2018-'19-'20 Events

We will attempt to hold this event during the Fall 2020 semester.

March 26, 1:00 - 2:15pm, Denny 120

Re-thinking Nationalism and Statelessness:

Kurdish Women and the Revolution in Rojava

Ruken Isik

A Kurdish-American researcher, Isik is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her work focuses on Kurdish Women’s Activism in Turkey, Syria, and in the diaspora.

Kurds are the world’s largest nation without a state to call their own -- some 35 million people spread across parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syrian and Iran. They have suffered severe repression and even genocide in all those countries and have been fighting for independence for generations. Kurdish military units, often led by women, have also led the fight against ISIS in recent years.

Since 2012 Kurds have conducted a radical experiment in self-governance in the northern region of Syria called Rojava, which borders Turkey.  They have created a decentralized economy, known as a Democratic Confederacy, based on radical democracy, social ecology, and feminism.

The Kurdish Freedom Movement has evolved from being a nationalist movement for the recognition of the Kurdish identity to deconstructing and decolonizing the notion of the nation-state in Northern Syria (Rojava). Isik’s talk will analyze the ways in which women have been at the center of the Rojava Revolution and the threat they now face under the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. Isik’s presentation will particularly reflect on the following questions:

How is “belonging” constructed to make different ethnic minorities and women part of the revolution? How do Kurdish women reimagine feminism, statelessness, and solidarity?

An Interview with Ruken Isik: Kurdish Women Struggle for a Next System in Rojava

Sponsored by the Department of Global Studies, its Center for HGHR Studies, and Women's & Gender Studies. This event is made possible by a Mini-Grant from the Chancellor's Diversity Challenge Fund.


Tuesday February 25

Carl Wilkens

"Why I Stayed in Rwanda"

2:30 - 3:45pm, Halton Reading Room (in Atkins Library)


“So what would you do if, like Carl Wilkens, you were caught in the middle of a genocide?” asked Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times article. “U.S. officials and church leaders ordered Mr. Wilkens to join an emergency evacuation of foreigners from Rwanda, and relatives and friends implored him to go. He refused....

"One evening the militia came to kill Mr. Wilkens and his Tutsi servants, but Hutu neighbors praised his humanitarian work and the militia went away. Death threats piled up, but Mr. Wilkens spent his days talking his way through roadblocks of snarling, drunken soldiers so he could take water and food to orphanages around town. The Raoul Wallenberg of Rwanda, he negotiated, pleaded and bullied his way through the bloodshed, saving lives everywhere he went.

Carl Wilkens was the only American who chose to stay in Kigali, Rwanda throughout the 1994 genocide. Working with Rwandan colleagues, they helped save the lives of hundreds. His harrowing yet hopeful journey weaves together stories of tremendous risk and fierce compassion in the midst of senseless slaughter.

For over a decade, Carl Wilkens has been sharing stories around the globe to inspire and equip people to “enter the world of The Other.” Carl’s storytelling does not stop with Rwanda’s tragic history, but moves forward to the powerful and inspiring recovery process. Among the many lessons he shares from his experience is the transformative belief that we don’t have to be defined by what we lost or our worst choices. We can be defined by what we do with what remains – what we do next after terrible choices. Each year he returns to Rwanda with students and educators to see for themselves how people are working together to rebuild their country and the toughest challenge of all—rebuilding trust.

Photo: "Jean-Francois Gisimba and Carl Wilkens together in London (2011)." From The Guardian: "Rwanda Heroes, 17 Years On: In 1994, against huge odds, two men saved hundreds of Tutsis during the genocide in Rwanda. Finally reunited, they recall the extraordinary story of their first meeting.")

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte's Departments of Religious Studies, Africana Studies, History, and Global Studies and by UNCC's Center for Professional and Applied Ethics

The HGHR Center is proud to co-sponsor this event

[To be re-scheduled]

Geoffrey Adelsberg

Professor of Philosophy, Edgewood College

Cone room 210, 2:30 - 3:45

His research focuses on the philosophy of race and racism and its contributions to thinking about punishment and responsibility in the aftermath of traumatic harms. In his research, he has evaluated the moral, social, legal, and political claims of persons victimized by crime and sought to construct reparative responses to those claims. His present work takes up the intersections and contentions between Black and Jewish thought on reparation for historical and present injustices.

The HGHR Center is proud to co-sponsor this event:

The HGHR Center is proud to co-sponsor this event, May 20-23, 2020

[To be re-scheduled]

The Feminist Decolonial Politics Workshop seeks to create a space for junior scholars and graduate students to engage in rigorous discussions of seldom-read figures in feminist decolonial theory. This 4-day intensive workshop provides an opportunity to enrich participant’s research and pedagogy through sustained engagement with the work of a given author. In the past, we have read the works of Audra Simpson, Saidiya Hartman, Sara Ahmed, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Sylvia Wynter. 

Applications are due February 17th, 2020. More information

2019 Events


April 13-14: our first international conference, "Denial: The Final Stage of Genocide"

Scholars, activists, and artists from more than 15 countries participated. In 2020 a book based on the conference will be published by Routledge, along with a special issue of Genocide Studies and Prevention composed of additional papers from the conference.

Keynote speaker Lerna  Ekmekçioğlu, hIstorian of the Modern Middle East at MIT and author of Recovering Armenia: The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey (Stanford University Press, 2016). Her keynote address was titled, "What Can Genocide and its Denial Do to Feminism? The Existential Paradoxes of Armenians in Post-Genocide Turkey." Henry C. Theriault, Ph.D., President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, delivered a closing keynote address, "Is Denial truly the final stage? Consolidation and the Metaphysical Dimensions of Denial."

Photograph of two young Pima Indian school girls, ca.1900. Behind them a wire and wood post fence is visible. An example of forced assimilation and cultural genocide.


Thursday April 11   ¨   2:30 - 3:45   ¨     Fretwell 121 

The Forgotten Murders: Gendercide in the Twenty-First Century and the Destruction of the Transgender Body

Speakers: Haley Marie Brown, Stockton University; Nikolai Mather, UNCC

Haley Marie Brown is a transgender woman and a graduate student of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Stockton University in New Jersey.  Currently her research primarily examines the way gender-based violence against transgender women both fits within and challenges current approaches to the study of gender and genocide. Nikolai Mather (he/they) is a transmasculine student majoring in International Studies and Political Science at UNCC. His current projects include co-founding an undergraduate journal of Genocide and Human Rights Studies and researching the alt-right's usage of racist memes. 

From Amnesty International article, “Trump Administration Silent as Chechnya and Azerbaijan Torture Gay Men.

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte’s Women’s & Gender Studies program, Department of Philosophy, and LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus

This event made possible through a grant from the Women’s + Girls Research Alliance of UNC Charlotte.


"Racial & Gender Identities: Confusion and Anti-Blackness"

Monday April 15          2:30 – 3:45          Denny 200

Lecture and discussion with Zoé Samudzi

Rachel Dolezal was invited to speak for Black History Month last month at a college in Washington. Also recently, Philosophy professor Rebecca Tuvel argued in a widely discussed journal piece that if “we should accept transgender individuals' decisions to change sexes, we should also accept transracial individuals' decisions to change races” and thereby embrace “transracialism.”

“Race” is indeed a social construct, but: Are certain identities so easily mutable? Can Elizabeth Warren or Rachel Dolezal claim any heritage they desire? Such assertions employ ad hominem fallacies to re-assert hierarchies of knowledge, discourse, and personhoods.

Zoé Samudzi is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Inquiry, ROAR MagazineVerso, Broadly, and other spaces. She is a doctoral student in Medical Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research examines colonialism and technologies of race and gender, focusing particularly on the 1904-1908 German genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples in present-day Namibia.

Samudzi's article "Shifting Objectives: On Methodology and Identity Politics."

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte’s Women’s & Gender Studies program, Department of Philosophy, Department of Africana Studies, and LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus


We encourage everyone to support & attend these events:


The witnesses in the conversation are:

  • Matthew Rice, a transgender man living in Charlotte who has conducted research on HIV/AIDS in the transgender community in San Francisco and now teaches science in a local high school. He is a board member for Time Out Youth, a local organization that provides a safe space for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) teens.
  • Rev. Debra Hopkins, a transgender woman who is an ordained minister as well as a motivational speaker and teacher who addresses issues of gender equality. She is director of There's Still Hope, a transitional home for the trans community established to help end homelessness in Charlotte. Ms. Hopkins has written a memoir, Not Until You Have Walked in My Shoes – My Story.
  • Debra Bercuvitz, a lifelong lesbian who has been partnered with a transgender man for 27 years. She has published and spoken extensively about this experience to college and national audiences. Her relationship transition was documented as the cover story of The New York Times Magazine in October 2001. Debra holds a master’s degree in public health from UNC-Chapel Hill and lives in Massachusetts. She coordinates substance use interventions for the Department of Public Health’s maternal and child health bureau.



The Center also co-sponsors many events and symposia and we are proud to support this workshop, May 14 - 17, 2019.

More information

We are also organizing a field trip (Fall 2019) to the amazing, overwhelmingly powerful new museum & memorial in Montgomery, AL, which opened last April


Events earlier in 2019


Lecture by Haitian-Québécois author Marie-Célie Agnant: “Writing from the Silence”

Thursday, January 10th, 2:30-3:45, CHHS 155

This presentation will include readings of extracts of some of the author´s prose and poetry, as well as the various legacies which intervene in her writing process. Among those: Silence.  “It is out of that silence, from the silence and against that silence that I write, and from that place where silence becomes violence.  By so doing I also try to question the ways of representation of the political, historical and literary discourse, as well as the boundaries dictated by fiction.”

Born in the Haitian capital city, Port-au-Prince, in 1953, Agnant worked as an interpreter and as a translator for many years. After moving to Quebec, Canada at the start of the 70's she also worked as a French teacher before reentering the world as a storyteller. With many shorts, full blown novels, children's books and poems under her belt, Agnant has truly transitioned into a storyteller of more than simple worth to the Haitian literary heritage.

Sponsored by:

The French Club at UNCC, Department of Languages and Culture Studies, Department of English

Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies, Alliance Française of Charlotte


2018 Events

And Then They Came for Us

Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII

50-minute documentary followed by discussion

November 12        5:30 – 7:00        Fretwell 121

AND THEN THEY CAME FOR US is a cautionary and inspiring tale for all societies. It chronicles the moral and human damage done after President Roosevelt signed an Executive Order ordering the forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. Thousands of American citizens lost their homes, their businesses, and their families due to war hysteria and racism.

Featuring Japanese Americans who were incarcerated, rediscovered photos by Dorothea Lange, and the story of Fred Korematsu’s long journey to justice, the film brings history into the present, as it follows Japanese Americans speaking out against the current Muslim travel ban and other regressive immigration policies.

Part of International Education Week, organized by UNCC’s Office of International Programs



The 1994 Rwandan Genocide: The Voice and Struggles of a Child Survivor

Monday November 5, 2:30 – 3:45 pm, Fretwell 100

After the Holocaust, survivors and representatives of the international community solemnly intoned a "never again." Yet, genocides became a recurring reality in the Cold War and post-Cold War worlds. The 1994 genocide in the East African country of Rwanda is but one of too many examples. In roughly three months, the Hutu Power perpetrators slaughtered some 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu opponents.

Mugabo Yves will speak about these mass murders in Rwanda from the perspective of a child survivor. In April 1994, he was seven years old. His Tutsi family lived in the capital, Kigali, which became one of the key sites of the killings. His mother and many close relatives perished.

Yves survived with the help of Hutu civilians. He fled to a refugee camp in neighboring Uganda, where he stayed for eight years before he managed to immigrate to the United States along with his surviving sisters. He now resides in Charlotte.

Children's Desks and Blackboard at Kabgayi Hospital - Genocide Site - Outside Muhanga (Gitarama) – Rwanda. Photograph courtesy of Adam Jones


Anti-Semitic Terrorist Attack in Pittsburgh:

Open Mic and Panel Discussion on Antisemitism and the Recent Upsurge in Hate Crimes and Violence / Wednesday October 31, 4:00 – 5:15, Fretwell 100 (UNCC) / Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights (HGHR) Studies and the Departments of Global Studies, History, Languages and Culture Studies, and Religious Studies; More information: John Cox, jcox73@uncc.edu

Main Sanctuary Stained Glass Windows, Tree of Life / L’Simcha Synagogue, Pittsburgh



Events earlier in 2018

A warning from history and a story of survival

Lecture and dialogue with Holocaust survivor Susan Cernyak-Spatz

February 20    ♦    11 am – 12:15    ♦    Cone University Center, McKnight Hall





April 2    /    5:30 pm    /    Rowe Hall 130 

Yazidi Survivors of ISIS Occupation Speak Out

Panel discussion with representatives of Yazda, "a multinational organization established in August 2014 by members of the Yazidi diaspora in the US and Europe as an immediate response to the genocidal attacks by ISIS on Yazidis and other desperate ethno-religious minorities in Iraq and Syria." 

The speakers:

Salema Mirza, deputy executive director of women affairs for Yazda; fled ISIS-controlled Sinjar in northern Iraq, which was the site of a massacre by ISIS in 2014. “Before I travelled to the U.S., I worked in many NGOs that dealt with IDPs (internally displaced persons) in Iraq. Prior to that, I was working as a teacher with children who are at high school and elementary level. I also worked as a social worker with women who suffered from trauma, in addition to serving as a coordinator and program manager of Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights.”

Jamal Aldakhi, also from Sinjar, where ISIS raided and looted all my stores and took everything. I lost about half million dollars due to the ISIS attack. I was able to migrate to the U.S. through my brother, who worked for the U.S. army as an interpreter in Iraq. Currently, I attend English classes in Lincoln, NE hoping to learn English so I can advocate more effectively for my people.”

Photo: Yazidi refugees from ISIS violence, Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, August 2014

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte's Center for HGHR Studies, Data Science for Social GoodWomen's & Gender Studies Program, the Departments of Religious Studies and of Philosophy, and the Office of International Programs; and by Johnson C. Smith University's Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Thursday April 12, 2:00 – 3:15pm / Rowe 130 (UNCC campus)

Conversation with Susan Stein, creator of “Etty”

Ms. Stein is presenting a full performance of "Etty" on the evening of April 11 at Temple Beth El / Shalom Park, as part of the Yom HaShoah (Holocaust rememberance day) activites. 


More information


 Co-sponsored by the Departments of Theater, Languages and Culture Studies, English, and Global Studies



Summer 2018 Study Abroad to Berlin, Krakow, and Auschwitz