Tuesday Seminar Series: Shaming and Claiming for Cultural Rights: Memory and Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador


Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S-250, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speaker: Mneesha Gellman, Assistant Professor, Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, Emerson College

How do marginalized people express cultural rights demands in democratizing regimes? In her new book, Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador, Dr. Gellman argues that violence-affected communities use memory-based narratives in order to shame states into cooperating with claims for cultural rights protections. Shaming and claiming is a social movement tactic that binds historic violence to contemporary citizenship, and memory-based narratives serve as emotionally salient leverage for marginalized communities to facilitate state consideration of minority rights agendas.

mneesha_gellmanMneesha Gellman is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, at Emerson College, Boston, USA. Her research interests include comparative democratization, cultural rights movements, memory politics, and citizen formation in the Global South and the United States. She teaches classes on US-Latin American relations, human rights, and truth, justice, and reconciliation, among others.

Gellman’s current research looks at how citizens are formed in the formal education sector and in community-run spaces organized around mother tongue and heritage language learning. She is working with statekholders in Northern California to develop a five year study that will follow cohorts of students enrolled in Yurok and Spanish language classes at local high schools in order to assess the effects of language learning on student experiences of civic, cultural, and political participation. She will begin a comparative pilot for this project in southern Mexico in 2017-18.

Gellman’s previous research examined how ethnic minority communities use memories of violence in mobilizations for cultural rights, particularly the right to mother tongue education. Her presentation at DRCLAS will focus on the research from her recent book, Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador. Her other earlier work investigated how museums and memorials serve as spaces that can integrate marginalized memories and identities into mainstream vernaculars. For example, her 2015 article in Third World Quarterly looked at the role of peace museums as alternative educational spaces in El Salvador and Sierra Leone.

Prior to joining the faculty at Emerson College, Gellman was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Käte Hamburger Kolleg, University of Duisburg-Essen, in Duisburg, Germany. She has published in journals such as Democratization, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Asian Perspective, and Development in Practice. Gellman holds a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, USA, and an MA in International Studies/Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland, Australia.