Arts & Human Rights Faculty Seminar Series

March 9, April 4, & April 19, 2023
In-person: The Dodd Center for Human Rights - Room 162
Online: Zoom

About the Series:

Join us for one or all discussions in this three-part series of faculty seminars sponsored by the Research Program on Arts and Human Rights. This series highlights the innovative work being done at the intersection of the arts and human rights among our faculty. All are encouraged to attend!

All sessions are hosted in-person with the option to join by Zoom. We kindly ask that you register to attend. Those attending in-person can join us in Conference Room 162 of The Dodd Center for Human Rights, while those joining by Zoom will receive a link to join upon registration.


Subverting Statues: Race, Space, Performance, and the Arab American National Museum
Thursday, March 9, 2023 | 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Asif Majid

In 2005, the Arab American National Museum (AANM) opened on the site of a former furniture store, opposite the former city hall building for the city of Dearborn, MI, a city outside Detroit that is often referred to as “the heart of Arab America.” At its founding, the museum also sat across the street from a statue of the former, long-serving, racist Dearborn mayor Orville Hubbard, an individual who explicitly referred to Arabs as “n******”; the Hubbard statue appeared to be gesturing to the museum. Drawing on my work at AANM this academic year – as an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow supported by the Social Science Research Council and The Wallace Foundation – in this talk, I ask: what performative, racial, and political power does the geography of the museum carry, particularly in reference to Dearborn’s racist history and spatial politics? And what might it mean to read politico-aesthetic institutions of color as a subversion of monuments to white supremacy?

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About Asif Majid

Asif Majid is a scholar-artist-educator working at the intersection of racialized sociopolitical identities, multimedia, marginality, and new performance, particularly through devising community-based participatory theatre and making improvisational music. Currently, he serves as Assistant Professor of Theatre and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut. Prior to UConn, Asif was a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow with the San Francisco Arts Commission and a Lab Fellow with The Laboratory for Global Performance and Performance. 

Asif has published in multiple peer-reviewed academic journals, as well as numerous books and media outlets. His research interests include performance ethnography, the intersection of Islam and performance, community-based devising, social justice performance, the ethnography of race, and applied theatre. Asif’s US performance credits include work with the Kennedy Center, Convergence Theatre, and Theatre Prometheus, and his UK performance credits include the Royal Exchange Theatre, Action Transport Theatre, and Unity Theatre. Asifearned his PhD in Anthropology, Media, and Performance from The University of Manchester; his MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University; and his self-designed BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Global Peace Building and Conflict Management from UMBC. He is online at

The Fate of Human Beings: A Documentary Film Reframing the Narrative of Institutionalization through Mental Institution Gravesites
Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Heather Cassano

The Fate of Human Beings is a documentary film uncovering the stories of people with disabilities and mental illnesses who are buried in unnamed graves in mental institution cemeteries across the United States. Through a multiple narrative approach utilizing archival and present-day material, the film unpacks the ramifications of these cemeteries, seeking to understand our past and present relationships with the “otherness” of those interred. This talk will show work-in-progress scenes from The Fate of Human Beings and discuss the research behind the project, including the first database to comprehensively catalog institution cemeteries in the United States.

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About Heather Cassano

Heather Cassano is a documentary filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Film/Video at the University of Connecticut. She has presented work in the forms of still photography, multi-channel video, and short and feature films. Her films blend an observational style with deeply personal narratives, striving to tell authentic stories through her personal experiences. Heather’s first feature documentary THE LIMITS OF MY WORLD (2018), followed her severely autistic brother Brian as he transitioned from the school system into adulthood. The film screened at numerous festivals internationally, winning three Best Documentary awards and a Jury Prize. Heather is now working on her second feature documentary THE FATE OF HUMAN BEINGS, which uncovers the stories of people with disabilities and mental illnesses who are buried in unnamed graves in mental institution cemeteries across the United States. The film has been supported by Massachusetts Humanities, the LEF Foundation, the UConn Humanities Institute, and others.

Stubborn Negativity: On Willy Retto’s Uchuraccay Massacre Last Image
Wednesday, April 19, 2023 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
José Falconi

The last film shot by photographer Willy Retto captures the killings of himself and several journalists by villagers in Uchuraccay, Peru in 1983, during the country's internal conflict. Despite the photographic evidence, many remained unconvinced as to the events that transgressed and the images shrouded in mythology. This talk reflects on the power of images to provide testimony of the past, while also resisting the linear progress of time. It considers the internal logic and desynchronization between word and image that can contribute to the fog of mythology surrounding historical events. Through this unresolved tension, we uncover a thought-provoking reflection on the complex relationship between images, memory, and history.

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About José Falconi

José Luis Falconi is a professor of art and human rights at the University of Connecticut, as well as the president of Cultural Agents, Inc., an NGO which promotes civic engagement and creativity through artistic education. From 2001 to 2011, Falconi was the art forum curator at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, curating more than thirty shows of cutting-edge Latino and Latin American artists in an academic setting. From 2011 to July 2017, he was an associate of the Department of Art History and Architecture at Harvard University, where he received his doctorate in romance languages ​​and literatures in 2010, and his post-doctorate the following year in the history of art and architecture under the supervision of Prof. Thomas Cummins.

His latest academic publications include Portraits of an Invisible Country: The Photographs of Jorge Mario Múnera(2010), A Singular Plurality: The Works of Darío Escobar (2013), The Great Swindle: A Project by Santiago Montoya (2014) and Ad Usum / To be used: The Works of Pedro Reyes (2017). His monograph on Mexican artist Pia Camil, There are no Friendly Fires, will be published in 2022.

In the United States, Falconi has been appointed lecturer in the Department of Art History and Architecture at Brandeis University (2014-2020), at Boston University in the spring of 2016, and in the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut in the spring of 2021. In Latin America, he was “bicentennial” Visiting Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Chile (Santiago de Chile, 2012 and 2019), “International Professor” at the National University of Colombia (Bogotá, 2013), visiting professor at the Center for Latin American Studies “Manuel Galich” at the Universidad San Carlos of Guatemala (2016), and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Costa Rica (2017).

Encounters Series – Spring 2023 Program

About the Program:

Through the Democracy and Dialogues Initiative, UConn is working to increase democratic and civic capacity by supporting community dialogues on critical issues, providing moderator and facilitation training for dialogues and deliberations, and partnering with campus colleagues and local institutions to increase meaningful participation by all community members.

The Encounters Series is dedicated to fostering unexpected conversations around divisive issues and obscure knowledge. The program dives deeply into subjects that are of interest to the Greater Hartford community through facilitated, small-group dialogues followed by a question-and-answer style conversation with our UConn faculty and community partners. Resources are provided beforehand to encourage informed and informal dialogue within conversations that may otherwise prove to be polarizing, and thus unproductive. The aim is to strengthen our ability to know ourselves and to develop a forum for respectful and challenging dialogue. 

Our partners in this Encounters Series include the Hartford Public Library, Connecticut's Old State House, the HartBeat Ensemble, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Connecticut Humanities, and many valuable others. The Democracy & Dialogues Initiative is part of Dodd Human Rights Impact and supported at UConn by the Office of Global Affairs, the Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Humanities Institute, UConn Extension, and the Division of Student Affairs’ Parent's Fund.

Join us!

You are warmly invited to take part in this series of interactive dialogues. To participate, please register below.

March 4 – Encounters: Historic Black Journalism and Its Legacy

Historic Black Journalism and Its Legacy
In partnership with Capital Community College, Connecticut's Old State House, CT Humanities, the Hartford Heritage Project, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Saturday, March 4 | 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Capital Community College - Community Room, 2nd Floor.
950 Main St., Hartford, CT 06103

Register in advance for this event:

As a journalist and a historian, Jelani Cobb, this year’s Pennington lecture speaker, has used public media to present deeply researched long-form journalism on pressing issues. He is a part of a long tradition of Black journalists who have done so. Join us for this community conversation event to explore the history and legacy of Black writing, Black journalists, and advocacy in and through the Black press. This Encounters program is part of the 2023 Pennington Lecture Event, inspired by this year’s speaker, Jelani Cobb.

A light lunch will be served after the event. All participants are welcome and there is no cost to register or attend.

April 29 – Encounters: Amistad: Artistic Perspectives

Amistad: Artistic Perspectives
Hosted by Connecticut's Old State House & Connecticut Freedom Trail
Saturday, April 29 | 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Connecticut's Old State House
800 Main St., Hartford, CT 06103

Register in advance for this event:

Why does history so often become art? In 1839, fifty-three African captives rebelled onboard the Spanish ship, La Amistad. They took over the ship, but were recaptured and then went on to win back their freedom through the American courts in Connecticut. Their bravery and eventual victory has been immortalized in the history books. But long before historians began to examine the Amistad saga, artists had already claimed the story in their own work. From contemporary portraits of the Africans to modern day stage performances, artists have told us the story of Amistad from diverse and unique perspectives. What can these works tell us about how we remember history? How does a historical event become a piece of art? Join us for an informed and collaborative exploration of these fascinating questions!

Lead a Dialogue!

We are always looking for more facilitators and moderators to help support the Encounters Series. If you are interested in getting involved, register for one of our trainings!

February 10 – Facilitator Training

Facilitator Training
Hosted by the Democracy & Dialogues Initiative
Friday, February 10 | 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Register in advance for this training:

Facilitators are fundamentally important to running a successful dialogue. They are the folks who work with the small breakout groups and keep the conversation moving and productive. Want to learn more about the theory and practice of facilitation? Join us virtually on February 10. 

March 6 – Facilitator Training

Facilitator Training
Hosted by the Democracy & Dialogues Initiative
Monday, March 6 | 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM
In-person: The Dodd Center for Human Rights, Room 162.
405 Babbidge Rd., Storrs, CT 06269

Register in advance for this training:

Facilitators are fundamentally important to running a successful dialogue. They are the folks who work with the small breakout groups and keep the conversation moving and productive. Want to learn more about theory and practice of facilitation? Join us! A light lunch will be provided.

March 9 – Moderator Training

Facilitator Training
Hosted by the Democracy & Dialogues Initiative
Thursday, March 9, 2023 | 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Online: Zoom

Register in advance for this training:
The role of a moderator is to run or direct a dialogue. Moderators serve as the "emcee," managing the structure and timing of the event and provide support to the facilitators. Want to learn more about theory and practice of being a moderator? Join us for this virtual training.

Health in Ruins: The Capitalist Destruction of Medical Care at a Colombian Maternity Hospital

Tuesday, April 11, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Humanities Institute Conference Room
In-Person & Online

About This Event:

Join us for a panel celebrating Professor César Ernesto Abadía-Barrero’s new book, Health in Ruins, which chronicles the story of El Materno—Colombia’s oldest maternity and neonatal health center and teaching hospital—over several decades as it faced constant threats of government shutdown.

This team-based and collaborative ethnography analyzes the social life of neoliberal health policy. The book shows that health care privatization is not only about defunding public hospitals; it also ruins rich traditions of medical care by denying or destroying ways of practicing medicine that challenge Western medicine.

Our panel will include an overview of the book by Prof. Abadía-Barrero, followed by comments from three internationally renowned experts in medical anthropology and global health. The electronic version of the book is available from the UConn Library or Duke University Press.

Join us!

We kindly ask that you register to attend regardless of the modality you will join.

Humanities Institute Conference Room,
4th Floor of Homer Babbidge Library
Reception from 3:30 - 4:00 pm.

Register for Zoom details


Those joining us in-person are encouraged to join us for a reception ahead of the event at 3:30 pm in the same room. Refreshments will be served.

César E. Abadía-Barrero

About César Abadía-Barrero:

César E. Abadía-Barrero is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut. A medical anthropologist, his research integrates different critical perspectives in the study of how for-profit interests transform access, continuity, and quality of health care. He has conducted activist-oriented research in Brazil and Colombia, focusing on healthcare policies and programs, human rights judicialization and advocacy, and social movements in health. He is the author of I Have AIDS but I am Happy: Children’s Subjectivities, AIDS, and Social Responses in Brazil (2011, English and Portuguese editions) and Health in Ruins: The Capitalist Destruction of Medical Care (2022, English and Spanish editions). His current collaborative research follows decolonial proposals in health and wellbeing after Colombia’s 2016 peace accord.  

Our Panel:

Alejandro Cerón

Alejandro Cerón
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Denver

Omar Dewachi

Omar Dewachi
Radcliffe Fellow, Harvard University
Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and Global Health, Rutgers University

Carolyn Smith-Morris

Carolyn Smith-Morris
Professor, School of Public Health, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Sarah Willen

Sarah Willen (Moderator)
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Connecticut
Co-Director, Research Program on Global Health & Human Rights

The Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights serves as a forum for UConn’s scholarly community interested in global health, human rights, and health inequities. This program is an integral part of the Human Rights Institute, seeking to understand human rights based approaches to health challenges.

Human Rights Film+ Series: After Zero Tolerance

Wednesday, March 22, 2023
5:00pm - 6:30pm
In-Person Event
Konover Auditorium, The Dodd Center for Human Rights

About ‘After Zero Tolerance’

Directed by Emmy™ Award-winning filmmaker and UConn DMD Associate Professor Oscar Guerra, After Zero Tolerance brings a compelling and intimate perspective to the ongoing debate around US immigration policy and the treatment of families and children at the border. The film follows the story of Anavelis, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with her then-six-year-old daughter, Genesis, in 2018. They were forcibly separated by law enforcement at a border camp, and Anavelis was deported back to Honduras without Genesis – kicking off a years-long quest to reunite with her daughter. 

This event will feature a full screening of After Zero Tolerance (2022, 29 minutes), followed by a discussion with Oscar Guerra, Ann Garcia, Nan Schivone, and Anavelis.

Our Guests:

  • Prof. Oscar GuerraAfter Zero Tolerance filmmaker and Associate Professor, UConn Department of Digital Media & Design
  • Ann Garcia, Attorney, National Immigration Project
  • Nan Schivone, Legal Director, Justice in Motion
  • AnavelisAfter Zero Tolerance film protagonist


  • Prof. Catherine Masud, Assistant Professor in Residence, UConn Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute and Department of Digital Media & Design

For a preview of the film, watch the above excerpt (3 minutes).

After Zero Tolerance is a FRONTLINE production with Five O’Clock Films in association with Guerra Productions, the Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the University of Connecticut. The writer, producer and director is Oscar Guerra. The senior producer is Frank Koughan.

This event is sponsored by the Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute, Dodd Impact, and the Department of Digital Media & Design. We kindly ask you register to join us.

Exhibition Closing Reception: Madeline Baird on ‘Embodied Borders’

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Dodd Lounge
The Dodd Center for Human Rights 

About This Event:

We welcome you to join us for a closing reception to celebrate and discuss the most recent exhibition in the hall of The Dodd Center for Human Rights with the photographer. Madeline Baird's 'Embodied Borders' reveals the human toll of the exportation of U.S. border enforcement through a series of captivating photographs.

Madeline Baird is a PhD student in Anthropology at UConn. Prior to enrolling at UConn, Madeline earned an MSc from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and worked for a decade supporting public health program design and community-based research. Her current research employs ethnographic methods to explore constructions of health inequity, human rights, and healing in Latin America.

Join Us:

This event is in-person only in the lounge of The Dodd Center for Human Rights.

Light snacks & refreshments will be served.

No registration is necessary. All are welcome!

About the Exhibition:

In recent decades, the extension of U.S. immigration and border enforcement policies to countries in Central America increasingly pressures migrant populations seeking refuge in the U.S. to travel the most remote and dangerous passages to the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2022, more than 200,000 migrants traversed the Darien Gap known to be one of the most dangerous sections of the journey through Central America. This series of photographs documents the embodied impact of the exportation of U.S. border enforcement 2,500 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border for migrants in transit through Panama.

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact

A Source of Escalation or a Source of Restraint? Whether and How Civil Society Affects Mass Killings

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Hybrid Event
Dodd Center for Human Rights - Room 162 & Zoom

About This Event

In this Human Rights Research and Data Hub Workshop, Dr. Evan Perkoski will present his research on state-led mass killings. Why do some state-led mass killings end quickly while others endure for over a decade? And why do some states murder millions of constituents during the course of mass killings, whereas other states seem to retreat from the brink after killing hundreds? A large body of work has focused on the important role played by civil society and non-governmental actors in initiating different forms of rescue, evasion, and assistance in the midst of different cases of mass killings, as well as the political pressure they have applied in bringing about the ends of civil conflicts. Despite many inspiring and hopeful cases of collective action under systems of intense repression, other research finds civil society can accelerate or exacerbate mass killings. In this paper, we test some basic mechanisms that emerge from the literature on the connection between civil society and mass killings, and we find that a complex albeit meaningful relationship exists. We find that, in general, a relatively participatory and autonomous civil society is correlated with shorter mass killings. However, we also find that active civil societies are associated with higher rates of lethality, particularly when those civil society sectors exist in highly unequal polities. Because most mass killings are relatively short, our findings suggest that civil societies in states with uneven access to power are more commonly correlated with longer, deadlier spells of government violence. This conclusion seemingly supports the view of civil society skeptics, at least in highly unequal contexts where mass killings have already begun.

Join Us!

This event will take place in-person
in The Dodd Center for Human Rights.

It will likewise be available online
on Zoom. Please register regardless
of the modality you plan to join.


Evan Perkoski
Assistant Professor
University of Connecticut
Department of Political Science

About Evan Perkoski

Evan Perkoski is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare at the Marine Corps University.

He  studies issues relating to terrorism, insurgency, and violent and nonviolent uprisings. In his book project, he explores the fragmentation of militant organizations (like Al Qaeda) and the conduct and survivability of breakaway splinter groups (like the Islamic State). Some of his other work looks at the onset of mass killings in popular uprisings, the logic of covert and clandestine cyber operations, and how cooperation and competition influence the behavior of militant groups. His research generally leverages new data and quantitative methods to understand political violence.

This event is sponsored by the Human Rights Research and Data Hub (HuRRD) at the Human Rights Institute. The Hub seeks to advance human rights research at UConn by supporting faculty and student projects and providing students the opportunity to develop research and data analysis skills that will advance their careers after graduation.

Rwanda’s Restorative Journey: Living Alongside Your Enemy

Tuesday, January 24, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Konover Auditorium
The Dodd Center for Human Rights 

About This Event:

Three days into the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi, Carl and Teresa Wilkens made the heart wrenching decision that she would take their young children to safety, and he would stay at their home in Kigali and try to help. Neither had any idea that during the next 100 days more than a million people would be slaughtered, often by their neighbors.

Through the sharing of first-hand accounts of the catastrophic 1994 genocide and the country’s rebuilding journey that followed, Carl will discuss restorative justice and practices and engage us in guided conversations about what those practices mean today, particularly in the realm of rebuilding trust.

Join Us:

This event is in-person only in the Konover Auditorium of The Dodd Center for Human Rights. All are welcome!
Register Here.

It is co-sponsored by UConn Global Affairs, the Center for Judaic Studies & Contemporary Jewish Life, and Dodd Human Rights Impact.

About Carl Wilkens

As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens was one of two Americans who refused to leave Rwanda as thousands of expatriates and UN soldiers fled the country in the face of what is now known as the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. Working together with Rwandan colleagues they brought food, water, and medicine to orphans trapped around the city.

These days Wilkens travels around the globe using the transformative process of storytelling and restorative practices to explore topics such as polarization, harmful conflict, and belonging. He is the Co-founder and Director of World Outside My Shoes.

"I'm Not Leaving"

In advance of the event, we encourage you to watch the 40-minute documentary, I'm Not Leaving, available in full & free on YouTube.

This 40-minute documentary shares snapshots of the genocide through the eyes of Carl and his wife Teresa along with: Gasigwa, a courageous Rwandan colleague whose home became a safe-house, Laura from the US Embassy who wrestled with Washington, DC to not abandon their mission, and Phil, one of the handful of UN peacekeepers who volunteered to stay in Rwanda and were tenuously hanging on to save lives. Their gut-wrenching choices and unexpected alliances formed during the 100 days of slaughter leave us with a surprising sense of hope and agency.

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact

Reimagining Gender Violence as Torture

Tuesday, April 4, 2023
4:00 pm - 5
:30 pm
Konover Auditorium
The Dodd Center for Human Rights

About This Event

Is gender-based violence (GBV) different in any important way from what is understood as torture?
The participants in this forum, basing their arguments on decades of experience in law, clinical work, activism and scholarship, assert that understanding GBV as torture is essential for furthering public understanding of the true nature of GBV, and importantly, for improving the response and redress measures for victims.

This expert panel is one in a series of public engagements of the 2023 Gladstein Visiting Professor of Human Rights Rashida Manjoo, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences. 

Join us!

This event is free and open to the public, we kindly ask that you RSVP.

Please note that this event is in-person only.


A catered public reception will follow in the Dodd Lounge. All are welcome!

Associated Workshop – April 5 – Violence Against Women and the Normative Gap

For UConn Faculty & Graduate Students

Join Professor Manjoo for an interactive workshop on Violence Against Women and the Normative Gap.

April 5, 2023
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
The Dodd Center for Human Rights Lounge

Interested in joining us? Please confirm your attendance with David Richards.

About Our Experts

Rashida Manjoo

Rashida Manjoo is Professor Emeritus at the University of Cape Town where she taught for many years in the Department of Public Law and also convened the LLM Human Rights Program. She continues to supervise PhD candidates in the Faculty of Law.

Professor Manjoo has over four decades of experience in social justice and human rights work both in South Africa and abroad. Until July 2015, she held the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, a post she was appointed to in 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Her UN work over six years has included monitoring and reporting on States' compliance in responding to and preventing violence against women, its causes, and consequences, both generally and in different country contexts. She has particularly highlighted the interaction of interpersonal, communal, institutional, and structural factors that negatively impact the interdependence and indivisibility of the human rights of women, and the challenges of the normative gap in international law on the issue of violence against women.

Professor Manjoo is the former Parliamentary Commissioner of the Commission on Gender Equality, an institution created by the Constitution of South Africa, with a mandate to oversee the promotion and protection of gender equality and women's rights. She has also been involved in social context training for judges and lawyers, where she has designed both content and methodology.

She has authored several journal articles, book chapters and reports, including the co-edited books Women’s Charters and Declarations: Building another World; The Legal Protection of women from violence - normative gaps in international law; Criminal Justice and Accountability in Africa; and Violence against Women: Law, Policy, and Practice.

Rashida Manjoo is the 2023 Gladstein Visiting Professor of Human Rights at the University of Connecticut Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute.

Carla Ferstman

Carla Ferstman joined Essex Law School in January 2018. She is a barrister and solicitor (British Columbia, 1994). DPhil (Public International Law) (Oxon); LL.M (NYU); LL.B (UBC); BA (Philosophy) (Western). She was Fernand Braudel Fellow (2022) at European University Institute (Florence); visiting professional (2015) at Centre for International Governance and Justice at RegNet, Australian National University (Canberra); and Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow (2012/13) at the United States Institute of Peace (Washington, DC).

Carla is a member since 2018 of the Council of Europe's Expert Council on NGO Law (a specialist body that provides commentary and expertise on the regulation of civil society activities throughout the Council of Europe). She is also on the JRR-UN Women SGBV Justice Experts Roster and on the Advisory Committee of Lawyers for Justice in Libya. She was a judge on the Aban Tribunal, an International ‘People’s Tribunal’ established to investigate atrocities alleged to have taken in place in Iran during the November 2019 protests, which held oral hearings in November 2021 and February 2022 and issued its final judgment in November 2022.

Carla has worked in the human rights field for the bulk of her career to date. After a brief period in private practice in Canada as a criminal defence lawyer, she began working internationally, first for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Rwanda and thereafter, at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London. She served as the Executive Legal Advisor of the Commission for Real Property Claims of Refugees and Displaced Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1999-2001), a mass claims body established pursuant to the Dayton Peace Accords to re-establish property rights and assist displaced persons to return home. In 2001, she joined REDRESS, a nongovernmental human rights organization which pursues justice on behalf of victims of torture and related international crimes, first as Legal Director and from 2004 - 2018 as Director. During her tenure, REDRESS won the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

In 2022, Carla won the Essex Faculty of Arts and Humanities Supervisor of the Year award.

Felice Gaer

Felice Gaer directs AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. Gaer served as Vice-Chair and Member of the Committee against Torture, treaty monitoring body, between 2000-2019. She was Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal advisory commission. Gaer was a public member of the U.S. delegation to the Beijing World Conference on Women (1995), the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights (1993), and numerous sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights. A graduate of Wellesley College, from which she received the Alumnae Achievement Award (1995), Gaer was recently presented the Honorary Member Award of the American Society of International Law and was Regents Professor at UCLA in 2010.  Her most recent publications are “Engendering Torture: the Experience of the Committee against Torture (AJHR),” and “The Committee Against Torture Tackles Violence against Women: A Conceptual and Political Journey (Torture: 30th Anniv. Issue)”

Linda MacDonald & Jeanne Sarson

Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson are feminist human rights activists living in Nova Scotia, Canada. For 30 years they have focused their work on supporting women who detail being victimized by family and non-family-based non-State torturer-traffickers with organized criminal informal networks with like-minded others. As independent researchers and scholars with many published articles, book chapters, and their 2021 book, “Women Unsilenced: Our Refusal To Let Torturer-Traffickers Win,” which shares their developed theory, models, and non-State torture (NST) victimization-traumatization informed care, expanding this work to name the infliction of consequential conditioned suicide-femicide victimizations. Their participatory research represents the voices of women from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the UK, Western Europe, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea, plus women who identify torture victimizations in prostitution and pornographic exploitations. Since 2004 they have participated in non-governmental organizational panels at the United Nations in New York, Geneva, and in Vienna where they are involved in a Working Group addressing non-State torture (NST) to create global education with the aim to eliminate all forms of non-State torture of women and girls. They develop resources, provide educational presentations and webinars nationally and internationally, including in the UK, the U.S., Spain, Portugal, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

David Richards

David Richards is an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut, with appointments in both the Department of Political Science and the Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute, where he is Director of Graduate Studies.

David’s body of work on human rights includes more than two-dozen studies of: gender-violence law, the measurement of government respect for human rights including torture, US public support for torture, and the effects of globalization on human rights respect, among others. He has also authored reports for governments and international organizations.

Some current projects include studies of: torture in the time of COVID; sexual violence as torture; school infrastructure as a children’s right; the language of torture in narratives; and best-practices in teaching college students about torture.

David Richards is likely best known as the co-founder/director of the now-archived Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project. Funded multiple times by the National Science Foundation and World Bank, among others, this project provided information on the level of government respect for 16 human rights in 196 countries from 1981 to 2012. The CIRI Project’s data have been used by international organizations such as the United Nations and World Bank, and in 170 countries by governments, media, activists, businesses, scholars, and students.

David’s book (with Jill Haglund, Univ. of Kentucky) Violence Against Women and the Law (Routledge 2015), examines the strength of laws addressing four types of violence against women–rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment–in 196 countries from 2007 to 2010. Of central importance is the question of why these laws exist in some places and not others, and why they are stronger or weaker in places where they do exist. The book’s original data allow the testing of various hypotheses related to whether international law drives the enactment of domestic legal protections. Also examined are the ways in which these legal protections are related to economic, political, and social institutions, and how transnational society affects the presence and strength of these laws.

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact

Grit & Grace: The Fight for the American Dream

Monday, February 13, 2023
4:30 pm - 7:15 pm

Gen Re Auditorium
UConn Stamford 

About This Event:

Grit & Grace: The Fight for the American Dream is a groundbreaking documentary-style film produced by the 117th Congress's House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth and directed by Oscar Guerra, Associate Professor of Digital Media & Design at UConn Stamford. Narrated by EMMY® award-winning actress Sarah Jessica Parker, this first-of-its-kind movie features three true stories from across the country of what it means to find economic security in America, as well as the diverse paths people are taking to get there. 

The event will begin with a reception and remarks by Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons, UConn President Radenka Maric, former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, U.S. Representative Jim Himes, and Grit & Grace director Oscar Guerra. A full screening of the film will follow. After, community leaders from across Connecticut will join Representative Himes for a panel discussion contextualizing the film.

Join Us!

All are welcome! Registration is required.
This event is in-person only.

All attendees are encouraged to join us for a pre-screening reception, the Grit & Grace screening, and a post-show discussion at UConn Stamford.

This event was made possible by Dodd Human Rights Impact, the Department of Digital Media & Design, and UConn Stamford.

About Our Introducers:

Caroline Simmons is the current Mayor of Stamford, sworn in December 2021. Formerly she was the State Representative for Stamford’s 144th district in the Connecticut General Assembly. Caroline has served as the Chairwoman of the Commerce Committee and on the Public Safety and Higher Education & Advancement Committees. She is a champion for small business growth and job creation, cybersecurity initiatives, public school enhancements, and protections for police and firefighters.

Radenka Maric was named the 17th president of the University of Connecticut by the Board of Trustees on September 28, 2022. She had served as UConn’s vice president for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship since 2017. Maric has been a faculty member and researcher since 2010 at the University, where she also is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor. Maric holds multiple patents, is an elected member of several prestigious professional organizations, published hundreds of scholarly works, received more than $40 million in research grants, and is fluent in four languages with a working knowledge of others.

Chris Dodd represented Connecticut in the United States Congress for 36 years – three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and five terms in the U.S. Senate. Senator Dodd was a widely respected legislator and a key participant in nearly every major national policy debate over his four decades of public service. He authored or co-authored major legislation in the areas of education, health, financial services, foreign policy, and election reform.

Jim Himes represents Connecticut’s 4th District in the United States House of Representatives. Jim was born in Lima, Peru, and moved to the United States with his mother and sisters at the age of 10. He worked extensively in the business and non-profit worlds before entering public service. He now lives in Cos Cob, Greenwich with his wife Mary and enjoys (not frequent enough) visits from his daughters Emma and Linley. As a member of Congress, Jim works hard to provide all American children the same opportunities he had to succeed: access to a first-rate public school, affordable and effective health care, a decent and safe home, and a supportive community.

About The Film’s Director:

Oscar Guerra is an Emmy® award-winning director, researcher, and educator. He is an Associate Professor of Film and Video at the University of Connecticut and a producer at PBS FRONTLINE. Dr. Guerra’s focus is storytelling which promotes critical thinking and social investment. He aims to produce media that provides a way for underrepresented groups to share and disseminate counterstories, contradict dominant and potentially stereotypical narratives, and strengthen their voices and identities. Dr. Guerra’s career spans the spectrum of television environments, music, multimedia production, documentaries for social change, promotional videos, immersive media, and vast international experience.

About Our Panelists:

Natalie Coard is the Executive Director of Charter Oak Communities. Charter Oak Communities (COC) is a progressive housing authority for the City of Stamford, Connecticut that is redefining assisted public housing through unique and comprehensive partnerships, creative funding models, and astute business practices coupled with a far-reaching vision. COC’s core functions include expanding affordable housing opportunities and promoting residents’ socioeconomic progress and growth. 

Marc Jaffe is the CEO of the Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County. As the second largest early childhood education provider in Connecticut, CLC has been a leader in developing and implementing high-quality and affordable early childhood education and care programs since 1902. Marc came to the nonprofit sector after serving for more than twenty-five years as a senior publishing, licensing and technology executive where he honed strong management, strategic-planning and cross-platform business development skills.

Fran Pastore is a devoted catalyst of women’s economic equity and the founder and CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council. The mission of the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) is to support economic prosperity for women and strengthen communities through entrepreneurial and financial education services that create and grow sustainable jobs and businesses across Connecticut.

Ivonne Zucco, MBA, PCC, serves as the People and Culture Director of Building One Community, a Stamford-based nonprofit organization with the mission to advance the successful integration of immigrants and their families through education, employment, empowerment, and engaging the entire community. She has formerly held the roles of Operations Director and Workforce Development Director at B1C. During the five years with the organization, Ivonne has worked with leadership to integrate people, physical space, and processes to improve the quality of service and the organization's productivity. In her former role as Workforce Development Director, Ivonne managed the Skills Development, the Hiring Site, and the Unpaid Wages programs.  The Programs' goal is to develop relevant job skills training for low-income immigrants in the greater Stamford area while providing job placements as a community resource, connecting local employers to immigrant workers.

Visitor Information:

Parking information for visitors to the UConn Stamford campus can be found here: UConn Stamford Parking.


4:30 - 5:30 pm: Doors Open & Reception
5:45 pm: Opening Remarks and Introduction
6:00 pm: Screening of Documentary
6:30 - 7:15 pm: Panel Discussion

Unable to join us?

The full documentary is available free online.

Grit & Grace Film Trailer:

Read the Report:

Commissioned by the former House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, Grit & Grace is a documentary illustrating the economic challenges facing American communities at a personal level. It is a groundbreaking companion to the detailed final report from the Committee, which set out to study solutions to address America’s growing prosperity gap at the national level.

Their findings and recommendations have been organized into a final report, Bridging the Divide: Building an Economy that Works for All, available below.

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