This is an interdisciplinary panel that I both curated and spoke on over the Summer 2011:
As part of the two-week 2011 Summer School “Correlations: Law, Language, and Culture,” representatives of high-profile (I)NGOs dealing with censorship, artistic expression, and human rights, an Iranian-born human right activist and cartoonist, as well as renowned scholars will be visiting the University Osnabrück to engage with Summer School participants and to hold a special public evening panel discussion at the Kreishaus on Saturday, August 13, 2011. A central focus of the two-week summer school will be on the ways that the law has negotiated concepts of “human rights” and how rights to freedom of expression sometimes conflict with cultural claims. The panel “Innovation, Collaboration & Human Rights,” organized by Todd Lester (freeDimensional) and Dr. Sabine N. Meyer (IfAA),complements this research focus by bringing together scholars, artists, and (I)NGOs to discuss the ways that censorship has emerged as a critical human rights concern in the 21st century. It also reflects on the innovative strategies and collaborations, both institutional as well as technological, human rights activists need to engage in in order to facilitate the production and distribution of art. Such a discussion is particularly timely considering the recent political development in the Arab world, also commonly referred to as the “Arab Spring.”
Thus, the special public evening panel discussion in the Kreishaus offers an opportunity to hear firsthand about the precarity of censorship and exile from an artist who is currently experiencing such a situation and about the innovations and collaborations NGOs are devising and engaging in to redress artistic censorship through transnational networks and artist residency spaces. A special interest will be taken in the role that the law has played in both protecting individual creative freedoms, as well as the law’s potential to erode and destroy fundamental human rights.
The evening is a highlight of the Summer School and of particular importance for engaging the wider public in a topic that is timely and of great interest. In contrast to the other events in the context of the Summer School (plenary and focus lectures, all of which are also open to the public), the evening on “Innovation, Collaboration & Human Rights” features both scholars who have specialized in human rights as well as stakeholders outside the academy who approach the problem of censorship and artistic expression from a pragmatic perspective. To underscore the ways that censorship remains a global, transnational problem, which presents a particular complex of problems from a legal perspective, the evening includes participants from Iran/France, United Kingdom, Denmark, and the United States.