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Stanford Summer Human Rights Lecture Series: Borders of Personhood

Code:
EVT 556
Day:
Wednesday
Date(s):
Jul 25
Time:
7:00 pm
Location:
TBA
Cost:
FREE
Status: No Registration Required
STANFORD SUMMER HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAM

The Stanford Summer Human Rights Program is an interdisciplinary collaboration that explores emerging issues in human rights through a series of courses, public lectures, and films. In 2018, the program will continue the discussion of international human rights in the 21st century, considering broad perspectives on what constitutes human rights in an increasingly diverse and global society. The Human Rights Program is sponsored by Stanford Summer Session in collaboration with Stanford Continuing Studies, and the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF).

Borders of Personhood: Migration, Human Rights, and Sovereignty

The terms human and person are taken to be synonymous in everyday language, but person is also a legal term reserved for those entitled to rights and designating a status historically denied to various categories of human beings (e.g., slaves and women). The international human rights framework attempts to break with that historical record by declaring that every human being shall be recognized as a person equal before the law.

Contemporary struggles of migrants, navigating the byzantine and often lethal world of borders, call into question the key assumptions of the human rights framework, however, and bring to view the divisions within its universalistic formulation of personhood. In this lecture, Ayten Gündog˘ du looks at the dilemmas of human rights in the context of border-control practices. Borders are taken to be legitimate markers of sovereign statehood, but they install hierarchies within humanity, relegating migrants to a precarious legal status and often effectively denying them even the most fundamental human rights such as the right to life or the right to be free from indefinite detention. In particular, the racialized construction of “illegality” turns many migrants into non-persons deemed unworthy of rights, condemns them to a form of civil death in life, and renders even their deaths legally unaccountable and socially ungrievable.

Ayten Gündog˘ du, Associate Professor of Political Science, Barnard College-Columbia University

Ayten Gündog˘ du’s research addresses problems related to human rights, migration, sovereignty, and personhood by drawing on the resources of modern and contemporary political theory. She is the author of Rightlessness in an Age of Rights: Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants.
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