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This month we’ll take a look at the candidates.
Featured today are the candidates for the Committee on Human Rights Undesignated Seat #1: Merrill Singer and Betsy Taylor.
Responsibilities of the committee members include:
- To assist in organizing human rights forum, sessions, workshops or other events at AAA Annual Meeting;
- To consider and respond to cases of alleged human rights abuse;
- To educate anthropologists on human rights;
- To educate policy makers and others outside of anthropology on anthropology’s perspective and contributions to human rights;
- To work in coalition with other professional and human rights organizations to promote human rights.
Click here to learn more about the Committee for Human Rights.
Seeking election to the Committee on Human Rights reflects my long-term involvement in research, teaching, writing and engagement in issues of social inequality and health. As a staff member of the Hispanic Health Council, a community-based research and direct service institution focused on health inequalities, the right to health (i.e., access to the resources needed to sustain wellbeing) was a core principle of our work. Consequently, we examined the structural causes of illness and sought to provide evidence that could inform rights-based struggles for improved health. This theme is reflected also in my publications, such as Drugs and Development: Global Impact on Sustainable Growth and Human Rights (Waveland 2009), Unhealthy Health Policy: A Critical Anthropological Examination (edited with Arachu Castro, Altamira Press, 2004), and The War Machine and Global Health (edited with Derrick Hodge, Roman-Littlefield, 2010). Currently, I serve on the Research on Global Health and Human Rights committee, of the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut. As a member of the Committee on Human Rights, I will support efforts to promote anthropological engagement with global human rights discourse, threats to human rights and justice, and debates about human rights versus alternative approaches to expanded social equity.
My human rights work is grounded in decades of ethnographic and collaborative research with environmental and social justice movements in regions affected by extractive industry – particularly Central Appalachia and tribal communities in Northeast India. Universalizing rights discourses, I believe, need continual regrounding within substantive justice struggles, grounded in political ecological particularities and cultural contexts. I am collaborating with grassroots networks to conduct participatory action research that draws on international law and human rights discourses, for ‘bottom-up’ policy-making for transition from extraction-dependent regional economies (primarily coal and timber). A year ago, the Secretary of the US Dept of Interior appointed me to the steering committee of the US Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. My recent research particularly focuses on emerging cross-regional dialogues in bottom-up policy in land rights, and community-based management of commons, including efforts to develop ‘community protocols’ to integrate customary law into national and international law. I have worked for three years, with the Human Rights and Social Justice Committee of the Society for Applied Anthropology. I believe that anthropology can play a unique and crucial role in national and international human rights circles – especially around questions of climate justice.
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