Working groups

We invite proposals for new working groups from Binghamton University faculty.

Anti-Trafficking Project (ATP)

Contact: Suzy Lee

The ATP brings together a coalition of researchers, trafficked persons, students, service providers, advocates and government representatives to understand the conditions that contribute to human trafficking and to address existing gaps in anti-trafficking policy. A primary focus of the group is on sex trafficking from a human rights-centered perspective and in relation to other forms of human trafficking. The ATP has multifaceted objectives: promoting historical, sociological and cultural research on trafficking; identifying the human rights needs of trafficked persons in specific locations; developing training materials for service providers that promote survivor- and human rights-centered approaches (as opposed to punitive or rescue-oriented approaches); and developing policies to prevent and address both domestic and international trafficking. The ATP will share research, promote the interdisciplinary study of trafficking and identify strategies that pertain to anti-trafficking initiatives in diverse locations.

Capitalism and Human Rights

Contact: Suzy Lee

This working group analyzes and contributes to the debate over capitalism's relationship to human rights: Does capitalism foster the best conditions for freedom to flourish? Are normative human rights limited by their conceptual, structural and historical ties to private ownership? The group shares research and core readings, with an eye toward future collaborative research projects.

Cultural Representations of Human Rights

Contact: Alexandra Moore

This working group engages faculty (and grad students) from both national and international colleges and universities. It's goal is to promote excellent scholarship in the growing, transdisciplinary field of human rights in literary and cultural studies as well as to promote intellectual community. Members of the group convene once or twice a year as the needs of the group vary. Activities include symposia, conference panels (typically held at the American Comparative Literature Annual Convention), and manuscript reviews for group members, among others.


Contact: Bat-Ami Bar On or Doug Holmes

Our working group is disciplinarily open and studies the rise and transformations of fascism both past and present. While motivated by a quest for effective responses to fascism, our working group does not assume to already know what fascism is but uses the term heuristically, and so as an aid for our learning, discovery, and problem-solving processes. Among our goals is an exploration of means and methods of investigating contemporary fascisms and developing multidisciplenary approaches to the study of the emergence of fascism that are open to the social sciences, humanities, and arts.

Human Rights Pedagogies

Contact: Alexandra Moore

This working group organizes workshops and conversations around teaching human rights from transdisciplinary perspectives. The goals of the workshops are to improve our individual courses as well as to build innovative undergraduate and graduate curricula at Binghamton University. The group is also interested in publishing its work.

Mapping, Migration, and Rights

Contact: John Cheng

This working group organizes workshops and conversations around migration, rights and their intersection, and the mapping of their research themes and results. It is particularly interested in a) how the migration of peoples across and through nations bring into relief, question, and disrupt state-based notions of rights; and b) how to "map" the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of this concern – conceiving "mapping" broadly as analytically and aesthetically concerned with narrative and flow as well as information and data. The group's goals are: to share research related to these interests and explore cross-disciplinary and collaborative opportunities for publication and other types of presentation: visual expression, multi-media installations, and digital humanities projects.

Race, Postcoloniality and Human Rights

Contact: Lubna Chaudhry
The group explores the complexities and nuances of the relationship between postcoloniality and race through an analysis of circumstances set into motion after the onset of European colonialism. We are interested in delving into the narratives of global racialization processes, their local contexts, and their material effects. We also anticipate shared interests and potential collaborations with the working groups on capitalism and on gender. One of our central questions is: To what extent can human rights discourses be used to address and redress persisting legacies of racialized power relations? Our group is beginning with shared readings and discussion, and our future plans include an intensive workshop and special issue of a journal. Faculty and graduate students working with diverse methodologies and in different histories and locations of race, postcoloniality, and human rights are welcome.

Religion and Human Rights

Contact: David Cingranelli
This group will focus on two questions. First, is religion the friend or enemy of human rights? This is an important question, because religiosity is increasing in the developing world. The second topic is whether religious conflicts in early modern Europe bear some similarity to the sectarian conflicts now rending parts of the Middle East and North Africa. If so, do the European wars between Protestants and Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries contain useful lessons for modern political, religious, and military decision-makers? We will focus our efforts on writing transdisciplinary concept papers, an edited book, and a proposal for external funding.

Field projects

Guatemalan Forced Migration

Contact Óscar F. Gil-García

This project focuses on the legal barriers to naturalization and citizenship of indigenous Mayan Guatemalan refugees following their return or deportation from the U.S. to Mexico. Preliminary findings have been published in The Conversation and republished in Plaza Pública and América Sin Muros in Guatemala and Mexico, respectively. A photo-documentary component of the study titled "Guatemalan Forced Migration," was selected for the Art & Oppression exhibition at the Marion Center for Photographic Arts in Santa Fe and is on permanent display at CENTER in Santa Fe. Forthcoming publications from the study will be used to shape policies that enable the legalization of stateless migrants who fled the Guatemalan military conflict (1954-1996) and now reside in Mexico.

The Parent Mentor Program

Contact Marguerite Wilson or Denise Yull
The Parent Mentor Program (Denise Yull, PI; Marguerite Wilson, Co-PI) is a Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) project using a race- and class-conscious framework to advocate for the educational rights of marginalized families of color. The project seeks to (1) understand and reverse the processes of school-based dehumanization of parents and youth of color, (2) reframe parents' role in the school system as advocates to bridge cultural disconnects between White teachers and students of color, and (3) understand and dismantle patterns of disproportionate punitive disciplining (suspending, expelling, arresting) of students of color in public schools.

Post-Conflict Rights in the Swat Valley, Pakistan

Contact Lubna Chaudhry
I have been conducting fieldwork in Swat Valley, Pakistan, since December 2009, when the people of Swat started to come back to Swat after the end of the armed conflict between the Pakistani Taliban and the Pakistan army. While I started off with an ethnographic study of post-conflict rights and issues of transitional justice, I moved into gathering oral histories from women, youth and children about the development of cultures of violence and the impact of these cultures on peoples' lives. I became interested in studying the Taliban movement as a bid for rights denied to this federally designated tribal area by the nation state structure. I also focused on the reconstruction process which again excluded voices and imperatives from the ground. Ultimately the study has become a multi-layered attempt to understand postcolonial trauma and its intricate, nuanced relationship to the struggle for rights.

Refugee Assistance Project

Contact Kent F. Schull