Mission of the Designated Emphasis

The DE in Human Rights provides graduate students in affiliated programs the opportunity to supplement their Ph.D. with a specialization in the academic study of Human Rights. The mission of the DE is to promote and build capacity in the academic study of Human Rights and the training of graduate students in the field of Human Rights in the Ph.D. programs throughout the campus.

Affiliated Ph.D. Programs

Students in the following Ph.D. programs are eligible to pursue a Designated Emphasis in Human Rights:

  • Cultural Studies
  • English
  • German
  • History
  • Native American Studies
  • Spanish
  • Sociology
  • ​Study of Religion
  • ​Performance Studies

Affiliated Faculty


Marisol de la Cadena - https://anthropology.ucdavis.edu/people/mdelac
Jeff Kahn - https://anthropology.ucdavis.edu/people/jskahn


Heghnar Z. Watenpaugh - https://arts.ucdavis.edu/faculty-profile/heghnar-watenpaugh


Desirée Martin - https://english.ucdavis.edu/people/dmartin


Elisabeth Krimmer - https://www.elisabethkrimmer.com/

Chunjie Zhang - https://german.ucdavis.edu/people/chunjie-zhang

Sven-Erik Rose - https://german.ucdavis.edu/people/sven-erik-rose

Jaimey Fisher - https://german.ucdavis.edu/people/jaimey-fisher


Corrine Decker - https://history.ucdavis.edu/people/crdecker

Susan Miller-Emeritus - https://history.ucdavis.edu/people/sgmiller

Charles Walker - https://history.ucdavis.edu/people/cfwalker

Adam Zientek - https://history.ucdavis.edu/people/azientek

Stacy Fahrenthold - https://history.ucdavis.edu/people/sfahren

Marian E. Schlotterbeck - https://history.ucdavis.edu/people/mschlott


Keith David Watenpaugh - https://human-rights.ucdavis.edu/people/keith-watenpaugh


Stefano Varese- Emeritus - https://nas.ucdavis.edu/people/stefano-varese

Jessica Perea - https://nas.ucdavis.edu/people/jessica-perea-denaina

Ines Hernandez-Avila - https://nas.ucdavis.edu/people/ines-hernandez-avila-nez-percetejana

Liza Grandia - https://nas.ucdavis.edu/people/liza-grandia

Zoila Mendoza - https://nas.ucdavis.edu/people/zolia-mendoza

Elisabeth Middleton - https://nas.ucdavis.edu/people/beth-middleton

Justin Spence - https://nas.ucdavis.edu/people/justin-spence


W. Flagg Miller - https://religionsgrad.ucdavis.edu/people/flagg-miller


Diane Wolf - https://sociology.ucdavis.edu/people/dlwolf

David Kyle https://sociology.ucdavis.edu/people/djkyle

Caitlin Patler - https://sociology.ucdavis.edu/people/patler


Emilio Bejel - https://spanish.ucdavis.edu/people/emilio-bejel

Cristina Martinez-Carazo  - https://spanish.ucdavis.edu/people/cristina-martinez-carazo

Michael Lazzara https://spanish.ucdavis.edu/people/michael-lazzara

Course Requirements

All four course requirements must be completed prior to the Qualifying Exam:

  • HMR 200A. History, Theory and Criticism of Human Rights. (cross-listed with Study of Religion course REL 231E)
  • HMR 200B. Memory, Culture, and Human Rights. (cross-listed with Cultural Studies course CST 210)
  • One course or course of study in the student’s home graduate department or group, relevant to the study of Human Rights or in which the student may conduct significant research on a topic relevant to the study of Human Rights. This course or course of study shall be identified in advance and in consultation with the student’s Human Rights DE advisor.
  • One reading or independent study course (such as HMR 299) with a faculty member of the Human Rights Designated Emphasis Group


**FALL 2020 

THURSDAYS 11-2pm                                                                                                                 
Collective trauma and collective memory are tied to nationalism and the power to define what is remembered (or forgotten) and how it is remembered, be it from the perspective of the perpetrators, bystanders or victims.  In this course, we will analyze the very sociological concept of ‘collective memory’ and consider some of the ways it has been refined over time-- social memory, cultural memory, post-memory, multi-dimensional memory, and the like. How do we “remember” slavery, the Native American genocide, the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, Hiroshima, US internment camps during WWII, the Nakba and other traumatic events that we did not witness?  Indeed, how are such events recreated and produced such that we remember them in particular and differential ways?   And whose memories get acknowledged and remembered?

We live in a society that is said to have a “culture of trauma.”  Although trauma is usually brought up with regard to individual experiences of abuse and terror, it is important to understand and interrogate the meaning of trauma at the micro and macro levels, and its effects.   What is trauma and how did its conceptualization change over time such that it is has become part of our cultural discourse?

 We will explore different cases, both historical and more recent, to analyze how trauma and memory are represented in diverse forms, including personal testimonies, monuments, museums, memorials, and their resultant effects on identity.  We will consider questions such as how the memory of trauma might be classed, raced, and gendered, how it is performed, and how different narratives are used to reproduce certain memories.

I encourage students from a wide variety of backgrounds to take this course. It will be of interest to those drawn to the topics of power, nationalism, race, gender, immigration and detention, genocide, displacement, exile, and related topics.   While much of the literature we will read is sociological, the readings will also reflect the interdisciplinarity of this very global and fascinating field.  Please email me if you have questions, including whether you should take this course even if you don’t have any background in these topics!    dlwolf@ucdavis.edu


HIS 201I- Historiography of 20th-century Latin America -Prof. Marian Schlotterbeck                                                   
THURSDAYS 4:10-7:00 PM                                                                           

This reading intensive course introduces graduate students to the historiography about Latin America in the twentieth century. Topics include: modernization and industrialization; U.S Empire and sovereignty in the Caribbean; the Mexican Revolution; mass politics and populism; the Cuban Revolution; the national security state; Central American revolutions; gender and sexuality; identity, ethnicity and “race”; and the social and economic impact of neoliberalism. Much of the scholarship produced in the last three decades has taken up “old” questions (land, labor, politics, social relations, economic development, external pressures) but applied new conceptual frameworks (such as gender, race/ethnicity, subaltern studies, etc.) and/or methodological approaches (oral history, post-structural and discursive analysis, etc.) to produce works that question the conventional assumptions about periodization, agency, and interpretation. In addition to gaining a basic familiarity with the region’s historiography, students will begin identifying possible dissertation topics and locating their emerging research interests within the larger paradigms and turning points that have shaped Latin American history. 

Students from all disciplines are encouraged to enroll. This course is required for any graduate student completing a preliminary exam or minor field in 20th-century Latin America.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes:

  • Identify the major problems and debates in 20thcentury Latin American history by participating in class and writing weekly reading responses
  • Summarize and critically evaluate historical monographs in terms of sources, clarity of argument, interpretative framework and place in the historiography through oral presentations and written assignments
  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of Latin American historiography by writing a final 15-page historiographical review essay that synthesizes the methodological, conceptual, and interpretive trends on a particular topic

     Reading List:
  1. Hollaway, Thomas H. A Companion to Latin American History. Wiley-Blackwell (2008). (E-Book)
  2. Joseph, Gilbert and Daniel Nugent, eds., Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press, 1994.
  3. Mallon, Florencia. Courage Tastes of Blood: The Mapuche Community of Nicolás Ailío and the Chilean State, 1906-2001. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.
  4. Gobat, Michel. Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua under U.S. Imperial Rule. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.
  5. Ernesto Semán. Ambassadors of the Working Class: Argentina's International Labor Activists and Cold War Democracy in the Americas. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017.
  6. Chase, Michelle. Revolution within the Revolution: Women and Gender Politics in Cuba, 1952-1962. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2015. (E-Book)
  7. Pensado, Jaime M. Rebel Mexico: Student Unrest and Authoritarian Political Culture During the Long Sixties. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013. (E-Book)
  8. Lina Britto, Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia's First Drug Paradise. Oakland: UC Press, 2020.
  9. Grandin, Greg. The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin Americans in the Cold War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. (E-Book)
  10. Molly Todd, Beyond Displacement: Campesinos, Refugees, and Collective Action in the Salvadoran Civil War. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010. (E-Book)
  11. Gould, Jeffrey. Solidarity Under Siege: The Salvadoran Labor Movement, 1970-1990. Cambridge, 2019. (E-Book)
  12. Ana Minian, Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2018.

Please email me if you have questions, including whether you should take this course even if you don’t have any background in these topics! mschlotterbeck@ucdavis.edu


**WINTER 2021 

HMR 200B- Memory, Culture, and Human Rights - Professor Charles Walker
Wednesdays 4:00-7:00pm

This seminar will examine the long history of violence, memory, and human rights in Latin American and beyond. While the focus will be on repression, resistance, and their aftermath in Latin America, we will also explore theoretical approaches to violence and memory as well as the emergence of the post-World War II concept of human rights.  

Although “memory” has been a topic for intellectual reflection since classical antiquity, it has experienced an upsurge in academia since the 1980s, particularly due to the rise of Holocaust Studies and the urgent need to reflect on gross human rights violations around the world. Crossing the social sciences and humanities, memory has become a category for critical inquiry as well as a political and ethical imperative that links intellectual reflection to political activism in the aftermath of authoritarian regimes, genocide, and situations of violence. Furthermore, “memory studies” now find spaces of institutional legitimacy in the U.S. and abroad as graduate programs and specialized journals promote scholarship in this area.  This seminar will build on the call to "historicize" memory and to understand enduring trends in the use of violence and its and understanding. 

This course serves as one of the two core graduate seminars for the DE in Human Rights: https://humanrightsminor.ucdavis.edu/de 

READINGS (please track down copies of these books)

2 weeks on memory and trauma (I will provide the readings)

1 week on Truth commissions (I will provide the readings)

2  weeks of  student presentations


**Spring 2021 

REL 230E—Thematic Topics - Values, Ethics, and Human Rights- Inter-Group Conflict in Israel and the Middle East 

Dr. Yael Teff-Seker 


Mondays - 12:10-3:00 pm PST

Required attendance synchronously. In addition, lectures will be recorded and made available to the students. Students must have a webcam and microphone on their computers and download an app called Peacemaker.

The Arab-Israeli conflict does not exist in a void. It was, and still is, influenced by external geo-political interests and events, religious beliefs and perceptions, and other external factors such as economy, climate, and scientific-technological advances. The conflict also influences other tensions within and between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim groups, as well as other religious and ethnic minorities in the area.

The course first explains the history of the conflict, using several points of view, and allowing students to voice and discuss their own opinions and analyses of these historic events. It then invites students to understand the complexities of the current situation in the Middle East, and introduces positive examples of cooperation, peace treaties, and synergies. The course encourages students to pursue active learning through researching specific topics, cross-sections (e.g. gender, race), and case studies that are of personal or academic interest to them; as well as through participatory simulations of real-life cases, including role-playing and using a peace-building app. 

Dissertation & Examination Requirements

The dissertation research topic must employ in whole or in part the academic study of Human Rights.  The Qualifying Exam Committee must include a faculty member of the DE in Human Rights and the exam must include a question relevant to the DE.  A faculty member of the DE must also sit on the Dissertation Committee. Typically the same DE representative will be on both committees, but this is not a requirement.

Paperwork Requirements

For assistance obtaining signatures on your paperwork, please contact the DE Staff, housed in the Department of Languages & Literatures: Maria Ruby, 210 Sproul, mruby@ucdavis.edu. The following forms are required for the DE: