Human Rights in Transit is a podcast hosted by a collaborative network of faculty and graduate students at Ohio State University invested in thinking critically about human rights, the human, and the environment. Podcasts feature dialogues and interviews on the vital and myriad forms of scholarship, critical thinking, and activism relating to human rights in transit. In addition, the concept of “in transit” refers to the circulation of knowledge/experiences between disciplines and between the OSU campus, local community, and wider contexts. For more information, please visit the Human Rights in Transit web site.
Thinking Across Refugee and Indigenous (Re)Settlement
In this episode, we feature a dialogue between Professors Amy Shuman and Daniel Rivers on the interconnections between the refugee and resettlement experiences of Indigenous Americans and those coming from other countries. Not often considered in relation to one another, there are important similarities, tensions, differences, and possibilities for solidarity in thinking across the forced migration and resettlement imposed by settler colonialism and the resettlement of refugees from other countries coming to the United States.
Problematizing Humanitarian Intervention in Latin America
In this episode, Malia Lee Womack, a PhD/MA student in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Latin American Studies (respectively), interviews Dr. Katherine Borland, an Associate Professor of Folklore Studies and Comparative Studies at Ohio State University. In their conversation they explore the complexities of United States students volunteering in and providing aid to Latin America, and examine human rights strategies and grassroots organizing occurring in the region. Womack and Borland consider in what ways disadvantaged communities are generally more able to identify the problems they face and the most ideal solutions to these problems. Given the value of grassroots organizing and critiques of imperial intervention in Latin America, what obligations do wealthier nations and their citizens have to contribute to the empowerment of people in Latin American countries? How should this intervention be modeled?
What is a sanctuary city?
In this episode, we discuss the issue of sanctuary, which is now widely discussed in local governments and university campuses across the nation. With the recent rise in political rhetoric and policies that aim to detain and deport undocumented migrants/immigrants in the United States, many are asking for sanctuary policies. But, what does this mean? What is a sanctuary city? In this episode, Dr. Mathew Coleman of OSU’s Department of Geography shares a wealth of knowledge about the history and practice of sanctuary. Importantly, he clarifies that sanctuary is not a form of amnesty, but rooted in community policing practices that are tied to previous waves of Central Americans seeking refuge in the United States. Sanctuary policies have sought, through community policing practices, to have a positive impact on vulnerable populations and community safety. Listen in for an in-depth discussion of sanctuary past and present.
Translating the Transnational
Sujatha Subramanian, a PhD student in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, is in conversation with Jennifer Nunes and Tatsiana Shchurko about the complexities of translation in a transnational space. In their conversations, the speakers discuss the complexity of translating concepts, theories and epistemologies, and complicate the idea of translation beyond concerns of accuracy or faithfulness to focus on the political, social and cultural contexts in which translation takes place. Jennifer, a Masters student in East Asian Studies, discusses her project on translating the works of contemporary Chinese poet Yu Xiuhua and the process of using translation to interrogate the invisibility of the translator in standard English translation. Tatsiana, a PhD student in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, underlines the power context undergirding translation by highlighting how unlike knowledge produced in the Anglo-American world, knowledge produced in the non-English speaking world are not seen as theory. In their conversation, the speakers point to the possibility of using translation as a decolonial tool that can disrupt the hegemony of English language as marking literary excellence and as producing universally applicable theory.
Rethinking Representation in Diaspora: Art, Research, and Community Building
This episode takes up questions related to the potential of art for community building by focusing on a Columbus-based project with the local Somali community. Eleanor Paynter, a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Studies, speaks with Qorsho Hassan, an educator, researcher, and community organizer, and Ruth Smith, an artist, researcher, and educator, about their participatory photography and book project, Urur Dhex-Dhexaad Ah: Community In-Between. The conversation considers the need for projects which build and share collective memory, as well as the ways in which narratives can bridge geographical and generational gaps.
Europe’s “Refugee Crisis”: What Kind of Crisis? For Whom?
This episode focuses on contemporary migration to the EU, and in particular on circumstances related to Mediterranean crossing. Eleanor Paynter, a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Studies at OSU, speaks with Dr. Vicki Squire, a Reader in International Security at the University of Warwick, UK.
More specifically, this conversation addresses issues related to what has been termed a migrant or refugee “crisis” in Europe. For whom is the situation really a crisis, and what is at stake? Although Mediterranean migration is not a new phenomenon, boat crossings from North Africa to the shores of Southern Europe increased after the Arab Spring in 2011, and again during the Syrian conflict. Between 2015 and 2016, approximately 2.5 million people applied for asylum in the EU, Norway, and Switzerland, many of them having arrived via sea routes or after crossing the Balkans on foot. Media coverage of Mediterranean migration has focused especially on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where many migrants arrive (and which was featured in the 2016 film Fire at Sea, by Italian director Gianfranco Rosi). Yet other locations are also key sites. Since mid-2015, the EU’s hotspot approach has attempted to distribute the reception process across multiple sites, and Squire’s recent projects have focused on so-called hotspots, in Greece and Italy, as well as both arrival and transit sites in Malta, Germany, and Turkey.
Linguistic Profiling and Discrimination in Higher Education
In this episode, Ohio State University PhD student Swati Vijaya (Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies) examines language as a site of discrimination with fellow graduate student Elena Mary (Department of Spanish and Portuguese). Drawing on their experiences at Ohio State University, they bring forth the specific ways linguistic profiling marginalizes ESL (English as a Second Language) students.
There are multiple questions to be asked about how language profiling works within neoliberal universities, which continue to operate with a logic of empire in the way they can imagine and employ “diversity.” The liberal multiculturalism which undergirds institutional conceptions of difference commonly identifies race, class, ethnicity, gender and ability as common denominators. While no substantive intersectionality can be achieved even within the bounds of these stratifiers, one axis of hierarchy that is often carefully crafted into the administrative machinery of the university is language.
Human Rights - Multiple Origin Stories
Where did the idea of human rights come from? There are many origin stories for this idea. In podcast episode eight, Dr. Katherine Marino and Dr. Jennifer Suchland give an introductory summary of some of the origins and struggles that have accompanied the evolution of the idea of human rights. In reflecting on multiple origin stories – from European concepts of the human and empathy to Haitian revolutionaries demanding their humanity – the conversation reveals the limitations, contradictions, and possible future of human rights.