28 Mar

ISA 2016: Illustrating Human Rights in Conflict Zones: La Lucha and the Fight to End Violence Against Women in Mexico

The following is the abstract for the second paper I presented at this year’s Annual International Studies Association Conference:

The issue of human rights is often overlooked in the study of conflict, particularly those relating to individuals who work to defend human rights on a daily basis.  Similarly, certain ‘wars’ are afforded more time and attention than others, with regions that experience high levels of violence against women receiving far less attention.  La Lucha is a graphic novel that tells the story of the struggle for women’s rights in Northern Mexico, where Chihuahua and Juarez have consistently been two of the most dangerous cities in the world for over a decade.

This paper examines the use of the graphic novel form, taking the case of La Lucha, in representing the otherwise invisible work of women human rights defenders who risk their lives to promote justice.  In doing so the paper assesses the ways in which La Lucha seeks to engage storytelling as a means of educating and campaigning for human rights and of countering narratives that seek to harass and defame human rights defenders.  This paper argues that popular culture and storytelling offer important insights into world events and should not be overlooked in international studies.


Key words: human rights, violence against women, graphic novel, counter-narrative, Mexico

28 Mar

ISA 2016: Countering Online Violent Extremism: Revisiting Adorno’s ‘Education After Auschwitz.’

The following is the abstract from the first paper I presented recently at the annual International Studies Association Convention:

That violent organisations can target young people directly via social media platforms to spread extremist messaging is of concern.  Millions of Euros are being pumped into programmes to prevent young people being drawn into extremist activities.  Many of these use social media to counter online extremist material.  An increasing variety of actors are involved in this work, from governments and NGOS to former extremists, social media giants, and private companies.  Despite the significant policy and financial focus, little research has been carried out into such projects. 

A recent example, ‘P2P: Challenging Extremism,’ seeks to engage youth in this digital ‘war.’  Run by private company EdVenture, supported by the State Department, this project seeks to harness the power of millennials by working with university students across the world, and having them become ‘educated influencers.’  This paper considers such a project, drawing on the writings of Adorno regarding education, and suggests that it has serious implications not only in the area of CVE but also with regard to education more generally.

Key words:
social media, extremist messaging, education, mass media, Adorno