Previous Faculty Awardees

Seed Grant for Faculty Research in Human Rights

2019 HRI Seed Grant Recipient: Nishith Prakash


2019 HRI Seed Grant

Nishith Prakash, Associate Professor in Human Rights and Economics 

"Street Police Patrols and Crime Against Women in Public Space: Experimental Evidence from India."

Read more about the project

2018 HRI Seed Grant Recipient: César Abadía-Barrero

Constructing the Right to Health, Peace, and “Buen Vivir” in Colombia

My project Constructing the Right to Health, Peace, and “Buen Vivir”in Colombiawill support the development of Red Saludpaz (Healthpeace Network), a network of scholars, universities, and human rights organizations dedicated to promoting one of the peace accord’s main points: the formulation of a National Plan for Rural Health. The plan should contain access to care, rehabilitation and reintegration, food security proposals and target the 19 rural areas deeply impacted by the armed conflict and designated as priority for the implementation of the peace accord. I will support the elaboration of the network’s platform and research portfolio as well as the preparation of specific research proposals to study the network’s and rural communities’ promotion of health as a human right.


César Abadía-Barrero is a Medical Anthropologist whose research integrates different critical perspectives in the study of how for-profit interests transform access, continuity, and quality of health care. He has conducted action-oriented ethnographic and mixed-method research on health care policies and programs, human rights judicialization and advocacy, and social movements in health in Brazil and Colombia.

Small Grants for Faculty Research in Human Rights

2019 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees


Click HERE for information about the 2019 Small Grant Awardees.

2018 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

César Abadía-Barrero Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Human Rights

"Health Ruins: The Capitalist Destruction of Medical Care"

This grant will allow me to submit my book manuscript Health Ruins: The Capitalist Destruction of Medical Care to a prestigious academic press. My ethnography narrates the history of a hospital and its people. El Materno, once considered the most important university hospital specializing in child and maternity care in Colombia, collapsed during neoliberalism. By tracing the history of El Materno, Health Ruins joins recent scholarly efforts that show how health care privatization harms the human right to health. In particular, Health Ruins illustrates how the neoliberal transformation of medical care and medical education is filled with violence, conflict, hope, and uncertainty. Unlike other scholarly efforts that show the impacts of neoliberal health policies on health outcomes, Health Ruins illustrates how neoliberalism transforms the human right to health by attacking existing cultural norms and practices around health care in order for its for-profit health care model to become hegemonic. By showing what patient-centered health care looked like, how it was destroyed, and the current status of its neoliberal replacement, Health Ruins joins other scholarly and activist efforts to contest the growing commodification of health care.

César Abadía-Barrero is a Medical Anthropologist whose research integrates different critical perspectives in the study of how for-profit interests transform access, continuity, and quality of health care. He has conducted action-oriented ethnographic and mixed-method research on health care policies and programs, human rights judicialization and advocacy, and social movements in health in Brazil and Colombia.

Miguel Figuiredo Associate Professor of Law | University of Connecticut

“Raise the Age: A Triumph for Children’s Rights?”

Project Description Pending

Maria Larusso Assistant Professor Human Development and Family Studies

“The School to Prison Pipeline: How a Human Rights Catastrophe Begins in Elementary Schools”

In recent decades, school discipline has become increasingly criminalized, seen for example in the routine use of metal detectors, law enforcement referrals, and monitoring by security guards or police officers, as well as a trend toward elaborate conduct codes, stricter discipline policies, and more extreme punishments. However, decades of research have shown that such measures are not only ineffective, but have unintended negative effects, such as increasing levels of school disorder and contributing to a pipeline to incarceration for youth. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defines the school-to-prison pipeline as “the policies and practices that push our nation's schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The school-to-prison pipeline has been called a “human rights catastrophe” given not only that it reflects violations to children’s rights to education, safety, and protection from harm, but also that these violations and their long-term consequences reproduce inequalities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, harsh disciplinary policies and practices are primarily a problem in middle and high schools. However; criminalized school discipline may be overlooked in elementary schools because it appears in more subtle forms. This study utilizes qualitative data from four inner city elementary schools to illuminate the criminalization of language and practices that can produce criminalized identities and reputations of children, starting as early as kindergarten.

2017 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

Alaina Brenick, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies 
"Evaluations of school-based rights violations of transgender and gender non-conforming youth: A social ecological perspective"

Audrey R. Chapman, Healey Professor of Medical Ethics and Humanities, Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, UConn Health
"Impact of Privatization on the Right to Health in Sri Lanka"

Debanuj DasGupta, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography & Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies
"The Politics of Transgender Detention"

Barbara Gurr, Associate Professor In Residence, Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
"Mni Wiconi: The Meaning of “Rights” at Standing Rock"

Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, Associate Professor, Department of History
"Hauntings and Human Rights: Immigration in Post-Pinochet Chile"

Visit our blog for a full description of awardees research projects

2014-2015 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

Audrey R. Chapman, "The Challenges of Implementing a Human Rights Approach to Health"
Manisha Desai, "From Mathura to Nirbhaya: Mapping the Changing Dynamics of Activism Opposing Violence Against Women in India"
Sarah Willen, "When the U.S. Government calls Health a Human Right: Responses to the CDC Museum's 'Health is a Human Right' Exhibition"
Elizabeth Holzer, "Compassion for Rebels"

2012-2013 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

Gary Levvis/Human Trafficking Service Provider Assessment Project (HTSPAP)
“Human Trafficking Service Provider Assessment Project (HTSPAP) Committee”
The aim of this project is to address the limited monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that currently exist for non‐governmental organizations in Connecticut. The goal of this project was to prevent the re‐victimization of persons at the hands of ineffective or disreputable caregivers by providing legitimate organizations with feedback concerning their practices.

Scruggs, Political Science
“Generosity of state unemployment insurance systems in the United States”
The main research question posed in this project is whether policy changes in the generosity of federal and state unemployment insurance benefits—specifically the absolute level of benefit, the amount of income such benefits replace, and the duration of these benefits—affect various public health outcomes. This possibility was suggested but not examined in previous work on inequality and health. An essential element of the project is collecting information on programmatic differences in unemployment insurance systems in the United States.

Nathaniel Trumbull, Geography
“Post-Socialist Cities and their Discontents: from Urban Disenfranchisement to Human Rights Violations”
This book project examines urban disenfranchisement and human rights violations in the post-socialist city of St. Petersburg (former Leningrad), Russia. I investigate the attempts by representatives of civil society to assemble and organize, the accompanying public demonstrations and frequent imprisonment related to those efforts, police repression and brutality, a legal system whose decisions are widely viewed to be politically motivated, ongoing official obstruction to appointing an independent city ombudsman, and most recently, public reaction to widespread election fraud, in the wake of which the largest numbers of arrests of public protesters in the past two decades in the city have taken place.

2011-2012 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

Gary English, Drama
"Theatre and Human Rights: The Arab/Israeli Conflict”
This project studied the uses of theater production as public discourse within the occupied territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) of Palestine and the State of Israel over the past 10 years, or from the so-called 2nd Intifada up till now. Through an oral history methodology and interviews across various aspects of Palestinian society, this proposed research will continue to inform my grasp of contemporary theatre aesthetics and practice in Palestine and will deepen my understanding of how public discourse and questions of human rights have been dealt with in Palestinian theatre.

Charles B. Lansing, History
"German Nazi Hunters: The Central Agency and Germany's Belated Search for Justice."
The grant was used to fund research for the book project German Nazi Hunters: The Central Agency and Germany's Belated Search for Justice. The book explores both the role of the West German state in the transformation of popular German attitudes regarding German complicity in the Holocaust and also the relationship between this process and the larger social and political democratization of Germany.

Samuel Martinez, Anthropology
"Onion of Oppression Manuscript Translation and Review"
University of Connecticut Human Rights Institute funds were applied to the revision and translation of a book manuscript, tentatively titled The Onion of Oppression: Complex Injustices and the Rights Struggles of Haitian-Ancestry Dominicans. The book applies the critical feminist theory of intersectionality to the domain of human rights, through description and analysis of various, interrelated limits to freedom encountered by Haitian nationals and Haitian descendants in the Dominican Republic.

2008-2009 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

Faculty Research Funding
Lanse Minkler & Samson Kimenyi, Economics
Constitutionalization of Human Rights
Tricia Gabany-Guerrero, International Affairs
An Anatomy of Mexican Repatriation: Human Rights and Boarderlands of Complicity
Emma Gilligan, History
Defending Human Rights in the 20th Century

2007 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

Emma Gilligan, History
“War Crimes in Chechnya”
Kathryn Libal, Women Studies
“Politics of Educating Girls in Turkey”
Maya Beasley, Sociology
“South Africa Contemporary Race Relations”

2004 Human Rights Research Grant Awardees

Mary Crawford, Psychology
"Developing and Evaluating Interventions to Reduce Trafficking of
Girls and Women in Nepal"
Lawrence B. Goodheart, History
"A Profile of Capital Punishment in Connecticut, 1636-2004"
$5,548.78Michelle Kaufman, Ph.D. Candidate, Psychology
"Voluntary and Involuntary Sex Trafficking in Nepal: An Investigation
into Human and Cultural Rights"
$ 4,000.00
Marita McComiskey, Women’s Studies
Conference 2005 on "The Responsibility of the Present Generations
for the Protection of Women’s Human Rights"
Samuel Martinez, Anthropology
"Anthropology’s Human Rights Archive: A Preliminary Assessment
of the Documents of the AAA Committee for Human Rights"
Professor Nancy A. Naples, Sociology and Women’s Studies
"Sexual Citizenship and Human Rights: A Comparative Study of
Immigration Policies in Different National Contexts"
Olu Oguibe, Art and Art History
"A Decade of Freedom: Art after Apartheid 1994-2004"

Faculty Workshops

Faculty Workshops

Faculty workshops bring to campus scholars from external institutions to interact with UConn faculty on a substantive human rights themes.

Application consists of rationale (maximum 5 pages), a list of expected participants and a draft budget up to $8,000, including all costs of administrative support, travel, catering, accommodation etc. All proposals will be reviewed and ranked by a multidisciplinary review committee comprised of members of the Gladstein Committee. Priority will be given to proposals which envisage a publication or research grant proposal ensuing from the event.

All applications should be submitted electronically in PDF format to

Fall 2015 Human Rights Workshops

"Human Rights and New Technologies" Workshop

New technological innovations have significant consequences for human rights, both in terms of the opportunities they offer for the fulfillment of rights and the harms they can cause. Yet new technologies are not simply providing new opportunities and risks for human rights. In some areas, they are affirmatively changing what we mean by human rights. Rights to privacy, to family, to information, to work—to name just a few—are being transformed by new innovations. Moreover, as more and more of the work of the state is shifted to an online context, new technologies are directly mediating the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights. Human rights law, practice and scholarship are not keeping up with the pace of these changes.

The purpose of this workshop will be to convene a small group of human rights and technology scholars for a high-level discussion about the intersection of international human rights and new technologies in human rights scholarship and practice. The field of human rights and new technologies is only now emerging as a distinct area of scholarship and practice and is, as yet, significantly under-theorized. Although there has been considerable attention paid to the use of new technologies in humanitarian and development contexts, there has been much less work addressing these issues through a human rights lens. The primary objective of this workshop would be to bring together a group of scholars to present and discuss papers aimed at framing the debate in this new field and setting a scholarly agenda for future work. The workshop would include consideration of a wide range of new technological innovations and their impacts on human rights—not only the Internet and mobile phones, but also new technologies in the areas of agriculture, health, and education.

Spring 2015 Human Rights Workshops

Friday, April 17-18.
Spring ESRG 2015 Workshop, “Global Justice & Extra-Territorial Obligations”

Spring 2014 Human Rights Workshops

The Human Rights Institute will fund one faculty-led human rights workshop conferences in Spring 2014. The workshop conference will bring to campus 3-5 scholars from external institutions to interact with UConn faculty over a 1-2 day period on a substantive human rights theme. Application consists of rationale (maximum 5 pages), a list of expected participants and a draft budget up to $8,000, including all costs of administrative support, travel, catering, accommodation etc. All proposals will be reviewed and ranked by a multidisciplinary review committee comprised of members of the Gladstein Committee. Priority will be given to proposals which envisage a publication or research grant proposal ensuing from the event. All application should be submitted electronically in PDF format to If you have any questions please call 860-486-5393 or email Deadline for applications is October 30, 2013.

Fall 2011 Human Rights Workshops

"The Category of 'Perpetrator' in Human Rights Discourse" Facilitators: Eleni Coundouriotis, Department of English, Samuel Martinez, Department of Anthropology, Glenn Mitoma, Human Rights Institute, Cathy Schlund-Vials, Department of English and Asian American Studies This one-day workshop brings together scholars in the humanities and social sciences to discuss the particular category of the “perpetrator” and its function in contemporary human rights discourse. Our dialogue goes beyond the contexts in which perpetrator-hood has most often been contemplated — truth commissions and criminal tribunals — to consider the perpetrator as an indispensable, but frequently shadowy, grounding figure in all human rights representations, including monitor group investigatory reports, documentary and dramatic films, and fiction.

"Historicizing human rights in the early British empire: violence and meaning in England and Ireland, 1500 to 1700" Facilitators: Brendan Kane, Department of History This one-day colloquium exploring violence and its meanings in England and Ireland between the years 1500 to 1700 - the years that saw England's colonial domination of Ireland - as a means to better understand the links between the study of early modern imperialism and of modern human rights. Papers will be pre-circulated and available upon request. Conference participants include Malcolm Smuts, Andy Wood, Vincent Carey, Alison Games, Sarah Covington and Ben Kiernan. Please contact Brendan Kane or Rachel Traficanti for more information.

2010-2011 Human Rights Workshops

Testimony, Oral History and Human Rights Documentation Facilitators: Valerie Love,Curator for Human Rights and Alternative Press Collections & Emma Gilligan, Human Rights Institute and Department of History This workshop will tie into faculty research interests, particularly regarding narrative and refugee communities. This workshop will bring together scholars and practitioners working with interviews to document the lives of refugees and survivors from Iraq, Chechnya, Rwanda, and communities in the United States, and allow them to present on their current work with very different populations, and discuss the successes and challenges that they face in their interviews with each of these communities. The Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center house Center house several oral history collections pertaining to human rights themes, such as interviews with Holocaust survivors and with anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. Building upon our current oral history collections is a priority for the University of Connecticut Libraries, and this workshop will create a unique opportunity for UConn to connect with other scholars and practitioners using interviews and oral history to document experiences during and in the aftermath of war. For more information contact Valerie Love or Emma Gilligan

2009-2010 Human Rights Workshops

Beyond Suffering: Human Rights, Humanitarianism and the Media Facilitators: Kerry Bystrom, Department of English, Kathryn Libal, School of Social Work, Michael Orwicz, Department of Art and Art History UConn faculty and several guest scholars will participate in a two-day workshop entitled, “Beyond Suffering: Human Rights, Humanitarianism and the Media.” Workshop participants will explore the intersections between visual culture, narrative theory, the media, human rights and humanitarianism, pushing beyond the paradigm of suffering bodies, to examine the agency—in both theory and practice—of the visual economy of the media. Participants will share works-in-progress and join more informal round-table discussions on core themes. Guest scholars, including Allen Feldman, Wendy Hesford and Thomas Keenan, will join members of the 2009-10 Foundations of Humanitarianism Faculty Study Group on “Human Rights, Humanitarianism and the Media” at the Human Rights Institute for this endeavor. For more information contact;,,

Slavery Then and Now Facilitator: Anna Mae Duane, Director, American Studies & Assistant Professor, English Department “Slavery then and Now” brings interdisciplinary scholarship and contemporary activism into conversation around the issue of human trafficking. This workshop will bring scholars studying past iterations of slavery, resistance and abolition into productive conversation with scholars whose work focuses on human trafficking in the present day. Panelists will consider how juxtaposing slavery’s past and present might allow us to respond to the questions underlying abolition—what does it take for the powerful to listen and respond meaningfully to those without power? How can enslaved people, and their allies, best resist those who benefit from their oppression? What makes today’s slavery so different from slavery in the past that we have been so slow to respond? How might we learn to see beyond these differences? How might the history of our abolitionist past help us to respond more effectively to today’s challenges? For more information, contact Anna Mae Duane,

2008-2009 Human Rights Workshops

The Gender of Humanitarian Narrative The Gender of Humanitarian Narrative was a monthly reading group examining gender as an axis of representation around which genealogies may be traced between today's reportage, outreach and campaigning and antecedent abolitionist and moral reform movements and civilizing projects. The reading group met throughout the 2008-09 academic year to discuss key theoretical and empirical background studies and refine themes for a workshop, which took place in 14-16 May 2009. The workshop involved presentation and discussion of original papers by UConn participants and external invitees. Workshop organizers are seeking publication of a number of the papers as a journal special issue. For more details contact Samuel Martinez,

2007-2008 Human Rights Workshops

Interdependence and Indivisibility Facilitators: Shareen Hertel and Lanse Minkler The second annual Economic Rights “Affiliates” Workshop will take place in Spring 2008, focusing on debates surrounding the interdependence and indivisibility (I/I) of human rights. Defenders of the idea of interdependence and indivisibility argue that subsistence and security needs and basic capabilities require the whole mix of human rights to assure a life with human dignity. They point to the frequent references to interdependence in international law as justification of the validity of the concept. By contrast, opponents of the notion of I/I sometimes dismiss civil and political rights (for instance, in the “Asian values” debate, or the new “economic populism” of some regimes in South America) while other dismiss economic rights and social rights in the interest of promoting democracy (for instance, classic liberals). This workshop will engage these debates in light of contemporary scholarship. For more details email or

The Hospitable US: Transacting Hemispheric Agency, Human Rights and Border Epistemologies. Facilitators: Blanca Silvestrini and Guillermo B. Irizarry HRI and the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Institute co-sponsor this interdisciplinary, faculty workshop, which will critically consider the sites of rights, agency, and identity in conditions of hemispheric socio-historical transformations. Members will engage philosophical writings related to ethics, cosmopolitanism, and hospitality, as well as recent scholarship on rights and agency in the Americas, with a special focus on the changing landscape of politics, culture, and identity in the USA. For more details, e-mail

Faculty Fellowship

Faculty Fellowship

About the Fellowship:

In 2006 the Human Rights Institute announced a one semester Human Rights Institute Fellowship for tenure track faculty.  The objective of this competition was to support and promote faculty research projects on human rights and to facilitate the writing of external grant proposals. The Fellowship was open to all tenure track faculty in all disciplines at Storrs and regional University of Connecticut campuses.

2016-2017 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Caroline Kaeb

2015-2016 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Zehra Arat

2014-2015 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Elizabeth Holzer

Professor Holzer used the fellowship period to develop her research project on water, science and human rights in Ethiopia. During the fellowship period, she co-lead with Manos Anagnostou, Paul Block, Yang Hong, and Liangzhi You a grant proposal entitled “Taming Water in Ethiopia." The National Science Foundation awarded $4.3M to the proposal through the highly competitive Program for International Research Exchange competition in August. The project promotes a political-institutional model of science that links sociological and engineering methods in a people-centered, rights-based approach to the human-climate-agricultural nexus. In addition, she completed her book, The Concerned Women of Buduburam: Refugee Activists and Humanitarian Dilemmas (Cornell University Press, 2015), which came out in September.

2013-2014 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Eleni Condouriotis

2012-2013 Human Rights Institute Fellow: David Richards

David L. Richards, Political Science and Human Rights, Faculty Page

David's work is focused primarily on government respect for human rights. One of his primary interests is human rights measurement, and he is Co-Director of the CIRI Human Rights Data Project (, which annually rates government respect for 15 internationally-recognized human rights in 195 countries. He also has an interest in the psychology of torture, and has a forthcoming article (with Mandy Morrill and Mary Anderson) in the Nordic Journal of Human Rights that examines the psychological roots of US Citizens' attitudes towards torture techniques.

David's current projects-in-progress include two books: a human rights textbook for CQ Press, and a book (with Jillienne Haglund) on the strength and evolution of domestic legal guarantees relating to five forms of violence against women, worldwide, for Paradigm Publishers. It is the latter manuscript on which David worked on during his fellowship during the fall 2012 semester.

2011-2012 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Sarah Winter

Sarah Winter, English, Faculty Page

During her Human Rights Institute Faculty Fellowship semester, Spring 2012, Professor Winter will be working on her book titled “The Novel, Habeas Corpus, and Human Rights”. Her project will delineate an important early phase in the recurrent conflict between the human rights of political prisoners and the sovereign prerogatives of nation states. The book uncovers a pivotal historical relationship between habeas corpus jurisprudence and the narrative representation of human rights, delineating the ways that a set of influential nineteenth-century English novels correlated the principles of universal human rights articulated in the United States Declaration of Independence (1776) and the French National Assembly’s Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (1789) with the widespread reputation in Britain of the “Great Writ of Habeas Corpus” as “the Palladium of Liberty.” She examined how the political prisoner came to embody the abstract bearer of human rights starting in the early decades following the French Revolution, a time when universal human equality was a rather new concept that provoked both utopian aspirations and political fears. Because political prisoners’ experiences were often not accessible to the public, imaginative literature played a key role in elevating the fates of dissidents into galvanizing political causes. “The Novel, Habeas Corpus, and Human Rights” will also refocus recent historiography on the emergence of human rights by exploring the ways that habeas corpus jurisprudence, during this formative period of political declarations of the “rights of man,” provided a working judicial procedure to extrapolate from the legal rights of subjects and citizens to universal human rights.

2010-2011 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Samuel Martinez

Samuel Martinez, Anthropology, Faculty Page

Samuel Martínez is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Caribbean and Latin American Studies at the University of Connecticut Storrs. He is the author of two ethnographic monographs, Peripheral Migrants (1995, U Tennessee P) and Decency and Excess (2007, Paradigm Pub) and several peer-reviewed articles on the migration and labor and minority rights of Haitian nationals and people of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic. A contributory volume that he edited, International Migration and Human Rights, has recently been published in simultaneous paper and free-of-charge Web editions by the University of California Press.

During his Human Rights Faculty Fellowship semester (Spring 2011), he worked on preliminary stages of a project examining the texts and contexts of the stories that are being told about slavery today via the narrative portions of scholarly, journalistic, activist, and creative fictional texts, photo-essays and films.

2009-2010 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Susan Randolph

Susan Randolph, Economics, Faculty Page

Monitoring the Progressive Realization of Economic and Social Rights Obligations
Project Overview
In response to an increasing demand for rigorous monitoring of States’ accountability in meeting their human rights obligations, a growing literature has emerged on measuring human rights fulfillment. However, the monitoring and promotion of human rights have emphasized political and civil rights; comparatively little attention has been focused on economic and social rights. Data are increasing used in human rights assessment and advocacy, but, especially with regard to economic social rights, ad hoc approaches dominate. Along with her collaborators, SakikoFukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer, Dr. Randolph has developed two alternative rigorous methodologies for monitoring State accountability in meeting economic and social rights obligations. The Human Rights fellowship will be used to write a book that fully documents the index and compares the alternative methodologies, investigates ways of integrating the principle of non-discrimination, and explores the policy implications of the index. The project ultimately seeks (a) a broad understanding of the sorts of policies and private initiatives that effectively foster the fulfillment of economic and social rights, (b) an understanding of the synergy between political, civil and economic and social rights, and (c) an understanding of the trade-offs and synergies between economic policies fostering income growth and economic efficiency versus those fostering economic and social rights provisions. To facilitate the realization of these broader goals, the fellowship will be used to apply for external grants to establish an Economic and Social Rights Accountability Program.

2008-2009 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Alexandra Lahav

Alexandra D. Lahav, UConn Law School, Faculty Page

Prof. Lahav’s current project concerns the role of the lawyer in perpetuating and resisting procedural injustice. The particular focus of her research is the role of lawyers in hearings before military commissions in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These military commissions constitute a type of legal black hole within an otherwise liberal democratic regime which claims to adhere to the basic principles of the rule of law. Because lawyers are officers of the court and the first defense of the rule of law, participation in this system raises serious moral questions. Is the lawyer that participates in these or other unjust hearings a seeker of justice or enabler of injustice?

During her fellowship at the Human Rights Institute, Prof. Lahav conducted qualitative research in order to evaluate the justifications for and arguments against lawyer participation in unfair hearings. She explored the following questions from lawyers involved in the military commission process: How do lawyers justify their participation? Are they concerned about complicity in the system? What factors should lawyers consider before choosing to participate in a system they think is unfair? Is there a principled stance that lawyers ought to take (such as that boycotts are categorically wrong because they leave potential clients without access to a lawyer)? Or should lawyer decisions to participate or refrain be contextual and pragmatic?

2007-2008 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Shareen Hertel

Shareen Hertel, Political Science and Human Rights, Faculty Page

During her fellowship with the Human Rights Institute, Professor Hertel developed a project on economic rights implementation – focusing, in particular, on public attitudes regarding ethical consumption. Are consumers willing to purchase goods and services created in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and if so, why? Is willingness to pay for “fair trade” coffee or “sweatshop free” clothing, for example, tied to popular conceptions of human rights or to related social movement activism? In November 2006, Hertel and colleagues at UConn carried out a pilot national public opinion survey (through the Center for Survey Research and Analysis) that revealed significant public awareness of the right to a minimum guaranteed standard of living as a human right – and even higher willingness to pay for ethically produced goods among that segment of the population. Nevertheless, much remains to be learned about why consumers do or do not prefer this type of products; how businesses vary in their response to such demands; and whether or not ethical consumption positively affects the implementation of economic rights or actually has negligible and/or unintended negative consequences for social welfare outcomes. Hertel used her semester a Human Rights Institute Fellow to design and raise funds for a more in-depth national survey and an experimental component to advance this research agenda.

2006-2007 Human Rights Institute Fellow: Diana Meyers

Professor Diana Meyers, Department of Philosophy

Professor Diana Meyers website
During her Fellowship with the Human Rights Institute, Professor Meyers worked on a project titled “Narrative and Legal Norms: Translating Victims’ Stories into Enforceable Human Rights”. She explains that project as follows:
"A number of late 20th- early 21st century political and intellectual movements put a spotlight on the value of listening to silenced voices. In consciousness raising sessions, second wave feminists exchanged stories of their everyday lives and used these stories to construct theories of gender and to formulate political agendas. Soon women of color and lesbians in western as well as developing nations objected that middleclass white feminists had silenced them and consequently misrepresented womanhood and the needs of women as a group. Critical race theorists made the case that injecting personal stories of racial oppression into U.S. legal proceedings is indispensable to the eradication of white supremacy. Recent truth commissions in South Africa and Peru and war crimes tribunals in the Hague and Rwanda have reaffirmed the right to a voice of one's own. Picking up on these trends, philosophers have addressed a number of pertinent themes: respect, empathy, and credibility. Less thoroughly explored is the relation between victims' stories and normativity. My work explores how the stories of those who have been abused or oppressed can advance moral understanding, catalyze moral innovation, and guide social change. More specifically, I focus on narrative as a variegated form of representation, analyze the diverse forms that personal narratives of victimization take, and theorize the distinctive ways in which each type of story connects with human rights discourse.