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FALL 2015

AFRO 298/ANTH 399Special Topics

326 David Kinley Hall, T&Th 2-3:30 pm

Black Lives Matter: Human Rights Perspectives

Dr. Faye V. Harrison
1201 W. Nevada Street
Office hours: T 10-noon, Th 10-noon, or by appointment, 217-244-9596


This special topics course will address the current crisis of racial profiling, extrajudicial killings,
and mass incarceration, placing them in historical perspective and transnational context. It will
critically examine the interlocking racial, class, and gendered disparities that these dehumanizing
injustices implicate in the United States as well as elsewhere in the global African Diaspora, such
as Brazil, where the React or Die-Reaja ou Ser Morta/Morto campaign parallels the U.S. Black
Lives Matter movement (including its #BlackLivesMatter social network). A major focus this
semester will be on how proponents of racial justice have actively participated in defining,
interpreting, and deploying international norms for human rights as an important dimension of
the struggle against racism and related subjugations.
Central learning objectives for the course are for students to: 1) become more familiar with some
of the ways that intellectualswhether based in academic or in community/civil society/social
movement settingsmake critical sense of and seek to explain and oppose past and present
trends in anti-blackness, particularly the continuum of violence that assaults black bodies; 2)
become familiar with interdisciplinary, including anthropological Black-centered scholarship

that examines the relationship between racism, antiracism, and the discourses and practices
germane to the politics of human rights; and 3) refine their capacities for critical thinking, social
analysis, and effective communication in both writing and public oral presentation.
The courses presentations, discussions, and writing assignments are organized around three
award-winning books and a plethora of article- and chapter-length readings, including essays
posted on blogs and online periodicals. The three required books are: 1) historian Carol
Andersons Eyes off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for
Human Rights (2003, Cambridge U Press, 978-0521531580); 2) civil rights lawyer and critical
legal scholar Michelle Alexanders The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Jim
Crow (2012, The New Press, 978-1595586438); and 3) activist anthropologist Keisha-Khan Y.
Perrys Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil (2013,
University of Minnesota Press, 978-0816683246).
The essays assigned (uploaded on our Illinois Compass 2g site) will expose students to a broad
spectrum of authors, activists and scholars whose vernacular and academic voices are in
dialogue. The occasional assignment of YouTube and vimeo videos will also expand our sense
of the depth and breadth of the social and political thought that has been and is being expressed
in multiple media and communicative formats.
In this class student participation will be at a premium. Regular attendance, therefore, is
necessary to fulfill the requirements and learning objectives of the course. A record of attendance
and unexcused absences will be maintained. More than three absences without documentation of
extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness, family death, excused absence owing to universityrelated commitments), will result in penalties being applied. Such penalties will adversely affect
students grade for participation. Irregular attendance will also diminish students ability to keep
up with and comprehend the course material, as reflected in readings as well as in lectures and
class discussions.
Intensive reading and writing are integral to the workings of this course. To facilitate our
discussion of the reading assignments, students are asked to have read the assigned material by
the class for which those readings are assigned. When readings are listed for an entire week,
assume that they can be divided between the Tuesday and Thursday classes. In some cases,
when a long list is assigned, instructions will be given on which particular articles are earmarked
for class discussions. There will be opportunities for individual and small groups of individuals
to work cooperatively to prepare presentations and lead class discussions. When no such
assignments are made, students are expected to formulate a question or a small set of 2-3
questions they would like to have the professor and the class to address in its discussion. These
questions should be emailed to the professor by 7 pm the night before class (Monday and
Writing is important, and students are expected to devote considerable time in drafting their
essays, term paper, and take-home exams. Nothing should be submitted unless it has been
worked through two or three phases of drafting. No rough drafts! The foci for the short essays

3-4 pp) are to be determined by the students themselves based on their reactions to the assigned
readings and to issues that arise in class discussions. So long as these papers are effectively
written (adhering to criteria 2-4 listed below), students are encouraged to exercise their academic
freedom in terms of style and genre of expression. This will be discussed further in class.
By the end of the semester, the term paper (whose format will be clarified in class) is expected to
be the students best work. Term papers should be at least 10 pages in length. They will be
evaluated on the basis of the following criteria: 1) the application and articulation of an
interdisciplinary perspective, 2) the clarity of exposition or argumentation, 3) the overall quality
of evidence used to support the argument, 4) the adequacy of writing and organization (i.e., word
usage, grammar and spelling, logical flow), and 5) the relative quantity and quality of citations.
Students are urged to begin the process of deciding on an appropriate topic for these papers early
in the course, so that these topics can be approved by mid-October and the research can begin as
early as possible in the semester.
Outline of Requirements
Attendance and participation
Written assignments
3 Short essays (5 pp & 5 points each)
Proposal for term paper (3-5 pp)
Term paper/long essay (at least 10 pp)
Mid-term and final essay exams (take-home)
Categories of Performance
Short essays (3)
Mid-term exam
Final exam
Term paper


Due Dates
All the time!
09/22, 10/15, 11/10

Grade/Point Scale A+=97-100, A=94-96, A-=90-93, B+=87-89, B=84-86, B-=80-83,

C+=77-79, C=74-76, C-=70-73, D+=67-69, D=65-66, D-+60-64,F=0-59

Extensions on deadlines Students will be allowed extensions on writing assignments and exams
ONLY if there are extenuating circumstances that can be documented.
Academic integrity and honesty An implied honor code is observed in all academic work at the
University. Every student has the responsibility to refrain from breaches of academic integrity
such as cheating and plagiarism. Further information on the Student Code for academic integrity
rules and procedures can be found at:

Class & Assignment Schedule

Wk1 08.25-27
Introductions, Disorientation, Reorientation- Black lives matter, or dont
they? What is a Black Studies perspective on the matter? Voices and
perspectives in the mainstream and alternative media
Who are police killing?
Langston Hughes Kids who die
African American Policy Forum, #SayHerName: Resisting Police
Brutality against Black Women
Jamila Rogers, Angry, Black and female
Our demand is simple: stop killing us
Charles Blow, Police abuse is a form of terror
Jamil Smith, Black Lives Matter protesters are not the problem
Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Ferguson, faith, and the future of democracy
The Ferguson protests worked
Additional online sources of interest (recommended and can be
revisited later) from the Opinionator interviews of philosopher George
Yancy with Joy James, Judith Butler, Charles Mills, etc.:
Wk 2 09.01-03


The Struggle for Civil Rights, Human Rights, & Peoples Power
(as participatory democracy)
Through the prism of Julian Bonds activism:
Remembering Julian Bond
Democracy NOW!
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Postscript: Julian Bond (1940-2015)
March 1960, An appeal for human rights (co-drafted by J. Bond)
Through a prism left of SNCC & NAACP, the Black Panther Party:


Through the prism of Black Studies:

What is a Black Studies Agenda?:
Alexander Weheliye, Introduction: Black Studies & Black Life, The
Black Scholar (2014)
Darlene Clark Hines, A Black Studies Manifesto The Black Scholar
Black Studies perspectives
Robert Chrisman, Black Prisoners, White Law, The Black Scholar (2013
Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, Introduction: The War on U.S. Blacks The
Black Scholar (2014)

Christen A. Smith, Strange Fruit: Brazil, Necropolitics, and the

transnational Resonance of Torture and Death, Souls (2013)

Wk 3 09.08-10

Black Life and Death through the prism of anthropological engagementFaye V. Harrison, Who has the right to self-defense and life?
Faye V. Harrison, Reflections on the AAA die-in
Executive Committee, International Union of Anthropological &
Ethnological Sciences (IUAES)
R. Ada Hernndez and Shannon Speed, Ferguson to Ayotzinapa: racism
and criminalization of social protest


Wk 4 09.15-17

Cultural Anthropology hot spot on #BlackLivesMatter,
Continuing with Cultural Anthropologys #BlackLivesMatter hot spot
Class doesnt meet this week, because Professor Harrison is attending the
World Social Science Forum in Durban, South Africa this week.

Wk 5 09.22-24

Cultural Anthropologys perspectives on Black Lives Matter and related

movements in other diasporic contexts.
Short paper #1 due on Tuesday




No class meeting, because of Association for the Study of African

American Life and History (ASALH) meeting

Wk 6 09.29-10.01

Understanding Antiracism as a Site for Human Rights Claims- the

historical trajectory of civil rights intersecting with human rights in the
case of the NAACP and more radical civil rights organizations. Proposal
due on Thursday
Faye V. Harrison, Race, racism, and antiracism: Implications for human
rights (2012) in Goodman, Moses, & Jones Race: Are We So Different?
Carol Anderson, Eyes off the Prize (2003)

Wk 7 10.06-08

Continuing with Human Rights and Antiracism- UN petitions, the UN

International Convention against All Forms of Racial Discrimination
(ICERD), 2001 World Conference against Racism (WCAR) and its
Anderson, Eyes off the Prize
Selected writings on human rights, ICERD, WCAR, Special
Rapporteurs reports, etc.:
Harrison, Racial profiling, security, and human rights

Wk 8 10.13-15

Mass Incarceration as a Human Rights Violation

Short essay #2 due on Thursday
Mid-term take-home exam distributed on Tuesday
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
Angela Davis, State of Emergency in Racializing Justice,
Disenfranchising Lives, Manning Marable et al., eds. (2007)

Wk 9 10.20-22

The New Jim Crow continued and one of its critics

Mid-term exam due on Tuesday

James Forman, Jr., Racial critiques of mass incarcerations: Beyond the

new Jim Crow, Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository (2012)
Wk 10 10.27-29

Black Womens Agency in the Struggle for Racial/Gender Justice- the

case of Brazil
Keisha-Khan Perry, Black Women against the Land Grab

Wk 11 11.03-05

No Racial Paradise or Racial Democracy in Brazil?

Joo Costa Vargas, Taking Back the Land: Police Operations and Sports
Megaevents in Rio de Janeiro, Souls (2014)
Paul Amar, Black-Blocking RioConversation with Vargas


Wk 12 11.10-12

No class; Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora

(ASWAD) meeting
Other Diasporic Predicaments- Colombia, Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad
Short essay #3 due on Tuesday
Selected excerpts from Richard Price, Rainforest Warriors: Human Rights
on Trial (2011)
Dylan Kerrigan
Faye Harrison, Global Apartheid, Foreign Policy, and Human Rights,
Souls (2001)
Jamaicas Killer Cops (with interview with Horace Levy)

Wk 13 11.17-19

No classes. American Anthropological Association (AAA) meeting

Wk 14 11.24-26

Thanksgiving Vacation

Wk 15 12.01-03

Final Reflections on Policing, Criminalization, and Justice

Frank B. Wilderson III, The Prison Slave as Hegemonys (Silent)
Scandal in Warfare in the American Homeland, Joy James, ed. (2007)

Jared Sexton, Profiling and the Societies of Control in Warfare in the

American Homeland, J. James, ed. (2007)
Keesha M. Middlemass, The Carceral States of America in Racializing
Justice, Disenfranchising Lives, Manning Marable, Ian Steinberg, &
Keesha Middlemass, eds. (2007).
Derrick Bell, Police Brutality: Portents of Disaster and Discomforting
Divergence in Police Brutality: An Anthology, Jill Nelson, ed. (2000)
Lieutenant Arthur Doyle (retired), From the Inside Looking Out: 29
Years in the NY Police Department in Police Brutality
Wk 16 12.08

Final day of class, review, final exam distributed, term paper due

Wk 17 12.16

Likely final date and time: Weds, 8-11 am; finals due by 11 sm. Check for
finalized date at:

Enjoy your winter holidays!

Happy New Year!