ASA Section on Human Rights Newsletter, Spring 2018 – Student Rights in the Age of Human Rights.

Downloadable PDF: ASASectiononHumanRights_Spring2018Newsletter

­Table of Contents

A Message from the Editors by  Annie Isabel Fukushima & Hollie Nyseth Brehm


Methodological and Epistemological Challenges Concerning Transgender Rights and Self-Reported Discrimination in Thailand
Rebecca Farber

Introducing the LGBTI Inclusion Index: Challenges and Opportunities
Kristopher Velasco

I Am a Dreamer. I am Living a Nightmare.
Juan Escalante


The Right to Education: Centering the Undocumented Student
Claudia López and Mayra G. Torres



Newsletter submission information

A Message from the Editors

Welcome to our Spring 2018 newsletter. This newsletter is entitled, “Student Rights in the Age of Human Rights.” Over the past few months, the world has continued to witness horrific events, though there have also been a number of efforts that serve as a constant reminder of the resilience of people and the coalitional work occurring to address human rights violations. Recently, the massacre of 14 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has once again propelled gun debates into the public eye. It is one of the many mass shootings that has occurred in the United States, including mass shootings in Las Vegas (2017), Sutherland Springs Church (2017), the Orlando Pulse nightclub (2016), San Bernardino (2015), Washington Navy Yard (2013), Sandy Hook Elementary School (2012), Aurora (2012), Virginia Tech (2007), among many others.

While mass shootings continue to occur in the United States, followed by silence, apathy, and even polarized perceptions surrounding gun rights and human rights, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized utilizing strategies of previous movements – building coalition across issues and organizing through public actions. Emma González’s public speech struck a chord across the United States – proclaiming how, “The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us… kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S.”[1] Emma and her classmates have organized a national walkout; on March 24, students will “March for Our Lives.” This mass organizing is significant and is an important reminder of the multiple movements inspired by students taking to the streets and to Capitol Hill, among other places, and organizing to change the conditions of people. Indeed, rights and the affront to rights continue to be a Twenty-First century site of contestation. From the Civil Rights Movement, the Third World Liberation Front, Chicago student walkouts in 1963, the desegregation sit-ins, DREAMers, Undocuqueer, Black Lives Matter, among numerous other movements, students shape the course of human rights.

Therefore, this newsletter is dedicated to the students of the American Sociological Association Section on Human Rights. We would like to thank our students for their membership, therefore dedicate this newsletter to our students.  We are a thriving section because of our students. We look forward to reading your work, learning about your pedagogies, and having you as part of our leadership – our section is thriving due to the 80 students who are a part of our section on human rights.

Thank you for your membership and ongoing support of the American Sociological Associations commitment to human rights through the Section on Human Rights.
Annie Isabel Fukushima, University of Utah
Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Ohio State University


Methodological and Epistemological Challenges Concerning Transgender Rights and Self-Reported Discrimination in Thailand

by Rebecca Farber, Boston University 

A Thai transgender woman, age 22, found it “difficult to say” whether she had recently experienced discrimination during a medical checkup when she was treated as a male patient rather than female. Yet, several years before, nurses had refused to wash her. They were unsure if the role should be assigned to a male or female nurse and instead designated the task to her parents. While the Thai transgender woman lives and identifies as female, her past experience with medical mistreatment – or perhaps more clearly, non-treatment – may have made it challenging for her to determine if her recent encounter being treated like a man was problematic. This anecdote lends insights about the potential empirical and epistemological challenges in capturing and categorizing self-reported discrimination for marginalized people and vulnerable populations – including people living with HIV/AIDS, immigrants, or religious minorities – who may have internalized stigma regarding their rights to basic health care access.

In the case of the Thai transgender woman who did not categorize her own experience with health services as problematic, what does it mean when a researcher’s classification of the incident might differ? It signifies that methods such as quantitative surveys might not fully capture levels of discrimination if participants themselves do not consider or explicate their experiences as problematic, whether due to one’s internalized negative societal beliefs, self-stigma (Samakkeekarom and Taesombat 2013), a lack of trust between researcher/participant, or linguistic differences in the meaning of “discrimination.” Moreover, the discrepancies in Thai transgender people’s self-reported discrimination raise questions about the role of researchers in labeling a person’s experience as discriminatory, particularly if the individual did not classify it as such. If a Thai transgender woman does not think it is wrong to be treated as a male in a check-up, is it problematic for a cisgender researcher from the United States to categorize the event as discrimination? As human rights scholars, how do we honor the agency of marginalized people to describe their own realities, without ascribing or asserting universalizing narratives of rights and discrimination?

Although Thailand is frequently hailed as the “Land of Smiles” and a place where LGBT people from around the world are openly accepted, local transgender people face various degrees of discrimination in a variety of settings, including in healthcare systems. Transgender people in Thailand are an increasingly visible and prominent group, yet they currently lack legal recognition as their self-identified gender. For many, the absence of legal gender recognition creates a barrier to health care access, as it can be humiliating and dehumanizing for transgender women to be called male and identified as “Mister” in the waiting room. Some Thai transgender people report receiving medical services in hallways because there are only male and female hospital wards. In addition, there are no standardized trainings for medical personnel related to clinical and cultural transgender health competence, such as hormone monitoring and neovaginal care. Universal health coverage does not offer gender-affirming services such as hormone treatment or sex reassignment surgery, even though access to gender affirmation is an essential social determinant of health (Asia Pacific Transgender Network 2017). When transgender people must pay out of pocket for gender-affirming health services, they are also less likely to pay for services such as HIV/AIDS testing.

While these questions reflect ongoing issues of power, positionality, and privilege embedded in human rights research, it is important that scholar-activists do not stop short of including all people, such as sex/gender minorities, in scholarship and activism. A primary step in understanding and addressing transgender people’s health disparities and experiences with discrimination is to identify and include transgender people in research and demographic surveys. The research on the experiences of gender minorities due to binary categorizations of sex and gender in legal documents and surveys from organizations, academia, and state/federal agencies is limited. Due to the unique issues and needs of transgender people, research from the U.S. has suggested how population-based surveys can include questions to make visible transgender and gender minority people (The Williams Institute 2014). It is also important for research to measure levels of internalized stigma by creating and adapting scales to fit diverse cultural contexts. Surveys on transphobia provide a foundation to assess transgender people’s self-stigma and experiences with rights (Healy 2011). Research on transgender people in the Philippines (Reyes et al. 2016) has adapted Wagner’s Internalized Homophobia Scale (2014) and Mak and Cheung’s Self-Stigma Scale (2010) to study how transgender people accepted negative societal beliefs and the impact on their concept of self. Rather than use a one-size-fits-all approach to measure self-stigma across diverse groups, existent models may be further crafted to reflect linguistic nuances and the lived realities of marginalized groups.

Using unique scales to account for self-stigma might allow human rights research and advocacy to better capture the context that undergirds how one frames their experiences with rights and/or oppression. Regardless of if and how we label as problematic the experiences of transgender people in the health care setting, it is clear that states can make healthcare more inclusive and accessible for transgender people by training medical professionals about transgender people’s health needs, and expanding health insurance to include access to gender-affirming services. There are also regional roadmaps and global blueprints that take into account cultural specificities and differences to address transgender people’s unique needs (Wolf et al. 2016).

By understanding transgender people’s experiences with and perceptions of health care, research and advocacy can illuminate interlocking issues related to stigma, discrimination, and rights. Qualitative interviews allow participants to expand on their experiences in the health care setting in ways that quantitative surveys might obscure, providing narrative accounts rather than just a yes or no answer. These initial findings also raise questions about the hierarchies of knowledge production and universalized human rights discourses, issues which require a researcher’s continued self-reflexivity and awareness of institutional power dynamics.


Asia Pacific Transgender Network. 2017. “Legal Gender Recognition: A Multi-Country Legal and Policy Review in Asia.”

Healy, Kayden Z. 2011. Internalized Transphobia, Minority Stress, and Collective Self-Esteem. Dissertation. Ohio State University.

Mak, Winnie W.S., and Rebecca Y.M. Cheung. 2010. “Self‐Stigma Among Concealable Minorities in Hong Kong: Conceptualization and Unified Measurement.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 80(2): 267-81.

Reyes, Marc Eric S., Anna Regina E. Alcantara, Ariana Coleene C. Reyes, Patricia Ann L. Yulo, and Christian Isaac P. Santos. 2016. “Exploring the Link Between Internalized Stigma and Self-Concept Clarity Among Filipino Transgenders.” North American Journal of Psychology 18(2): 335-44.

Samakkeekarom, Ronnapoom, and Jesdada Taesombat. 2013. “Give Me More: Vulnerabilities of Thai Transgender Sex Workers.” Culture Health & Sexuality.

the GenIUSS Group. 2014. Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender And Other Gender Minority Respondents On Population-Based Surveys. J.L. Herman (ed.). Los Angeles, CA: the Williams Institute.

Wagner, Glenn J. 1998. “Internalized Homophobia Scale.” In Davis, Clive M., William L. Yarber, and Robert Bauserman. Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Wolf, R. Cameron, Darrin Adams, Robyn Dayton, Annette Verster, Joe Wong, Marcela Romero, Rafael Mazin, Edmund Settle, Tim Sladden, and JoAnne Keatley. 2016. “Putting the T in Tools: A Roadmap For Implementation Of New Global And Regional Transgender Guidance.” Journal of the International AIDS Society 19, no. 3, Suppl 2.

Introducing the LGBTI Inclusion Index: Challenges and Opportunities

by Kristopher Velasco, University of Texas at Austin

On Human Rights Day 2015, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced it will be developing the newest human rights indicator: the LGBTI Inclusion Index. The aim of this index is to create a standardized, comparable barometer of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) experiences to better guide policy, investments, and development decisions (Badgett and Crehan 2016). The motivation to develop such an index, UNDP leaders stressed, was because achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) would not be possible if LGBTI communities continued to face exclusion (Wahlén 2015). Clifton Cortez, then a UNDP official, argued that given the agency’s recent development of the Gender Inequality Index, UNDP was in a strong position to begin the difficult task of converting this idea into a comparative measure of LGBTI life in accordance with the SDGs. (See Cortez’s blogpost title, “When people are counted, no one is left behind,” for further introduction).

Two years after introduction, what is the current status of the LGBTI Inclusion Index? First, it appears that much of the institutional support for this new measure has shifted to the World Bank as Cortez switched to the Bank from UNDP – branding still emphasizes “UNDP-led LGBTI Inclusion Index,” (Badgett and Crehan 2016). Second, the primary area of work has been a long consultation process with LGBTI activists and civil society organizations, development agencies, researchers, and other groups fleshing out what the LGBTI Inclusion Index should encompass. This consultation process recently ended in December 2017 when the World Bank-UNDP Working Group hosted its final session with LGBTI civil society organizations and activists in Washington, D.C. (Cortez, Lebbos, and Regner 2017).

What emerged from these sessions was a consensus that the LGBTI Inclusion Index should focus, primarily, on the following areas: economic well-being, political and civil participation, education, personal security and violence, and health (see figure below). The operationalizations of these areas through specific indicators, however, has yet to be decided and fully agreed upon. Which leads to the third development: a strategy to build the infrastructure for a global research network to begin the process of turning the broad outlines into a concrete measure. The Working Group is hoping that major donors, multilateral agencies, and state governments will help fund this new area of research led by academics, research institutions, and others to begin making the LGBTI Inclusion Index come to life. (See the full report here.)

Figure from Badgett and Crehan 2016.

In framing the LGBTI Inclusion Index, Cortez and the World Bank’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity team argue:

“While our set of indicators will quantify, compare, and track LGBTI inclusion, it can also become a policy roadmap on how to create LGBTI inclusive societies…We hope that this will prompt a ‘race to the top.’ The World Bank’s Doing Business report is a good example of how this works,” (Cortez, Lebbos, and Regner 2017).

In a case of unfortunate timing, weeks after Cortez and team wrote this blogpost on the World Bank’s website, the Wall Street Journal broke a story on the Doing Business report, running the headline “World Bank Unfairly Influenced Its Own Competitiveness Rankings” (Zumbrun and Talley 2018). This case perfectly encompasses the challenges with such cross-national index systems: “statistical measures have embedded theories and values that shape apparently objective information and influence decisions,” (Merry 2011, p. S85).

Through a channeling of Foucault’s knowledge-power axis, Merry (2011) provides an important overview of the challenges, as well as opportunities, that human rights indicators present. Merry notes how the development of human rights indicators creates a new, hegemonic power structure, in particular, through the creation and labeling of “self-evident” categories. For example, take the beginning premise of the LGBTI Inclusion Index: ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’, ‘bisexual’, ‘transgender,’ and ‘intersex’ are quantifiable, meaningful categories portable across all 193 countries the index hopes to incorporate. As a consequence, Merry calls for an interrogation of the political assumptions and decisions that become embedded within such measures – especially given the ramifications for global governance.

The close alignment the LGBTI Inclusion Index has with the World Bank makes its effects on global governance that much more consequential. First, it is part of the larger trend of the World Bank moving into its role as a ‘Knowledge Bank’ (Mehta 2001; Enns 2015). Second, the symbolic and practical conflation of LGBTI inclusion and development on the world stage questions the receptiveness of both. Opponents of LGBTI rights and inclusion already commonly frame their opposition as resisting “Western” or “Un-African” imports – a discursive frame that becomes much easier given the World Bank’s history and reputation in much of the Global South.  Indeed, Bosia and Weiss (2013) outline how state leaders strategically deploy the politics of homophobia to consolidate their support vis-à-vis the West– making it easy to imagine leaders blaming burdensome loan conditions or structural adjustments on LGBTI populations and the newly invented Index. The UNDP-World Bank Working Group does appear to be aware of these dynamics, though, as evident in the repeated usage of the “UNDP-led” qualifier in their reports.

With that said, the development of the new LGBTI Inclusion Index does present an important opportunity for those of us studying human rights, global governance, sexuality, and LGBTI-related topics. For one, the report calls for a robust investment into a new research network. These investments, if they come to be, mean that researchers and academics who understand the aforementioned limitations can play a role in shaping this measure and produce much-needed research on LGBTI lives and experiences, especially outside North America and Europe. And, most importantly, the fact that the measure it still in its infancy allows for the Working Group to embrace radical transparency. Merry (2011) calls for an ethnography of indicators to reveal how they are developed and their political biases. The Working Group could support this process by disclosing who the participants shaping the index are, how they were chosen, how the indicators are chosen, how the project is funded, and so forth. The research community can also support this process by engaging the Working Group and holding them accountable. By making the process and political assumptions embedded within the new measure transparent, it will help to ensure that the LGBTI Inclusion Index is not treated as measure of objective, statistical truth, but as a political, yet useful, barometer to understanding LGBTI life.


Badgett, Lee M. V. and Phil Crehan. 2016. “Investing in a Research Revolution for LGBTI Inclusion.” The World Bank November. Retrieved December 20, 2017 (

Cortez, Clift, Toni Joe Lebbos, and Lucas Regner. 2017. “Is Your Country LGBTI Inclusive? With Better Data, We’ll Know.” The Data Blog, December 11, 2017. Retrieved January 10, 2018 (

Enns, Charis. 2015. “Knowledges in Competition: Knowledge Discourse at the World Bank during the Knowledge for Development Era.” Global Social Policy 15(1): 71-80.

Mehta, Lyla. 2001. “The World Bank and Its Emerging Knowledge Empire.” Human Organization 62(2): 189-196.

Merry, Sally Engle. 2011. “Measuring the World: Indicators, Human Rights, and Global Governance.” Current Anthropology 52(3): S83-S95.

Wahlén, Catherine Benson. 2015. “UN Agencies Address LGBTI Inclusion, UNDP Launches Index.” SDG Knowledge Hub, December 14. Retrieved January 10, 2018 (

Zumbrun, Josh and Ian Talley. 2018. “World Bank Unfairly Influenced Its Own Competitiveness Rankings.” The Wall Street Journal, January 12. Retrieved January 13, 2018 (


I Am a Dreamer. I’m Living a Nightmare.

Juan Escalante

January 18, 2018

Originally published in the Huffington Post:

The Dreamers’ fight is being waged by some of the boldest people I have ever met. They are fighting for a decent life in the United States ― even if it means potentially facing swift and merciless deportation at the hands of Trump’s anti-immigrant forces.

Over the holiday break, I found myself drowning in uncertainty regarding my future in the United States.

For a moment, I had thought about the possibility of going back to school for a second master’s degree. Maybe I could pursue a field of study that would put my in-depth knowledge of immigration policy and politics to good use.

But after speaking to my mother about it, I led this exciting, imaginary scenario to its logical conclusion. Would I be able to handle the rigorous coursework ― or plan months or years ahead ― given the uncertainty around my current immigration status? This is the haunting question that often paralyzes young immigrants like myself, known as Dreamers, as they attempt to map out their futures.

For the past 10 years, I have been fighting to adjust my immigration status amid our nation’s broken immigration system. My family arrived in the United States in 2000 and applied for green cards, but they fell out of status and became undocumented following bad advice from our immigration attorney.

Despite the obstacles ― and, trust me, there are plenty ― I was able to graduate from high school, undergrad and graduate school. But those were different times.

Since 2012, I have been able to excel professionally and heal a lot of the psychological wounds caused by the fear of living under constant threat of deportation. All of this because former President Barack Obama launched the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

While DACA was not perfect, the relief that it bought for up to 800,000 Dreamers like myself was immeasurable. Thanks to DACA, I was able to obtain a work permit, a driver’s license and a Social Security card ― three documents whose preciousness escape most American citizens.

The real stress for many DACA recipients comes from the constant seesawing that Congress and the White House put on in full display across news outlets.

The Trump administration’s reckless and inhumane termination of DACA last September has catapulted Dreamers into deep uncertainty and toxic trauma.

With the help of the anti-immigrant Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House aide Stephen Miller, President Donald Trump has upended the lives of young aspiring Americans who, just like myself, want a shot at going to school, getting a job and pursuing the American dream.

Despite calls from Dreamers and their allies to codify DACA into law, anti-immigrant hawks in Congress and the White House have stalled a proposed agreement that paired government funding with protecting Dreamers.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is “waiting” on the White House to tell him what he should legislate, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wants a “DACA compromise,” somehow ignoring about four different bipartisan immigration proposals to address the issue within his own chamber.

Congress needs to pass a spending bill by Friday to avoid a government shutdown, and this legislation may or may not include a DACA fix. A bipartisan solution for DACA is needed by March 5, the deadline President Trump gave Congress to solve the issue.

As Trump spars with both Democrats and Republicans over DACA proposals and describes some immigrants’ nations with vile language, fear and anxiety have gripped Dreamers all across the country. One can’t help but wonder: What kind of psychological harm is this perpetual limbo causing?

Personally, I have been worried about how I will help sustain myself, pay my bills and help my family from time to time with some of their expenses. But one of the main things that keeps me up at night is the thought of how other Dreamers are processing current events.

Right now, Dreamers are dealing with an insurmountable number of problems. Expiring work permits means losing the job that helps pay the bills. Losing a driver’s license means being unable to travel or drive anywhere in the United States. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. The real stress for many DACA recipients comes from the constant seesawing that Congress and the White House put on in full display across news outlets.

A majority of my advocacy is done online, engaging people and informing them of what they can do to help Dreamers. Not a day goes by when I don’t receive a message from a Dreamer who is crying inside a bathroom stall at their job because, on top of their day-to-day responsibilities, the headlines are too much to bear. An Idaho Dreamer expressed how numb and frustrated she feels due to all of the uncertainty. Others have confessed that the only reason they haven’t had a complete breakdown by now is that they are parents to toddlers and would hate to upset them.

Message after message expresses the same sentiment: terror. This is not the type of thing any Dreamer can shake off and will likely fester for years to come ― even if a deal on DACA is reached and signed into law. It will take time, and perhaps some therapy, to deal with the years of constant anxiety and the unprocessed feelings of not belonging.

The fight over Dreamer protection is being waged by some of the boldest people I have ever met. These young, bright and kind individuals are fighting for a chance to live a decent life in the United States ― even if it means swallowing the fear of potentially facing a swift and merciless deportation at the hands of Trump’s anti-immigrant forces. They have led sit-ins inside congressional offices, gone on hunger strikes and shared some of the most personal aspects about their lives to show their willingness to do what it takes to obtain a piece of paper that will certify them as Americans. But below that tough skin, underneath the awards and behind the diplomas is untold trauma that cannot be ignored.

There is no doubt that Dreamers are willing to go the extra mile. A deportation force has not deterred us, a database with all of our personal information has not stopped us and anti-immigrant politicians have not silenced us.

We are willing to go through all of this because we know that we are not just fighting for ourselves ― we are fighting for the dreams of our parents and families who worked just as hard to help us have better opportunities.

Juan Escalante is an immigrant advocate and online strategist who has been fighting for the Dream Act and pro-immigration policies at all levels of government for the past 10 years.


The Right to Education: Centering the Undocumented Student

by Claudia López, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, California State University, Long Beach and Mayra G. Torres, Undergraduate Student, Department of Sociology, California State University, Long Beach

“Nothing guarantees social exclusion more than the inability to participate in the right to livelihood or forced to live…under the ‘specter of uselessness’” (Somers 2008:46).

The current presidential administration has thrust the undocumented student into the center of contentious debates about immigration reform. Most recently President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) humanitarian aid program. About 800,000 undocumented people have received DACA, out of a total of approximately 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.  The rescinding of DACA is devastating to hundreds of thousands immigrant youth who have benefited from this program.  For example, Roberto G. Gonzalez’s research surveyed over 2000 DACA recipients found that 22% of respondents had earned a bachelor’s degree (Racke 2017). Gonzalez also found that prior to DACA, many undocumented students had dropped out school, but once they became DACA recipients, some attained their GED and went on to enroll in 4-year colleges.

Debates concerning immigration and free speech have highlighted the role of the university as a battleground, often aggravating the fear of undocumented students who struggle to navigate these politics, their personal lives, and academics. Due to this, it is imperative to reflect on the role of the educator at the university level by centering the undocumented student as part of a human rights praxis.  This teaching note identifies some of the challenges that undocumented students at a large public institution in South California face.  Co-authored between an undergraduate student and professor, the teaching note also offers some suggestions by students for faculty members who work with undocumented Sociology students.

Challenges for Undocumented Students

Affording higher education is one of contemporary moment’s biggest challenges for students. But, for undocumented students that are also low-income, affording today’s college tuition seems like an unattainable goal. DACA opens up the possibility for undocumented students to afford university study. Non-DACA undocumented youth in some states are able to pay in-state tuition if they meet certain requirements set by the state, like the California A.B. 540 bill. Despite these financial aid programs, many undocumented students are still unable to secure any financial aid. A study by Patlet et al. (2015)  found that many undocumented youth could not even afford the $495 fees to apply for DACA status  (Patler et al., 2015:3).  Unfortunately, at this time, the possibility for even applying for DACA is not an option.  Another challenge for undocumented students is the emotional strain of that accompanies the insecurity of their status, which can be further exacerbated by the imposter syndrome and feelings of social rejection.  In addition, fearing for your own safety and that of your family truly makes it difficult to complete classes but also succeed.

University As a Contradictory Locus

“On November 8, 2016 I was scheduled to give my public speech for my communication class. However, I stood there frozen, shaking because I couldn’t hold it together anymore. How can I go on with my speech about happiness and freedom, when I woke up to the news that Trump had won. I went off script and shared my truth, my struggle as an undocumented student for the first time. But I was interrupted by my professor’s ‘comforting’ words of ‘do not worry, he is not going to fulfill his campaign promises of rescinding DACA or deporting good people like you.’ I did not know what to make of his comment. I felt invisible and misunderstood.” This anecdote was shared in confidentiality by an undocumented college student. Her testimony exemplifies how university can be a place of struggle for undocumented students. Undocumented students already feel that their ability to truly speak truth to power is limited, and they often hold back due to fear of having their status revealed or being perceived as deviant.  Nonetheless, universities can also be a site of empowerment as well.  As students at our institution have mentioned, class can also be a place where students find courage to speak out, build strong networks, and find inspiring faculty members that are encouraging mentors. The role of the educator is key in these mentoring relationships, where resiliency can develop and students can see their own experience as a contribution, rather than burden, to academia and society at large. Additionally, per each undocumented student that graduates, their presence instills hope for future generations of immigrants.


The following are some suggestions made by undocumented students to faculty members on factors to help them feel welcome and empowered.  Additionally, these suggestions focus how to engage with undocumented students as a human rights praxis.

  1. Faculty could create a welcoming and inclusive culture by sharing about their own experiences and links to immigration and the immigrant community.
  2. Familiarize or create a kit of local resources for undocumented students, on and off campus (such as the campus’ immigrant or psychological services, or local organizations that advocate for immigrant rights).
  3. Visual images that convey undocu-friendly spaces in faculty offices.
  4. Reiterate your availability to meet them during your office hours if they need further assistance. If you do not feel comfortable or able to doing that, then at least connect them to someone that could listen or help.
  5. In the classroom, use materials and create assignments that actively ask students to use their sociological imagination on issues related to migrant populations.
  6. Sociology social movement classes and pop culture curriculum should incorporate the Undocumented and UnAfraid movement.
  7. When teaching themes like criminology, deviance, and power, include articles on the privatization of incarcerated immigration camps, inhumane treatment of unaccompanied immigrant minors.
  8. For upper division qualitative and/or quantitative research projects, highlight researchers that have analyzed the discourses about human rights from the Western Eye perspective and its implication at home in the USA.
  9. Empower students to continue with higher education and integration to campus life by sharing upcoming events.
  10. Provide a list of recommended book by undocumented scholars, or about migration studies.
  11. Help students identify other institutional allies.
  12. Attend faculty trainings and workshop on how to work with undocumented students.
  13. Organize faculty/student-led workshops encouraging presentations on issues affecting their community using an intersectional analysis.
  14. Announce opportunities for undocumented students to participate in research, internships, scholarships, and/or events.
  15. Create a network to support faculty so that educators can better assist their students.
  16. Advocate for access to affordable post-graduate education.
  17. Know the rights of undocumented students and how faculty can deal with legal issues, like immigration coming to the classroom.

In sum, universities across the nation are an important locus for transformation, advocacy, and activism. Human rights should not be exclusive to solely discussing issues of the Global South.  Instead scholars and educators needs to adopt an inclusive conversation of the Global North as a place where human rights are also violated.  Advocating for the rights of undocumented students as a human rights praxis should focus on promoting the freedom from fear. The UN organization assigned a group of experts to analyze how DACA and immigrant human rights were being violated by the USA (2018). As the UN human rights experts argued in reference to DACA, “Ending the programme without a feasible alternative would also send a wrong signal to the population, as it would reinforce harmful racial stereotypes and stigmatize hard-working, law-abiding young migrants who are an asset to the country which they consider home”  (Ferré 2018).


Ferré, Jean-Marc. 2018. “Protect the Rights of ‘Dreamers,’ UN Human Rights Experts Urge US Government.” UN News. Feb 21. Retrieved Apr 6, 2018. (

Gonzalez, Roberto G. 2015. Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America. Oakland: University of California Press.

Patler, Caitlin and Jorge A. Cabrera. 2015. “From Undocumented to DACAmented: Impacts of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.” Institute for Research On Labor and Employment. University of Los Angeles. California.

Racke, Will. 2017. “The Numbers Behind The ‘Dreamers.’” The Daily Caller. Sept 9. Retrieved April 4, 2018. (

Somers, Margaret R. 2008. Genealogies of Citizenship: Markets, Stateless, and the Right to Have Rights. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Awards – Opportunities beyond the Section


Deadline 4/15/17

The Racial and Ethnic Minorities Division is pleased to announce its call for nominations for the 2017 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award. The award honors the significant theoretical and empirical contributions of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva to the understanding of contemporary race and racism. We are interested in any books that address issues of race or racism. We are especially interested in books that make an attempt to eradicate contemporary racism, either in the U.S. or on a global scale. Books must have been published within 3 years of the meetings (2013-2016 for this year’s award). Books previously nominated for this award are not eligible. Single or multiple-authored books will be accepted. At least one of the authors must be a member of the SSSP in order to qualify for the award, although they will not be required to present a paper at the 2017 Annual Meeting. The winner will be announced in early summer 2017. Winner(s) will be recognized at our DREM business meeting and receive a certificate of recognition.

Nominees should first send a letter with full publication information and a paragraph outlining the reasons for their nomination to the Chair of the 2017 DREM Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award Committee, Professor Rodney D. Coates ( All nominating correspondence should include “Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Award Nomination” in the email subject heading. Once your nomination letter has been received, the Award Committee Chair will confirm the mailing addresses to which copies of the book should be sent directly. Nominations must be received no later than April 15, 2017.

Community Announcements

AAAS Webinars on Evaluation for Human Rights Organizations


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sponsored a webinar series in 2017 on “Evaluation for Human Rights Organizations.” The webinars and supporting resources are available on the AAAS website at

I am a fellow sociologist volunteering on the planning team for the 2018 webinar series. I would be very interested in hearing from any of you who are working or have worked with organizations dealing with human rights issues. For 2018, we are hoping to include more case studies that illustrate evaluations using actual projects and programs. We would be interested both in hearing from individuals who might have suggestions for topics to include—and especially if you are willing to help with a presentation—or have suggestions of organizational contacts who might benefit from receiving notices about these webinars.

Please feel free to contact me directly if you have suggestions or questions. Thanks very much.

John W. Curtis, PhD
Research and Evaluation Consulting Services


Check out members’ recent publications.

Judith Blau. 2017. The Paris Agreement: Climate Change, Solidarity and Human  Rights. New York, NY: Palgrave.

Judith Blau and Louis Edgar Esparza. 2016. Human Rights: A Primer. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Rodney Coates, Abby L. Ferber, and David L. Brunsma. 2018. The Matrix of Race: Social Construction, Intersectionality, and Inequality. Sage Publications.

Annie Isabel Fukushima. 2017. “Human Trafficking.” Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks, Gender: War. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference, USA.

Annie Fukushima and Kathleen Morris. 2018. Grant Management Toolkit: Building Sustainable Anti-Trafficking Programs. Office on Trafficking in Persons: Administration for Children & Families and the National Human Trafficking Training & Technical Assistance Center.

Jiamin Gan and Helen Forbes-Mewett. 2017. International Students Mental Health: An Australian case study of Singaporean students’ perceptions. In K. Bista (ed.), Global Perspectives on International Student Experiences in Higher Education: Tensions and Issues. Routledge (Taylor & Francis, USA) (in press).

Katherine Jensen. 2017. “The Epistemic Logic of Asylum Screening: (Dis)embodiment and the Production of Asylum Knowledge in Brazil.” Ethnic and Racial Studies:1-19.

Hollie Nyseth Brehm and Elizabeth Heger Boyle. 2018. “The Global Adoption of National Policies Protecting Children from Violent Discipline in Schools and Homes, 1950-2011.” Law & Society Review 52(1): 206-233. 

Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Christopher Uggen, and Suzy McElrath. 2018. “A Dynamic Life-Course Approach to Genocide.” Social Currents 5(2): 107-119. 

Hollie Nyseth Brehm. 2017. “Accountability After Genocide.” Contexts 16(4): 38-45.

Hollie Nyseth Brehm and Shannon Golden. 2017. “Centering Survivors in Local Transitional Justice.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 13: 102-121.

Joachim J. Savelsberg. 2018.“Punitive Turn and Justice Cascade: Mutual
Inspiration from Punishment & Society and Human Rights Literatures.”
Punishment & Society 20/2018/1:73-91.

Joachim J. Savelsberg. 2017. “Formal and Substantive Rationality in Max Weber’s Sociology of Law: Tensions in International Criminal Law.” In:
Law as Culture: Max Weber’s Comparative Sociology of Law, edited by Werner Gephart. Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, pp. 493-510.

Joachim J. Savelsberg and Ryan D. King. 2017. American Memories: Atrocities and the Law (original: Russell Sage Foundation, ASA Rose Monograph Series, 2011), published as audiobook, unabridged, narrated by Dr. Bill Brooks; Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins; Release Date: 09-07-17 – Audible by Amazon.

Keri Iyall Smith, Louis Esparza and Judith Blau. 2017. Human Rights Of the People, For the People: How to Critique and Revise the U.S. Constitution. New York: Routledge.

Newsletter Submission Information  Please send the following types of submissions to Annie Isabel Fukushima and Hollie Nyseth Brehm at and To be included in the next issue, please send your submissions by June 15, 2018.

Feature Articles: Articles that highlight research, teaching, or engagement relevant to human rights.

Research Notes: Brief reflections on research studies related to human rights. Notes could focus on the methodology, the findings, the dissemination of findings, etc.

Teaching Notes: Brief reflections on teaching about human rights in undergraduate or graduate classrooms. Tips and classroom activities are especially welcome.

Grassroots Notes: Reflections, stories, and advice pertaining to engagement with local organizations, policymakers, and/or grassroots activists.

Publications and Announcements: Recently published a book, article, or paper that the human rights section members should read? Have news or an opportunity that you would like to share with the human rights community? Please send it our way!


About anniefukushima

Scholar Activist
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