2016-2017 Graduate Human Rights Research Awards

Congratulations to the UConn Graduate Students Who Have Received Funding to Advance Their Human Rights Research Projects

Caner Hazar, PCaner HazarhD Candidate in Sociology

Human Rights and Politics: Toward a Historical Understanding of the LGBTs’ Human Rights Activism in Turkey (1980-2016)

In this dissertation project, I focus on historical factors that influenced the trajectory of the LGBTs’ human rights activism in relation to the Turkish state, its institutions, governments, international human rights organizations and foreign governments.


Katherine Mueller, PhD Candidate in Anthropology

Staging Human Rights in London’s Intercultural Performing Arts

This project is part of my dissertation research on cross-cultural collaborations and the politics of representation in the performing arts in London, United Kingdom and how performing artists engage with notions of identity, diversity, belonging, and social justice. By conducting ethnographic research with an intercultural theater that curates an indigenous arts festival featuring local and international guest artists, activists, and educators, I will analyze how one organization endeavors to facilitate intercultural dialogue while promoting cultural and indigenous rights in a ‘western’ metropolitan center. This investigation will consider how human rights are performed in non-legal settings and how these performances are mobilized with or against national narratives of belonging.


Angelina Reif, Candidate Doctor of Laws

A Utopian Dream or a Practical Possibility? The Justicability of the Human Rights to Adequate Food

The aim of this project is to explore how judicial authorities and other legal practitioners have responded to the justiciability critique of ESC rights in general, and the right to food in particular. Through expert interviews I expect to gather further information on the legal issues advocates and judges face when dealing with right to food claims. The interviewees will also be able to provide first-hand information and perspectives regarding the preparation, the line of argumentation and possible ways to address the challenges of ESC rights litigation. The Human Rights Graduate Research Grant will enable me to interview key informants of the Indian right to food case, as one of the most impressive and ambitious economic, social and cultural right cases in recent years. The findings could be of substantial help for people working in the field seeking to develop workable and successful strategies for filing but also for adjudicating upon right to food violations.


Todd Vachon
Todd Vachon, offical photo for the Department of Sociology, University of Connecticut. Nov. 13, 2012.

Todd Vachon, PhD Candidate in Sociology

Clean Air and Good Jobs: U.S. Labor and the Struggle for Climate Justice

“Jobs versus the Environment” has been the mantra of the mainstream media when it comes to unionized workers and environmental issues. High profile cases like the historic struggle between timber workers and defenders of the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest have served as touchstones for this controversy. But less publicized are the countless instances of cooperation between labor and the environmental movements, such as supporting environmental legislation like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and ultimately cooperating to conserve old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. To be sure, there are specific instances in which unions clash with environmentalists, but increasingly many unions see environmental issues as labor issues and commit resources to resolving them. In this research, I utilize participant observation, in-depth interviews, and content analysis to examine the dynamics of the nascent climate justice movement within the American labor movement that is pushing unions to take on one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time—climate change. This study will increase our understanding of how various political actors can best construct linkages between economic, social and environmental reform agendas; which strategies are most successful for building broad support; and what forms of alliances are most conducive to supporting a transition to a sustainable economy. This knowledge is essential to building the broad, durable political consensus necessary to achieve comprehensive climate protection policy.

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