The Koonz Human Rights Prize award honors Oliver W. Koonz, Prof. Claudia Koonz’s late father. The prize honors the best essay/paper or alternative project prepared by an undergraduate for the academic year. The recipients of the 2022 Oliver W. Koonz Prize are Cydney Livingston and Kulsoom Rizavi. Below are the responses of the 2022 Koonz Prize judges, Professors Claudia Koonz, Ingrid Byerly and James Chappel.

2022 Best Essay

Cydney Livingston, “Between the State and the Science: The Eugenic Impulse of the Human Betterment League of North Carolina, 1947-1988.
Livingston deals with some of the most pertinent human rights issues today: health, reproduction, and bodily autonomy by analyzing them during four decades of eugenics, sterilization, and science in North Carolina. Drawing on extensive archival research, she shows how, in the wake of Nazism and the Holocaust, physicians and experts in North Carolina extended the eugenics project by transforming its goals from involuntary sterilization to population control based on genetic counseling, which was popularized by public relations campaigns. In this study, written for the History Honors Seminar, Livingston shows how violations of reproductive rights persisted by taking on new forms under the veneer of scientific neutrality.

Cydney Livingston is a graduating senior majoring in Biology and History. She is interested in the history of science, technology, and medicine, particularly the history of modern biology.


2022 Best Alternative Project

Kulsoom Rizavi, “THIS IS THE YEAR”
Rizavi’s prizewinning multimedia project combines audio, photographic and archival data into an articulate and thoughtful short documentary, showcasing  queer history and life in Durham. It elegantly reveals the creation of a welcoming refuge in spaces such as the gay pride movement and the inclusive events of LGBTQ centers. Most dramatically the video celebrates the groundbreaking initiatives of Vivica C. Coxx who not only advocates for, but lives loud in the identity of their choice. The project includes archival footage and personal interviews that foreground themes of discrimination and inequality, while unveiling the power of art and activism in creating a society more accepting of those considered ‘other’. Created for the Documentary Studies course DOCST 209FS, Rizavi shows the ability of immersive research and creativity to deliver a powerful message of optimism and tolerance. You can watch the project here.

Kulsoom Rizavi is a first-year student interested in studying Political Science, Data Science and Documentary Studies at Duke. She is interested in utilizing digital storytelling as a tool for social change.