“DukeImmerse was really a deep dive learning experience.”

-Diego Quezada, Rights & Identities, Spring 2014 

Rights & Identities in the Americas: Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, and Contemporary Challenges – Spring 2016; Fall 2014, 2013 (by permission only)

DukeImmerse Rights & Identities student in Mexico, spring 2016

Alexandra Viqueira, DukeImmerse Rights & Identities student, in Mexico (Spring 2016)

Lead Faculty: 

Robin KirkFaculty Co-Chair of the Duke Human Rights Center @ the Franklin Humanities Institute; Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and International Comparative Studies

Sarah Deutsch, Professor of History and Women’s Studies

Liliana ParedesAssociate Professor of the Practice of Spanish and Director of the Spanish Language Program

Overview: The Americas are a historic crucible for the development of human rights principles. The region has witnessed devastating  abuses – from the extermination of North America’s indigenous population to the current outflow of migrants from the Global South.  It has also given rise to compelling ideas about protection of rights, including the rights of indigenous communities, women and families.

DukeImmerse - Rights & Identities in the Americas cohort, with peer cohort from la Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Mexico (Spring 2016)

DukeImmerse – Rights & Identities in the Americas cohort, with peer cohort from la Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Mexico (Spring 2016)

Many of the contemporary advances in human rights are rooted in Latin America, originating with truth commissions which were first developed in Chile.  Our integrated classes look at the history of human rights in the Americas; indigenous rights through the lens of language and culture; and connections between the state, family, gender and immigration. The class is deeply interdisciplinary, with instructors from History/Women’s Studies, Linguistics/Romance Studies and Cultural Anthropology/Human Rights.

The cluster examines these issues on the ground in Durham and Mexico, where Dr. Liliana Paredes and Duke PhD student, Ana Ugarte, are conducting on-going research.  The class meets indigenous immigrant families who have settled in Durham. Students interview families about their experiences and understanding of their rights as well as their beliefs about indigenous identity, family and language. Students also visit the “feeder towns” in Mexico where these families  came from and still maintain close ties. This paired

Rights & Identities in the Americas, Fall 2013

Rights & Identities in the Americas Fall 2013 cohort (Chile)

focus will allow students to see rights questions “at home” while at the same time linking them to transnational issues and processes that are reshaping the relationship between North and South America.

We will be drawing on the expertise of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), the Duke Human Rights Archive in the Rubenstein Library and the Duke Human Rights Center@the Franklin Humanities Institute, among others.


  • Family Rights/Human Rights (Sarah Deutsch; cross-listed as HIST 389S-01, PUBPOL 346S; CZ, SS, CCI, EI): This course explores the relationship between the state, family formation and individuals. Students will look closely at the regulation of sexuality, reproduction, adoption, immigration and incarceration in the US over the past 200 years using the writing of historians and other scholars, autobiography and film.
  • Linguistics and Human Rights (Liliana Paredes, cross-listed as LIN390S-01, and ROMST 309S-02; SS, CCI, EI): This course brings together language and human rights as a lens to examine questions of language content, bilingualism and endangered languages. We will ask a central question: how does language shape and negotiate identities and how does it sustain social realities, with a focus on Mexico and Durham.
  • Human Rights in the Americas (Robin Kirk; CULANTH 245; cross-listed in History, Latin America, International Comparative Studies; ALP, CZ, CCI, EI): This course introduces students to the zapatistas001history of human rights in Latin America, with a focus on Mexico. We will begin with the Conquest and cover the emergence of independent nation-states; the role of imposed economic policies, including neoliberalism; indigenous protest movements and their relationships to corporate interests; and the influence of the United States on human rights, government formation, immigration and the drug trade.
  • Research in Human Rights (Sarah Deutsch & Liliana Paredes; cross-listed as HIST 390S-02 and PUBPOL 414S-01; R, W): Students will develop individual and team projects using primary and secondary sources collected throughout the semester and during our Mexico trip. We expect the students to draw heavily on the materials at the Duke Human Rights Archive, among others.

For more context, view the DukeImmerse: Rights & Identities video, with instructors and students reflecting on the experience of fall 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pVFciFEUbE

Read the reflections of Spring 2016 students, as they studied indigenous rights, immigration policy and globalism with a peer cohort from la Universidad de las Americas Puebla (Mexico).

All interested Duke undergraduates who have completed Writing 101 are encouraged to apply.  The program includes a field-based study in Mexico.

Contact  Emily Stewart (emily.stewart@duke.edu) to learn more.

Fall 2014, Chile

Fall 2014, Chile

Rights & Identities students, Chile, Fall 2013

Fall 2013, Chile

Chile, Spring 2013

Fall 2013, Chile