Moyn Addresses Human Rights and Material Inequality

On September 6th, the second annual Human Rights Lecture@Duke – a new partnership between the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and the Duke Law School – welcomed Samuel Moyn, professor of law and history at Yale University, to Duke. Moyn’s most recent book, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (Harvard University Press, 2018), questions why the rise of human rights has occurred alongside enduring and increasing inequality, and why activists seek remedies for need without challenging growing wealth.

Speaking to a full room, Moyn stated that “human rights on paper and human rights movements — until very recently — have said nothing about material inequality. They’ve been a language and they’ve provided a kind of mobilization, belatedly, that takes on sufficient provision. But when it comes to material equality, human rights falls silent.”

“Professor Moyn’s lecture left me pondering a number of issues relating to the relationship between human rights and economic inequality, says Juliette Duara, a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.  “In particular, I have been mulling whether it is justifiable for a small group to become fabulously wealthy so long as the lives of those at the bottom rung are marginally improved in the process. I think not – but the ‘why not’ is interesting to contemplate.”

Click here to see a video of the talk.

The talk was co-sponsored by The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, The Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, The Center for International and Comparative Law at Duke Law School, the History Department, Sanford School of Public Policy, The Human Rights Archive at the Rubenstein Library, and International Comparative Studies.

“Workers Dreaming,” Photographs by elin o’Hara slavick – Exhibition on View at KIE

Public Reception: Friday, October 19, 5:30-7:00 PM, as part of Third Friday Durham.

Now on view at the Keohane-Kenan Gallery at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Workers Dreaming is a series of 22 large-scale, color photographs (1999-2006) by Chapel Hill-based artist elin o’Hara slavick. Each photo is a portrait of a worker in their place of work – a street cleaner, a deli worker, a taxi driver – with their eyes closed, as if in a state of dreaming. Are they thinking about a faraway place that they would rather be? Are they taking a quiet break from their responsibilities? Each subject is an island of temporary calm in a busy, blue-collar workday.

Workers Dreaming performs in the spaces between labor and leisure, agency and servitude,” says slavick, Professor of Studio Art at UNC-Chapel Hill. “It is about the daily forgetting of those workers who build, clean, and transform spaces, often invisibly.”

Slavick wants her photo series to transform the way we see, acknowledge, and interact with workers today. “Fundamentally these photographs are about labor: those who perform it and who are often under-recognized, under-paid, and unnoticed. Although our eyes are open, we are often blind to beauty, to injustice, to cultural difference, and to class structure,” she says. “They deny us their return gaze, but offer us a meditative space. They are at once empowered and lost — in their own imaginings, desires, hopes, and self-consciousness.”

While eyes of the workers in slavick’s photographs are closed, we are aware that each of her subjects sees, feels, smells, and knows their situation intimately. And for all the workers slavick has documented, there are hundreds of thousands more: working assembly lines, sewing seams, pouring hot beverages, mopping a floor, collecting tickets, and all, at one time or another, probably daydreaming. “These workers — remembered and actual — inspire the photographs. They are mortal, majestic, tired, heroic, beautiful, and deeply human.” 

The Kenan Institute for Ethics’ exhibition of Workers Dreaming is the most extensive showing of the series to date. Portions have been previously exhibited at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery at UNC Greensboro, and the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) in Raleigh, as well as at locations outside of North Carolina: the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University; the Pinkard Gallery at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore; and Square Blue Gallery in Los Angeles.

A reception for the artist will be held on Friday, October 19, from 5:30-7:00 PM, as part of Third Friday Durham.

Workers Dreaming will be on view through December 31, 2018.

Admission is free. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8-5.

Keohane-Kenan Gallery, The Kenan Institute for Ethics
102 West Duke Building, Duke University
1364 Campus Drive, East Campus
Durham, NC 27708

PHONE: 919-660-3033

EMAIL: kie@duke.edu


Images above by elin o’Hara slavick:

Matilde Llambi, Venice Biennale Attendant cleaning Fred Wilson’s Installation, Venice, Italy, 2003.

Salvador Sonchez, Waiter at Torreros, Durham, North Carolina, 2002.


What Now? Network Gives First-Year Students a Sense of Purpose and Community

This fall, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, working with Trinity College, has debuted the What Now? network of seminars, designed to enable first-years and faculty to build a community organized around some of life’s “big questions” and encourage them to develop the skills and habits that can lead to more fulfilling, purposeful lives. The What Now? network exposes incoming students to a wider array of ideas, as well as more faculty and engaged peers, than is typically possible in a single first-year seminar.

The program builds on insights from the Institute’s Purpose Program and a pilot course offered with the support of Trinity College last year; “Composing Oneself: Stress, Identity & Wellness,” co-taught by Denise Comer (Writing) and KIE Program Director Christian Ferney, struck a chord with students who took it. Because the class filled up so quickly, most of those who benefitted were seniors. The new What Now? network is specifically designed for first-years because “we hope to situate them to best take advantage of the next four years,” says Ferney.

All of the What Now? seminars – five offered this fall, and more coming in Spring 2019 – “have huge life-questions embedded in them,” says Ferney. What makes us happy? How do we judge success or goodness? How do we create durable and healthy communities? How can we engage effectively across differences? These seminars intersect in a dedicated weekly commonly scheduled period as well as structured in- and out-of-class activities that bridge seminars. interrelated and inter-disciplinary topics that provide context for the world students are preparing to enter while also inviting reflection on how they fit into that picture.

“I like to think of the What Now? seminar series as an effort to accomplish the principle aim of a liberal arts education, as Judith Shapiro described it when she was president of Barnard College,” says David Toole, a KIE Senior Fellow and associate professor of the practice of theology, ethics, and global health at Duke Divinity School. “She used to tell students that her job was to make the inside of their heads an interesting place to spend the rest of their lives. ‘A liberal-arts education does lots of other things,’ she would say, ‘but if it hasn’t made the inside of your head an interesting place, it has failed.’”

What makes the What Now? offerings unique from other first-year seminars is their “Common Time,” a dedicated, weekly, jointly-scheduled “lab” when all the students from all the network’s seminars can come together as one or rearrange into smaller groups. One such activity is an occasional “crawl” that takes students and faculty members to a place that lets them “get out of their heads.” The first crawl of this inaugural year was held at Duke Gardens. Students could wander around freely and talk with each other as they wanted to, while eating popsicles and without using their phones for 75 minutes. At the end, students expressed that they felt more relaxed and grounded than they had in a long time.

In addition to their crawls, What Now? network students meet every other week for faculty-led conversations in which they are grouped by residence hall rather than by seminar. These out-of-class activities bridge seminars and increase the chances that the students will run into the people that they have interacted with during class and common-time in daily-life situations. “It helps knit the community together,” says Ferney. “Real connections in communities are what keep people engaged and give life its richness. We want the experience of sharing that richness to follow them home, or to crop up again while walking to the bus or dinner.”


Kenan Senior Fellow Michaeline Crichlow co-edits New Book on Race and Rurality

Based on a 2014 conference co-hosted by the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Michaeline A. Crichlow, professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Duke and a Senior Fellow at the KIE, has co-edited a volume of essays examining globalization’s effects on the interplay of race and rurality as it occurs across diverse geographies and peoples.

Race and Rurality in the Global Economy suggests that our current fractious state of global politics begs for closer attention to be paid to the deep-rooted conditions and outcomes of globalization and development. Essays in the book, due out in October 2018 from SUNY Press, examine how issues of migration, environment, rurality, and the visceral “politics of place” and “space” have been the focus of recent political struggles in the United States and Europe and have been suffused by an antiglobalization discourse that has come to resonate with Euro-American peoples.  

Learn more here.

What the Catholic Church could Learn from Australia’s Response to Child Sexual Abuse

Effectively responding to the sexual abuse of children is, of course, beyond an American problem — it is a worldwide problem. For this reason, Americans would do well to consider the approaches of other countries to combat it, especially those of Australia, says Meredith Edelman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. In an op-ed published in The Inquirer (Philadelphia), she advocates in particular for Australia’s approaches to be used as guide, as that country has made “recent progress in addressing abuse in institutional settings across society.”

“Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and other countries have conducted inquiries into child abuse in different contexts, but the Royal Commission in Australia is a model in terms of the breadth of the investigation, the wealth of research produced, and the strength of its recommendations,” says Edelman.

In addition to her fellowship at the Kenan Institute, Edelman is a Ph.D. candidate at the Australian National University who writes about legal systems and institutional accountability for clerical child sexual abuse. Read her full op-ed here.

KIE holds its First Art Therapy Summer Camp for Refugees

At the end of the summer, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, in collaboration with Art Therapy Institute of North Carolina, hosted its first art therapy camp for youths ages 4-14 from local refugee families. Evidence from other week-long art therapy camps shows that participants experience reduced stress and anxiety and overall improvements to their well-being. The children — originally from from countries including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iraq, Sudan and Syria, and now relocated in Durham — painted, created super-hero costumes, danced, played outside, and had typical summer camp fun.

“The reason why (the arts camp) is effective is it provides a space for kids to express themselves and it also provides a way for them to learn to handle difficult tasks,” says Tra Tran, a graduate student in global health and research graduate fellow at Kenan, whose work with the camp is part of her thesis.

Read the Duke News story about the arts camp and watch the video!