Teaching Human Rights as Global Collaboration

American Studies Association Annual Meeting 2017, Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colorado

Sat, November 19, 4:00 to 5:45pm, COLORADO CONVENTION CTR, Level 4, Capitol 4

Participants: Nigel Hatton (UC at Merced); Catrin Gersdorf (U of Würzburg, Germany); David Palumbo-Liu (Stanford U), Heike Raphael-Hernandez (UMUC Europe, University of Würzburg, Germany)

This roundtable reports on a collaboration connected with and by the www.TeachingHumanRights.org website and will discuss its connection to American Studies and how others can get involved. Students from Stanford University, the University of California at Merced, University of Würzburg (Germany), and the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison in California addressed class, geography, and race to interrogate the most pressing concerns of our time: 21st-century race relations, immigration debates, right-wing movements, and Global North/South conflicts.

The 2016 ASA conference asks us to clarify the theme Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are. We regard American Studies as offering the potential for a critical discourse on historical and ongoing violations of human rights, especially in regard to race relations.  Our project seeks to expand that potential by expanding our notion of “home,” decentering America as the locus of rights and taking on both the challenge and the benefits of global concerns that are connected to, but often different from, “American” rights discourse.

For example, one student brought Denise Ferreira Da Silva’s work in Toward a Global Idea of Race into the larger, global discussion: Da Silva begins her book with the question why it is possible that in the 21st century, despite the fact that racism has been consistently deemed as immoral and unjust, the racial continue still dictates the contemporary global configuration. Silva argues that racial thinking is constitutive of the discourse of modern thought, and modernity and modern intellectuals needed the racial in order to construct a universal Subject; according to Silva, the ongoing production of the racial institutes the global as an onto‐ epistemological context, yet also needs the global to sustain the post‐Enlightenment version of the Subject. A discussion of Da Silva’s arguments caused a substantial further discourse among the international student body.

We invite all those interested in human rights work, international human rights discourse, and a broader discussion of anti-racist efforts both in and beyond America to join us, and to learn how to participate in this web-based expansion of teaching at “home,” in connection with global partners.