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‘Ecce Homo (This Is a Human)’ to consider ethics, engagement

A symposium on human dignity and human rights, “Ecce Homo (This Is a Human!),” will be held Tuesday through Friday, April 18-21, at the University of Delaware.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, is intended to foster a dialogue between the public, the UD community and scholars whose work deals with the issue of human rights through the ages and from a variety of perspectives. Organizers hope the symposium will encompass “four days of powerful conversations.”

Cornel West — a prominent activist, author, philosopher and Princeton University professor emeritus — will deliver the keynote speech from 7-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 18, in UD’s Clayton Hall auditorium. Tickets are required, at no charge, for those attending the speech, titled “Justice Matters: What Love Looks Like in Public.”

Tickets are available now and can be picked up on the University campus at the Bob Carpenter Sports/Convocation Center, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or at the Trabant University Center box office, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets can also be reserved by emailing and will be available for pickup at Clayton Hall the night of the event.

The symposium will continue from 5-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 19, in 118 Purnell Hall, with the screening of the 2016 film Fire at Sea, a documentary directed by Gianfranco Rosi. A fellow filmmaker, Luca Giberti, will host a question-and-answer session at the screening.

Fire at Sea focuses on the island of Lampedusa, known as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe.

Four panel discussions will be held Thursday and Friday, April 20-21, from 12:30-5 p.m. each day in Daugherty Hall. The April 20 panels will be “Human Rights in Antiquity” and “Lessons from the Holocaust,” and the April 21 panels will discuss “A Middle East in Crisis and the Failure of Ethics” and “Human Rights and Latin America.”

Organizers said the symposium was designed with the belief that public discussions of human rights are of particular importance in a historical moment charged with humanitarian crises and xenophobic nationalism. Some questions expected to be addressed by the speakers are:

What is human dignity? What sorts of perils does a society evoke when it (collectively) renounces or dismisses the concept of human dignity? What activities constitute a violation of human rights, and to what extent are individuals and societies ethically bound to defend them?

“Ecce Homo” is presented by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, in partnership with UD’s Office of the President, Office of the Provost, College of Arts and Sciences, departments of Philosophy and of Black American Studies, Center for Global and Area Studies and the Jewish Studies Program.

For details about the schedule of events and the panelists, visit the symposium website.

About Cornel West

Professor, philosopher, author and activist Cornel West is known as a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual.

A professor emeritus at Princeton University, he also has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris. He earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard and his master’s and doctoral degrees at Princeton.

West has written 20 books and edited 13. He is best known for Race Matters and Democracy Matters and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. He is a frequent guest on television news shows, has appeared in more than 25 documentaries and films and has produced three spoken word albums.

About the panel discussions

Topics expected to be discussed by the April 20 and 21 panelists are:

“Human Rights in Antiquity”: Migrants, Foreigners, Veterans and the Homeless in the Odyssey; Cyrus the Great and Thoughts on Multiculturalism from a Persian Perspective; Social Death and Roman Slavery; and Is Ignorance a Defense? Select(ive) Human Rights in Late Antiquity.

“Lessons from the Holocaust”: A Human Story; A First Look into Stanley Kubrick’s Work in Preparation for Aryan Papers; and The Threat of Election from Below — An Interview with Moni Ovadia on Holocaust Memory.

“A Middle East in Crisis and the Failure of Ethics”: The Ethics of Defeating ISIS in Syria; Fatwa 64 — How IS Theologians Legitimize Abrogation of Women’s Rights; Israel’s War on Gaza and the Protection of Civilians; and The Banal and the Surreal in the Syrian Landscape — Insights from Khalid Khalifa’s Novel Death Is Hard Work.

“Human Rights and Latin America”: The Survivor — Human Rights and Testimonies in Visual and Literary Representations; The Mnemonic Imagination — Human Rights, Affect and Recollection in Postdictatorship Argentina; and 10 Days in the Forest — Ecology, Human Rights and How to Survive Torture in the Pinochet Regime.

Moderating the panels will be the members of the symposium’s organizing committee: Annette Giesecke, Elias Ahuja Professor of Classics; David Winkler, assistant professor of Italian and a Holocaust scholar; Ikram Masmoudi, associate professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and a specialist in Middle East conflict survivor literature; and Gladys Ilarregui, associate professor of Spanish and Latin American & Iberian Studies and a poet and human rights activist.

Article by Ann Manser March 27, 2017

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  • 77 East Main Street - Room 217
  • University of Delaware
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