November 5-7, 2015

Pyle Center, UW-Madison

Plenary Recording

Overview of the Conference

The study and practice of human rights is burgeoning. Scholars in nearly all fields – not only law but also health and environmental sciences, not only political science and anthropology but also history, cultural studies and the arts – now engage questions of human rights in their scholarship and teaching. Human rights has come to refer to ever more diverse subject matters, having moved from emphasis on the fundamental right to physical integrity to areas as diverse as rights to culture, the Internet, death with dignity, and fresh air. For scholars and activists alike, moreover, the “human” in human rights no longer refers exclusively to living individuals who may suffer, but encompasses concepts of community and future generations.

Given the dynamism and reach of human rights claims in a fast-changing world, the time has come to step back to ask key questions: What concepts may usefully undergird an ever-growing and more heterogeneous field of study and practice in a twenty-first century world? If human rights comes to stand for “everything” (every right is fundamental and rooted in the human), does it come to stand for nothing and undermine its premise? If human rights becomes a standard language of law, and a standard language of moral claim and political mobilization, does it lose its counter-hegemonic potential?

The Conference aims to address such questions, and to consider what they mean for the future of human rights scholarship, teaching, and practice. It showcases an array of different approaches, disciplines and topics to the study of human rights, displaying the diversity of human rights scholarship on the UW campus and beyond, as a way to reflect on the motivating question of what are human rights in today’s world. We intend to integrate the reflections into the future development of an innovative UW-Madison Human Rights Program that draws on the best of contemporary human rights scholarship and teaching, and on our strong campus foundation in area studies and cross-disciplinary research.


Registration is free and open to all members of UW-Madison, community members, and anybody interested in human rights. Prior registration is encouraged in order to facilitate planning although we welcome walk-ins too. Preferred date for registration: Friday, October 30, 2015.  Please click on the link below to register.


Final Program, speaker bios and abstracts


Day 1: Thursday, November 5, 2015
Alumni Lounge, Pyle Center

4:00                Welcome
Alexandra Huneeus, Chair, Human Rights Program Steering Committee

                      Richard Keller, Associate Dean, International Studies, UW-Madison

4:15-5:45         Plenary: Race and Human Rights in the US and Abroad
                      Chair: Alexandra Huneeus (UW Law School)

                      Keynote Speaker: Tanya Hernandez (Fordham Law School)

                      Commentators: Florencia Mallon, UW-Madison
                                           William Jones, UW-Madison

5:45-7:00         Informal reception

Day 2: Friday, November 6, 2015
Room 309, Pyle Center

8:15                Breakfast and registration

8:40                Welcome
                      Sumudu Atapattu (UW-Madison)

8:45-9:15         A New Politics of Human Rights: Framing the Issues
                      Heinz Klug (UW-Madison) and
                      Steve Stern (UW-Madison)

9:15-10:45       Panel 1: Large Development Projects and Vulnerable Communities: The Role of Free,
                           Prior, and Informed Consent

                      Chair: Larry Nesper (UW-Madison)

                           "Displacement, the Delusion of Development and the Denial of Human Rights: The Case of
                      Cahora Bassa, 1965-2014"
                      Allen Isaacman (University of Minnesota)

                      "The Nam Theun 2 Dam and Human Rights in Laos's Xe Bang Fai River Basin: Reconsidering
                      the World Bank's 'Model' Large Hydropower Project"
                      Ian Baird (UW-Madison)

                      "Common Ground, Different Paths: The Diverging Meanings of Land Rights in the Struggle
                      Against the Itaipu Dam, 1975-1982"
                      Jacob Blanc (UW-Madison)

                      Discussant: Erica Simmons (UW-Madison)

10:45-11:00     Break

11:00-12:30     Panel 2: Women, Health and Human Rights

                      Chair: Cynthia Farid (UW-Madison)
                      “Farming out responsibility: Human rights and Bangladesh's shrimp industry”
                      Kimberley Thomas (University of Pennsylvania)
                      “Reflections of a conservation biologist on human rights, women, and the environment in
                      Teri Allendorf (UW-Madison)                     

                      “The Bhopal Gas Disaster and the Ongoing Gendered Impact of Water Contamination”
                      Renu Pariyadath (University of Iowa)
                      “Sanitation-related psychosocial stress among women: an emerging facet of human rights”
                       Krushna Chandra Sahoo (Asian Institute of Public Health, Odisha, India)

                      Discussant: Lalita du Perron (UW-Madison)

12:30-2:00       Lunch (includes meeting with students)

2:00-3:45         Panel 3: Climate Change and Human Rights: Mitigation, Adaptation and Vulnerable

                       Chair: Paul Robbins (UW-Madison)

                       “Climate Justice, Human Rights and Citizenship: Politics of Development and Democracy in a
                       Changing Climate in the Global South”
                       Farhana Sultana (Syracuse University)
                       “Climate Change is not an Economic Problem: How the UN Got Tricked into a Category
                        Dan Bromley (UW-Madison)
                       “The Limits of Constitutional Law: How international law on climate change can undermine
                        constitutional rights in India”
                        Deepa Badrinarayana (Chapman University)

                       “Small Bugs, Big Gains: The Mission to Improve Global Health through Insects”
                              Rachel Bergmans (UW-Madison)

                        Discussant: Sumudu Atapattu (UW-Madison)

3:45-4:00           Break

4:00-5:30             Panel 4: Materiality of Rights: Realization of Rights Amidst Social Constraints

                       Chair: Harvey Jacobs (UW-Madison)
                       “Materiality of Rights and Property”
                       Richard Barnes (University of Hull, UK)

                       “The Materiality of Rights: From Judicial Doctrine to Social Transformation?”
                       Robin Stryker (University of Arizona)

                       “What might we learn when we compare the materiality of housing and voting rights?”
                       Heinz Klug (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

                       Discussant: Harvey Jacobs (UW-Madison)

6:30-8:30          Dinner for speakers and invited guests (University Club)

Day 3: Saturday, November 7, 2015
Lubar Commons (7200 Law)

9:00                  Breakfast

9:30-11:00         Panel 5: Violence and International Courts

                        Chair: Joseph Conti (UW-Madison)

                       “How Can an Internationalized Criminal Tribunal Work?"
                              David Scheffer

                       “The political debate on transitional justice in Colombia and the International Criminal Court”
                        Sandra Borda (Universidad Los Andes, Colombia)

                        “Who Pursues the Perpetrators: State Cooperation with the ICC”
                        Scott Straus (UW-Madison)

                        “Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A Reexamination of the International Military Tribunal”
                         Francine Hirsch (UW-Madison)

                         Discussant: Alexandra Huneeus (UW-Madison)

11:00-11:15        Break

11:15-12:30        Final Roundtable and wrap up

                         Chair: Steve Stern (UW-Madison)

12:30-2:00          Lunch and adjourn


        Accommodation: DoubleTree Hotel

          Travel Agent: Fox World Travel (details sent to speakers)

          Conference Venue: Pyle Center (November 5 and 6)
                                     Lubar Commons, UW Law School (November 7)


      Human Rights Program, UW-Madison
      Go Big Read, UW-Madison
      Global Legal Studies Center
      UW Law School
      Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
      Center for South Asia
      Global Health Institute

The Human Rights Program is supported by a UW-Madison Mellon Foundation grant for the advancement of area and international studies and coordinated by the Global Legal Studies Center.

Human Rights Program

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