HRTS 595A: Human Rights Across Contexts

In this 3-credit course taught by Amalia C. Mora, students will acquire skills to critically analyze the #metoo movement as both an outgrowth of intersectional, anti-violence feminism as well as a moment that has emerged out of a very specific cultural and political climate. Guest speakers include renowned scholars, artists, and activists from India and the US.

Featured Guest Speakers in 2018

Albertina Almeida on #MeToo and the Law

Albertina Almeida is a lawyer, legal scholar, human rights activist, and author from Goa, India. In addition to maintaining a full-time legal practice that represents survivors of sexual and domestic violence, she works as a consultant and trainer for lawyers, judges, and paralegals in the Asia Pacific region and also serves on a wide variety of governmental committees established to advocate for and draft laws regarding the rights of women, children, and the transgender community. Additionally, she is the co-founder of several women’s rights initiatives and nonprofits and regularly writes opinion pieces for the local and national press. She is the author of Tug and Tear: Dealing With Child Sexual Abuse (2008).

Natasha Hemrajani and Aruna Chandrasekhar on Reckoning with Fallen Heroes

Natasha Hemrajani is a visual artist and photographer who grew up in Mumbai, India. In 2001, Natasha began work on portrait assignments for the Times of India and has been a contract photojournalist for the Hindustan Times since 2005. She has served as Photo-editor of Grazia, and has had her work published in The Guardian, Vogue, Caravan, The Mint, Better Photography, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Beautiful people, BBC Top Gear, Australian Financial Journal, and The Times UK. Her photographs have also been featured in installation and residency exhibitions and galleries in India and Brazil. Aruna Chandrasekhar is an independent, award-winning photojournalist, writer, and filmmaker based in Bangalore, Delhi, Visakhapatnam, and Central India. Her work centers around themes of social, economic, and environmental justice, particularly in relation to indigenous rights. She has worked for a wide variety of news and media outlets, as well as for Amnesty International as a Senior Researcher, where her work focused on victims of gender-based violence. Both Natasha and Aruna became a prominent figures in India’s #metoo movement after they tweeted about sexual harassment in the field of journalism.

Juliana Piccillo on Sex Work and Anti-trafficking Discourse as Violence

Juliana Piccillo is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and sex workers’ rights activist. Her film, "I was a Teenage Prostitute," premiered in the first Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, and was also screened in the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, Women in the Director's Chair, and numerous other venues. Her writing has appeared in the anthology, Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys (Soft Skull Press, July 2009), which was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. Her most recent film is "Whores on Film."

Alok Vaid Mennon on The “Unfit Body” and Violence

Alok Vaid Mennon (they/them) is a gender non-conforming performance artist, writer, and educator. They were recently the youngest recipient of the prestigious Live Works Performance Act Award granted to ten performance artists across the world. In 2017 they released their inaugural poetry chapbook FEMME IN PUBLIC. They have been featured on HBO, MTV, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The New Yorker and have presented their work at 400 venues in more than 40 countries.

Alba Jaramillo on Healing and Accountability

Alba Jaramillo holds a B.A. in theater arts and anthropology and a law degree from the University of Arizona. Her anti-violence work has included serving as the Co-Executive Director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, assisting with the negotiations for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and working in Kenya with the Federation of Women Lawyers advising parliament on the inclusion of women’s rights in the Revised Constitution. Alba has most recently worked as the Director of the YWCA’s Latina Leadership Institute and Women Out of Poverty Initiative, for which she oversaw 12 empowerment programs for immigrant women survivors and women living in poverty. As an actress and performing artist, Alba often incorporates the arts, including theater, into her programming as a tool for empowerment and self-esteem building.

Final Projects

Included op-eds, an illustrated book, an anthology of poems, webinars, an educational one-pager for web distribution, academic essays, an on-campus pilot study, an educational zine for DIY music venues, a guidelines document for a local advocacy agency, and a podcast. These projects explored gender-based violence in relation to the following topics: disability, mental health, law enforcement, reactionary masculinity, digital technologies and AI, the criminalization of sex work, and campus sexual harassment and assault. 

Course Description

This course critically examines the #metoo movement as it has taken shape within India and the U.S. Through readings, discussions, audiovisuals, and guest lectures, we will analyze the movement’s trajectory as an outgrowth of decades of intersectional and transnational feminist activism. At the same time, we will explore how this activism has “gone mainstream” in relation to a very specific and current cultural and political climate. Using this framework, the course considers the major institutional as well as sociocultural changes that #metoo has helped to generate, while at the same time addressing its potential limitations in reach and scope. To this end, we will explore various questions regarding where #metoo should go (and grow) from here, and how to get there:

  • How do we ensure that #metoo reaches those who are most vulnerable to sexual- and gender-based violence, including poor women/lower caste women, women of color, LGBTQ individuals, and sex workers, who have been portrayed as unvirtuous and therefore “unrapeable”?
  • In our work and our activism, how do we avoid inadvertently contributing to the oppressive systems and discriminatory narratives that give rise to gender-violence in the first place?
  • How can we engage critically with “masterpieces”—whether they are scientific, artistic, or academic—after Master is exposed as Monster?
  • #Metoo is retribution-seeking movement. However, it is also a moment of reckoning that exposes not only “monsters” but the boy next door’s misogyny as well; how do we expand our understandings of accountability and “punishment?”

About the Instructor

Amalia C. Mora (Ph.D.) is the Manager of Innovation and Engagement for the UA Consortium on Gender-Based Violence, where she oversees the center’s Innovation Fund and other academic and creative engagement activities, including an upcoming year-long Speakers Series, an online nonfiction journal, and internship program. She received her doctorate in ethnomusicology from UCLA, where she conducted dissertation research on the relationship between sexual violence, racialized narratives on dancers and their bodies, and women who perform for tourists in Goa, India. She serves on the board for SomethingSomething Theatre, The Women's Studies Advocacy Council (WOSAC), and is a member of the Gender-Based Violence Topical Interest Group Network for the Society for Applied Anthropology. Prior to her position at the Consortium, she contributed as a researcher and writer for the Tucson Museum of Art (folk art collection) and in 2018, she received the honor of working as the Folklorist in Residence for the Southwest Folklife Alliance. Amalia is also a performing artist and writer. She has performed as a dancer, theater actress, and vocalist in operatic productions and recitals in Spain, India, and the United States. Her writing on the intersection of performance, race, and gender has appeared in a wide-range of publications. Degrees: Ph.D. and M.A. in Ethnomusicology, UCLA; B.A. in Anthropology, UCSC