Recent Publications from UConn Sociology and Human Rights Faculty

human rights enterprise

William T. Armaline, Davita Silfen Glasberg, and Bandana Purkayastha. 2015. The Human Rights Enterprise: Political Sociology, State Power, and Social Movements. Polity Press.

Why do powerful states like the U.S., U.K., China, and Russia repeatedly fail to meet their international legal obligations as defined by human rights instruments? How does global capitalism affect states’ ability to implement human rights, particularly in the context of global recession, state austerity, perpetual war, and environmental crisis? How are political and civil rights undermined as part of moves to impose security and surveillance regimes?
This book presents a framework for understanding human rights as a terrain of struggle over power between states, private interests, and organized, “bottom-up” social movements. The authors develop a critical sociology of human rights focusing on the concept of The Human Rights Enterprise: the process through which rights are defined and realized. While states are designated arbiters of human rights according to human rights instruments, they do not exist in a vacuum. Political sociology helps us to understand how global neoliberalism and powerful non-governmental actors (particularly economic actors such as corporations and financial institutions) deeply affect states’ ability and likelihood to enforce human rights standards.
This book offers keen insights for understanding rights claims, and the institutionalization of, access to, and restrictions on human rights. It will be invaluable to human rights advocates, and undergraduate and graduate students across the social sciences.

William T. Armaline is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies and Director of the Human Rights program at San Jose State University. He has published widely on human rights issues, racism, and justice.

Davita Silfen Glasberg is College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Associate Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Connecticut, and a Professor of Sociology. She has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses and published extensively on issues concerning power and oppression, human rights, finance capital and the state, predatory lending, and inequality and diversity, including Human Rights in Our Own Back Yard: Injustice and Resistance in the United States, coedited with William T. Armaline and Bandana Purkayastha (University of Pennsylvania Press), which received the 2012 Hirabyashi Book Award.

Bandana Purkayastha is the Professor & Head, Department of Sociology and Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut, USA. Her current research and publications focus on the intersection of racial ethnicity, gender, highly educated migrants, transnationalism and human rights. She currently serves as the President of Sociologists for Women in Society.

humanity and society

Erika Lorenzana Del Villar and Davita Silfen Glasberg. 2015. “Victims of Terrorism and the Right to Redress: Challenges and Contradictions in the 2012 Emmerson Report.” Humanity and Society (pp. 1-18). Also available at

Erika Lorenzana Del Villar is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Connecticut whose dissertation focuses on anti-terrorism and human rights.


Njiru, Roseanne and Bandana Purkayastha. 2014. “Voices of Internally Displaced Persons in Kenya: A Human Rights Perspective.” Frontpage Publications Limited.
Voices of Internally Displaced Persons in Kenya: A Human Rights Perspective, chronicles experiences of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kenya who fled to the IDP Camps from the ethnic violence following the country’s disputed elections in December 2007. The critique emphasises the continuing vulnerabilities in the IDP camps and examines the underlying historical and contemporary social conditions that lead to human rights violations and gendered violence. The authors raise two important issues for human rights advocates. One, that the conditions in these camps, which were developed to protect IDPs from violence, do not measure up to the standards advocated by the UN Special Rapporteurs on adequate housing, food, water, education, health and on violence against women. Two, the response efforts are often fragmented and are only designed to address the conditions in the camps. The words of a displaced woman in Kenya, summarises the feelings of human indignity experienced by the IDPs: “They should know we are human. They should ask themselves, what if they were like us…” The authors suggest such monumental human crises, in Kenya and elsewhere, require more integrated, sustained, and effective responses.
Roseanne Njiru is working towards her PhD in Sociology and graduate certificate in Human Rights at the University of Connecticut, USA. She holds a Masters in Sociology from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Roseanne also has professional training on gender and research methodologies from the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She has worked in universities and NGOs in Kenya, and has additional research experience and publications on gender, HIV and AIDS, sexual health, child labour and rights.
Dr Bandana Purkayastha is the Professor & Head, Department of Sociology and Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut, USA. Her current research and publications focus on the intersection of racial ethnicity, gender, highly educated migrants, transnationalism and human rights. She currently serves as the President of Sociologists for Women in Society.

human trafficking

Yousaf, Farhan Navid and Bandana Purkayastha. “Human Trafficking Amidst Interlocking Systems of Exploitation: A Focus on Pakistan.” Frontpage Publications Limited.
Human Trafficking Amidst Interlocking Systems of Exploitation A Focus on Pakistan
Trafficking constitutes a fundamental moral challenge to all those who believe in the principles of humanity and human rights. Even when many policies have been passed at global level, billions of dollars have been spent, and many efforts to combat trafficking are underway, this phenomenon, degrading human beings to the level of commodities, is yet to be eradicated. Drawing upon gender and human rights perspectives, the authors examine the issue of trafficking at both micro and macro levels to analyse how political economy of trafficking influences micro level experiences of victims of trafficking.

Based on archival and ethnographic data, this book expands the notion of trafficking from sex trafficking to trafficking as a profit making enterprise with human beings as the commodity. Critically examining the experiences of trafficked persons, the authors argue that trafficking occurs within the context of interlocking systems of exploitation. A multidimensional continuum of violence, ranging from wars, intrastate conflict, to home-based gendered violence, exacerbates people’s vulnerability to exploitation, often repeatedly, by traffickers. Thus, trafficking might occur repeatedly within a person’s life span, though not for the same purpose, and not in the same way. Using data on trafficked persons primarily from Pakistan, which is a source, transit and receiving country for trafficked victims, and other regional and international comparative data, the authors establish that contemporary definitions and debates about trafficking do not always capture the realities of trafficking on the ground.

Farhan Navid Yousaf, an Assistant Professor in Sociology at International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan is currently a Fulbright Ph D candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, USA. Farhan has extensive research experience in the areas of gender, human rights, human trafficking, and transnational migration.

Bandana Purkayastha is Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut, USA. She has published several books, peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters on race/gender/class, transnationalism, peace and human rights. Bandana has served on several international and national Sociology research committees. She is a member of the Founding Editorial Boards of Journal of South Asian Diasporas, and Race and Ethnicity. She serves in many leadership positions within professional organisations, and is American Sociological Association’s representative to the International Sociological Association (2014-2018).