Thursday, April 24, 2008

Call for Papers/Panels/Posters

Human Rights Section
ISA Convention 2009

New York City
, February 15-19, 2009

*The deadline for submission is MAY 30, 2008.*

The Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association is seeking papers, panels and posters for the ISA 2009 Convention. The theme of the Convention (which marks the 50th for ISA) is "Exploring the Past, Anticipating the Future." (For an extended discussion of the convention theme and instructions for submitting a proposal, please see

The Human Rights section encourages submissions that speak to this theme. For example, how do lessons from the past inform our research concerning the future development and protection of human rights? How have concepts, norms and institutions concerning human rights changed over time, and do these trajectories indicate future possibilities?

How has the violence of the past influenced the formation of future power-relations, such as, (for example) in politics, international relations, transitional justice mechanisms, the proliferation of social movements and legal institutions?

Other submissions on topics related to human rights are also welcome.

The HR Section encourages full panel submissions, although individual papers and posters are welcome as well. Due to spatial limitations, proposals for complete panels will have an advantage over individual submissions, so please organize and network accordingly. Additionally, panel, paper and poster proposals that link constructively with another section (such as international law, international organizations, peace studies, gender and ethnicity, etc) will also be given priority. Proposers are encouraged to list 'Human Rights' as the primary section but also add the appropriate related second section.

Finally, the Convention organizers have asked participants to consider alternative types of panel formats, embracing creativity in the presentation of scholarly research.

Proposals are due to ISA by May 30th, 2008 (early submissions encouraged). Please direct questions about the Human Rights section program to Dr. Amy Ross at

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Satellite Imaging and Mapping Helps Human Rights

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)—-with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the Open Society Institute—-is expanding the application of geospatial technologies to human rights issues. AAAS is using satellite imagery, geographic information systems, global positioning systems, and other geographic mapping technology and software to track human rights abuses. Analysis of maps can provide information on conflict, indigenous rights, environmental and social justice issues, and other human rights violations. AAAS and Amnesty International used satellite imagery in 2007 to monitor threatened villages in Darfur and to provide evidence of atrocities being committed, such as the destruction of villages and burning of towns. These technologies offer strong evidence of abuses, and may influence policy makers, courts, and governments to take action.

The World Bank is also making use of global positioning systems to promote sustainable development. They distributed handheld GPS devices to Mbendjele Pygmies in the Republic of Congo so that they can map sacred trees, hunting grounds, and plants that they use for to survive. Anthropologist Jerome Lewis adapted the devices so they are more accessible by the Mbendjele Pygmies. The GPS maps guide loggers away from marked territory in order to preserve Pygmy territory. Whether or not this will actually prevent a larger ecological impact and lead to sustainable development remains to be seen.

AAAS – Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project

AAAS Press Release on Satellite-Based Human Rights Work

Ping Magazine Article on Mapping for Human Rights

Indigenous Group use GPS to Protect Congolese Forests

Science & Human Rights Coalition

The AAA is assisting the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in the planning of the Science and Human Rights Coalition. The Coalition will allow a number of scientific societies to pool their collective expertise on human rights issues and become more involved in addressing these issues.

AAAS Press Release

Science & Human Rights Coalition

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Chevron Locked in Legal Battle with Ecuadorean Indigenous Groups

The Christian Science Monitor reported on a lawsuit against Chevron that has been in the works since 1993 when the company was accused of dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, causing health problems among the regions inhabitants, many of whom are indigenous groups. A report by a court-appointed Ecuadorean geological engineer attributes the contamination to Chevron, and suggests the company pay between $8-16 billion in environmental damages. Chevron has dismissed the report because “it is the result of irregular processes that do not conform with court orders.” This environmental lawsuit is one of the biggest against any oil company, and, regardless of the outcome, sends a message to industries that are extracting resources that they must account for negligent practices.

Anthropologists who are working with communities in resource-rich regions may be particularly suited to assess the impact—-both positive and negative—-that oil corporations and other industries have upon the environment, health and economy of their informants.

Please comment on how you think anthropologists and other social scientists may contribute to the protection and well-being of their informants.

Christian Science Monitor article

Chevron press release

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Google Earth and UNHCR Team Up

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) teamed up with the Google Earth Outreach program to enable users to view refugee operations occurring in Iraq, Darfur and Colombia. Google Earth allows users to view refugee camps and surrounding areas, as well as information regarding the everyday experiences of refugees. The new program will also allow humanitarian agencies to “overlay text, audio and video information onto Google Earth in what is known as a ‘layer,’ enabling them to explain and illustrate their humanitarian work to a worldwide audience.”

Anthropologists working with refugees and other displaced peoples are encouraged to contribute to the “layering” of the Google Earth Outreach program. Others may find it to be a useful educational tool.

UNHCR & Google Earth Program

UNHCR Press Release

AFP Article

Monday, April 7, 2008


Despite progress in treating children with AIDS and preventing HIV transmission, a report (pdf) that was jointly released by UNICEF, WHO, and UNAIDS says significant steps remain in order to slow the AIDS epidemic. The report identifies several factors that often hinder prevention and treatment efforts: “Poor geographical service reach, aggravated by weak health systems, and the fear, stigma and denial that discourage many women from being tested for HIV are significant barriers to wider coverage. Community mobilization and family support, especially from men… remain urgent priorities.” Not surprisingly, the report also stresses that additional resources are needed for prevention, treatment, and the development of new and current HIV/AIDS initiatives.

The impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic extends from the individual to the global level. Children are often born with the virus or have lost one or both parents to the infection. Others are forced to carry a social stigma and may face discrimination and abuse in their daily lives.

Anthropologists working in HIV/AIDS afflicted communities may highlight the difficulties faced by individuals living with the infection. Such insight may be used to educate communities and address social problems that result from (mis)perceptions about the infection.

Is there a particular facet of this issue that deserves more attention? How can anthropologists bring attention to HIV/AIDS related issues? Readers are encouraged to comment on what they believe anthropologists can do to fight HIV/AIDS, promote research, and advocate for the rights of infected individuals.

UN News Center Article

UNICEF Press Release

AIDS & Anthropology Research Group

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Film Crew Accused of Spreading Flu Epidemic to Peruvian Indians

A film crew of the British TV production company Cicada Films has been accused of spreading a flu epidemic to people living in isolated Matsigenka settlements in the Peruvian Amazon.

The regional indigenous rights group FENAMAD, the Peruvian government and US anthropologist Glenn Shepard claim the Cicada producer and his Peruvian filmmaker guide traveled without a permit to isolated settlements on the upper Cumerjali River in Manu National Park and apparently caused a respiratory epidemic killing four people and causing severe illness among many others.

Cicada has denied accusations of violating their permit and causing the deaths, stating they did not travel to the headwater region where the epidemic is said to have occurred. The team, "traveled only a short distance from the large town Yomibato, and only at the invitation of the local people," Cicada said in a statement.

Anthropologist and AAA member Glenn Shepard says he met the film team while he was doing work in Yomibato and warned them not to go to the isolated settlements.

"If the people at Cumerjali had wanted sustained, permanent Western contact, I told Currington, they would have moved permanently to Yomybato, as did many of their fellow relatives. However the ones who remained behind in Cumerjali did so for a reason: because they wanted to live in peace and tranquility, and because they wanted to be safe from the onslaught of Western diseases. I urged Currington and McLauchlan to 'leave these people in peace,' said Shepard in a written statement.

The film crew are believed to have been scouting locations for a sequel to Mark Anstice and Oliver (Ollie) Steed's TV series "Living with the Kombai," which was filmed among an extremely remote tribal group in New Guinea.

Survival International, an international organization that advocates for tribal people and human rights, has issued press releases to raise awareness of the issue and helped to prompt a series of English-language articles on the subject.

The following are some related news articles:

BBC News

The Guardian

Daily Mail (British national daily newspaper)

The Times
(British national daily newspaper)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Journal of Human Rights - Special Offer for AAA Members

From the Editor of the Journal of Human Rights:

The Journal of Human Rights is pleased to invite members of the American Anthropological Association to subscribe to JHR at a special reduced annual rate of $35 US. This subscription is available to all members of AAA, regardless of area of research area or teaching expertise.

The Journal of Human Rights is an interdisciplinary journal publishing a wide range of scholarly and creative work relating to the theory and practice of human rights throughout the world. Its readership is global and its editorial board and contributors draw from an international pool. It serves as an arena for the public discussion and scholarly analysis of human rights, broadly conceived.

JHR seeks to broaden the study of human rights by fostering the critical re-examination of existing approaches to human rights, as well as to develop new perspectives on the theory and practice of human rights. The journal provides the opportunity for the critical examination of the human rights community and of the different visions of human rights and different practical strategies which exist within that community.

More information about the Journal is available on its website:

To subscribe to JHR at the special reduced rate visit the Taylor and Francis website and complete the form supplied. The webpage is

Richard P. Hiskes

Editor, Journal of Human Rights