This interview was conducted over email with Mumbi Kanyogo, a senior undergraduate student enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate Program, completing majors in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies and Public Policy, by Miranda Gershoni, a first-year undergraduate student working for the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.


Miranda Gershoni (MG): Why did you decide to pursue the human rights certificate?

Mumbi Kanyogo (MK): I decided to pursue a human rights certificate because I’m interested in how gender issues are thought about and acted upon in liberal discourse, and gaining an understanding of the values and contradictions of human rights discourse, as well as a better understanding of how human rights agenda contributes to neoliberalism in contemporary politics

MG: What makes this certificate unique from other programs at Duke?

MK: I appreciate the human rights certificate because of its local and global outlook. I appreciate having had the opportunity to think about human rights across a range of geopolitical locations from Durham to Brazil.

MG: How has the multidisciplinary, experiential nature of the program affected your learning while in the certificate?

MK: The certificates multidisciplinarity, has given me a more critical understanding of human rights. I am more attentive to the utility of human rights for different parties from corporations to governments.

MG: How do you plan to use the information and experiences you’re gaining from the certificate?

MK: Yes I do. I am currently writing a senior thesis on how Kenyan feminists have used new media to critique misogyny in the public sphere. Here, I think through how human rights discourse has contributed to the generation of a centrist women’s movement in Kenya’s public sphere, that is hostile to radical feminist politics. Additionally, I’m confident that this information andparticualrly my experiences studying human rights in the archives, will be critical as I go on to study domestic work in graduate school.

MG: What has been the most impactful moment (lecture, activity, reading, professor, etc) you’ve gained from the program?

MK: I think contributing to Robin Kirk’s Activating History report was critical for me. It gave me a passion for research, especially archival research, and affirmed me in my ability to produce content that is not only academically rigorous, but also critical to social change in my community, which is the type of work I would like to produce in the future.