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International Issues in the French-Speaking World Option

 The option in Human Rights within the Ph.D. Program in French began as a curricular initiative in 2000, along with four other options. We became the only Ph.D. program in French studies in North America to have developed such a course of study, integrated with the study of French and Francophone literature and culture. The Program, through its Francophone concentration, came to this initiative with over a decade of colloquia, conferences and talks, focused on Africa, the Caribbean or the Maghreb which regularly addressed issues of political and social rights and their violations. Among these events whose content had a distinct connection to Human Rights, we might mention the visits of politically engaged writers Anthony Phelps and Franketienne (Haiti) Michele Rakotoson (Madagascar), Abdellatif Laabi (Morroco), and the late Ahmadou Kourouma. The interconnection of writing, writers, and human rights violations was also present through the work of Distinguished Professor Edouard Glissant with the Parlement des Ecrivains. Distinguished Professor Domna Stanton then joined the French doctoral faculty, bringing with her a wealth of expertise in the field and continued involvement in the work of Human Rights Watch.

In the last three years, the option has developed and become consolidated. It has steadily recruited students, who have, to date, specialized as Africanists. Three of our HR option students have now completed their internship program with a Human Rights organization. The Program has offered these students, through individual and small group study formats, a semester-long seminar on Human Rights documents, declarations and doctrines, as well as workshops dedicated to post-internship discussions and the examination of related theoretical texts. These discussions foster reflection on the interface of human rights with critical writing on such areas as globalization, migration, citizenship, racism, and the status of women. The Program has held a major conference dedicated to Human Rights in Africa and the question of child soldiers (see conferences) and is holding a groundbreaking two-day conference on Human Rights and the Humanities on October 21-22, 2005.

Please refer to the French Doctoral Program handbook for more details about the curricular options.