal and societal and impacts survivors’ lives, including the care they receive.
This study used qualitative methods. Data collection occurred during 2018 with efforts such as an online survey (n = 45), focus groups (two focus groups of seven participants each) and phone interviews (n = 6). This study used thematic analysis of qualitative data.
The research team found that a multiplicity of stigma occurred for the survivors of human trafficking, where stigma occurred across three levels from micro to meso to macro contexts. Using interpretive analysis, the researchers conceptualized how stigma is not singular; rather, it comprises the following: bias in access to care; barriers of shaming, shunning and othering; misidentification and mislabeling; multiple levels of furthering how survivors are deeply misunderstood and a culture of mistrust.
While this study was conducted in a single US city, it provides an opportunity to create dialogue and appeal for more research that will contend with a lens of seeing a multiplicity of stigma regardless of the political climate of the context. It was a challenge to recruit survivors to participate in the study. However, survivor voices are present in this study and the impetus of the study’s focus was informed by survivors themselves. Finally, this study is informed by the perspectives of researchers who are not survivors; moreover, collaborating with survivor researchers at the local level was impossible because there were no known survivor researchers available to the team.
There are clinical responses to the narratives of stigma that impact survivors’ lives, but anti-trafficking response must move beyond individualized expectations to include macro responses that diminish multiple stigmas. The multiplicity in stigmas has meant that, in practice, survivors are invisible at all levels of response from micro, meso to macro contexts. Therefore, this study offers recommendations for how anti-trafficking responders may move beyond a culture of stigma towards a response that addresses how stigma occurs in micro, meso and macro contexts.
The social implications of examining stigma as a multiplicity is central to addressing how stigma continues to be an unresolved issue in anti-trafficking response. Advancing the dynamic needs of survivors both in policy and practice necessitates responding to the multiple and overlapping forms of stigma they face in enduring and exiting exploitative conditions, accessing services and integrating back into the community.
This study offers original analysis of how stigma manifested for the survivors of human trafficking. Building on this dynamic genealogy of scholarship on stigma, this study offers a theory to conceptualize how survivors of human trafficking experience stigma: a multiplicity of stigma. A multiplicity of stigma extends existing research on stigma and human trafficking as occurring across three levels from micro, meso to macro contexts and creating a system of oppression. Stigma cannot be reduced to a singular form; therefore, this study argues that survivors cannot be understood as experiencing a singular form of stigma.
The researchers would like to acknowledge the funds received from the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, Dr Jennifer Seelig, the Salt Lake City Council and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, which supported a city-wide needs assessment. The findings and recommendations presented in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, the Salt Lake City Council or the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Offices. The authors would also like to thank the Social Research Institute of the College of Social Work at University of Utah and graduate assistance from Allison O’Connor, MSW, LCSW and Lyndsi Drysdale. Additionally, the authors are grateful to the guest editor Dr Sarbinaz Bekmuratova, the anonymous reviewers and the editorial team at the International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare.
Fukushima, A.I., Gonzalez-Pons, K., Gezinski, L. and Clark, L. (2020), “Multiplicity of stigma: cultural barriers in anti-trafficking response”, International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHRH-07-2019-
Annie Isabel Fukushima from the University of Utah speaks about her article “Witnessing in a Time of Homeland Futurities”, due to be published on 27 April. “Current US rhetorical strategies of imagining a future of the homeland have led to the creation and utilisation of new technologies to contain and manage the border. These responses to the US border and immigration impact anti-trafficking efforts, sustaining a ‘homeland futurity’. Homeland futurity draws on and extends discourses of emergency that solidify borders as dangerous and risky. This article traces how homeland futurities emerged in US anti-trafficking efforts. Drawing upon interviews and focus group discussions with service providers and survivors of violence in San Francisco, the article demonstrates how migrant labourers are impacted by a discourse of threat and containment of the border. However, migrant labourers and their allies are innovating to secure a life that mitigates risk through migrant labourers’ use of technology. This article illustrates through the example of Contratados.org how technology may facilitate opportunities of future visioning by migrant labourers beyond a homeland futurity, to enact practices that bring to the centre migrants and their experiences through social networking and information sharing on job prospects.”
Publication of Issue 14 of Anti-Trafficking Review, ‘Technology, Anti-Trafficking, and Speculative Futures’
Guest Editors: Jennifer Musto and Mitali Thakor Editor: Borislav Gerasimov
Over the past decade, scholars, activists, and policymakers have repeatedly called for an examination of the role of technology as a contributing force to human trafficking and exploitation. Attention has focused on a range of issues – from adult services websites and the use of social media to recruit victims to the utilisation of data analytics software to understand trafficking and identify ‘hotspots of risk’. At the same time, technology has also been positioned as a disruptor of human trafficking that can be reworked and transformed ‘from a liability into an asset’. Yet, critical anti-trafficking scholars have cautioned that claims about the relationship between technology and trafficking rely on limited data and a number of assumptions.
The new issue of Anti-Trafficking Review explores these assumptions and the currently available technological tools that purport to address trafficking and exploitation. An article by Sanja Milivojevic, Heather Moore, and Marie Segrave traces the discourse surrounding technology and (anti-)trafficking since the early 2000s and outlines four common myths on which it is built. The authors call for more evidence but also more attention to issues such as fair labour migration regimes and decent work. Three articles – by Stephanie Limoncelli; Laurie Berg, Bassina Farbenblum, and Angela Kintominas; and Annie Isabel Fukushima – analyse various apps developed with the goal of combating exploitation. They show that many of these apps have limited, if any, benefit for trafficked persons or at-risk groups, while largely reinforcing neoliberal economic ideologies about the limited role of governments in regulating businesses. Such apps can only be useful when they are developed by, for, and with the people meant to use them, as Fukushima’s article demonstrates. Another three articles focus on the practice of shutting down websites hosting sex work ads as a way to reduce trafficking in the sex industry. Samantha Majic compares the public reactions to the shutting down of MyRedbook and Rentboy – sites used by, respectively, female and gay male sex workers. She urges the LGBT movement to overcome its ‘respectability politics’ and show greater solidarity with the sex worker rights movement. Erin Tichenor’s article documents the impact of the shutting down of Backpage on sex workers in New Zealand, while Danielle Blunt and Ariel Wolf examine the impact of the same in the United States. Both articles demonstrate how closing sex work ads sites has negative economic and emotional consequences for sex workers. Writing from the perspective of an NGO providing direct assistance to trafficked persons, Isabella Chen and Celeste Tortosa reflect on the use of digital evidence in human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. In the final article, Kate Mogulescu and Leigh Goodmark show what happens to survivors of human trafficking who are prosecuted as traffickers and placed on sex offender registries in the United States.
Taken together, the articles in this Special Issue converge around one central point: the factors that enable and sustain human trafficking and exploitation are complex and require political will – not tech solutionist fixes. Anti-traffickers’ obsession with technological ‘solutions’ draws attention and resources away from issues such as decent work, gender, economic and racial justice, the free movement of people, and quality public services. In the current COVID-19 pandemic it is more urgent than ever to re-focus on these larger socio-economic and political issues.
For all contributions:
- Editorial: Between Hope and Hype: Critical evaluations of technology’s role in anti-trafficking
Jennifer Musto, Mitali Thakor, Borislav Gerasimov1-14
- Freeing the Modern Slaves, One Click at a Time: Theorising human trafficking, modern slavery, and technology
Dr Sanja Milivojevic, Heather Moore, Marie Segrave16-32
- There’s an App for That? Ethical consumption in the fight against trafficking for labour exploitation
Stephanie A. Limoncelli33-46
- Addressing Exploitation in Supply Chains: Is technology a game changer for worker voice?
Dr Laurie Berg, Bassina Farbenblum, Angela Kintominas47-66
- Witnessing in a Time of Homeland Futurities
Dr Annie Isabel Fukushima67-81
- Same Same but Different? Gender, sex work, and respectability politics in the MyRedBook and Rentboy closures
- ‘I’ve Never Been So Exploited’: The consequences of FOSTA-SESTA in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Erased: The impact of FOSTA-SESTA and the removal of Backpage on sex workers
Danielle Blunt, Ariel Wolf117-121
- The Use of Digital Evidence in Human Trafficking Investigations
Isabella Chen, Celeste Tortosa122-124
- Surveillance and Entanglement: How mandatory sex offender registration impacts criminalised survivors of human trafficking
Kate Mogulescu, Leigh Goodmark
Published March 21, 2020
One of the ways individuals or groups in power preserve their power is through the vehicle of language. As such, the message that an organization sends regarding its mission, vision, values, and or goals is just as important as the actual services with which it provides. Nowhere is this truer than within the realm of anti-trafficking service provision. Through content analysis of the mission, goal, vision, and value statements of 162 organizations who are funded to combat human trafficking, the research team examined how organization statements articulate a human rights–based approach. The study findings were that organizations who further the primacy of rights did it in four distinct ways: advocating for human rights seeing human rights as something survivors lack empowering survivors and viewing survivors as rights-holders. However, overall, there is still an under-utilization of human rights as a framework.
Download the full White Paper:
The purpose of this study is to better understand how the welfare system is currently identifying children (under 18-years-old) who experience being labor trafficked for commercial labor – work beyond sexual economies. This study is a survey of individuals working in California, where 186 participants were invited to respond to a questionnaire between September 23, 2019 and November 30, 2019. The majority of those who responded to the survey worked in the child welfare system. This study reveals, child welfare workers, probation officers / juvenile justice system workers, and non-governmental organizations are working with children who have been labor trafficked. What was discovered after conducting a survey: 25% of the participants confirmed working with children who were labor trafficked, 25% did not know if they had worked with children who were labor trafficked, and 50% were providing services to or supporting children who work for pay. Children were informally identified as working in a range of industries including agriculture / farm work, construction, forced commercial sexual economies, forced drug sales, forced human smuggling, forced theft/stealing, housekeeping/domestic work, janitorial, massage parlor/massage, nail/hair salon, pan handling/begging, restaurant work, retail, and other. Based on these preliminary findings, this study recommends the following next steps:
- There is an immediate need to develop protocols and train child welfare workers on child labor trafficking, similarly to how such professionals are being trained on child sex trafficking.
- There is a need to deepen an understanding of child welfare and juvenile justice system’s responses to child labor and sex trafficking through research; in particular on evidence-based research that may determine promising practices for prevention and early identification of all forms of human trafficking affecting children.
- It is recommended that California State Agencies and local organizations broaden their awareness raising efforts to encompass education on children’s experience with work and the continuum of labor violations and trafficking.
- Prevention of child labor trafficking is much needed, therefore, more data on children who experience labor exploitation on the continuum of labor violation and trafficking is needed. Statewide data collection systems have been designed to capture prevalence of child sexual exploitation, however, less understood is the range of labor violations, recruitment and industries children may be experiencing commercial exploitation.
My article in this collection is entitled, “Has Someone taken your passport? Everyday Surveillance of the Migrant Laborer as Trafficked Subject” is now available.
This article examines the role of the missing passport in human rights discourse about migrants who experience violence in the form of human trafficking. Fukushima argues that the passport and mechanisms of documentation that emerge in human trafficking survivor accounts are central to legal and social appeals for recognition. Through a scavenger methodology, the essay analyzes the “missing passport” in campaign materials, a survivor memoir (Shyima Hall), and court testimonies in U.S. v. Kil Soo Lee, Rana v. Islam, Lipenga v. Kambalame, Gurung v. Malhotra, U.S. v. Firas Majeed et al., and U.S. v. Wood. Ultimately, Fukushima explores how the question “has someone taken your passport?” discursively and socially compels the everyday person to participate in surveillance, thus witnessing transnational migrant laborers through the racializing and policing logics of biographic mediation that justify neighborly suspicion.
This article is one of many wonderful contributions in Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly (Vol. 42, no. 3). It is in a special issue, Biographic Mediation: On the Issues of Personal Disclosure in Bureaucracy and Politics edited by Ebony Coletu. Contributors include: Michelle Jones, Sara Ahmed, Aly Wane, Cristina Plamadeala, Mercy Romero, Leigh Gilmore, Rhondda Robinson Thomas, Amita Swadhin, Kimberly McKee, Aimee Morrison, and yours truly.
I hope you will teach it and any other articles in this special issue, read it, cite it.
September 26, 2018 presentation to the Commission on the Status of Women, City Hall, San Francisco.
Gender Order and Gender Confusion.
Intimacy of Violence.
Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War.
Sexual Violence in the Holocaust.
Women in the Military.
Download a PDF version of the newsletter: humanrightssection_asa_spring2017newsletter
A Brief Message from the Editors
We appreciate everyone who contributed to this newsletter on human rights in a new era. The content included in this newsletter responds to the context of a Trump presidency and its national and international implications; the contributors provide insights into human rights research, teaching, and advocacy nationally and abroad. The contributors paint a picture of the social and intellectual obligations of sociologists to contend with the human, notion of rights and human rights in this era.
Please see the final page of this newsletter for information on how to submit your pieces, and thank you in advance!
Annie Isabel Fukushima, University of Utah
Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Ohio State University
Awards & Anouncements
Human Rights (Section) In a New Era – Thoughts from Your Section Chair
by Joachim J. Savelsberg, University of Minnesota
Human rights scholars, like many, have been in a state of shock as of late. A growing number of nations openly dismiss basic principles of democracy, international solidarity and human rights. Turkey, the Philippines, Syria, and Russia are among them, and the forces that threaten the same principles are gaining ground in Western democracies as well, including the United States.
We are in shock all the more, as many expected global scripts of rationality and human rights to spread into all corners of the globe. And indeed, recent decades have witnessed systematic efforts to build institutions in response to grave human rights violations, a “justice cascade,” and an unprecedented wave of apologies by heads of state for injustices done in the names of their countries. Yet, denial has also been rampant, at times strategically planned in response to acknowledgment, and supported by a calculated reluctance to intervene.
The shock is further intensified as new trends are not just imposed from above, but at times supported by grassroots movements and tolerated by large segments of the population in many countries. It seems to me that we are facing a popular revolt against elites (yes, including scholars) and technocrats by those who feel that massive structural changes leave them on a downward trajectory, those who cannot hold their own in times of massive economic globalization and technological change. These times remind me of the 19th century industrial revolution, the structural transformation it constituted, the displacements it caused and the at times violent reactions, like those described by German playwright Gerhard Hauptmann in his “Die Weber” (about the 1840s violent uprisings of displaced weavers in Silesia).
In these times policy programs and political rhetoric become widely accepted that (1) dismiss knowledge, replacing it by ideological falsehood, (2) denigrate minorities and (3) advance protectionism. All three trends repeat developments of the 1930s in Germany, the country in which I was born, raised and educated. The denigration of minorities, its catastrophic outcome, foremost against Jews, is well known; “attitude is everything; knowledge is garbage” became a slogan in institutions of higher education; and employees from industries that benefitted from protectionist trade policies joined the Nazi party more than others.
What can we do? Most of us are U.S. citizens. Many of us are also members of social movements. And to us as engaged citizens, President Obama gave good advice in his farewell speech in Chicago, just two days ago as I was writing this text. I recommend rereading his speech. There is much we may want to take to heart.
But what can we do in our special role as scholars of human rights? We, after all, have tools to our avail that others are lacking. We must use our tools of scholarship to continue to observe, measure, and explain human rights violations and responses to them. My first sociology professor at the University of Cologne in the 1970s was René König, German émigré to Switzerland during what he called the 12 years of the so-called Thousand-Year Empire (yes, it was a short period, but the destruction during short periods can be beyond imagination). He insisted that we confront ideology with rigorous scholarship and social scientifically based knowledge. There are certainly different ways of knowing the world out there, but a real world there is, a world with human joy and suffering. We have to decide what methods of knowledge production we want to trust more than others. This decision is value-based, and I made my decision. I follow René König by pleading for methods of scholarship. Especially as human rights scholars, the current times increase our raison d’être. We have to live up to our obligation to generate knowledge about human rights, their abuses and their protections.
On a personal note, while our lives will be affected by recent political trends in the US and around the globe, they will not be absorbed by them. I, for one, am determined to continue to appreciate the blessings of my private life, all while living up to my obligations as a scholar and as a world citizen and a citizen of this country.
For us as an association I see two ways forward. First, let’s tap into our collective imagination. Some of you have responded imaginatively to my request for ideas on the monitoring of human rights violations in a new age of uncertainty and threat. This edition of our newsletter presents those contributions we received to our membership. I consider this a start, a collection of ideas that may bear rich fruit if we all take them seriously and follow up.
Second, let’s carry on with our year-to-year business. We have good things to look forward to in the life of our section, its newsletter and the 2017 Annual ASA Meetings in Montreal.
Regarding the newsletter, we have been served superbly well by Rusty Shekha in recent years, and we owe him great thanks. Rusty had to step down at this point for reasons we surely respect. He will be succeeded by an outstanding new editorial team, consisting of Hollie Nyseth Brehm at the Ohio State University (email@example.com) and Annie Isabel Fukushima at the University of Utah (firstname.lastname@example.org). I profoundly thank Annie and Hollie for agreeing to take on this job. As we move forward, please send any postings, such as announcements of recent publications, awards, or conferences to the new editors, as they detail above.
Further, we joined forces with the Section for the Sociology of Law to offer two co-sponsored panels at the 2017 Annual Meetings in Montreal. The topic will be: Human Rights and Law from Above and Below – Comparative Perspectives. One of these is an invited session, the other was open to submissions. Together they form a mini-symposium. The organizer of the open submission session is Frank Munger—great colleague, section member in both Human Rights and Law, and former editor of the Law & Society Review. In addition, we will hold our customary roundtables. The organizer of the roundtables is Lynette Chua of the University of Singapore. We trust that these roundtables will be at least as engaging as they were last year. Great thanks to Lynette and Frank! Also at the Annual Meetings, we have joined forces with the Section for the Sociology of Law and the Section on Crime, Law, and Deviance to organize what promises to be a spectacular party on the terrace of an old hotel (Hotel William Gray), a very manageable and most interesting walk through old Montreal from the conference site. We owe Eran Shor at McGill great thanks for identifying this site.
Again, let’s continue to make our section grow in size and relevance. It is an honor serving as your chair.
Human Rights Scholarship in the Time of Trump
by Michael Schwartz, Stony Brook University
I hope there will be many responses to Joachim Savelsberg’s invitation for section members to apply their evidential and analytic expertise to the task of answering the threats to human rights emanating from the Trump Administration. This can be an occasion when social scientists fulfill the mandate first articulated by W.E.B. Du Bois: that sociology should have as its mission “unleashing social truths,” “empowering change,” and “liberating humanity.”
Toward that end, I want to point to some very narrow and applied work that already looms as instrumental in protecting (and hopefully even extending) human rights in “the Time of Trump.” This is not work I feel I am qualified to do; but my idea is that we all should be thinking in this way, and hope that by circulating these ideas, they will reach other scholars with the energy and expertise needed to implement them. That is, we need to act collectively to “unleash the social truths” that social science has to offer, and therefore empower the practitioners and activists who need these insights to defend or extend human rights.
So here are a couple of ideas about what kind of scholarship might be immediately useful:
The Trump Muslim Ban is going to be the subject of a sustained struggle, despite the resounding February 10 repudiation of Trump’s draconian Executive Order by the Ninth Circuit Court. We can expect a whole raft of future moments, including some or all of the following: the evidentiary hearing (where the specific cases will have to be made); the various future appeals (where more conservative judges may be key); the now looming almost-certainty of a new Executive Order, which will need substantive challenge and on-the-ground resistance.
Despite the heartening mobilization of protest, legal challenge, and even state governments against this, there is nevertheless a dangerous lack of precision—or in many cases a lack of general information—on who has been impacted by the ban and in what ways it has harmed or endangered their welfare. And—maybe more important—tracing out the harmful human rights consequences of this or of a modified ban for the concentric circles of people in the U.S. and globally.
At least some of us are equipped to fill this evidential and analytic void. And if we can provide some clear answers, this work will be utterly central to the legal dispute—the Circuit Court decision specifically mandates an investigation and adjudication of the economic and personal damage of the ban (and a comparison with its “beneficial” impact on “national security”). Nevertheless, the State of Washington, the ACLU, and the growing army of lawyers working the many cases have dreadfully fragmentary evidence.
We are in a position to provide comprehensive information that could be crucial to the judicial process. And this same information would be invaluable to the individuals and groups who are in the line of fire, all the activists mobilized to protect those impacted, and the broader public which is looking for ways to resist Trump’s attacks.
Here are a few of the important measurement issues that someone (or a research team) with real skill and expertise could help to answer:
- How many people are in the pipeline for visas from the seven outcast countries—have already applied, but not yet granted—and where are they located? Is Homeland Security continuing to process them now that court injunction has been validated; or are they—in some venues—illegally imposing the ban?
- How many current residents of the United States are here on student, visitor, or work visas from the outcast countries; how has the ban (or its threat) impacted their safety and welfare; and how can they be forewarned or forearmed against current or pending dangers?
- What is the magnitude of U.S. business and personal travel for people from these countries; what is the magnitude of business and personal travel of U.S. residents/citizens to these countries? How disruptive is the reality or threat of the ban to their safety and welfare? How can they be informed of agencies or groups they can connect to?
- Can we use already-developed research strategies to measure and analyze the full extent of disruption (to commerce, personal lives) that this ban can or would accomplish? Looking at the direct impact on those banned, on their families, on their businesses or occupations, and then outward to the people who rely (personally or economically) on this set of concentric circles? One example I know of was the cancellation of an already-planned academic conference on Middle East history and culture, a disruption of the lives and scholarship of hundreds of scholars, most of whom were not the direct targets of the ban.
Careful (or even quick but accurate) research on these and all the related issues will be very useful for the lawyers active in the (already) myriad legal cases being contested; allow the people directly and indirectly to contact each other and act collectively; and provide useful tools for rallying the broad opposition by demonstrating that these human rights violations reach right into most people’s lives.
And here is another, quite different, but also urgent application of our research skills. As the media are starting to report (not enough to be sure), Homeland Security has begun an onslaught of raids into Latino communities (unfortunately pioneered and defended by the Bush and Obama administrations), summarily detaining and deporting long-time residents (many with young children who are U.S. citizens) who have done nothing to provoke their expulsion. The terrorized communities have been organizing resistance to these raids, and there is real promise that this resistance can become the enactment of the sanctuary movement.
Human Rights (and particularly immigration) scholars have a great opportunity to supply usable knowledge to this resistance/sanctuary movement. The U.S. has a long history of immigration exclusion, as well as a long history of civil disobedience as a strategy for resisting various forms of expulsion. This history needs to be mined for useful insights into what succeeded and what failed in the past, and how these lessons can be applied to the current situation. This kind of work is exemplified by the superb David Bacon article circulated to the section by Bryan Rich. But this is only a start on what we need to do. We need to cull more insight from this history, and all become analysts of the many moments of resistance going on right now. Our analytics skills are needed to transmit lessons learned from one locale to others, as they try to defend communities against this developing reign of terror.
As social scientists we don’t often have an opportunity to contribute to “empowering change,” let alone “liberating humanity.” But, this is one of those moments. What we have to contribute can make a difference. And I think that Du Bois would say that when the opportunity appears, it becomes an obligation.
So I thank Joachim for creating a forum in which we can contribute, and I hope that the folks in the Human Rights section treat the opportunity as an obligation.
 Aldon Morris, The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. DuBois and the Birth of Modern Sociology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015).
 State of Washington et al v Donald J. Trump et al, “Motion for Stay of an Order…” Order No. 17-35105; D.C No 2:17-cv-00141 Filed February 9, 2017, found at https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3457898/2-9-17-9th-Circuit-Order.pdf
 Democracy Now, ‘ICE Raids Speed into Overdrive: Advocates Say Obama’s Deportations Reaching 100 MPH under Trump,” (February 2, 2017), found at https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/10/ice_raids_speed_into_overdrive_advocates .
 David Bacon, “What Donald Trump Can and Can’t Do to Immigrants,” NACLA Newsletter, (February 6, 2017), found at http://portside.org/2017-02-10/what-donald-trump-can-and-cant-do-immigrants
What Is To Be Done? Response to Schwartz
by Louis Edgar Esparza, California State University-Los Angeles
The task of sociologists, and especially sociologists of human rights, has not changed, though it may now be more urgent. United States institutions violate international human rights standards and norms as a matter of course, though some may now worsen. Here I offer my colleagues suggestions for research, the classroom, and for us:
Understand, conceptualize, and reconcile some well-known data regarding the US criminal justice system with international human rights standards, including the following stubborn trends:
- The United States currently holds two million people behind bars;
- That is more than any nation today;
- That is more than any nation in history;
- Of these, a disproportionate number are African American;
- Work behind bars is remunerated below the federal minimum wage;
- The United States continues to practice capital punishment;
- The United States continues to practice solitary confinement;
- The United States continues to hold individuals without trial;
- The United States continues to collect personal data without a warrant;
- The United States continues extrajudicial killing via drone strikes.
Use data on social indicators that reveal the place of the US among peers:
- The United States ranks 24th of 36 OECD countries on share of women in government;
- The United States ranks 29th of 36 OECD countries on life expectancy at birth;
- The United States ranks 35th of 36 OECD countries on income inequality;
- The US ranks 35th of 36 OECD countries on rate of poverty;
- 75% of OECD countries grant some form of paternity leave. The US is not among these;
- The United States is the only OECD country that does not grant maternity leave for at least 12 weeks.
For the Classroom:
- Inform classrooms of resources for undocumented, refugee, and immigrant students;
- Make time to listen to students who are processing the changes undergoing in our society;
- Place domestic human rights abuses in the context of US human rights abuses abroad;
- Provide instruction on media literacy.
- Provide an unambiguous and unqualified defense of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), especially for marginalized peoples;
- If you are placed in a situation where you are instructed to violate the UDHR, do not follow it;
- Practice self-care;
- If you have the resources, you may choose to donate to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or similar groups of your choice in your local area.
Two hundred people were arrested at the president’s inauguration on 20 January 2017. Many – including six journalists – faced felony rioting charges, up to $25,000 in fines, and 10 years in prison. Some of these charges have since been dropped, but this is part of a long trend in the criminalization of protest, which now includes journalists. Resistance to worsening trends could use all the assistance possible.
 Esparza, Louis Edgar and Rhiannan Price. 2015. “Convergence repertoires: anti-capitalist protest at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.” Contemporary Justice Review.
The Mexico City Policy: An Impediment to the Achievement of Women’s Right to Life
by Elizabeth Heger Boyle, University of Minnesota
In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 580 women die from pregnancy-related complications for every 100,000 live births. For women in this region of the world, the lifetime chance of dying from pregnancy complications is 1 in 38. This reveals a violation of women’s basic right to life.
President Trump’s reinstatement and possible expansion on January 23 of the 1984 Mexico City Policy exacerbates this problem. The Mexico City Policy bans US aid to any organization that provides abortions (broadly defined) or even refers to abortion as an option for women. The Mexico City Policy was initially introduced under President Reagan and has been reinstated by all Republican presidents since then. George W. Bush exempted various services, such as post-abortion emergency treatment, from the ban, but Trump’s Executive Order made no such distinctions.
Ironically, over time, regions with high exposure to the Mexico City Policy have tended to have greater abortion rates, likely because access to modern contraception goes down when the policy is applied. Furthermore, abortion rates have not significantly decreased in the Global South since Reagan first instituted the policy, but they have declined notably in the Global North where there are no such restrictions. Apart from a lack of access to modern contraceptives, Trump’s expansive Executive Order could mean less funding for many hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting public health in many other realms as well.
There is no reason for reinstituting the Mexico City Policy—the 1973 Helms Amendment already prevents the use of US tax dollars for abortion-related services or devices domestically and abroad. It is important that we continue to press the new administration to ensure rather than impede women’s basic human rights.
Bendavid, Eran, Patrick Avila, and Grant Miller, “United States Aid Policy and Induced Abortion in Aub-Saharan Africa,” Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Sept. 27, 2011 (online publish date): Vol. 89, pp. 873-880C, http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/12/11-091660/en/.
Kaiser Family Foundation. 2017. http://kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/mexico-city-policy-explainer/
Sedgh, Gilda, et al. 2016. “Abortion Incidence between 1990 and 2014: Global, Regional, and Subregional Levels and Trends.” The Lancet 388(10041): p. 258-267.
In Defense of Public Goods
by LaDawn Haglund, Arizona State University
With the election of Donald Trump to highest office in the United States, it seems a new era has dawned. As sociologists of human rights, the range and depth of threats posed by the new administration are breathtaking. We as a society have much to lose: decades of environmental protections guarding the rights of current and future generations, safety nets designed to prevent illness or hardship from sinking people into total despair, checks on the power of the rich to extract disproportionate resources from our shared societal wealth while restricting the rights and remuneration of workers, and a large body of regulations enacted to help prevent discrimination against non-majority populations.
Though analyses of how we came to this point continue to flood both professional and social media, I would like to focus on one aspect that is not new, but is often ignored: the assault on public goods. By public goods, I do not mean narrowly-defined “pure public goods,” which can only be provided by the state (think military and public infrastructure). I am referring to public goods that could potentially be privatized, though not in ways that are accessible in a just and equitable manner (think education, health care, social security, or meaningful remunerative work).
Scholars of human rights will immediately see the parallels with fundamental human rights. Societies create public goods to support the normative ideals embodied in human rights because without them, life for both individuals and the community as a whole is degraded, undignified, and at times lethal. Countless dedicated activists, communities, legal advocates, and public servants achieved these protections, safety nets, checks, and regulations over the course of generations of struggle.
Notwithstanding current shortcomings in achieving the ideals laid out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is still possible to acknowledge the threats posed by the all-out assault on public goods waged by Congressional Republicans, right-wing media and think tanks, corporate lobbyists, and wealthy donors. This campaign—which has existed since the New Deal but gained traction with the “rollback neoliberalism” of Reagan and the 1994 Republican-dominated Congress—would have us ignore legitimate motivations for pursuing public goods. Instead, we are urged to rally against “government waste,” “burdensome regulations,” and “restrictions on liberty” while demonizing human vulnerability. These framing strategies are designed to win the hearts and minds of a critical mass of people so that the idea of a useless and rapacious state becomes a self-evident, common sense maxim.
Unfortunately, this strategy has blossomed into a full-blown offensive against public goods, and its proponents are now at the helm of the battleship. Sociologists are—implicitly or explicitly—at the center of the political storm, given their expertise in analyzing inequality, injustice, power, and privilege as they manifest along cleavages of race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. This provides us with a unique opportunity to clarify not only how radical reversals of policy became possible, but also where and how they might be blocked, and how rights- and life-affirming alternatives might be advanced.
In Closing the Rights Gap, Robin Stryker and I asked several questions of relevance to this historical moment: “How is it that individuals and institutions come to accept a new set of norms or principles? When and why do they begin to act in ways that support these principles?” As with all social transformations, the current situation was brought on by identifiable actors who took concrete steps, utilizing a range of mechanisms and strategies, over time and in dialogue with existing political and institutional realities, to promote a set of norms reflecting their own goals, values, and interests. In this process, they sought to shape the perceptions and desires of the population at large around new normative frames that vilified state action, and to encourage people to act on those beliefs by supporting those who perpetuated the emergent discourses. From this point of view, our current situation did not originate with Donald Trump, nor is he the only agent of threat.
Similarly, the struggle to maintain the integrity of our hard-fought public goods, as well as to promote further spaces and processes where justice and dignity are upheld and fulfilled, is being waged by a range of actors intervening in analogous but opposite ways. Some of the mechanisms and strategies highlighted in our and others’ work include informational mechanisms geared toward providing evidence in support of a course of action (which, in the current zeitgeist, may include “alternative facts” and misinformation); symbolic mechanisms that employ framing or symbolism to inspire support (compare “Make America Great” baseball caps with “Pussyhats”); power-based mechanisms designed to mobilize pressure for change (lobbying and protest are common examples); legal mechanisms that utilize courts to uphold official norms; and cooperative mechanisms (such as dialogue and participatory spaces).
As sociologists, we have much to offer in all of these areas. As researchers, our role is crucial in asking the right questions, providing empirical evidence for the answers, and crafting solutions based on the best possible evidence. We can defend public goods by providing systematic, accessible evidence to the public, grassroots organizations, courts, Congress, and state legislatures that exposes the conditions that necessitate public goods, as well as documents the benefits they impart. While acknowledging the failings of our social institutions, we can illuminate the problems they are designed to address in ways that matter to people and appeal to our shared humanity. Otherwise, the dominant narrative of the rapacious state (and beneficent markets) will dominate.
Of course our work, and in fact much sociological inquiry, threatens those who benefit from existing injustices, and these actors have great incentives to cast aspersions on critics. As teachers, we must continue arming our students with critical reasoning skills and well-supported data and information, despite increasing attacks on the integrity of our scholarship by the media, “freedom schools,” and the privatization of education.
Yet, in the age of “alternative facts,” we can no longer expect our expertise to be enough. We also need counter-narratives to blanket assertions that the problem is the state. Policies and institutions such as the EPA, anti-discriminatory legislation, social safety nets, and shelters for vulnerable people – whether displaced, victimized, or otherwise at risk – did not arise out of thin air, or as some would have us believe, out of a desire to take money from hard working people. Moreover, creating a caring society is not the sole responsibility of charity organizations, but also of state actors and institutions working with communities. Alternative discourses of justice, compassion, and empathy that foreground the importance of public goods can restore the legitimacy of harnessing the state for societal wellbeing.
Narratives are also not enough, as our research indicates. Mobilization, legal challenges, and cooperative building of alternatives are also crucial. We are at a crossroads, where a multi-directional defense of public goods will be required to advance human rights. As scholars and teachers, we have much to offer in all of these areas, and a lot to lose if we stand by silently and watch our hard-sought knowledge be ignored, distorted, or dismissed. This period of crisis presents an opportunity to move beyond the glaring shortcomings of previous institutional and social arrangements to foster the emergence of a more just, inclusive, and rights-responsive society.
LaDawn Haglund is the author of Limiting Resources: Market-Led Reform and the Transformation of Public Goods (2010, Penn State Press) and co-editor (with Robin Stryker) of Closing the Rights Gap: From Human Rights to Social Transformation (2015, U.C. Press).
Using Sociology to Promote and Protect Human Rights
by Erik Larson, Macalester College
The recent and potential dramatic electoral shifts fueled by right-wing populism in the United States and Europe pose challenges to human rights. Fundamentally, these outcomes challenge the universality of human rights, particularly as the basis for government action, favoring a more ethnonational understanding of rights protection and provision.
In such an environment, how can sociologists respond effectively? There are certainly instances in which our professional commitments correspond to human rights principles—threats to academic freedom such as silencing researchers from presenting findings among a community of scholars or denying scholars access to data are also instances of interfering with rights to opinion, expression, and assembly.
Beyond these instances, we may see our work of gathering and presenting data as vital to promoting the monitoring and realization of human rights. In doing so, we need not duplicate the efforts of organizations with core human rights missions. Their collection and documentation of violations and provision of this compiled information to organizations that review human rights practices will often be more efficient, immediate, and effective than what we as scholars could achieve through primary data collection.
Yet, we as individual scholars and a collective profession have much to offer. Drawing as much on the inspirational work of many colleagues as on my own research on the growth of indigenous rights as a transnational phenomenon, the following non-exhaustive list catalogs some of these contributions that sociologists can continue to make:
- Examining primary data in illuminating ways. Whether drawing on methods of analysis that can help uncover unexamined relationships or deploying theoretical ideas to provide new explanations, sociologists studying human rights can generate insights that provide focus to understanding the situation of human rights.
- Understanding social determinants of rights realization. Moving beyond the immediacy of rights violations, examining the conditions that result in achievements of human rights can reveal a range of mechanisms that affect how individuals pursue rights and how other actors, such as governments and corporations, structure activities in ways that more effectively consider the human and distributive consequences of action.
- Viewing situations from a human rights framework. Connecting the social conditions that we study—the gaps and inequalities—to human rights ideals could demonstrate the connections between people in different situations that much contemporary political rhetoric seeks to deny.
- Seeing organizational processes that affect human rights. Acknowledging that not only governments are relevant human rights actors and examining how private sector and civil society organizational processes connected to organizational environments, networks, and movements can uncover means through which unsupportive government actions can be countered effectively.
- Finally, explaining how human rights have become more influential. The history of human rights shows both increasing institutionalization in the international environment and autonomy on the part of human rights experts, suggesting that there is potential for new alliances to continue to challenge threats to the well-being and dignity of people.
Creating Inclusive Human Rights Classrooms
Adapted from Sie Center QuickFacts “Creating Inclusive Classrooms in International Studies”
by Marie Berry, University of Denver
We enter 2017 in a highly charged political moment. There are important conversations happening at universities across the U.S. about creating and preserving our classrooms and campuses as spaces where all students—regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability, immigration status, citizenship, or any other category of difference—feel welcome and encouraged to learn. At many colleges, it has also become apparent that international studies schools and classrooms face a series of unique issues related to inclusiveness and diversity—issues which likely apply to many human rights classrooms as well. These issues range from the fact that most students in international studies programs in the U.S. are from the West (and advantaged backgrounds), yet many aim to do work in the Global South among the most disadvantaged, to the fact that many international studies topics (e.g., development, human rights) have been accused of (neo)colonial orientations. While these issues have long been important, the current political environment has created an acute need to address them because many members of university communities—students, staff, and faculty—feel under threat.
Together with colleagues, I solicited feedback from a small group of current Master’s students on simple but potentially impactful ways that all faculty can begin to work towards creating inclusive classrooms where all students feel welcome and encouraged to learn about global issues. Based on the feedback from students, I offer this initial list with the recognition that it is not sufficient or comprehensive; rather it offers points of entry where faculty teaching on international issues can easily infuse principles of diversity and inclusion into their courses.
- Diversify assigned readings:
Work to ensure our course readings reflect a diversity of perspectives and authors from different backgrounds—including women, people of color, and scholars from the Global South. This is particularly important in international studies courses in order to actively disrupt the tendency to anoint Western scholarship and perspectives as the gold standard. Instead, ask whether there are places on our syllabi where local voices, scholars from marginalized groups, and scholars from the regions under discussion could be assigned. Even when these voices do not dispute traditional scholarship, normalizing diverse voices on our syllabi can allow more students to recognize their backgrounds as generating useful and legitimate perspectives on an issue. This tool is a useful way to get a quick estimate of diversity.
- Talk explicitly about inequality, power and privilege (without burdening those on the margins):
Many students of international studies—and human rights in particular—aspire to careers in the global arena. In order to do this work effectively, many are eager to better understand their own privilege and bias. One way to integrate these discussions into a variety of courses is to center the idea of intersectionality—the recognition that all people have multiple identities that are bound up with power hierarchies and that intersect and overlap in ways that create discrimination, advantage, or both in different situations. There are many resources to help facilitate these discussions, which require preparation (see here to get started and watch Kimberlé Crenshaw’s new Ted Talk). These conversations are important for white, Western students aiming to do work in the Global South in the current political environment. They are also important for students of color who may be interested in joining the Foreign Service or working for international human rights NGOs, where they may experience unique challenges related to their own identity (see an excellent related discussion here).
Further tip: be conscious of not putting the burden of this discussion on students with marginalized identities. This can make them feel like “tokens of diversity” being asked to do more emotional and intellectual labor than those occupying dominant identities, such as their white, cis-gender, straight, Christian, U.S.-citizen classmates.
- Bring current events—including domestic ones—into the classroom:
While most international studies (and many human rights) classes focus on the international, students are eager to bring recent domestic examples into the classroom as well. Perhaps more urgently than ever, what international studies faculty have been teaching for years—on fascism, authoritarianism, political violence, politicized ethnicity, populism, human rights, and so forth—can no longer pretend to only apply to “over there.” For instance, classes that highlight authoritarian regimes would do well to integrate class discussions on how current political discourse in the U.S. shares (or doesn’t share) similarities with the rise of authoritarian regimes elsewhere.
- Model inclusive language on your syllabi and in your lectures:
Language is a powerful tool for either facilitating or combating inequality, discrimination, and oppression. As such, here are some preliminary tips informed by suggestions from our graduate students:
- Consider adding a note to our syllabi affirming all gender expressions and identities and encouraging students to reach out to us if they wish to be referred to by a different pronoun;
- Avoid asking students questions about their race or ethnicity—questions like, “what are you?”—even if asked with good intentions—can make students feel singled out and uncomfortable;
- Note any accommodations for students with differing abilities, medical issues, religious observances, and so forth. Invite students to talk to us if they feel unsafe or discriminated against in any way;
- Avoid using phrases like, “Hi guys” or “us Americans” or “that’s insane” as each phrase is exclusionary or dismissive in certain ways;
- While this may seem obvious, avoid referring to people as “illegals” or “illegal immigrants”; “undocumented” or “unauthorized” are preferred terms;
- Look to work by Gary Howard and others for additional ways of approaching inclusive language.
These suggestions are intended as accessible “first steps” for faculty to create more inclusive classrooms. After the recent spate of Executive Orders, many students also now need specific resources, ranging from advice on their visas or work status, to guidance on whether they should participate in civil resistance efforts, to targeted mental health care resources like crisis hotlines or counseling services. Since faculty (and our syllabi) are often a first point of contact with students, we have an important opportunity to signal our willingness to serve as an ally and resource. Initiatives like We Stand With Our Students provide students the names and contact information of faculty allies and make coordinating efforts to support our students during these difficult times more straightforward, and I invite further suggestions.
By James Rule, University of California, Berkeley
For many Americans, the most catastrophic loss of innocence concerning their country’s human rights policies came in the spring of 2004, with publication of photos of Iraqi captives under military detention at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Time will not soon erode the impact of those images—and I emphasize that images is what I have in mind here. The photo of the hooded prisoner forced to stand for hours in a precarious position, or the one of a female U.S. military guard holding an Iraqi prisoner on a leash—these stripped away all doubt about the lengths American forces were prepared to go in prosecuting their ill-conceived and ill-fated invasion of Iraq. Once these photos started appearing on front pages, everything changed. By all accounts, this country’s standing in world opinion suffered sweeping collapse—from which, some would say, it has never recovered.
Note the gap between the force of those images and that of other forms of intelligence about American actions in Iraq. Since at least the middle of 2003, reliable reports had been emanating from Iraq of unconscionable (and under international law, illegal) treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Among those making such reports was the International Red Cross. In July of that year Amnesty International cited the U.S. military for subjecting prisoners there to “cruel, inhumane and degrading” conditions. In November, AP distributed a report by reporter Charles J. Hanley documenting abuse of U.S. prisoners in Iraq, including at Abu Ghraib.
Early in 2004, the military itself began to acknowledge questions about such abuse. On January 13, one of the MPs in duty at Abu Ghraib reported abusive actions to military investigators. Three days later, the U.S. Command in Baghdad issued a one-paragraph press release on such an investigation. Three days after that Ricardo Sanchez, the Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, ordered a criminal investigation. Things moved slowly. Sanchez later noted, under oath in Congressional testimony, that “Red Cross reports warning of abuse … [at] Abu Ghraib … became lost in the Army’s bureaucracy and weren’t adequately addressed.” But at the end of April, CBS’s “60 Minutes” and The New Yorker published the graphic photos that no one can forget. After that, the scandal, including both the original events and the subsequent reluctance to act on them, became national and international obsessions.
We social scientists seek out, document, and analyze empirical observations—often in the hope of convincing our fellow citizens that the things we focus on are not as they should be. Here we are not too different from investigative journalists, human rights workers, or activists representing disfavored groups. To pursue our roles, we put forward models of a better world, and we expect others to be as disturbed by discrepancies between these visions and the facts we document as we are. But if we are candid, we need to admit that we do not in any complete way understand why some of the discrepancies revealed by research ignite the public consciousness, and other are simply ignored. Nor do we know why images—or at least, the right images, at the right moments—galvanize publics in ways that the most thoroughly-researched reports often do not.
This is no counsel of despair, for I hold there is a positive conclusion to be drawn. Shouldn’t we be paying attention to the complex social chemistry that determines what makes particular images—and for that matter, particular research studies—electrifying in particular contexts? Can’t we find ways of analyzing what makes a particular image, or a particular report, capable of searing itself into public attention? We know that moments exist when a single spark can set off a conflagration of public indignation or action. But we don’t know what distinguishes those moments.
Developments in Monitoring and Measuring Human Rights Violations
by Christopher N. J. Roberts, University of Minnesota
Monitoring and measuring human rights violations are among the most crucial—and challenging—of activities for human rights researchers. Human rights violations typically occur beyond the gaze of researchers, activists, and monitoring groups. They are often perpetrated in locations that are too dangerous, geographically remote, or politically inaccessible for the collection of “fresh” data on the ground as those abuses occur. But developments in digital technology, the ubiquity of camera-equipped mobile devices, and widespread access to the Internet offer new opportunities for the production, collection, and analysis of data surrounding human rights violations.
This commentary provides a brief overview of several new “open source investigation” initiatives that have already transformed the way that many journalists and human rights organizations investigate violations. Harnessing these developments in data collection and making use of them in the research context raises its own challenges. Still, there are enormous opportunities for sociologists of human rights to innovate in the theory, method, and analytic techniques associated with the monitoring and measuring of human rights violations.
Never before have individuals so isolated had such a large global audience to turn to for help. Today, people in conflict zones post videos, photographs, and offer narrative accounts of human rights abuses on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp. A number of organizations seek to offer guidance for those creating user generated content. WITNESS, for instance, is one such initiative that focuses its efforts on training citizen activists around the world in the safe and effective use of video to document and expose human rights violations around the world.
The ability to use such data to improve the lives of the abused and hold accountable the appropriate violators, however, depends on the intensive efforts of investigators who must authenticate, process, analyze, and interpret the staggering quantities of data that are now publicly available on the Internet. To date, journalism collaboratives and human rights organizations have taken the lead. First Draft News and the Verification Handbook, for instance, are resources for journalists, activists, academics, and aid providers for authenticating, handling and using user-generated content. Similarly, Citizen Evidence Lab is an initiative that offers a series of guidelines, publications and studies oriented towards advancing best-practice techniques for authenticating user-generated content. Its partner-organization Amnesty International has already employed digital verification techniques to authenticate user generated evidence and corroborate accounts of civilian killings in Syria as well as the existence of mass graves in Burundi.
Although it is increasingly common for journalists and activists to put to use user-generated digital content, one of the most innovative and noteworthy projects involving researchers and students is The Human Rights Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley. Students who participate in this lab learn cutting edge user-generated data authentication techniques from leaders in the field. Using specialized software and querying tools, they systematically gather and process evidence associated with human rights and humanitarian violations in order to be of use for researchers and criminal prosecutions.
These developments in data collection hold enormous promise for sociologists whose research involves the monitoring and measuring of human rights violations. At these early stages, however, a great deal of theoretical and methodological groundwork lies ahead for social scientists who wish to leverage successfully such data in their own research.
Persistent Tensions: Human Rights and National Sovereignty in Socialist Venezuela
by Timothy M. Gill, Tulane University
In 1998, Venezuelan citizens elected their first leader outside of the two-party system that dominated the country since 1958: Hugo Chávez. On the campaign trail, Chávez attracted support from the popular classes by promoting the construction of a new constitution that would recognize all sectors and racial/ethnic groups, and would endorse the idea of a participatory democracy. Chávez would also promise to tackle extensive socio-economic inequality. In office, Chávez would indeed construct a new Venezuelan Constitution; initiate missions designed to combat social problems including illiteracy and lack of access to health care; and he would eventually embrace socialism. Under the latter move, Chávez asserted that Venezuela must encourage a truly democratic and communal form of governance.
At the international level, Chávez trumpeted the creation of a multi-polar world-system that would reduce U.S. imperial influence. Indeed, U.S. global power especially concerned the Venezuelan president as dissident military officers and opposition activists temporarily deposed Chávez in April 2002. In its wake, Chávez would blame the U.S. for allegedly funding and providing support to the individuals that carried out the overthrow, and he would recurrently criticize the U.S. for violating Venezuelan national sovereignty by attempting to influence domestic political affairs. While the U.S. rejected the accusation that it supported the coup, it recognized that some groups that participated in the event had received some support from U.S. government agencies (OIG 2002).
Although citizens continued to elect Chávez, and then his successor President Nicolás Maduro, he faced a spate of criticism. Critics contended that the socialists stifled private enterprise, targeted opposition politicians, and, despite enacting several government missions, transgressed an array of human rights. Critics have also portrayed the socialists as paranoid autocrats that invent conspiracies in order to justify support for draconian policies.
In two recent publications, I have examined how the Venezuelan government sought to contain U.S. influence within the country by prohibiting foreign funding for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). First, I have shown how Venezuela has pursued legislation targeting NGOs since 2006 (Gill 2016). It would take the Venezuelan government until 2010, though, to pass legislation that criminalized foreign funding for NGOs that promote – ambiguously phrased – political rights. In that article, I show that Chávez had remained susceptible to criticism from foreign state leaders and domestic NGO representatives in 2006, and thus decided to shelve the law. In 2010, though, I show that Venezuela had become immersed within a global subfield involving countries that were also pursuing similar legislation, including Belarus and Russia, and this sort of maneuver had become normalized within this newfound global milieu. What is more, the Venezuelan government had severed relations with formerly critical countries and NGOs.
In a second publication, I have drawn attention to how Venezuela continues to deploy a discourse of national sovereignty and a discourse of human rights depending on particular goals (Gill 2017). As it involved legislation targeting NGOs, for example, the government utilized a discourse of national sovereignty. In defense of the legislation, Chávez quite plainly stated that that “[Venezuela is] a sovereign country … [and there are] political parties, NGOs, personalities of the counterrevolution that continue being financed [by] the US empire … I implore you to pass a very strict law to impede this.”
In recent months, President Maduro has continued to prioritize the idea of national sovereignty. Amid a food and medicinal shortage, Maduro has refused to accept assistance from several countries and institutions. And when criticized by, for example, the U.S. for its handling of the political-economic crisis, government leaders have demanded the U.S. respect Venezuelan national sovereignty and not meddle in its affairs.
Despite this continued emphasis on national sovereignty, I have also shown how the government has, at times, advanced a discourse of human rights. Venezuelan government leaders indeed routinely testify that no other country respects human rights more than Venezuela. Leaders also continue to use the language of human rights to criticize foreign governments, including Israel and the U.S. In July 2014, for example, Venezuela condemned Israeli military attacks within Palestine, and sent medicine and clothing to the country. President Maduro has also recurrently criticized U.S. foreign policy efforts in places such as Libya and Syria, as well as the extrajudicial murder of unarmed African-Americans throughout the country.
Tensions between human rights and national sovereignty visibly persist in Venezuela. The Venezuelan government has provided economic assistance to a number of countries throughout the world including Haiti and Nicaragua, yet it has guarded its own sovereignty so close that it has refused assistance amid its own crisis. The government has also rejected the notion that it hampers human rights by targeting NGOs, and has asserted that it must restrict NGO operations to bolster its own national sovereignty. At the same time, it has leveled human rights-oriented criticisms at a number of countries.
The existence of these tensions is not limited to Venezuela. The U.S. displays its own issues. It criticizes Venezuela, but it has failed to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as several senators assert that the U.S. should not answer to anyone outside its borders. These dynamics will undoubtedly persist well into the 21stcentury, and it will, first and foremost, behoove citizens to hold their domestic leaders accountable to the standards they set.
Gill, Timothy M. 2016. “The Venezuelan Government and the Global Field: The Legislative Battle over Foreign Funding for Nongovernmental Organizations.” Sociological Forum 31(1): 29-52.
Gill, Timothy M. 2017. “Unpacking the World Cultural Toolkit in Socialist Venezuela: National Sovereignty, Human Rights, and anti-NGO Legislation.” Third World Quarterly, forthcoming.
Office of Inspector General (OIG). 2002. A Review of U.S. Policy Toward Venezuela November 2001 – April 2002. Report Number 02-OIG-003.
2016 Section Awards
Best Graduate Student Paper Award
Roberts, Louisa. “Changing Global Attitudes Toward Homosexuality: The Influence of Global and Region Specific Cultures, 1981-2012.”
Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Award
Holzer, Elizabeth. The Concerned Women of Budburam: Refugee Activists and Humanitarian Dilemmas. Cornell University Press.
Best Scholarly Article Award
Teeger, Chana. 2016. “Both Sides of the Story: History Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” American Sociological Review 80(6)1175-1200.
Awards and Announcements
Manisha Desai was the Compact for Faculty Diversity’s 2016 Faculty Mentor of the Year, New England.
After spending several weeks as a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Bandana Purkayastha completed her first month as a Fulbright-Nehru scholar at the University of Hyderabad. She is gathering data on her project Water, Inequalities and Rights.
Anjana Narayan and Bandana Purkayastha have been awarded a 2017-2018 Global Religion Research Initiative grant to set up an interdisciplinary, multi-country coalition of scholars who will study living Islam and Hinduism from an intersectional perspective. The scholars from the US, India and Pakistan will also examine appropriate methodologies for studying lived religions.
Annie Isabel Fukushima is a member of the Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects, a transnational feminist collective of artist, scholars, and activists. They were awarded $75,000 to implement research, pedagogies, and digital exhibitions entitled, “Migratory Times,” in the Colombia, Denmark, Philippines, South Korea, and the United States.
Adur, Shweta and Purkayastha, Bandana. 2017. “Claiming ‘Tradition,’ Naming the Cause: Examining the Language of Social Identity among Queer South Asians in U.S.” Journal of South Asian Diaspora 9: 1-16. Currently available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19438192.2016.1199456
Armaline, William, Davita Glasberg, and Bandana Purkayastha. 2016. “De Jure vs. De Facto Rights: A Response to ‘Human Rights: What the United States Might Learn From the Rest of the World and, Yes, From American Sociology.’” Sociological Forum. DOI: 10.1111/socf.12303
Desai, Manisha. 2016. “SWS 2015 Feminist Lecture: The Gendered Geographies of Struggle: The World Social Forum and its Sometimes Overlapping Other Worlds.” Gender and Society 30(6): 869-889.
Desai, Manisha. 2016. “The Gendered Geographies of Global Justice,” In Social Movements and World-System Transformation. Edited by Jackie Smith, Michael Goodhart, Patrick Manning, and John Markoff.
Desai, Manisha and Rachel Rinaldo. 2016. “Reorienting Gender and Globalization: Introduction to the Special Issue.” Qualitative Sociology, Dec. 2016.
Ferrales, Gabrielle, Hollie Nyseth Brehm, and Suzy McElrath. 2016. “Gender-Based Violence Against Men and Boys in Darfur: What is Gendered About Genocide?” Gender & Society 30(4): 565-589.
Fukushima, Annie Isabel. 2016. An American Haunting: Unsettling Witnessing in Transnational Migration, the Ghost Case, & Human Trafficking (W.S. Hesford and R. Lewis, Eds). Feminist Formations, Special issue, Mobilizing Vulnerability: New Directions in Transnational Feminist Studies & Human Rights 28(1): 146 – 165.
Fukushima Annie Isabel, Guest Contributor. (2016) “Why should human trafficking be countered through a critical human rights approach?” In John Vanek (Ed.), The Essential Abolitionist: What You Need to Know About Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery.
Hola, Barbora and Hollie Nyseth Brehm. 2016. “Punishing Genocide: A Comparative Empirical Analysis of Sentencing Laws and Practices at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Rwandan Domestic Courts, and Gacaca Courts.” Genocide Studies and Prevention 10(3): 59-80.
Krase, Jerome. “The Italian American Contribution to Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban.” http://www.iitaly.org/magazine/focus/op-eds/article/italian-american-contribution-trumps-muslim-immigration-ban
Krase, Jerome. “The Rise of Italo-Trumpism.”
Krase, Jerome. “Intalo-Trumpism in NYC.” http://www.iitaly.org/magazine/focus/op-eds/article/italo-trumpism-in-nyc
Krase, Jerome and Judith N. DeSena. 2016. Race, Class, and Gentrification in Brooklyn: A View from the Street. Lexington Books.
Krase, Jerome. Keynote Lecture, “Seeing the Image of the City Change,” University of Central, Lancashire, United Kingdom, Fieldwork Photography Symposium, November 9, 2016.
Nyseth Brehm, Hollie, Christopher Uggen, and Jean-Damascéne Gasanabo. 2016. “Age, Gender, and the Crime of Crimes: Toward a Life-Course Theory of Genocide Participation.” Criminology 54(4): 713-743.
Waring, Chandra and Purkayastha, Bandana. 2017. “‘I’m a Different Kind of Biracial’: How Black/White Biracial Americans with Immigrant Parents Negotiate Race.” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation, Culture. Currently available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504630.2016.1271739
Wyrod, Robert. 2016. AIDS and Masculinity in the African City: Privilege, Inequality, and Modern Manhood. University of California Press.
Wyrod, Robert. 2016. “When Rights Come Home: The Intimate Politics of Women’s Rights in Urban Uganda.” Humanity 7: 47-70.
Yousaf, Farhan and Purkayastha, Bandana. 2016. “Social World of Organ Transplantation, Trafficking, and Policies.” Journal of Public Health Policy 37: 190-199.
Newsletter Submission Information
Please send the following types of submissions to Annie Isabel Fukushima and Hollie Nyseth Brehm at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. To be included in the next issue, please send your submissions by May 31, 2017.
Feature Articles: Articles that highlight research, teaching, or engagement relevant to human rights.
Research Notes: Brief reflections on research studies related to human rights. Notes could focus on the methodology, the findings, the dissemination of findings, etc.
Teaching Notes: Brief reflections on teaching about human rights in undergraduate or graduate classrooms. Tips and classroom activities are especially welcome.
Grassroots Notes: Reflections, stories, and advice pertaining to engagement with local organizations, policymakers, and/or grassroots activists.
Publications and Announcements: Recently published a book, article, or paper that the human rights section members should read? Have news or an opportunity that you would like to share with the human rights community? Please send it our way!
By Annie Isabel Fukushima, PhD
On November 25, the Institute for Research on Women, the department of Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Libraries at Rutgers University will host our first event of three events with regard to “Rethinking the Asia Pivot: Challenging Everyday Militarisms & Bridging Communities of Women.” The first event is aninternational webinar that brings together activists from Guam, Japan, Mexico, Okinawa, the Philippines, and South Korea. The activists will discuss the impact of militarisms on communities and how they work to build peace and genuine security in their communities. The event is in collaboration with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership to coincide with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
The United States has had a long interest in the Asia-Pacific. From the illegal annexation of Hawaii (1898), the occupation of the Philippines and Guam (as well as Puerto Rico and Cuba) at the end of the Spanish American War, and the occupation of Japan, South Korea, among other countries during and after World War II. The United States has long been turning towards Asia. Whether it is for economic reasons, as seen in the development of Transpacific Partnerships, or the build up of military bases as seen in Jeju Island or Heneko, Okinawa, the U.S. has interests in Asia. The pivot to Asia is part of the U.S. military strategy tocontain China, and this intervention is commonly referred to as the “Asia Pivot.”
As the United States turns to Asia through military might and neoliberal economic maneuvers, what are its implications for the people, the land, and other species in the region?
There are lessons to be learned about military exercises; bombing in the Pacific has rendered Bikini Atoll unlivable. Others compare present-day Guam (or Guahan) to the Bikini Atoll. As people are displaced by military buildup, others are displaced by the environmental side-effects of buildup. And place between the Americas and Asia is a sea of islands with people, species, and land. Places where U.S. citizens settle are not immune. As tourists see places like Hawai`i as a vacation destination, the reality of Hawaii is its history and ongoing presence of the U.S. military that has led to the destruction of indigenous lands from Koho`olawe, to Makua Valley, and Pohakuloa. Indigenous peoples like Terri Keko`olani are speaking out about the human costs, impact on the land, and the rights denied due to military expansion and culture. Military exercises are known to leave behind contaminants such as depleted uranium. And some of the waste has yet to be unburied; Agent Orange was discovered in rusty barrels buried in cities in Okinawa – a legacy that the Vietnam War was not only about Southeast Asia. The health consequences of military contaminants are generational; the Alianza de Mujeres Viequenses has been at the forefront exposing the longterm effects of militarization even after demilitarization; Viequenses exhibit high rates of cancer, hypertension, asthma, cirrhosis, and other respiratory illnesses related to military contamination of environments.
The violence of military cultures is not only environmental, but also has material effects that come to the fore during crises. The International Women’s Network Against Militarism, a network of scholars and activists, was founded in 1997 in response to violence occurring on military bases. In particular, the rape of an Okinawan girl by U.S. military servicemen led to public outcry sparking the birth of an international women’s network to address human rights violations related to military buildup. As Cynthia Enloe has demonstrated, military violence that takes the shape of acts such as rape, cannot be seen as the actions of a “few bad apples.” Instead, sexual violence, rape, and trafficking must be contextualized by race, gender, and nation, that have visual, textual and material effects. Sexual violence has been a long-time concern for activists – from rape of military personnel to civilians; sexual violence is just as present on the frontline as it is on the fenceline of military bases. “Unknowable” numbers paint a picture of the politics surrounding U.S. actions and inactions towards rape, sexual violence, and trafficking – who is to be protected? Who and what is expendable? In fact the 21stcentury inheritance of war and sexual violence is not only a battle of weapons, but also history and memory. As Japan attempts to sweep its militarized sexual slavery under the rug, what do the visible narratives about U.S. military culture, rape, and (sexual) violence say about us? In 2006 Filipinas organized to raise visibility surrounding the rape by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith. The rape led to media and political discussions surrounding the Visiting Forces Agreement, Philippine sovereignty, gender-based violence, and military cultures. Gendered-base violence, such as the events surrounding rape cannot be disaggregated from the geopolitics of a U.S. turn to Asia as tied to neoliberal policies, military interventions, gendered and national subjectivities, and the transnational flow of people, goods, and ideas, in the region and to the U.S.
To call our event “Rethinking the Asia Pivot,” is to call for new interventions in thinking and practice. Therefore, the inspiration for the events include scholarly thinking and activism, as well as the role of the visual in (re)shaping how one may see (or not see) a military turn to Asia.
In 2013, I received an email regarding Sonoma County Museum’s “Camellia has Fallen.” The exhibit featured the works of artists reflecting on 1948, where the army executed thousands of residents on the island (~60,000) because the island was seen as Communist. From acrylic to video installations the artists uncovered histories of trauma. The exhibit is named for a “1991 painting of red camellias in the snow by South Korean artist Kang Yo Bae, recalling a folk story of the flowers falling like drops of blood in the massacre.” In late 2013, the artists and curators were looking for the next home for the exhibit. Where would these important works travel to next? Why not Rutgers? And so, we were able to bring some of the digital works to Rutgers.
At the time Obama was making plans to visit Asian countries to discuss the Transpacific Partnership, as military buildup continued on Jeju Island and Okinawa, and rape of military personnel by their peers made regular headline news. What does the turn to Asia mean for the people in Asia and the Pacific? What does it hold for the Americas?
Therefore, in late 2013, I convened a small committee: myself, Suzy Kim (author ofEveryday Life in the North Korean Revolution, 1945 – 1950) and Kayo Denda (head librarian, Margery Somers Foster Center, Douglass Library). We reached out to the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and “Rethinking the Asia Pivot” was born. “Rethinking the Asia Pivot” at Rutgers University is possible due to the solidarity and organizing amongst women of color faculty at Rutgers in service to our community and students.
Our collaboration led us to ask important questions surrounding the Asia pivot: How will the pivot impact Asia and the Americas broadly (and how has it historically impacted the Americas)? How do women, scholars, activists, and political leaders respond to the changing climate of security and increased securitization through the military? What’s at stake for women, human rights, the environment, and nations? What are the health implications of militarisms from environmental impacts to physiological and psychological impacts of living near or on military bases? How are such health impacts gendered? What are the environmental consequences of natural disasters and the subsequent impact of disaster militarism on local communities? What are the generational impacts of military policies – for young people recruited, veterans, their families, local communities and nations?
Through digital works on display, transnational discussions in a webinar, and scholarly and activist discussions in panels, we hope to critically engage together with event participants “rethinking the Asia pivot.” The events comprise of artists, scholars, and activists from Denmark, Guam, Japan, Massachusetts, Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Okinawa, the Philippines, and South Korea. To kick off 16 Days of Activism Campaign, we begin with an international webinar on November 25, 6PM EST. On December 3, films will be screened. The films discuss the ghosts of Jeju that haunt the present, the migrations, dislocations and spectacles produced through the making of the Panama Canal, and the relation between water, sexual economies, and bases in the Philippines. Artist works featured include: Michelle Dizon’s Basing Landscapes, Dalida Maria Benfield’s Hotel Panama, Kakyoung Lee’s Burning Island, The Dawn of Jeju 4.3 by Manamongs, Im Heung Soon’s Sungsi, and Reiterations of Dissent by Jane Jin Kaisen. To rethink the pivot towards Asia requires conversations that bring in history, representation, policy, and practice. Therefore, the finale event occurs on December 4: it is our international symposium featuring Cynthia Enloe as the keynote. Panelists will discuss themes related to history, technology, visuality, narrativity, representation, strategies, policy and violence. To engage with the visual culture of the pivot to Asia, digital works will be on display throughout the entire day.
We invite you to join us during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign to address gendered-violence and human rights.
Please visit: rethinkingasiapivot.com for more information.
Sister events are occurring in New York City, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.
Annie Isabel Fukushima is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with the Institute for Research on Women and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University (2013 – 2015). Dr. Fukushima’s chapters appears in Human Trafficking Reconsidered: Rethinking the Problem, Envisioning New Solutions (2014) edited by sociologists Rhacel Salazar Parrenas and Kimberly Kay Hoang and in Documenting Gendered Violence edited by Lisa Cuklanz and Heather McIntosh. Her work discusses an array of issues on race, gender, and sexuality with regard to trafficking, intimacy, violence, and militarisms. Currently she is revising her manuscript Migrant Crossings.
A. Fukushima/ Societies Without Borders 9:1 (2014) 132-134
The Anti-Slavery Project: From Slave Trade to Human Trafficking By Joel Quirk
Annie Isabel Fukushima
University of Pennsylvania Press
Joel Quirk’s The Anti-slavery Project examines the evolving political project of the anti-slavery movement. Quirk is wary of the separation between historical and contemporary slavery, therefore, grapples with developing an understanding of definitions concerning slavery, legal measures that impact the interpretation and practice of slavery, the limitations and strengths of the legal abolition movement, and terms that create connections between “classical slavery” and contemporary slavery. As such, Quirk disrupts the division between historical and contemporary slavery by offering a new concept: the “Anti-Slavery Project.” The Anti-Slavery Project is “an ongoing task, or undertaking which has gone through a number of phases, and to a distinct form of historical project” that is regularly compared to transatlantic slavery (5). Quirk investigates the discursive development of the anti-slavery movement in Britain, which has had international implications in the twenty-first century. An overarching argument in The Anti-Slavery Project is that little has improved with the implementation of legal abolition, as evidenced through the analysis of historical events including the legal abolition of slavery, history of the British anti-slavery movement and colonialism, and a discursive analysis of discrimination and debt. The existence of slavery and slave-like practices and the growth of human bondage are endemic to the failures of legal abolition. Quirk contends that the failure of legal abolition is due to ideologies that perpetuate difference and social discrimination. The method in The Anti- Slavery Project delineates that an interdisciplinary approach is central to conceptualizing slavery through history, the law, and politics. To read the rest of the review click.
Also, picked up by Asia Times Online http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/JAP-01-120314.html
Disaster Militarism: Rethinking U.S. Relief in the Asia-Pacific
By Annie Isabel Fukushima , Ayano Ginoza , Michiko Hase , Gwyn Kirk , Deborah Lee and Taeva Shefler , March 11, 2014 .
Disaster relief is not the military’s primary mission, role, or area of expertise. But disaster response missions facilitate military expansion and dominance. (Photo: cmccain202dc / Flickr)
March 11 marks the third anniversary of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that shook northeastern Japan in 2011, triggering a tsunami in a dual disaster that killed more than 16,000 people. The earthquake and tsunami caused the worst nuclear disaster in history with three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Three years after the catastrophe,136,000 people from Fukushima prefecture are still displaced, and numerous disaster-related deaths have resulted from stress-related illnesses and suicide. Because of the nuclear meltdown, highly radioactive material continues to leak into the ocean, presenting numerous technical challenges with no solution yet in sight. This environmental contamination, which has impacted residents, workers, and military personnel responders, will have a global effect. Lessons learned from Chernobyl suggest that all this is only the tip of the iceberg.
“The Great East Japan Earthquake” is just one of several massive disasters in the Asia-Pacific this past decade. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami took the lives of 230,000 people in 14 countries. Most recently, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) ripped through Samar and Leyte in the Philippines, causing 6,000 deaths last November. The Philippines has witnessed several other devastating typhoons, including Ketsana (Ondoy) in 2009 and Bopha (Pablo) in 2012. A rising pattern of intense storms and disasters in the Asia-Pacific region has led to the death and displacement of thousands of people and the destruction of essential urban and rural infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools, health centers, and workplaces.
Paralleling these disasters has been the disaster response of the U.S. military. According to this “disaster militarism”—which is a pattern of rhetoric, beliefs, and practices—the military should be the primary responder to large-scale disasters. Disaster militarism is not only reflected in the deployment of troops but also in media discourse that naturalizes and calls for military action in times of environmental catastrophes.
Justifying U.S. Military Presence
Military Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, such as Operation Damayan in the Philippines in 2013 and Operation Tomodachi (Friend) in Japan in 2011, have showcased the U.S. military’s “helpfulness,” legitimized its presence, and softened its image. Charles-Antoine Hofmann and Laura Hudson, researching this topic for the British Red Cross, note several factors driving the growing military interest in responding to disasters. Assisting relief efforts, they observed, can improve the military’s image and provide training opportunities. It is also a way for the military to diversify its role when armed forces face budget cuts.
Disaster relief has also become part of the justification for increased U.S. troop deployments in the Asia-Pacific region—even as the new military basing component of the “Pacific Pivot” has met with strong opposition in Okinawa, Japan and Jeju, South Korea. This massive permanent presence in the Asia-Pacific region has enabled the U.S. military to be the “first and fastest” to respond to sudden calamity. The Pacific Command boasts 330,000 personnel (one-fifth of all U.S. forces), 180 ships, and 2,000 aircraft in an area that spans half the earth’s surface and is home to half the earth’s population.
Disaster relief is not the military’s primary mission, role, or area of expertise. Nevertheless, disaster response missions facilitate military expansion and dominance. Yoshiyuki Uehara, the vice-governor of Okinawa at the time of the earthquake and tsunami, has opposed the plan to construct a new offshore U.S. Marine base on the island. “I hope we stop glorifying Operation Tomodachi,” he warned. “Our gratitude [for U.S. military assistance after the earthquake and tsunami] and U.S. military base problems are separate issues.” The core of Operation Tomodachi was Joint Task Force 519 from the United States Pacific Command. Arguably, the response to disaster was a perfect opportunity for the United States to demonstrate to China that an immediate U.S.-Japan joint military operation was possible.
The United States spent $80 million for this operation. Less than three weeks after the Fukushima disaster, Japan promised to increase its Host Nation Support from three to five years and to pay 188 million yen annually for U.S. military facilities in the country. The U.S. government used the rhetoric of disaster militarism to justify Japan’s dependence on U.S. military forces and the high concentration of U.S. bases in tiny Okinawa. The Okinawa Times argued that this was a clear “political exploitation of the earthquake disaster.”
This was not the first time that disaster relief was used to further larger geopolitical and military goals. The rapid mobilization of assistance using military capabilities from the United States, Japan, India, and Australia in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami “set the ball rolling for a four-way security dialogue a few years later,” former Australian diplomat Rory Metcalf has argued. Just weeks after Typhoon Haiyan, meanwhile, the Philippine and U.S. governments were touting relief efforts as justification for the need for a new long-term agreement for greater bilateral military cooperation and an increased U.S. military presence in the Philippines (the Philippine constitution currently bans permanent troops and bases). Washington has used disaster militarism as additional leverage to pressure the Philippine government to accept a mutual defense agreement.
The race to provide relief for political leverage is not limited to the United States. China offered its 14,000-ton floating military hospital, the Peace Ark, for Haiyan relief efforts—its first humanitarian response operation. Japan also sent military forces to the Philippines for relief work, in cooperation with the U.S. military, a political effort by the current Japanese government to secure a greater military role overseas.
The Contradictions of Disaster Militarism
The conflation of military power and disaster relief is highly problematic. It is not cost-effective, efficient, or transparent.Military operations exhaust limited budgets for humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation, and reconstruction activities. Confusion about the military’s role as soldiers or relief providers can lead to suspicion and fear, and some people may not access relief as a result. According to the Department of Defense, the Pacific Command offers not only aid to countries in the region dealing with disasters, but also “forms of advice and assistance, training, satellite imagery or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support.” More troops on the ground offer greater opportunities for the gathering of intelligence. Revelations that a CIA-funded fake vaccination program in Pakistan was used to find and kill Osama bin Laden provide another example of co-mingling humanitarian relief and military operations, rightly contributing to civilian confusion, public distrust, and questions of transparency and accountability.
Disaster militarism does not address the underlying causes for the increasing number of intense storms and natural disasters. Nor can disaster militarism be separated from the U.S. military’s record as a the “worst polluter on the planet” for its “uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil,” as a recent Project Censored story detailed. In times of disaster, the U.S. military positions itself as a “savior” and attempts to obscure its role as a major contributor to the rise of climate disasters.
There is certainly an urgent need for disaster preparedness, with trained emergency personnel in local communities as well as international teams. The first responders in disasters are families, neighbors, community groups, professional organizations, churches, international humanitarian organizations, and governments. Resources should go to these local institutions to strengthen their capacity to respond to disasters and continue the work when emergency teams have all gone home. Padayon sa Pag-laum (Hope After Haiyan or WEDPRO) and other local Philippine organizations focus their relief efforts on the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of society, especially women and children. Their longer-term goal is to co-create solutions for a more resilient, more sustainable, and more inclusive future for the communities affected by the typhoon.
Nor should we wait for climate disasters to hit before we respond. Long-term and sustained resources should be made available ahead of time, especially to countries like the Philippines that experience typhoons on a regular basis. This would make for greater local independence in allocating relief resources.
It would also lessen dependency on military operations. World military expenditure totaled a massive $1.75 trillion in 2012, with the United States and its allies responsible for the vast majority. These expenditures, which have made disaster militarism such a prominent feature of humanitarian relief operations, have not created more security for individuals, nations, or the planet. The alternative approach, human security, requires a physical environment that can support life, guarantees people’s material needs for livelihood, food, and shelter, and protects people and the environment from avoidable harm. To minimize the impact of climate disasters—and reduce the contributing factors to the uptick in hurricanes, typhoons, and big storms—the disaster militarism model must give way to the human security model as soon as possible.
Call for Submissions
An anthology, co-edited by five feminist scholars of color – Annie Isabel Fukushima, Rosalee Gonzalez, Layli Maparyan, Anita Revilla, and Matt Richardson – propels the mission of TWP by bringing together a variety of expertise and interests to this project and striving for an inclusive approach to sharing the experiences of people of color and Indigenous Peoples engaged in local and transnational social change.
About the Publisher
Third Woman Press (TWP) bridges transnational, Third World communities in resistance that understand and develop historical and site-specific thought as central to global decolonization. Third Woman Press strives to critique and dismantle hegemonic models of what counts as knowledge, its production, its circulation, and its interpretation. In doing so, the Press brings together an alter community of critical scholars, artists and activists committed to bringing many silenced voices from the margins to the center of knowledge production. TWP fosters, bridges, and expands access to the work of activist thinkers and actors invested in our decolonization. We acknowledge the power of the relationship between the writer/artist and the reader/viewer to invite and precipitate transformation in the material, physical and spiritual conditions of our existence. We encourage critical attention to not only the deepening of existing economic, social, cultural, civil, political, and spiritual injustices but also to the emergence of new ones. Third Woman Press is committed to the promotion of self-knowledge for Third World peoples and a dynamic language for self-authorized transfiguration.
The Co-Editors’ Goals
We situate this forthcoming anthology in conversation with a body of writers, artists, activists, and scholars who have over the years contributed to a genealogy of feminisms in collections such as This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981), Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology (1983), Making Waves: An Anthology of Writings by and about Asian American Women (1989), Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color (1990), this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation (2002), among other collections of work. Historically, collections of women of color feminisms have radically transformed United States (U.S.) perspectives through centralizing the voices of women of color and Indigenous women within the U.S.
We continue the vision of producing critical writings and art that transform lives within the U.S. These cultural and theoretical productions form coalitions across nation-state boundaries through decolonial and/or transnational feminisms. As an editorial collective, we believe that the relationships built by and among women of color and Indigenous women in the U.S. has enabled multiple solidarities inspired by those forged within from Global South. 21st century feminisms produce important interventions such as: disrupting the border of the nation-state, disrupting hetero/homonormativities and dominant feminist ideologies, and reshaping epistemologies and knowledge about women, women of color, queer, queer of color, cis, transgender.
With this project, we wish to form connections amongst diasporic feminists, feminist/womanist, Indigenous feminists, queer people of color, and women of color across generations and locations. Because the alliances built by feminists and queers of color in the U.S. are deeply shaped by the global south/Third World perspectives, we extend an invitation to individuals and collectives in and outside of the U.S., including those that may offer a transnational perspective. We invite submissions from decolonial feminists, Indigenous feminists, queer of color feminists, transgender of color feminists, transnational feminists, women of color feminists, and womanists who address: What is a feminist epistemology, methodology and practice in the 21st century for radical queer and feminists of color? Recognizing that coalitions are forged across time and space, how are feminist knowledges of the present informed by history and visions of a new present? What new alliances have been forged that must be brought to the center, since the 1981 bridge built by radical feminists of color? What are the processes, contentions and achievements when building links that enable solidarity and social change?
Submit Your Work!
We encourage contributions that are in conversation (directly or indirectly) with the body of feminist/womanist works that have come before and that continue to shape queer and feminist of color epistemology and practice. We seek scholarly and creative essays, testimonials, poetry, and art that will contribute to our understanding and practices of social change, healing, and transformation.
We will address the hegemony of English in this text; therefore, we invite works that offer critical insight into language and queer, people of color, and Indigenous feminisms within the U.S. and beyond. Given our commitment to both local and transnational perspectives, we invite bilingual and non-English submissions. However, because our editorial collective is unable to represent all languages of the world, we invite non-English contributions to either submit a bilingual (translated) text or consider inviting a collaborator who can translate the work into English and the interpreter will be credited in the published anthology.
We strongly encourage the submission of works that bring into dialogue issues and concerns relevant to women of color feminisms, decolonial feminisms, Indigenous feminisms, womanisms, queer of color feminisms, and transnational feminisms. Submissions previously published in only journals will be considered. Submissions may be co-authored. Topics may include the following, but are not limited to this list:
· Women’s resistance and resilience
· Activism and organizing
· Activist scholarship and activist pedagogy
· Art and artivism
· Spirituality and spiritual practice
· Feminist and queer love
· Feminist genealogies
· Memory and haunting
· Queer and Trans people of color
· Violence, oppression, and resistance
· Healing and transformation
· Visual culture and decolonized aesthetics
· Womanism and womanist perspectives on social/ecological change
Submit full essays as Word documents and/or high-resolution images of original artwork as JPEG files for consideration by May 15, 2014, 11:59 pm PDT. Include with the submission a 300-word abstract and 50-word biography (PDF or Word document). Manuscripts must not exceed 20 pages (5,000 words).
Please direct inquiries for the Third Woman Press anthology co-editors to:email@example.com.