The State of HUman Rughts ©nito/

BAA Conference 2018


Thursday, 5 July - Saturday, 7 July 2018

Since their proclamation in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights have become a dominant language in controversies over ethics around the globe and a normative basis for concepts of a just society and ideas of the public good. This concerns a variety of issues, from slavery and warfare through fights over indigenous rights and disputes over preserving the heritage of minorities, to same sex marriage debates or current conflicts over asylum law and the status of refugees.


What is the state of human rights both within and beyond the boundaries of the nation state and how can it be considered from a multidisciplinary angle? 


This conference offers perspectives from literary and cultural studies, history, political science, philosophy, sociology, and law, looking at historical controversies on human rights as well as at its current political and imagined state(s). Contributions reflect theoretical implications of interdisciplinary work on human rights agency and also take into account the significance of cultural texts in envisioning and critically reflecting the ‘state of human rights’. 


The BAA’s 2018 international conference investigates the role of human rights, both in diachronic and synchronic perspectives and with an interdisciplinary research design. 



No conference fee - please register for participation at

Venue: Amerikahaus München, Barer Str. 19 a

Fon: +49 89 55 25 37-41 / -42



Conference Program (1.104 KB)

Abstracts & Bios Booklet (373 KB)

Poster (210 KB)





Conference Program

Thursday, 5 July 2018

13.30 Registration


14.00 Young Scholars Panel: Human Rights

Chair: Kerstin Schmidt (University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt)

  • Florian Tatschner (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
    "We Seek Our Basic, God-Given Rights as Human Beings": Hoping for Human Rights in the Work of César Chávez
  • Suncica Klaas (University of Potsdam)
    Writing Wrongs – Righting Wrongs: Human Rights and Testimoniality in the Contemporary American Autobiography
  • Katharina Matuschek (University of Regensburg)
    These People are Animals": Dehumanization and the Effort to Regain Humanity in Prison Autobiographies

15.30 Coffee Break

    • Lars Vadjina (University of Tuebingen)
      Human Rights and Jimmy Carter: On a Mission to Change the World
    • Robin Oliver Leick (University of Munich, LMU)
      The Bumpy Development of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union as a Prime Example of the Genesis of Human Rights Codifications

    17.30 Coffee Break


    18.00 Conference Opening


    • Heike Paul, Bavarian American Academy, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
    • Stephen Ibelli, U.S. Consulate General Munich                                                               

    Award Ceremony: BAA Dissertation Award


    19.00 Keynote Address

    • Saskia Sassen (Columbia University)
      Toward a New Language of Human Rights



    Friday, 6 July 2018

    09.00 Panel I: Inventing Human Rights in the Pre-Modern Era

    Chair: Prof. Dr. Volker Depkat (University of Regensburg)

    • Kerstin von Lingen (University of Heidelberg/ University of Vienna) 
      The Legacy of the Marten's Clause: Debating Crimes Against Civilians, 1899-1945 
    • Micheline Ishay (University of Denver)
      Human Rights in the Age of Populism


    10.30 Coffee Break


    11.00 Panel II: Democracy and the Quest for Human Rights in Troubled Times
    Chair: Jürgen Gebhardt (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

    • Benjamin Gregg (University of Texas at Austin) 
      The Human Rights State Within And Beyond Sovereign Nations
    • Regina Kreide (University of Gießen) 
      Human Rights as Placeholders: Between Legitimacy and Criticism


    12.30 Lunch Break


    14.00 Panel III: 'Rights on Paper': Intersections between Literature and Human Rights

    Chair: Kerstin Schmidt (University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt)

    • Greta Olson (University of Gießen) 
      From Law and Literature to Literature and Human Rights
    • Crystal Parikh (New York University) 
      "I Haven't Come Back... I've Come Here": American Innocence and the Refugee Child
    • Martin Puchner (Harvard University)
      Cultural Rights and World Literature


    16.00 Coffee Break


    16.30 Panel IV: The Cultural Imaginary of Human Rights after World War II in a Transatlantic Perspective

    Chair: Heike Paul (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

    • Jane Lydon(University of Western Australia)
      Visualizing Human Rights and Constructions of Indigeneity: UNESCO’s Human Rights Exhibition in Australia, 1951 – The Shared Visual Language of Photography?
    • Gerd Hurm (University of Trier)
      “The Family of Man” (1848/1955): Feminist Foremothers, Women’s Rights, and Human Rights


    18.30 BAA Members Meeting (members only)


    Saturday, 7 July 2017

    10.00 Panel V: Civil Rights and Law

    Chair: Erik E. Lehmann (University of Augsburg)

    • Peter T. Wendel (Pepperdine School of Law)
      Civil Rights and Law in the U.S.: Historical Roots and Recent Developments
    • Thomas M.J. Möllers (University of Augsburg)
      A Comparative and Critical View of Civil Rights and Law in the U.S. and Germany


    12.00 Concluding Keynote

    Chair: Heike Paul (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

    • Heiner Bielefeldt (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
      Human Rights: Practice and Philosophy


    13.00 End of Conference

    The 18th International Academy Conference is organized by the Bavarian American Academy (BAA) and supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the U.S. Consulate General Munich.