The Human Rights Institute Culture and Human Rights Event Series:
Critical Conversations about Resistance, Protection, and Priorities
The Culture and Human Rights Event Series, organized in Fall 2019, explores topics ranging from culture and art as tools for resistance and protection of cultural heritage within international law, to traditional culture and copyright, and culture and transitional justice.
Curated by HRI's Managing Director Maya Alkateb-Chami, it brings together influencers, activists, and scholars from around the world to share critical perspectives and innovative approaches in the area of culture and human rights, with a focus on resistance, protection, and priorities.
This series' events were co-sponsored by Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights and its Indigenous People's Rights Program and Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability; Columbia University's Society of International Law and Fashion Society; Columbia Law School's Rightslink; Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts; Middle East Students Association, and Native American Law Students Association; the Human Rights Working Group at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs; the Arts Administration Program of Teachers College at Columbia University; and the Indian Legal Program at Arizona State University.
For videos of these events and beyond, please visit our YouTube channel.
The Danger of Forgetting: Memorialization, Memory, and Transitional Justice
Milena Duran, Public Educator and Archivist at Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and Lecturer at Buenos Aires University (Argentina); Francis Opio, Transitional Justice Practitioner at the Foundation for Justice and Development Initiatives (Uganda); Reina Milad Sarkis, Psychoanalysis Practitioner and Founder of MoHR Springhints (Lebanon). Moderator: Maya Alkateb-Chami, Managing Director, Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School
September 24 | 12:10-1:10 PM | Jerome Greene Hall 105
Responding to the immediate atrocities of war, conflict, and terror is naturally the primary focus of recovery, but long-term impacts are equally serious and pressing. Featuring experts from Argentina, Lebanon, and Uganda, this program will analyze the importance of collective memory in the wake of violence and discuss how memorialization can be used as a tool to both bring about transitional justice and preserve the heritage of a nation in turmoil.
Milena Duran is a lecturer and scholar of history who focuses on recent history and memory, and an educator and archivist with the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo), a non-governmental organization that searches for the children - today adults - that were kidnapped and appropriated during the last military dictatorship in Argentina. Francis Opio is a transitional justice practitioner in northern Uganda who, having experienced the effects of war first-hand, is working to further memorialization and preservation of victims’ stories as central pillars of transitional justice. Reina Milad Sarkis is a human rights-focused psychoanalyst who works towards the construction of a Lebanese identity built from collective memory as the nation continues to cope with its violent past. Her work on “living memory” includes providing group therapy for torture victims. All of the speakers are current Fellows with the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights.
Cultural Rights and Human Rights: Questioning Protection
Elsa Stamatopoulou, Former Chief of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Director Columbia University’s Indigenous Peoples Rights Program, and author of Cultural Rights in International Law
October 22 | 12:10-1:10 PM | Jerome Greene Hall 105
Elsa Stamatopoulou's pioneering book Cultural Rights in International Law explores international protection of cultural rights. In her former role as the Chief of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and her current one as the Director of Columbia University’s Indigenous Peoples Rights Program, she is an advocate of the protection of cultural rights and of putting concerned communities in the driving seat on this issue. In this talk, she will discuss historical shifts and current developments in the protection of cultural rights internationally, while reflecting on the scope and contemporary reasons behind the existence, or lack thereof, of international protection of cultural rights.
Legal Frameworks, Challenges, and Innovative Methods for Protecting Cultural Property: Insights from Syria
Polina Levina Mahnad, Legal Officer, International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar; Expert on Cultural Property Protection, International Committee of the Blue Shield
November 11 | 12:10-1:10 PM | JG 105 (POSTPONED; NEW DATE TO BE CONFIRMED)
The war in Syria has lasted for seven years and led to massive destruction and loss of life, with increasing doubt that the conflict will reach a resolution or political settlement in the near future. This frustration has triggered an appetite among States, civil society and the international community for finite and concrete measures that can contribute to greater protection and compliance with international law in the cultural heritage space. In this talk, Levina Mahnad will examine the legal framework protecting cultural property and recent innovative protection responses that contribute to ensuring compliance with international law in Syria, short of military assistance and intervention.
Polina Levina Mahnad is an international human rights lawyer, who has investigated war crimes and built cases against perpetrators of atrocities at the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the UN Human Rights Office, fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry, in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, and Myanmar. Her article on Protecting Cultural Property in Syria was awarded the 2019 Francis Lieber Prize by the American Society of International Law.
Kimberly M. Jenkins, Lecturer at Parsons School of Design, Founder of the Fashion and Race Database Project, and Steering Committee Member of the Research Collective for Decolonizing Fashion; Hoda Katebi, Iranian-American fashion activist, writer, and creator of the blog JooJoo Azad, Founder of Blue Tin Production, a fashion production Co-Op for immigrant and refugee women in Chicago
November 18 | 5:30-7:30 PM | JG 106
Intellectual Property and Cultural Heritage: Repatriation, Reclamation, and Rights
Jane Anderson, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies, New York University; Aaron Fox, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology, Columbia University; Trevor Reed, Associate Professor, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University. Moderator: Pippa Loengard, Deputy Director, Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts and Lecturer-in-Law, Columbia Law School
December 2 | 3:00-4:00 PM | JG 107
Laws in the United States and abroad to protect and restore communities’ rights to traditional knowledge and cultural heritage vary widely. Featuring experts working with Native American cultural rights in the U.S. in the areas of music and artifacts, this panel will discuss the U.S. legal framework to protect such rights, existing intellectual property and other laws that may be in tension with recognizing those rights, and innovative efforts to restore justice.
Jane Anderson, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at New York University, is furthering a new paradigm of rights and responsibilities that recognizes the inherent sovereignty that Indigenous communities have over their cultural heritage. Her work is focused on the philosophical and practical problems for intellectual property law and the protection of Indigenous/traditional knowledge resources.
Aaron Fox, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, works in the area of cultural survival and sustainability and music-centered community activism, including a focus on issues of cultural and intellectual property and the repatriation of Native American cultural resources. He has also published extensively on American country music and working-class culture.
Trevor Reed, Associate Professor at Arizona State University College of Law, works at the intersection of the arts, intellectual property, and indigenous rights, with research and advocacy projects spanning the areas of musical creativity and ownership, indigenous intellectual property, the new music industry, data repatriation, and the politics of sound.