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Global Language Mellon Sawyer Seminar: The Tower of Babel: Human Rights and the Paradox of Language

General Programming

  • The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Office of the Executive Vice President and Dean
  • The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights
  • Lydia H. Liu
  • Anupama Rao
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society presents

A Public Lectures Series in Global Language Justice

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar

with Moria Paz.

The Tower of Babel: Human Rights and the Paradox of Language

A key promise of human rights law is the robust protection of minority languages and cultures. The reality, however, is that major human rights courts and quasi-judicial institutions are not prepared to force upon states the costs of a true diversity-protecting regime. In this talk, Moria Paz argues that the human rights regime, as applied by judicial bodies, actually encourages states to incentivize assimilation into the dominant majority culture and language. The true concern of human rights law is therefore assimilation on fair terms, not the preservation of minority languages and cultures as often claimed.

Moria Paz is a legal scholar focusing on the intersection of immigration law, international law, security policy, international organizations, and human rights. She is currently completing two books: Network or State? International Law and The History of Jewish Self-Determination (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2019) and The Law of Strangers – Critical Perspectives on Jewish Lawyering and International Legal Thought (co-edited with James Loeffler, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019). Her work has won numerous prizes and awards, including the Law & Humanities Interdisciplinary Writing Competition, the New Voices Selection of the European Journal of International Law (2014); a New Voice Panel of the American Association of International Law (2013); the Junior Faculty Forum for International Law (2013); and the Laylin Prize for most outstanding paper in international law awarded by Harvard Law School (2007). Paz received her S.J.D. doctoral degree from Harvard Law School, and before that attended The University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Beijing Normal University. She has held fellowships at Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School and Georgetown Law Center. She is currently a Fellow in International Security at the Center on National Security and the Law, Georgetown University Law Center.

To be followed by a faculty and graduate student seminar on Friday, October 5.