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Creating Human Rights Cover

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Creating Human Rights

How Noncitizens Made Sex Persecution Matter to the World

By Lisa S. Alfredson

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009

Creating Human Rights offers the first systematic study of a pioneering women's refugee movement and its challenge, as an international trigger case, to more conventional paths toward human rights policy development. Lisa S. Alfredson argues that such cases, which unfold in the context of a specific country and have profound impacts on international human rights efforts, have been neglected in research and pose a challenge to recent theorizing on human rights change.

In the early 1990s, Canada witnessed the emergence of the world's first comprehensive refugee policy for women who were seeking protection from female-specific forms of violence—rape, domestic abuse, public stoning of adulterers, genital mutilation—while challenging a gender-biased system. Close examination of this novel movement, Alfredson contends, provides crucial insights into why and how states may articulate new human rights that set international precedents.

Analyzing original empirical data and sociopolitical historical trends, the book documents the decisive global impacts of the movement while shedding light on the paradox of noncitizen politics and asylum seekers' little recognized political strength. Contrary to expectation, findings suggest transnational networks and pressures are not required for some forms of change. Rather, international trigger cases illuminate a range of other key actors and advocacy strategies leading, subsequently, to a more comprehensive understanding of human rights acceptance.

In the case of the women's refugee movement, the convergence of human rights and noncitizen politics points toward a new dimension for human rights scholarship that, in the current age of globalization, is becoming critically important.

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Creating the Witness

Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet

Leshu Torchin

Since the beginning of the conflict in 2003, more than 300,000 lives have been lost in Darfur. Players of the video game Darfur Is Dying learn this sobering fact and more as they work to ensure the survival of a virtual refugee camp. The video game not only puts players in the position of a struggling refugee, it shows them how they can take action in the real world.

Creating the Witness examines the role of film and the Internet in creating virtual witnesses to genocide over the last one hundred years. The book asks, how do visual media work to produce witnesses—audiences who are drawn into action? The argument is a detailed critique of the notion that there is a seamless trajectory from observing an atrocity to acting in order to intervene. According to Leshu Torchin, it is not enough to have a camera; images of genocide require an ideological framework to reinforce the messages the images are meant to convey. Torchin presents wide-ranging examples of witnessing and genocide, including the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust (engaging film as witness in the context of the Nuremburg trials), and the international human rights organization WITNESS and its sustained efforts to use video to publicize human rights advocacy and compel action.

From a historical and comparative approach, Torchin’s broad survey of media and the social practices around it investigates the development of popular understandings of genocide to achieve recognition and response—both political and judicial—ultimately calling on viewers to act on behalf of human rights.




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Crimes of the Holocaust

The Law Confronts Hard Cases

By Stephan Landsman

The problem of prosecuting individuals complicit in the Nazi regime's "Final Solution" is almost insurmountably complex and has produced ever less satisfying results as time has passed. In Crimes of the Holocaust, Stephan Landsman provides detailed analysis of the International Military Tribunal prosecution at Nuremberg in 1945, the Eichmann trial in Israel in 1961, the 1986 Demanjuk trial in Israel, and the 1990 prosecution of Imre Finta in Canada. Landsman presents each case and elaborates the difficulties inherent in achieving both a fair trial and a measure of justice in the aftermath of heinous crimes. In the face of few historical and legal precedents for such war crime prosecutions, each legal action relies on the framework of its predecessors. However, this only compounds the problematic issues arising from the Nuremberg proceedings.

Meticulously combing volumes of testimony and documentary information about each case, Landsman offers judicious and critical assessments of the proceedings. He levels pointed criticism at numerous elements of this relatively recent judicial invention, sparing neither judges nor counsel and remaining keenly aware of the human implications. Deftly weaving legal analysis with cultural context, Landsman offers the first rigorous examination of these problematic proceedings and proposes guideposts for contemporary tribunals. Crimes of the Holocaust is an authoritative account of the Gordian knot of genocide prosecution in the world courts, which will persist as a confounding issue as we are faced with a trial of Saddam Hussein. This volume will be compelling reading for legal scholars as well as laypersons interested in these cases and the issues they address.

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A Cry For Justice

Daniel A. Rudd's Ecclesiologically-Centered Vision of Justice in "The American Catholic Tribune"

Gary Agee

Daniel Rudd, born a slave in Bardstown, Kentucky, grew up to achieve much in the years following the Civil War. His Catholic faith, passion for activism, and talent for writing led him to increasingly influential positions in many places. One of his important early accomplishments was the publication of the American Catholic Tribune, which Rudd referred to as “the only Catholic journal owned and published by colored men.” At its zenith, the Tribune, run out of Detroit and Cincinnati, where Rudd lived, had ten thousand subscribers, making it one of the most successful black newspapers in the country. Rudd was also active in the leadership of the Afro-American Press Association, and he was a founding member of the Catholic Press Association. By 1889, Rudd was one of the nation’s best-known black Catholics. His work was endorsed by a number of high-ranking church officials in Europe as well as in the United States, and he was one of the founders of the Lay Catholic Congress movement. Later, his travels took him to Bolivar County, Mississippi, and eventually on to Forrest City, Arkansas, where he worked for the well-known black farmer and businessperson, Scott Bond, and eventually co-wrote Bond’s biography.

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Cultural Genocide

Lawrence Davidson

Most scholars of genocide focus on mass murder. Lawrence Davidson, by contrast, explores the murder of culture. He suggests that when people have limited knowledge of the culture outside of their own group, they are unable to accurately assess the alleged threat of others around them. Throughout history, dominant populations have often dealt with these fears through mass murder. However, the shock of the Holocaust now deters today’s great powers from the practice of physical genocide. Majority populations, cognizant of outside pressure and knowing that they should not resort to mass murder, have turned instead to cultural genocide as a “second best” politically determined substitute for physical genocide.In Cultural Genocide, this theory is applied to events in four settings, two events that preceded the Holocaust and two events that followed it: the destruction of American Indians by uninformed settlers who viewed these natives as inferior and were more intent on removing them from the frontier than annihilating them; the attack on the culture of Eastern European Jews living within Russian-controlled areas before the Holocaust; the Israeli attack on Palestinian culture; and the absorption of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China.In conclusion, Davidson examines the mechanisms that may be used to combat today’s cultural genocide as well as the contemporary social and political forces at work that must be overcome in the process.

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Cultural Heritage in Transit

Intangible Rights as Human Rights

Edited by Deborah Kapchan

Are human rights universal? The immediate response is "yes, of course." However, that simple affirmation assumes agreement about definitions of the "human" as well as what a human is entitled to under law, bringing us quickly to concepts such as freedom, property, and the inalienability of both. The assumption that we all mean the same things by these terms carries much political import, especially given that different communities (national, ethnic, religious, gendered) enact some of the most basic categories of human experience (self, home, freedom, sovereignty) differently. But whereas legal definitions often seek to eliminate ambiguity in order to define and protect the rights of humanity, ambiguity is in fact inherently human, especially in performances of heritage where the rights to sense, to imagine, and to claim cultural identities that resist circumscription are at play.

Cultural Heritage in Transit examines the intangibilities of human rights in the realm of heritage production, focusing not only on the ephemeral culture of those who perform it but also on the ambiguities present in the idea of cultural property in general—who claims it? who may use it? who should not but does? In this volume, folklorists, ethnologists, and anthropologists analyze the practice and performance of culture in particular contexts—including Roma wedding music, Trinidadian wining, Moroccan verbal art, and Neopagan rituals—in order to draw apart the social, political, and aesthetic materialities of heritage production, including inequities and hierarchies that did not exist before. The authors collectively craft theoretical frameworks to make sense of the ways the rights of nations interact with the rights of individuals and communities when the public value of artistic creations is constituted through international law.

Contributors: Valdimar Tr. Hafstein, Deborah Kapchan, Barbro Klein, Sabina Magliocco, Dorothy Noyes, Philip W. Scher, Carol Silverman.

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The Dame in the Kimono

Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code

Leonard J. Leff and Jerold L. Simmons

" The new edition of this seminal work takes the story of the Production Code and motion picture censorship into the present, including the creation of the PG-13 and NC-17 ratings in the 1990s.

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Dangerous Friendship

Stanley Levison, Martin Luther King, Jr., and The Kennedy Brothers

The product of long-concealed FBI surveillance documents, Dangerous Friendship chronicles a history of Martin Luther King Jr. that the government kept secret from the public for years. The book reveals the story of Stanley Levison, a well-known figure in the Communist Party–USA, who became one of King’s closest friends and, effectively, his most trusted adviser. Levison, a Jewish attorney and businessman, became King’s pro bono ghostwriter, accountant, fundraiser, and legal adviser. This friendship, however, created many complications for both men. Because of Levison’s former ties to the Communist Party, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover launched an obsessive campaign, wiretapping, tracking, and photographing Levison relentlessly. By association, King was labeled as “a Communist and subversive,” prompting then–attorney general Robert F. Kennedy to authorize secret surveillance of the civil rights leader. It was this effort that revealed King’s sexual philandering and furthered a breakdown of trust between King, Robert F. Kennedy, and eventually President John F. Kennedy. With stunning revelations, this book exposes both the general attitude of the U.S. government toward the privacy rights of American citizens during those difficult years as well as the extent to which King, Levison, and many other freedom workers were hounded by people at the very top of the U.S. security establishment.

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A Deaf Adult Speaks Out

Leo M. Jacobs

Leo Jacobs has written a unique and personal account of what it is like to be deaf in a hearing world. He speaks out on such issues as mainstreaming and its effect on deaf children and the Deaf community, total communication versus oralism, employment opportunities for deaf adults, and public policy toward deaf people. This new edition includes an update of services by and for deaf people, and an expanded chapter on legislation and social issues that have had an impact on the Deaf community in the last ten years.

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Deaf Empowerment

Emergence, Struggle, and Rhetoric

Katherine A. Jankowski

Employing the methodology successfully used to explore other social movements in America, this meticulous study examines the rhetorical foundation that motivated Deaf people to work for social change during the past two centuries. In clear, concise prose, Jankowski begins by explaining her use of the term social movement in relation to the desire for change among Deaf people and analyzes the rhetoric they used, not limited to spoken language, to galvanize effective action. Central to Deaf Empowerment is the struggle between the dominant hearing society and Deaf people over the best means of communication, with the educational setting as the constant battleground. This evocative work first tracks the history of interaction between these two factions, highlighting the speaking majority’s desire to compel Deaf people to conform to “the human sciences” conventionality by learning speech. Then, it sharply focuses on the development of the Deaf social movement's ideology to seek general recognition of sign language as a valid cultural variation. Also, the influence of social movements of the 60s and 70s is examined in relation to the changing context and perception of the Deaf movement, as well as to its rhetorical refinement. Deaf Empowerment delineates the apex of effective Deaf rhetoric in describing the success of the Deaf President Now! protest at Gallaudet University in 1988, its aftermath, and ensuing strategies. It concludes with an assessment of the goal of a multicultural society and offers suggestions for community building through a new humanitarianism. Scholars of social movements and Deaf studies will find it to be a uniquely provocative addition to their libraries and classrooms.

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