Human Rights, Law, and Society (variable topics)

In the aftermath of the second world and the genocide directed against European Jewry, a new language of human rights and international law developed to address the consequences of total war and the Holocaust: trials and tribunals sought to mete out justice for crimes against humanity and international agencies worked to provide relief and rehabilitation for survivors and displaced refugees. The postwar discourse of international law, human rights, and commemoration has not prevented further outbreaks of extreme racial and ethnic violence and the trans-generational legacies of collective trauma, but it has provided us with a framework for analyzing historical origins, the gendered experiences of both victims and perpetrators, and the possibilities and limits of resistance, as well as redress and reconciliation efforts and multiple forms of memorialization. With the Holocaust as the limit case,and using a wide variety of sources including historical accounts, eyewitness reports, contemporary reportage, archival records, memoirs, oral and written testimonies, and visual representations in photography, film, and art, we will examine cases of genocide and mass violence incomparative global context, ranging from German East Africa at the beginning of the century to Armenia during World War I, and Bangladesh, Cambodia, former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda in the post-World War II era.

3 credits

Course Code: SS 315

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.