Bard College Catalogue 2012-13
Thomas Keenan (director), Roger Berkowitz, Ian Buruma, Nicole Caso**, Noah Chasin, Christian Ayne Crouch, Mark Danner, Omar G. Encarnación**, Helen Epstein, Tabetha Ewing, Laura Kunreuther, Susan Merriam*, Gregory B. Moynahan, Michelle Murray, Gilles Peress, Dina Ramadan, Peter Rosenblum, John Ryle, Eric Trudel, Robert Weston
* on sabbatical, fall 2012
** on sabbatical, spring 2013
OverviewHuman Rights is a transdisciplinary program across the arts, social sciences, and literature. It offers courses that explore fundamental theoretical questions, historical and empirical issues within the disciplines, and practical and legal strategies of human rights advocacy. Students are encouraged to treat human rights as an intellectual question, challenge human rights orthodoxies, and think critically about human rights as a discourse rather than merely training for it as a profession.
RequirementsStudents moderate into the Human Rights Program alone or in combination with another program (usually through a joint Moderation), by fulfilling the other program’s requirements and the following program requirements. All students must anchor their studies of human rights in a disciplinary focus program of their choice (e.g., anthropology, sociology, economics, etc.). Prior to or concurrent with Moderation, students are required to take at least three of the core courses, one additional course in human rights, and two courses in the disciplinary focus program. Following Moderation, students take at least three additional four-credit courses in human rights, at least one of these at the 300 level, and the junior research seminar (Human Rights 303); and an advanced course in the disciplinary focus program. The final requirement is completion of a Senior Project related to human rights.
Internships and Affiliated Programs: Students are encouraged to undertake summer internships and participate in programs off campus, including the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program; Smolny College; Central European University; Al-Quds Bard College for Liberal Arts and Sciences; ECLA of Bard, a liberal arts university in Berlin; and the International Human Rights Exchange in South Africa.
CoursesCore courses include Human Rights 101, Introduction to Human Rights; Human Rights 218, Free Speech; Human Rights 233, Problems in Human Rights; Human Rights 235, Dignity and Human Rights Traditions. Additional core courses offered through other fields of study include Anthropology 261, Anthropology of Violence and Suffering; Art History 289, Rights and the Image; History 2631, Capitalism and Slavery; History 2702, Liberty, National Rights, and Human Rights; Political Studies 145, Human Rights in Global Politics; and Spanish 240, Testimonies of Latin America: Perspectives from the Margins.
Introduction to Human Rights
Human Rights 101
What are humans and what are rights? Students consider the foundations of rights claims; legal and violent ways of advancing, defending, and enforcing rights; documents and institutions of the human rights movement; and the questionable reality of human rights in our world. Readings are drawn from Hannah Arendt, Nuruddin Farah, Michael Ignatieff, Kant, David Rieff, and Rousseau, as well as Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Human Rights 134 / Political Studies 134
See Political Studies 134 for a full course description.
Human Rights in Global Politics
Human Rights 145
This course familiarizes students with the principal historical and sociological explanations behind the rise of human rights, and is divided into three sections. The first explores the origins of human rights, taking into consideration historical developments and sociological explanations. The second examines human rights activism in action, such as humanitarian interventions against genocide. The third examines the dominant debates within the human rights movement, such as how mature democracies, like the United States, often fail to conform to internationally accepted human rights norms.
A History of International Human Rights Law
Human Rights 214
Is there a relationship between the rise of capitalism as a simultaneously globalizing/localizing force and the emergence of international human rights law? Are there intersections in the histories of the nation-state, humanitarian law, and international human rights law? This course questions the characterization of international human rights law as the evolution of human civilization and humanitarian sensibility. Legal declarations, treaties, conventions, agreements, and the writings of jurists and political philosophers are examined in order to reach a nonteleological understanding of the contemporary international human rights framework.
Human Rights 218 / Literature 218
This course explores the intersection of literature and human rights, from the Greeks to hate speech on the Internet. What is freedom of speech? Where did it come from? What does it have to do with literature? These questions are examined across a variety of literary, philosophical, legal, and political texts.
1945, or the End of Wars
Human Rights 225
How do countries recover from destruction and catastrophe? This course focuses on the immediate postwar period but draws parallels to current events. Topics range from the urge to wreak revenge on former enemies (and the use of war crime tribunals to contain such emotions) to such idealistic ventures as the United Nations. These subjects inform today’s hottest debates: the use of war to change political institutions, the role of culture in democracy, and universalist assumptions about human rights.
Dissent and Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe
Human Rights 227
Václav Havel, in “The Power of the Powerless,” defined Eastern European dissidents as those who “live in truth.” This course examines political resistance in former Soviet Bloc countries, ranging from strategies of resistance to the mechanisms of political identification, the role of intellectuals and writers, and underground publishing. Readings include works by Havel, Jan Patoˇcka, Milan Kundera, Andrei Sakharov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Czeslaw Milosz, and Miklós Haraszti.
From Retribution to Justice
Human Rights 231
With a special focus on the Middle East, the course considers a variety of texts that illustrate the history of the ideas of justice and vengeance as well as the political and legal emergence of international criminal justice. Readings begin with the Old Testament and continue through 19th- and 20th-century attempts to elaborate different codes of conduct in war and conflict.
Persons and Things
Human Rights 232
The course explores the question of personhood in law, aesthetics, and culture. The fragility of the boundary between persons and things is a recurring structure in the history of human rights. How do persons become things, and vice versa? How can things have rights, and how do they claim and exercise them? Topics include the legal definition of “person”; “illegal”/undocumented aliens; reification and anthropomorphism; personhood as property; and Internet avatars. Readings include texts by Ovid, Locke, Kleist, Hawthorne, Heidegger, Lacan, Baudelaire, Plath, Harriet Jacobs, and Barbara Johnson.
Problems in Human Rights
Human Rights 233 / Anthropology 233
This course looks at current issues such as slavery, genocide, body modification, and the rights of children and animals, and examines how human rights researchers deal with practical difficulties and ethical challenges posed by other cultures.
Dignity and Human Rights Traditions: A New Law on Earth
Human Rights 235
cross-listed: political studies
Lawyers in Germany and South Africa are developing a “dignity jurisprudence” that might guarantee human rights on the foundation of human dignity. Is it possible to develop a secular and legal idea of dignity that can offer grounds for human rights?
Rights and the City: Topics in Human Rights and Urbanism
Human Rights 240 / Art History 240
See Art History 240 for a full course description.
Humanism and Antihumanism in 20th-Century France
Human Rights 245
cross-listed: french studies
What is humanism’s legacy in 20th-century French thought? What happens to ethics and politics when what appears to be their very foundation is withdrawn? Does antihumanism signal the end of responsibility? This course surveys the debate between humanism and antihumanism throughout the century.
The Limits of Freedom
Human Rights 256
This course deals with freedom of speech and thought in the context of contemporary issues such as “hate speech,” the First Amendment, and laws on incitement to violence, as well as in historical examples that illuminate the present. Also discussed is freedom in the arts, from the Marquis de Sade to Robert Mapplethorpe, and Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of negative and positive liberties.
Equality and American Democracy
Human Rights 281 / Political Studies 281
See Political Studies 281 for a full course description.
Research in Human Rights
Human Rights 303
What is it to do research in the field of human rights? What are the relevant methods and tools? How do political and ethical considerations enter into the conduct of research? The seminar explores a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to the field, reading a variety of examples across an interdisciplinary perspective.
Human Rights 314
This seminar explores humanitarian action from the founding of the Red Cross in 1863 to the contemporary explosion of nongovernmental relief organizations. Central categories in humanitarian discourse—neutrality, emergency, testimony, and refugee—are addressed, with particular attention to recent crises in Rwanda, Bosnia, Chechnya, and Darfur, among others.
War of Heroes / War of Machines: Atrocity, Total War, and the Epic Imagination
Human Rights 315
cross-listed: classical studies,literature
For nearly two centuries war has been predominantly industrial, mechanical, impersonal. Yet our ideas of war are rooted in glory. They descend from the epic imagination, with the hero testing his power and life against his nemesis and against fate. This seminar traces the roots of the heroic imagination to its beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Readings: Epic of Gilgamesh, Atra-Hasis, Iliad, Aeschylus and Euripides, Mahabharata, Arrian and Plutarch, Aeneid, and Song of Roland.
Dreamworld and Catastrophe: New Orleans After
Human Rights 326
An advanced seminar in critical urban theory that begins with the Bard–New Orleans Initiative as an exploration of the ongoing reconstruction of New Orleans. The course considers questions of urban citizenship, spatial justice, and the contested meaning and direction of the NOLA recovery, while also situating New Orleans in a system of cities and city-regions, and in relation to increasingly global flows of people, ideas, capital, and commodities.
Theories of Human Rights
Human Rights 328
The emphasis of this course is on acquiring the skills and the ear to ask a variant of Nietzsche’s question: What is the value of the value of human rights? The readings are drawn almost exclusively from the works of Nietzsche, Foucault, and Derrida.
Cosmopolitanism to Globalization: World Citizen from Kant to Amin
Human Rights 329
In “Perpetual Peace,” Immanuel Kant laid out his vision of a world community governed by a single global authority and inhabited by “citizens of the world.” This course explores how ideas of cosmopolitanism developed, from the late Enlightenment through recent debates. Readings range from Kant, Lessing, and Goldsmith to Samir Amin, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and other contemporary theorists.
Is “Perpetual Peace” Sustainable?
Human Rights 334 / Philosophy 334
Immanuel Kant sketched a framework for national, international, and cosmopolitan law and made the case for a world court. This course studies Kant’s essay on perpetual peace to clarify the court’s conceptual framework. Students examine how and why sustainable peace depends both on the juridical process and on rights such as free speech and migration. They identify assumptions on which the legal reasoning rests, and analyze how Kant’s principles are mobilized in contemporary discussions. For example: Why intervene in Libya and not Syria? What can be learned from the European sovereign debt crisis?.
Advanced Seminar: Human Rights and International Law
Human Rights 335
Since the end of World War II, human rights have gained in number under international law. What are these rights and how have they been enforced? How have crimes against humanity been defined since the Nuremberg Trials? How have individual rights been shaped since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948? Other topics include freedom from torture and slavery, rape as a war crime, and the extent of liberty in a time of terror.
Indigenous Rights and Biohistory of the Amerindians
Human Rights 336
An examination of the history of the Amerindians, the original inhabitants of the Americas before 1491. The course begins by looking at what the New World was like at the time of Columbus. Who lived here? And how did it happen that, in a short period of time, a few Spanish conquistadores could wipe out millions of people living in prosperous, well-organized megacities? Also addressed is the recent history of native Amerindians in the Amazon.
Reproductive Health and Rights
Human Rights 340
This course covers population growth and family planning, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, maternal mortality, gender violence, abortion, and homosexuality, among other issues. The primary focus is on policies and events in developing countries, with special emphasis on how U.S.-funded reproductive health programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have evolved over time.
Counterinsurgency, Law, and the Colonial Legacy
Human Rights 341
This seminar focuses on the trickle-down effects of British colonial law and politics in the contemporary world of policing and counterinsurgency by focusing on two case studies: Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine. Students study the impact of a tradition accumulated through British colonial and imperial attitudes from the 19th century to the present. Researching the legal frameworks as well as the practices documented in British imperial antiterrorism manuals, students examine divide-and-conquer strategy; laws of exception; and the shoot-to-kill policy and its incarnations.
Human Rights 360
In Africa, Asia, and Latin America, some nine million children under five die annually, the vast majority from causes that cost pennies to prevent or cure. Why are child death rates still so high, and what is the international community doing about this calamity? This course describes efforts past and present by governments, health agencies, and foundations to prevent child deaths around the world, and explores why some efforts have been more successful than others.
Rereading The Family of Man
Human Rights 412
Ever since its inaugural exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955, the photographs in The Family of Man have been a topic of fascination and debate, critique, and enthusiasm. The seminar explores the images and the debates in order to reexamine the exhibit as a sort of archive of the human rights imagination, and to investigate the powerful relation between contemporary human rights discourse and the photographic image.