Fellows Talks

Fellow’s Talk: Carol Gray on Law as a Site of Struggle

2021-22 UCHI fellow's Talk. Law as a site of struggle: From Tahrir Square to Egypt's Judiciary. PhD Candidate, Political Science Carol Gray. With a response by Fiona Vernal. October 20, 2021, 4:00pm. Homer Babbidge Library 4-209

Law as a Site of Struggle: From Tahrir Square to Egypt’s Judiciary

Carol Gray (Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science, UConn)

with a response by Fiona Vernal (History, UConn)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 4:00pm. Homer Babbidge Library, 4-209.

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The event will also be livestreamed with automated captioning.

To attend virtually, register here

Egypt has weaponized the Rule of Law against civil society, using legal statutes such as the Protest Law, Cyber Law, Terrorist Law, and NGO Registration Law to control and shut down hundreds of human rights organizations and incarcerate many thousands of political prisoners, by latest counts, approximately 60,000 people. Meanwhile, law-based NGOs have brought human rights reform to Egypt’s historically independent judiciary since the late 1990s by litigating human rights violations, often using strategic litigation aimed at striking down repressive unconstitutional laws.

This presentation, divided into three parts, will first offer examples of successful human rights litigation during the first two decades of Egypt’s human rights movement based on interviews conducted in Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring. These successes hinged on the existence of an independent judiciary. Part two explores how the advocacy of civil society and judges themselves has strengthened the judiciary while, at the same time, certain actions of Egypt’s Executive Branch have severely undermined, and at times punished, the autonomy of judges. Finally, by examining particular cases decided by Egyptian courts post-Arab Spring, part three analyzes how judicial independence and the rule of law in Egypt are not binary concepts. Despite notable court rulings that violated fundamental human rights, there are still glimmers of courage and independence in the judiciary which remains one of the few avenues of possible reform.

Currently a Dissertation Fellow with the UConn Humanities Institute, Carol Gray is a doctoral student in Political Science and a former public defender. She was a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar in Egypt from 2010 to February 2011 and a Fulbright Scholar in Montreal from 2013–2014 with Concordia University’s Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability. Attorney Gray holds a BA from Wesleyan University, a JD from Northeastern University School of Law, an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center and a diploma in International Human Rights Law from American University in Cairo. Her dissertation is based on an oral history she conducted in Egypt after Arab Spring of one of Egypt’s leading human rights organizations. Her research is both interdisciplinary—incorporating law, politics, and human rights—and intersectional—using critical theory to examine issues of race, class, ethnicity and gender. Her most recent publication exploring racial binaries and post-colonial national consciousness based on a play written by Frantz Fanon will be published in December in the CLR James Journal, A Review of Caribbean Ideas.

Fiona Vernal is the director of Engaged, Public, Oral, and Community Histories (EPOCH) and Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut. With extensive teaching and research interests in African, Caribbean, and Diaspora history, her interdisciplinary work explores a wide range of themes from slavery, gender, and the law to the history of housing policies. She holds a BA from Princeton and an MA and PhD from Yale University. She consults on and curates a number of public-facing projects, including the production of a series of radio plays exploring the lives of the people and cultures in the Greater Hartford region, in partnership with Hartford Stage and Connecticut Public Broadcasting. In 2019, she curated the panoramic exhibit showcasing how Hartford became an African American and a Caribbean city: “From Civil Rights to Human Rights: African American, Puerto Rican, and West Indian Housing Struggles in Hartford County, Connecticut, 1940-2019.”

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

Fellow’s Talk: Erik Freeman on the Mormon International

2021-22 UCHI fellow's talk. “The Mormon International: Communitarian Politics and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1830-1890.” PhD Candidate, History, Erik Freeman, with a response by Micki McElya. October 27, 2021, 4:00pm. Homer Babbidge 4, 209.

The Mormon International: Communitarian Politics and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1830-1890

Erik Freeman (Ph.D. Candidate, History, UConn)

with a response by Micki McElya (History, UConn)

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 4:00pm. Homer Babbidge Library, 4-209.
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The event will also be livestreamed with automated captioning.
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“The Mormon International: Communitarian Politics and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1830-1890” examines early Mormon communitarianism within the context and development of transnational socialism by following the journey of four key European communitarian socialist figures who converted to Mormonism during the nineteenth century. Each of these converts’ story highlights a specific type of communitarian socialism from a different geographic region outside of the United States that influenced the growth and development of Mormonism. The experiences of these radical converts to Mormonism portray a political and cultural world that challenges the traditional understanding of Mormonism as a uniquely American religious tradition and international socialism as primarily a secular political ideology.

Erik Freeman is the Draper Dissertation Fellow at the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute and a doctoral candidate in UConn’s Department of History. He earned a B.A. in French at Brigham Young University in 2008 and an M.A. in History at Brandeis University in 2013. Since 2013, he has served as an instructor of history at Choate Rosemary Hall, in Wallingford, Connecticut, where he has taught courses on environmental history, environmental policy, American history, European history, and the American West. Erik’s article “‘True Christianity’: The Flowering and Fading of Mormonism and Romantic Socialism in Nineteenth-Century France,” won the Best Article Award at the Communal Studies Association’s annual conference in 2018, and the Best International Article Award from the Mormon Historical Association in 2019.

Micki McElya received her B.A. in history from Bryn Mawr College in 1994 and a Ph.D. from New York University in 2003. Before joining the faculty of the University of Connecticut, she was an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama (2003–2008). McElya is currently an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer. Her recently published book, The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery, was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2017 and a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. It was a co-winner of the 2018 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies, winner of the inaugural Sharon Harris Book Prize from UConn’s Humanities Institute, and finalist for the 2016 Jefferson Davis Book Award from the American Civil War Museum. McElya’s first book, Clinging to Mammy, won a 2007 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. She was named a “Top Young Historian” by the History News Network in 2008.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities

2021–2022 Events

UCHI has an exciting roster of events coming up this year, detailed below. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we’ll be hosting several events around the theme “The Future of Knowledge.” Some events will be virtual, and most in-person events will be livestreamed. Be sure to peruse our offerings and register for the events you’d like to attend virtually. Stay tuned as we announce more upcoming events!

Publishing NOW: How to Start a Series and How to Write for One

September 27, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

REGISTER

Publishing NOW: How to Apply for a UConn Internal Grant

October 6, 2021

2:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Drew Johnson

October 13, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Carol Gray

October 20, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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DHMS: Algorithmic Arts and Humanities at UConn

October 21, 2021

12:30pm

HBL, 4-209

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DHMS: Jessica Johnson and Kim Gallon on Black Beyond Data

October 25, 2021

4:00pm

Virtual

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Fellow’s Talk: Erik Freeman

October 27, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Publishing NOW: Publishing about Politics after (?) Trump

November 1, 2021

4:00pm

Virtual

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Fellow’s Talk: Anna Ziering

November 3, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Dissertation Grant Writing Workshop

November 8, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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DHMS: Daniel Rosenberg on the History of Data and Information

November 10, 2021

11:00am

Virtual

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Fellow’s Talk: Sarah Willen

November 10, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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DHMS: Wendy Chun on Discriminating Data

November 18, 2021

1:00pm

Virtual

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Publishing NOW: How to Publish for the Public

December 1, 2021

1:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Shiloh Whitney

December 8, 2021

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Meina Cai

January 26, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Publishing NOW: How to Write about Race Now

January 31, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Laura Mauldin

February 2, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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DHMS: Anke Finger on The Digital Dissertation

February 3, 2022

12:30pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Haile Eshe Cole

February 9, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Fiona Vernal

February 16, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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DHMS: Audrey Watters on Teaching Machines

February 17, 2022

4:00pm

Virtual

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Fellow’s Talk: Kathryn Moore

February 23, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Prakash Kashwan

March 2, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Micki McElya

March 9, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Publishing NOW: How to Work with an Academic Press

March 21, 2022

1:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Shardé Davis

March 23, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Nikole Hannah-Jones

March 30, 2022

2:00pm

TBA

Fellow’s Talk: Sherie Randolph

April 20, 2022

4:00pm

HBL, 4-209

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Fellow’s Talk: Drew Johnson on Moral and Political Judgment

2021–22 UCHI Fellow's Talks. Entrenchment and Disagreement in Morality and Politics: Reason, Passion, and the Point of Moral and Political Discourse. Phd Candidate, Philosophy, Drew Johnson. With a response by Prakash Kashwan. October 13, 2021, 4:00pm, Homer Babbidge Library, 4-209

Entrenchment and Disagreement in Morality and Politics: Reason, Passion, and the Point of Moral and Political Discourse

Drew Johnson (Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy, UConn)

with a response by Prakash Kashwan (Political Science, UConn)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 4:00pm. Homer Babbidge Library, 4-209.

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The event will also be livestreamed.

To attend virtually, register here

Disagreement in moral and political matters is particularly widespread and often resists easy resolution. Recent work by social epistemologists and psychologists has offered useful tools for analyzing disagreement and polarization both online and in person, by describing how general cognitive biases and heuristics, as well as the affective dimension of normative judgments, make certain moral and political beliefs resistant to rational revision through reasonable discourse. This talk discusses the affective and social aspects of moral and political judgment, how they contribute to explanations of deep disagreement and polarization, and their implications for the possibility of moral and political knowledge.

Drew Johnson is a Philosophy PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut. His dissertation project, “A Hybrid Theory of Ethical Thought and Discourse,” examines the nature and function of ethical thought and discourse. Drew has published on skepticism, deep disagreement and intellectual humility, and on self-knowledge (including co-authored work with Dorit Bar-On). During the Summer of 2019, he was the recipient of the Ruth Millikan Graduate Research Fellowship, awarded by the UConn Philosophy Department. Drew is currently a Dissertation Scholar at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute.

Prakash Kashwan is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Research Program on Economic and Social Rights, Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut, Storrs. He is the author of the widely reviewed and acclaimed book Democracy in the Woods: Environmental Conservation and Social Justice in India, Tanzania, and Mexico (Oxford University Press, 2017) and a Co-Editor of the journal Environmental Politics. He also serves on the editorial advisory boards of Earth Systems Governance, Progress in Development Studies, Sage Open, and Humanities & Social Sciences Communications. Dr. Kashwan is a member of the global expert group for Scoping of Transformative Change Assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a member of the Academic Working Group (AWG) on International Governance of Climate Engineering (2016–18), a Senior Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance (ESG) Project, a member of the Climate Social Science Network (CSSN) established by Brown University, and an external faculty affiliate of the Ostrom Workshop. Dr. Kashwan is also the vice chair of the Environmental Studies Section of the International Studies Association (ISA). In addition to nearly two dozen scholarly publications, his research has been cited in national and international media, including the New York Times, Deutsche Welle, Huffington Post, NPR, Scientific American, and Down to Earth. Dr. Kashwan has written several influential commentaries for popular venues, such as the Conversation, the Guardian, Al-Jazeera, and the Washington Post.

If you require accommodation, including live transcription, to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Fellow’s Talk: Scott Wallace on the Fight to Save the Amazon

2020–21 UCHI Fellow's Talk. The Genocide–Ecocide Nexus: The Case of Brazil. Associate Professor of Journalism, UConn, Scott Wallace, with a response by Erica Holberg. Live. Online. Registration required. April 7, 2021, 4:00pm.

The Genocide–Ecocide Nexus: The Case of Brazil

Scott Wallace (Associate Professor of Journalism, UConn)

with a response by Erica Holberg

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

In what could prove to be a paradigmatic case, Brazilian human rights lawyers and indigenous federations are urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to bring charges against President Jair Bolsonaro for genocide and incitement to crimes against humanity, as well as possible charges of ecocide for willful destruction of the Amazon rainforest. UCHI Fellow and UConn Associate Professor of Journalism Scott Wallace will discuss the implications of the case and provide a firsthand look from the frontlines of the fight to save the Amazon today.

Scott Wallace is an award-winning writer and photojournalist who covers the environment and endangered cultures. He is an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Connecticut since 2017 and an Affiliate Faculty member at El Instituto. Wallace is a frequent contributor to National Geographic. His work has also appeared in Harper’s, Grand Street, Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly and many others. Notable Publications: The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes (Crown, 2011); “Threatened by the Outside World,” National Geographic, November 2018; “The last stand of the Amazon’s Arrow People,” The New York Times, September 27, 2017.

Erica A. Holberg is a virtue ethicist who uses the historical, ethical theories of Aristotle and Kant to examine our own virtues, vices, conception of pleasure, and account of how pleasure matters for good living. Her research sets aside the question of what pleasure is to focus instead on how pleasure functions in our lives, for better or for worse. She is the 2016 recipient of the North American Kant Society’s Wilfrid Sellars Essay Prize for the best paper on Kant by an untenured scholar, and her work has appeared in The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Kantian Review, and Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought. Her UCHI Fellowship project is a book about the pleasures of anger, and how the phenomenology and practical considerations differ for anger done as an individual or anger done as a group

Registration is required for the event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Fellow’s Talk: Sara Silverstein on the Contest to Define World Health

2020-2021 Fellow's Talk. For Your Health and Ours: The History of the United Nations Public Health and Social Medicine Service and the Contest to Define World Health. Assistant Professor, History, UConn, Sara Silverstein, with a response by Shaine Scarminach. Live. Online. Registration required. March 31, 2021, 4:00pm. UConn humanities institute.

For Your Health and Ours: The History of the United Nations Public Health and Social Medicine Service and the Contest to Define World Health

Sara Silverstein (Assistant Professor of History and Human Rights, UConn)

with a response by Shaine Scarminach

Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that “we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.” The pandemic demands that we rethink international health, as well as our own national health system. This talk will explore the competing understandings of global responsibility for health in the mid-twentieth century, when the World Health Organization originated. During the Second World War, the former director of the League of Nations Health Organization circulated plans for a “United Nations Public Health and Social Medicine Service.” Ludwik Rajchman’s proposal combined the institution he had led during the interwar years with the international measures that he was convinced would be necessary to care for refugees after the war ended. It would be possible, he argued, to guarantee healthcare for everyone in the world. He was not a fringe radical at the time, but the World Health Organization’s planning committee did not consider his proposal. Rajchman instead established a competing program within UNICEF and, briefly, two distinct futures for international health existed simultaneously. Their competition illuminates the history of international collaboration in advancing public health and public responsibility for healthcare caught between imperial interests and the Cold War.

Sara Silverstein is a jointly appointed Assistant Professor of History and Human Rights. Her work focuses on the history of internationalism, modern Europe, social rights, global health, development, refugees and migrants, and statelessness. She received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2016, her M.Phil. in Modern European History from the University of Oxford in 2009, and her A.B. in Literature from Dartmouth College in 2007. Before coming to UConn, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and has been a Fox Fellow at Sciences Po, Paris, a junior visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and a Franke Fellow at Yale. She is the 2017 winner of the World History Association Dissertation Prize. She convenes the History of Human Rights and Humanitarianism Colloquium at the UConn Human Rights Institute.

Shaine Scarminach is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Connecticut. He studies the history of the United States in the world, with an emphasis on U.S. empire, world capitalism, and the global environment. His dissertation, “Lost at Sea: The United States and the Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans,” explores the U.S. role in developing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. His research has been supported by the Tinker Foundation, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, and the Rockefeller Archive Center.

Registration is required for the event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Fellow’s Talk: David W. Samuels on Music and Community in the 20th Century

2020-21 Fellow's Talk. The Dance-Grinding Machine: Music, Industrial Modernity, and 20th Century Regret for Community. Associate Professor of Music, NYU, David W. Samuels with a response by Kerry Carnahan. Live. Online. Registration required. March 24, 2021, 4:00pm.

The Dance-Grinding Machine: Music, Industrial Modernity, and 20th Century Regret for Community

David W. Samuels (Associate Professor of Music, NYU)

with a response by Kerry Carnahan

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

The twentieth century was witness to an ethical discourse about the scope of the human that took its cues from ideas about how people should sound. The tones and timbres of vocal and instrumental music became key reference points in a dialogue about how to maintain one’s humanity under the conditions of modern urban industrial capital. In this presentation, David W. Samuels traces some of the resonances between three strands of this discourse—historical performance movements, folk revivalism, and the emergence of ethnomusicology. The three represent multiple-layered and overlapping attempts to extract “the human scale” from the contexts of perceived dehumanizing processes of industrial modernity. All of these movements presented arguments about the human body and shared social participation as important locations in which to find continued expressions of humanity in the contemporary world.

David W. Samuels is a linguistic anthropologist, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and Associate Professor of Music at NYU. His book, Putting A Song On Top of It: Music and Identity on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, was perhaps the first book-length monograph exploring popular culture’s place in the formation of contemporary Indigenous identities. He has published on a wide variety of topics including popular music, science fiction, language revitalization, historical imagination, missionary encounters, and vernacular modernities.

Kerry Carnahan was born and raised in Kansas. Currently she pursues doctoral work in English at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches composition and creative writing. Her doctoral work specializes in poetry and poetics, focusing on dynamics of gender, sexuality, race, class, and empire. She also studies religion and the Hebrew Bible. kerrycarnahan.com

Registration is required for the event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Fellow’s Talk: Sarah Winter on Habeas Corpus and Human Rights Narratives

2020-21 Fellow's talk. The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Eighteenth-Century Abolitionism, and Human Rights Narrative. Profess of English, Sarah Winter with a response by Melanie Newport. Live. Online. Registration required. March 17, 2021, 2:00pm. UConn Humanities Institute.

The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Eighteenth-Century Abolitionism, and Human Rights Narratives

Sarah Winter (Professor of English, UConn)

with a response by Melanie Newport

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

On 19 March 1783, Olaudah Equiano, a merchant seaman and former slave, visited the London home of antislavery activist Granville Sharp, to report a recent trial in which the owners of the slave ship Zong had sued to recover their insured losses on a cargo of 132 trafficked and enslaved Africans, who had allegedly been thrown alive into the sea by the ship’s captain and crew. Determined to hold these perpetrators accountable for mass murder, Sharp assembled a trial transcript and sent it to the Lords of the Admiralty, who had jurisdiction over all crimes committed on English ships at sea, with a cover letter insisting that “our Common Law ought to be deemed competent to find a remedy in all causes of violence and injustice whatosoever.” More than 150 years later, the eminent international lawyer, Hersch Lauterpacht, similarly criticized the framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) for failing to require that nation states enforce the rights they had proclaimed. According to “an inescapable principle of juridical logic,” he wrote, there are “no rights of the individual unless accompanied by remedies.”

This presentation traces historical connections between eighteenth-century abolitionism and modern human rights by focusing on citizen activists’ strategic uses of the writ of habeas corpus, a legal remedy for arbitrary detention that forms the basis for Article 9 of the UDHR. Such legal actions on behalf of fugitive slaves, political dissidents, and women incarcerated by their husbands gave rise to a recurring narrative about the failure of the law to protect human rights. Gothic rather than sentimental in genre, such remedial narratives urged citizens to take responsibility for human rights violations committed out of public view or under color of law—in prisons, out at sea, or behind closed doors.

Sarah Winter is Professor of English and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and the Director of the Research Program on Humanitarianism at the UConn Human Rights Institute. An interdisciplinary scholar of British literature of the long nineteenth century and the history of the modern disciplines, she has also contributed chapters to edited collections on law and literature, the history of legal and political thought, and human rights and literature. Her research for her current book project has also been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the UConn Human Rights Institute.

Melanie D. Newport is an assistant professor of history at UConn’s Hartford campus and affiliated faculty in American Studies and Urban and Community Studies. She holds a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, an MA from the University of Utah, and PhD from Temple University. Her current book project, under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press’ Politics and Culture in Modern America series, explores the political history of jail reform in Chicago from the 1830s to the present. Prior to joining the UConn Faculty in 2016, she taught at Temple University, Community College of Philadelphia, and Garden State Youth Correctional Facility. Newport’s work has been supported by the Center for the Humanities at Temple, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago libraries.

Registration is required for the event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Fellow’s Talk: Helen Rozwadowski on Science as Frontier

Fellow's talk 2020–21. New Horizons: How Science Became a Frontier in the First Half of the 20th Century. Professor of History, UConn Helen Rozwadowski, with a response by Elizabeth Athens. Live. Online. Registration required. March 10, 2021, 4:00pm. UConn Humanities Institute.

New Horizons: How Science Became a Frontier in the First Half of the 20th Century

Helen M. Rozwadowski (Professor of History, UConn)

with a response by Elizabeth Athens

Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

Most people, certainly most Americans, have a ready set of associations for the word “frontier,” including Disney’s Frontierland, 1950s western films, the borderlands of Mexico and the United States, or outer space. Over the first half of the twentieth century, science and technology also became frontiers. Scientists, boosters, popular writers, and public intellectuals seized upon the US historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s formulation of the frontier of the American West (The Frontier in American History, 1920) and transformed a term of geography into one that stood for progress. They integrated Turner’s frontier with a thread of European internationalist thinking about frontiers and applied this novel concept to the natural sciences. Science would fuel economic growth, provide an outlet for the restlessness of American individualism, and ensure democracy and national progress. The ideological flexibility of frontier proved valuable for commentators who rendered science into a frontier that appeared to promise endless progress purportedly without the violence and exploitation of its namesake US western frontier.

Founder of the University of Connecticut’s Maritime Studies program, Helen M. Rozwadowski teaches history of science and environmental history as well as interdisciplinary and experiential maritime-related courses. She has spent her career encouraging scholars and students to join in writing the history of interconnections between oceans and people. Her book on the 19th-century scientific and cultural discovery of the depths, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea, won the History of Science Society’s Davis Prize for best book directed to a wide public audience. In The Sea Knows No Boundaries she explores the history of 20th-century marine sciences that support international fisheries and marine environmental management. Recently she has co-edited Soundings and Crossings: Doing Science at Sea 1800-1970, one of several volumes that have established the field of history of oceanography. Her recent book, Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans (Reaktion Books, 2018), which won the Sharon Harris Book Award from UCHI in 2019, has come out in a Korean edition in 2019 and a Chinese edition in 2020.

Elizabeth Athens is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches courses on museum studies, histories of collecting, and material culture. She previously served as part of the research team for the History of Early American Landscape Design database at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, D.C., and as the American art curator of the Worcester Art Museum. Her current research centers on the work of the American artist-naturalist William Bartram (1739–1823), whose efforts helped redirect the taxonomic focus of eighteenth-century natural history to the study of lived relationships. This project examines Bartram’s unusual graphic practice and how his natural history drawings helped articulate such a shift.

Registration is required for the event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Fellow’s Talk: Melanie Newport on Prisoner Lives

2020–21 UCHI Fellow's Talk. Forgotten Men: Media and Prisoner Lives in Cook County Jails, 1954–1958. Assistant Professor of History Melanie Newport, with a response by Nicole Breault. Live. Online. Registration required. March 3, 2021, 4:00pm.

Forgotten Men: Media and Prisoner Lives in Cook County Jail, 1954–1958

Melanie Newport (Assistant Professor of History, UConn)

with a response by Nicole Breault

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

Early in the COVID crisis, Cook County Jail in Chicago gained renown as one of the nation’s top sites of infection. Amid protests over the jail’s failure to protect the health and safety of prisoners, an incarcerated person put a note in the jail window: HELP. WE MATTER 2. A picture of the note became a symbol of prisoner humanity that was shared around the world.

This presentation places this act of resistance within a deeper history of prisoner life and struggle in one of the nation’s largest jails. Looking to a unique moment in the 1950s, this paper considers how prisoners—self-identified as “forgotten men”— used media, including a jail newspaper and a tv show, to assert their humanity and their visions for jail reform. As part of a larger study that considers how jail reform shaped the rise of mass incarceration, these sources show that incarcerated people participated in lively debates over the meanings and outcomes of jailing. Jailed people used media to assert their worthiness of participation in the postwar liberal project as they struggled to mitigate the harms of the nascent carceral state.

Melanie D. Newport is an assistant professor of history at UConn’s Hartford campus and affiliated faculty in American Studies and Urban and Community Studies. She holds a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, an MA from the University of Utah, and PhD from Temple University. Her current book project, under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press’ Politics and Culture in Modern America series, explores the political history of jail reform in Chicago from the 1830s to the present. Prior to joining the UConn Faculty in 2016, she taught at Temple University, Community College of Philadelphia, and Garden State Youth Correctional Facility. Newport’s work has been supported by the Center for the Humanities at Temple, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago libraries.

Nicole Breault is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of History. Her research interests are in early American legal and social history with an emphasis on urban governance, institutions, gender, and space. She earned a B.A. from the University of Vermont and an M.A. from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research has been awarded fellowships at the Massachusetts Historical Society, New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, the Boston Athenæum, and the Huntington Library, as well as a Littleton-Griswold Grant by the American Historical Association. Currently, Nicole is the Draper Dissertation Fellow at the UConn Humanities Institute working on her dissertation “The Night Watch of Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America.”

Registration is required for the event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

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