A Refugee Crisis, Poetry, and a Camera: “Paris Stalingrad” Film Screening

A Refugee Crisis, Poetry, and a Camera: “Paris Stalingrad” Film Screening

By Rowena Kosher, co-editor of RightsViews Recently, ISHR hosted a virtual film screening of Paris Stalingrad, followed by a discussion with the film’s director, Hind Meddeb. Human Rights professor Lara Nettlefield moderated the conversation. Hind Meddeb is a French filmmaker whose work interrogates human rights issues of our time, and this film is no exception. Co-directed by filmmaker Thim Naccache, Paris Stalingrad is an intimate documentary portrait of the life of refugees living on the streets of the Stalingrad district of Paris. Many of these refugees come to France from Sudan, Ethiopia, Erythrea, Somalia, and Afghanistan to escape persecution and violence in their home countries. Yet, with everything from police violence to immigration bureaucracy to racism alike, Paris turns these refugees away, forcing them onto the streets. Meddeb approaches her documentary from the lens of community, depicting the everyday life of a refugee living on the Paris streets. In particular, the film follows a young man, Souleymane Mohammed, as he navigates the...
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Sexual Terrorism and the Quest for Justice for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: The Digital Dialogue Series 

Sexual Terrorism and the Quest for Justice for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: The Digital Dialogue Series 

By Larissa Peltola, a Staff Writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA program. Sexual terrorism committed by militant groups like ISIS/ISIL, Boko Haram, and Al Shabaab has gone largely unacknowledged in domestic and international courts, despite its rampant use. Sexual violence is a widespread, endemic issue in all conflicts around the world, affecting individuals, communities, and societies as a whole.  The United Nations has identified that the extensive use of sexual violence perpetrated by terrorist groups globally has been used as an incentive for recruitment, a tool for financing, destroying, subjugating and controlling communities and societies, extracting information from detainees, forcing displacement, and as a means of controlling or suppressing women’s reproductive abilities. While the high numbers of sexual abuse have led to international calls to action by civil society, activists, the United Nations Security Council, and state governments, these crimes have still not been prosecuted before any national or international court.    What Can (and Should) Justice Look...
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Deconstructing White Supremacy (in a workshop and real life)

Deconstructing White Supremacy (in a workshop and real life)

By Anna Miller, a staff writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in ISHR's Human Rights MA Program. Note: This blog post addresses white supremacy in the United States only, though the ideology is alive globally.  On October 27, Dean Melanie Pagán and Dean Samantha Shapses, both of the School of International and Public Affairs, hosted a Deconstructing White Supremacy Workshop via Zoom. The workshop was open to the Columbia University community and fulfilled the Community Citizenship Requirement for Inclusion and Belonging for new Columbia students. To kick off the workshop, the group screened Understanding White Supremacy (And How to Defeat It). This video explained how the roots of white supremacy are linked to colonization and racial biology. White colonizers assumed that people of color were inferior because they were “so easily conquered” and then presumed that “white skin people were perhaps more evolved than dark skin people.” While these ideas are objectively nonsensical, they did help form modern-day white supremacy and as...
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The Scope of Justice: Comparing Two Distant Criminal Justice Systems

The Scope of Justice: Comparing Two Distant Criminal Justice Systems

By Donggeun Lee, RightsViews Staff Writer and a second-semester junior majoring in Human Rights. “Comparison is in many ways a useful mirror into which we look, and by looking we notice things about ourselves and our own country and our systems that sometimes might please us [and] that sometimes might give us pause and even cause us disappointment and dismay.” - Professor David T. Johnson On October 12th, the Columbia Law School hosted an event entitled “Criminal Justice in Japan - A Comparative Perspective” addressing the question of what we can learn from differences between criminal justice in Japan and the United States. The event was moderated by the executive director of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies, Nobuhisa Ishizuka, and featured two speakers: David T. Johnson, a professor at the University of Hawaii, and Kiyo A. Matsumoto, a United States District Judge at the Eastern District of New York.  Differences between Japan and the United States According to Franklin E. Zimring, the author...
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“It’s Not Living, It’s Surviving:” Venezuelan Refugees in Colombia and the COVID-19 Crisis

“It’s Not Living, It’s Surviving:” Venezuelan Refugees in Colombia and the COVID-19 Crisis

By Larissa Peltola, a staff writer for RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program The political and economic crises which have plagued Venezuela since 2014 have resulted in the mass exodus of over 5 million Venezuelans, the largest migrant crisis in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Of the over 5 million people that have fled their home country of Venezuela, over 1.6 million have settled in neighboring Colombia, resulting in a refugee crisis made increasingly worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Milena Gomez Kopp, Visiting Research Scholar at School of International and Public Affairs, engaged with students during the October 28, 2020, Food for Thought speaker series and discussed her analysis of the growing refugee crisis. Background  Venezuela was once considered the wealthiest and most resource-rich country in Latin America. With the largest oil reserve in the world, the economy grew rapidly, and Western countries looked for ways to engage in trade with Venezuela. This changed with the...
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Disempowered Development: A Conversation on Corporate Conquests in Southwest China with author Pat Giersch

Disempowered Development: A Conversation on Corporate Conquests in Southwest China with author Pat Giersch

By Kelly Dudine, a staff writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program Over the decades, China has implemented aggressive and tailored plans to catalyze economic development across its vast regions. Driven in part by a desire to modernize industries and join a growing global marketplace, these plans led to periods of rapid growth and prosperity, while simultaneously straining local communities and exacerbating inequalities. Today, poverty in China’s ethnically diverse West is still prevalent.  During a virtual lecture held earlier this month, author Pat Giersch discussed his new book, Corporate Conquests: Business, the State, and the Origins of Ethnic Inequality in Southwest China, which examines how corporations, combined with top-down policies geared toward modernization and state-building, marginalized local and ethnic minorities in the West, creating unequal access to growth and prosperity.  Giersch’s story begins with the emergence of early-twentieth-century corporations, which enabled business to maintain a central hub of power while also expanding throughout the Southwest, reaching into...
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Does Addressing Climate Change Mean Addressing Racism?

Does Addressing Climate Change Mean Addressing Racism?

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and graduate student in the Human Rights Studies program at Columbia University On October 28, Climate Refugees and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University brought together experts in environmental racism, indigenous rights, climate science and racial justice to discuss the two fundamental issues of our time: race and climate change. The panelists offered their expert opinions on the intersectional relationship between race and climate change and discussed solutions to mitigate these issues moving forward. The climate crisis has disproportionately impacted marginalized populations, many of whom may be displaced or forced to migrate, because of years of unequal access to opportunities and gaps in human rights. Panelist Dr. Ingrid Waldron, a noted sociologist, has coined this disproportionate impact as ‘Environmental Racism’ which she defined as ‘‘a disproportionate location and exposure for indigenous, racialized communities and poor white communities to contamination from polluting industries and other environmentally hazardous activities.’’ The panel further articulated the...
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Human Rights Work in the Public Sector: a Discussion with Alumna Barbara Matias

Human Rights Work in the Public Sector: a Discussion with Alumna Barbara Matias

By Lindsey Alpaugh, staff writer for RightsViews and graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program On October 13th, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights hosted its first Alumni Speaker Series event with Barbara Matias. A graduate of the Institute’s MA in Human Rights Studies, Matias has had a diverse career that spanned over many countries, as well as different missions. Some of her most recent work has included her new position working for the European Union on Belarus, as well as a Programme Officer to the training mission in Iraq and the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Relief Crisis Center’s Team Lead on NATO-EU coordination.  Speaking from experience, Matias advised job seekers  that “stability comes later” in the field of human rights, and that they should not be discouraged by the frequency with which they may switch jobs. She also admitted that there were  moments where she doubted her choice of working in the public sector, but ultimately realized that she was...
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Striving for Menstrual Equity: The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies

Striving for Menstrual Equity: The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies

By Susanne Prochazka, staff writer for RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program. Ethereal, smoky, crimson-red droplets drift across the screen as the next speaker is introduced during the online launch of the Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies on October 8th.  Jen Lewis’ “Beauty in Blood” art introduces each new speaker, emphasizing the stark red color of menstrual blood and reinforcing the artist’s goal of breaking the stigma surrounding menstruation.  The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies is the first of its kind, an open access handbook containing a multidisciplinary collection of works drawn from the field of Critical Menstruation Studies. Content in The Handbook comes from a variety of genres,  from multimedia art to public health, proving that menstruation is both a rich and varied field of study, as well as a vital component of health and human rights studies. Following opening comments from the editors, including Inga T. Winkler, lecturer for ISHR and Director of...
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Exploring Careers in Human Rights: ISHR’s 2020 Human Rights Career Panel

Exploring Careers in Human Rights: ISHR’s 2020 Human Rights Career Panel

Exploring Careers in Human Rights: ISHR’s 2020 Human Rights Career Panel By Rowena Kosher, Co-Editor of RightsViews  In the midst of the global pandemic of COVID-19, orders of social distancing and indoor sheltering in place, students and panelists tuned in virtually for ISHR’s annual career panel last week, meeting through screens to discuss what the multiplicity of careers in the human rights field can look like. Gergana Halpern, ISHR’s Director of Educational Programming, moderated the panel.  The Panelists - What Do You Do? Halpern began the session by asking each of the four panelists to introduce themselves, their current work, and what their job entails.  Louis Bickford is the CEO and founder of Memria, an online platform for the collection and sharing of stories through audio and text, and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at ISHR. He has 20 years of experience in the human rights field and as such has worked in a variety of capacities, including in truth commissions, testimonial collection, academia,...
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