Beth BlackwoodPublished in DukeToday 5/7 – From conducting interviews with farmworkers about access to health care in western North Carolina to recording the stories of undocumented immigrants in California, Duke students will engage in human rights research in the U.S. and abroad this summer.

With the financial support of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, seven undergraduate and four graduate students will create documentaries, interactive websites and research papers.

Katie Fernelius (’16) will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, with Professor Catherine Admay to collect audiovisual narratives about citizens’ understandings of their constitutional rights. Upon returning to Duke, Fernelius plans to create an interactive website that uses these narratives to give a broader picture of how South Africans interact in legal spaces in a post-apartheid nation.

Laura Brody (’16) will participate in the DukeEngage Northern Ireland program that examines the legacy of “the Troubles” on the present-day peace process in Northern Ireland. She will remain in Belfast after the program ends to research the role of historical representation in the perpetuation of sectarianism through interviews with former members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), interviews with museum curators around Northern Ireland and a case study on the Irish Republican History Museum in West Belfast.

Leo Lou (’17) will spend two months between Jerusalem and the Palestinian West Bank exploring the influence of cross-border conversation on the development of Palestinian youth through working with Seeds of Peace. She will interview educators and past Seeds of Peace campers to assess the value of conflict-resolution education curriculum on the development of youth.

Rinchen Dolma (’16) will research the prevalence of tuberculosis in the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala, India. The project aims to explore the underlying challenges caused by this infectious disease in the refugee community and how the community and health institutions are treating the issue.

In conjunction with Duke Engineers for International Development, Robinson Ford (’15) will help implement slow-sand filtration systems for a rural community in El Salvador. Ford also plans to investigate water treatment methods in the area and analyze the effectiveness and reproducibility of each method.

Simar Nagyal (’15) will study indigenous and mestizo farmworkers’ access to health care in western North Carolina through interviews with farmers at migrant labor camps and health clinics.

Daniel Stublen (’15) will research the limits of free speech as it relates to preventing the spread of racism.  As a case study, he will look at the recent Dieudonne Affair in France, where a comedian was censured for the possible incitation of public disorder by spreading anti-Semitism.


Graduate students

Eladio Bobadilla will interview undocumented immigrants about their experience living and working in California. He is interested in the development of a political consciousness and the ways in which their experiences have shaped their views of both the United States and their countries of origin.

Giulia Ricco will spend the summer in Brazil investigating the memory of the Brazilian dictatorship, specifically the recollections about the violations of human rights perpetrated by the military regime. She is interested in the narratives produced by the victims’ families, who are not only in charge of preserving a memory but also of invoking justice for their relatives.

McKenzie Johnson‘s research focuses on the role of natural resources in post-conflict peace building in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. Johnson will spend this summer conducting interviews with the United Nations Environment Programme Disasters and Conflict branch in Geneva as part of her dissertation. Johnson hopes to better understand how international institutions affect natural resource management as it relates to post-conflict peace building.

Mendal Polish is creating a film on transformative justice and radical healing models.  Using her own reflections and letters exchanged with a former student who is now an inmate, the project will chronicle the journey of a queer feminist struggling to understand the complexities of crime and punishment within America’s prison industrial complex.

To follow their research and learn more, please visit the website.