Past Human Rights Center Research Fellows

In image above, seated, from left to right: Tereza Szeghi; Alexandra Budabin; Theo Majka; and Simanti Dasgupta. Standing, from left to right: Glenna Jennings; Mark Ensalaco; and Natalie Hudson.

Alexandra Budabin, Department of Political Science

"Crowding the Field: The Expanding Roster of Non-State Actors in Conflict Resolutions"

This project considers the proliferation of non-state actors in conflict resolution. I plan to examine the expanding roster of non-state actors that now includes diasporas, celebrities, social movements, multinational companies, and private military firms. The growing roster of human rights actors entering zones of conflict and pushing for peace signals shifts in social and political relationships that require further exploration. These newly arrived actors raise questions of accountability, neutrality, and the risks of privatization. This project engages in both theoretical analysis and validation to assess the capacity and duties of non-state actors. The two following publications are connected to the project:

  • "Diasporas as Development Partners for Peace? The Alliance Between the Darfuri Diaspora and the Save Darfur Coalition," Third World Quarterly, Volume 35, Number 1, (February 2014): 168-180. Special edition on “New Actors and Alliances in Development, co-edited by Stefano Ponte and Lisa Ann Richey
  • "Do Celebrity Humanitarians Matter?" Carnegie Ethics Online, edited by Madeleine Lynn (New York: Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, 2014). Available at

Simanti Dasgupta, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

"The Unstoppables: Transactions between Sex Worker Rights and Human Rights in Sonagachhi, India"

Based upon a grassroots sex workers’ movement in Calcutta, this research explores the contestation between two transnational discourses: sex worker rights and human rights. Drawing upon ethnographic work with a grassroots sex workers’ organization in Calcutta, Durbar Samanwaya Samiti (Durbar), the research will focus on the Self-Regulatory Board of Durbar, which was set up in 1996 following the first State Conference of Sex Workers in West Bengal to prevent trafficking of women misled into and/or unwilling to join the profession or a minor forced into it.

While being a device to address trafficking, one of the objectives of the study is also to understand what such a parallel structure of surveillance mean to both the sex workers and the state. Is the Board a way to argue that sex work needs to be recognized as legitimate labor where 'trafficking' is a reality but not the entire picture? How does the Board straddle the bodily identity of the sex worker and then 'normalize' that identity as labor in the face of social and state opposition? This is tied to the overall project to understand the politics of belonging and citizenship vis-à-vis the nation-state. The ways in which AIDS, ITPA and Durbar’s movement interlock is an area that has not yet been explored ethnographically and it will be fascinating to understand how epidemics, bodies and the postcolonial state are once again drawn into an equation that requires close study. The following publication is a fraction of the work:

  • Dasgupta, Simanti. "Sovereign Silence: Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and Legalizing Sex Work in Sonagachi." PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 37.1 (2014): 109-125

Natalie Hudson, Human Rights Studies Program

"UN peacekeeping: On the Front Lines for Women?"

The purpose of this research project is to assess the multiple impacts that all-female peacekeeping units have had in the UN missions in Liberia, Haiti, and Timor Leste. The research will consider how these all-female forces contribute to the mandated goals of the mission; how they interact with the local communities in which they operate; how they influence with interactions among other peacekeepers; and how the women peacekeepers are impacted by the deployment experience. Thus, this research will highlight new action being taken in current UN peacekeeping mission, gather original empirical data on these three case studies, provide critical evaluation for practitioners, and lastly, gauge popular acceptance of women in peacekeeping operations twelve years after the passage of Security Council Resolution 1325.

Glenna Jennings, Department of Art and Design

"The House of Usefulness: Interrogating Labor and Leisure Rights within the Pornographic Archive of the National Cash Register"

This multi-media art project aims to create both a body of publishable research and a traveling art exhibition that uses archival photographic imagery from the private archive of the National Cash Register to investigate labor and leisure rights within the ideology of welfare capitalism at the turn of the century. The project focuses on workplace Welfare programs of calisthenics and community improvement, namely “The House of Usefulness”, an establishment for "wayward youth."

The project contains a strong element of social art practice that engages a community of art students within its research methodology. These students, artists and researchers will be given agency in a final body of visual work to be published, exhibited and presented both nationally and internationally.

Theo Majka, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

"Refugee Adaptation and Integration"

This project explores how well Dayton-area refugees are adapting to life in the United States and becoming incorporated or integrated into our communities, as well as the challenges and obstacles they face. Refugee populations face distinct situations and challenges due to their experiences in their countries of origin and the frequently unplanned nature of their migration to the United States. Studies in several other cities around the country have shown that while progress is being made, many refugee populations still experience difficulties dealing with some local agencies and organizations due to both their circumstances and agency practices.

The purpose of this project is to assess situations locally and see whether improvements can be made. Research on the integration of Dayton-area immigrants was conducted in 2006-7, and this research builds on its findings. However, refugees are distinct populations who have been far less studies than immigrants. The study will compare and contrast the findings, and will emphasize the differences between the two when justified by the data. The results of the research and specific recommendations will be presented at a meeting with invited service providers as a prelude to discussion on how to implement at least some of its recommendations.

Tereza Szeghi, Department of English

"Human Rights in Indigenous American Literature and Cultures"

This project will address the ways in which indigenous peoples throughout the Americas have used and continue to use literatures (by which I refer to a variety of verbal expressions: oral, written, multi-modal) to articulate a framework for human rights that derives from their particular cultural epistemologies and experiences, and to protest against human rights violations. I also will perform a wide-ranging review of existing human rights thought and methodologies and place these in conversation with the indigenous perspectives that emerge in indigenous literatures. My aim is to contribute to the achievement of indigenous human rights and to the further strengthening of ties between indigenous peoples and non-Native human rights practitioners.

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