Upcoming events on Digital Scholarship and Human Rights in the Americas

Join HRDI staff to kick-off LLILAS Benson’s “Digital Scholarship in the Americas” series with two events led by guest speaker Professor Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, University of Washington. Professor Godoy will first offer a workshop “Addressing Human Rights Digitally—Ethical Dilemmas and Possibilities,” looking at the promises and pitfalls of sharing sensitive human rights records through digital platforms. This workshop will be held from 1:00PM – 2:00PM on Monday, September 26, 2016 in the 2nd Floor Conference Room of the Benson Latin American Collection, SRH Unit 1.

Professor Godoy will additionally present “Digital Archaeology: Tools for Truth and Justice in the Wake of El Salvador’s Amnesty Law,” to discuss the amnesty law in El Salvador and examine the possible role of digital archaeology in the pursuit of truth and justice there. This talk will begin at 4:00PM on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 in September 26, 2016 in the 2nd Floor Conference Room of the Benson Latin American Collection, SRH Unit 1.

Both events with Professor Godoy are free and open to the public. For information on the workshop and presentation, contact Albert Palacios and Paloma Diaz, respectively.



Professor Godoy serves as Helen H. Jackson Endowed Chair in Human Rights and founding Director of the Center for Human Rights. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, she worked at Amnesty International, and she credits her experiences among human rights activists—at Amnesty as well as many other organizations—as the principal inspiration behind her work.  She is the author of two books published by Stanford University Press. The first, Popular Injustice: Violence, Community, and Law in Latin America (2006), examines the phenomena of vigilante justice in the wake of contemporary crime waves, especially in Guatemala. More recently, she authored Of Medicines and Markets: Intellectual Property and Human Rights in the Free Trade Era (2013), a comparative study of the politics around health and trade in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala. She has also written numerous articles on these and other topics for both scholarly and general audiences.

Co-sponsored by LLILAS Benson, the Latin America Initiative, and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice of the School of Law.


Written by Haian Abdirahman, Mosaic Fellow, Human Rights Documentation Initiative.

Giveaway: Tickets to “The Look of Silence” at Alamo Drafthouse, August 14-20

Be one of the first five people to correctly answer the Human Rights Documentation Initiative trivia question to win 2 tickets for a screening of The Look of Silence between August 14-20 at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Winners will be notified by email and tickets will be held at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar box office.

About the film:
“The Look of Silence is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar®-nominated The Act Of Killing. Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.”

Trivia question:  What is one collection in the Human Rights Documentation Initiative archive that deals with the issue of genocide? Hint: Browse collections at http://lib.utexas.edu/hrdi/ut_collections.

Enter the giveaway here.


Giveaway: Tickets to “The Act of Killing” at Alamo Drafthouse, August 9-15

The Human Rights Documentation Initiative and Alamo Drafthouse Films are giving away one pair of tickets to a screening of The Act of Killing playing at the Alamo Drafthouse from August 9-15.

The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Bear), documents how death squad leaders in Indonesia are celebrated as heroes and challenges them to “reenact their real-life mass-killings in the style of the American movies they love. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit.”

For a chance to win tickets, answer the Human Rights Documentation Initiative trivia question by 11:59 pm on Thursday, August 8.

Tejiendo la Memoria: Weaving Memory in El Salvador through Archival Collections

As part of an ongoing partnership with El Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (the Museum of the Word and Image) in San Salvador, El Salvador, the HRDI is pleased to announce the launch of the Tejiendo La Memoria weekly radio program online archive, featuring digital audio files available for streaming of all 28 programs produced by El Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen and the Association of Participatory Radio Programs of El Salvador (ARPAS).
Each short program highlights different aspects of the diverse archival and audiovisual collections housed at El Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (MUPI) and are centered on important events and figures in El Salvador’s history.  Some of the topics covered in the program include:

–    The archive and legacy of Salazar Arrué (Salarrué):  Salarrué, well known for his book of children’s tales Cuentos de Cipotes, was a prolific writer and painter, producing some of the earliest abstract paintings of the 20th century.  MUPI possesses the personal archive of Salarrué, in addition to voice recordings of Salarrué and recorded interviews with his family members.  In “Tejiendo la Memoria 01: Biografia de Salarrué,”  MUPI introduces listeners to the life and legacy of Salarrué.  “Tejiendo la Memoria 02: Cuentos de Cipotes,” focuses upon one of Salarrué’s most well-known works, including a short reading of one of his stories.  “Tejiendo la Memoria 10: Salarrué y sus Nietas,”  contains audio clips of interviews with Salarrué’s granddaughters and a reading of one of Salarrué’s Cuentos de Cipotes.

–    Personal testimonies of the Salvadoran Civil War:  Chiyo, a 10 year old boy whose family was murdered at the hands of the oppressive Salvadoran political regime, recounts his experiences travelling as a child with the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, his personal journey since the war ended in 1991, and shares his passion for music in “Tejiendo la Memoria 11: Chiyo, un niño de la Guerra.”  Rufina Amaya, the sole survivor of the two day Massacre at El Mozote, offered her testimony of events to Radio Venceremos, the underground radio station for the FLMN, now part of MUPI’s collections.  “Tejiendo la Memoria 06: Rufina Amaya, la verdad sobre El Mozote” provides excerpts from Amaya’s testimony.

–    The life and living memory of Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a Catholic Bishop who was assassinated by a death squad lead by Major Robert D’aubuisson.  Monseñor Romero, who openly challenged the repressive state regime in El Salvador, and called for an end to the military’s blatant violation of human rights, was a humanitarian and well-known for his weekly radio sermons. “Tejiendo la Memoria 14: Monseñor Romero, la voz por los sin voz” shares clips of Monseñor Romero’s weekly radio sermons, and presents a biography and homage to the ongoing legacy of Romero.  “Tejiendo la Memoria 15: Monseñor Romero Vive!” uses witness testimony and interviews to describe the events of Monseñor Romero’s assassination, his funeral, and the search for justice.  Monseñor Romero’s close personal friend, Mrs. Santos Delmi Campos, discusses the days preceding Monseñor Romero’s assassination in “Tejiendo la Memoria 27: Monseñor Romero y la Amistad” as well as the personal photo collection he left in her care, which she has donated to MUPI in order to share the legacy of Monseñor Romero with the community.

Each of these collections are part of MUPI’s campaign “Contra el Caos de la Desmemoria” (“Against the Chaos of Forgetting,”) an endeavor to preserve and promote significant materials from El Salvador’s history and to maintain them as part of the social consciousness of the Salvadoran community.
The Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen is a citizen-founded non-profit organization dedicated to the investigation, preservation and exhibition of materials related to the culture, history and identity of El Salvador.  Initially started in 1992 by Carlos Henriquez Consalvi, “Santiago” in order to preserve materials produced during the decade long Salvadoran Civil war, such as underground radio programs (Radio Venceremos and Radio Farabundo Martí), personal diaries, photographs, and documentary materials.  In 2009, MUPI created and launched the weekly radio program “Tejiendo la Memoria” (Weaving Memory) to offer insight into the diverse collections available at el Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen.

To view the entire collection of Tejiendo la Memoria weekly radio programs, click here.

To visit the website for the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen and learn more about their archival collections, audiovisual materials, and exhibitions, click here.

SAA Human Rights Archives Roundtable Interviews T-Kay Sangwand

The Society of American Archivists Human Rights Archives’ Roundtable has started a new interview series called “Five Questions for…”  This week, HRDI Archivist T-Kay Sangwand was featured as part of the series – see her interview with the roundtable here.

Also be sure to check out the series’ inaugural post, featuring an  interview with Verne Harris, Head of Memory Programming at the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Centre of Memory, which is the first interview in the Five Questions series.

Rethinking Power and Resistance Conference Online Archive Launch

The Human Rights Documentation Initiative is pleased to announce the launch of the online video archive from Rethinking Power & Resistance: Gender and Human Rights from Texas to the Transnational Americas,  an interdisciplinary conference sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Women and Gender Studies, as part of the Embrey Women’s Human Rights Initiative.

Rethinking Power and Resistance brought activists, organizers and scholars together to discuss issues relevant to activism and community organizing, such as; Arts as Advocacy, Pedagogies of Alliance and Resisting Criminalization.  The video archive, produced with the assistance of videographer Andrea Zarate, contains footage of several panel discussions, a radio segment aired on KOOP 91.7 fm’s progressive news program, People United, and a post-conference promotional video.  A few highlights from the collection include:

Women in Hip-Hop Roundtable, featuring artist TooFly and hip-hop artists Yoli Zapata, DJ Trinity, Invincible, and Lah Tere. The Women in Hip-Hop roundtable features activist women participating in an open discussion about how race, sexuality, and gender have intersected to impact and shape their art, in addition to personal stories of how they got involved in art and music and their current activist projects.

Making a Difference discussion with Miss Major, director of the Transgender Intersex Justice Project.  Miss Major is a powerful activist and transgender elder working for transgender and intersex visibility and rights, especially in the prison system.  Miss Major’s talk highlights the oppression faced by transgender women in the Prison System, many of whom are housed according to physical sex instead of of gender identity, which makes them vulnerable to harassment, sexual assault, and exploitation at the hands of other inmates.  Miss Major’s talk is an open, frank discussion of the issues faced by transgender and intersex people both in and outside of the prison industrial complex, espousing a need to view transgender rights as part of the global human rights framework, not as a niche or special interest group.

Rethinking Power and Resistance Promotional video, featuring interviews from conference organizers and attendees, as well as footage from Mama Said Knock You Out 2, a benefit concert for Mamas of Color Rising.   This follow-up video to the conference contains interviews with conference participants, organizers and speakers as well as impressions of the closing concert, Mama Said Knock You Out 2.

Part of the power present in this conference is the participants’ ability to continually share their work and activism through the online video archive.  To view additional videos from the conference, visit the new Rethinking Power and Resistance Conference page at the HRDI Collections website, and the Finding Aid at the Texas Archival Repository online.

To view photos from Mama Said Knock You Out 2, and read TooFly’s writing about her experience at the conference and creating live art during the concert, check out her blog post covering the event.

For those present in Austin, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and the Human Rights Documentation Initiative will be hosting a panel discussion celebrating the launch of the new video archive: https://www.facebook.com/events/158825117618238


Can I Get a WITNESS?

(cross-posted from Tex Libris)

I see pictures of people, rising up
pictures of people, falling down
I see pictures of people
they’re standing on their heads, they’re ready
they’re looking out, look out!
they’re watching out, watch out!

“This is the Picture” from Peter Gabriel’s So





The Libraries efforts in the field of human rights continue to flourish.

The Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) has announced a new partnership with human rights video advocacy organization WITNESS to preserve and provide access to raw video footage of human rights abuses and video productions collected from the organization’s partners.

WITNESS was co-founded in 1992 by musician and activist Peter Gabriel with Human Rights First and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation to provide support to grassroots advocacy through the use of video as an integrated tool in human rights campaigns.

This is the sixth partnership in which the HRDI has become involved. Other projects include work with the the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda, the Guatemalan National Police Archive, theTexas After Violence ProjectFree Burma Rangers and the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen.

As seen by the recent successes and widespread use of video by citizen journalists in the uprisings of the Arab Spring, the growth of civic media to fight injustice will continue apace.

You can see the full press release on the new collaboration here.

And here’s video of the Ted Talk where Gabriel explains the concept of WITNESS:

HRDI and WITNESS Partner to Expand Human Rights Video Archives

A human rights project established at the University of Texas Libraries has announced a collaborative effort with an international organization that focuses on video documentation of human rights violations.

The Libraries’ Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) will expand its collection with source materials provided by human rights organization WITNESS to guarantee long-term preservation of and expanded access to raw footage and video productions created by the organization and its partners.

Now marking its 20th anniversary, WITNESS shows its commitment to supporting ongoing human rights change by seeking strategic partnerships with diverse stakeholders who can help meet the growing needs of human rights activists using video to expose injustice.

“WITNESS is thrilled to be working with the University of Texas Libraries,” says Grace Lile, WITNESS’ Director of Operations and Archives. “This partnership will help ensure the long-term preservation of unique human rights video from grassroots human rights defenders.  Equally important, it will make this primary source material much more widely accessible for study, research and reflection.”

WITNESS was co-founded in 1992 by musician and human rights advocate Peter GabrielHuman Rights First, and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation for the purpose of empowering front line human rights advocates in the use of video to document human rights abuses across the globe.   Since then, WITNESS has partnered with more than 300 human rights groups in over 80 countries, trained over 3,000 human rights defenders, developed widely-used training materials and tools, and supported the inclusion of video in more than 100 campaigns, increasing their visibility and impact.

The WITNESS Media Archive was founded in 2004 and is today the repository for over 5000 hours of video from over 80 countries.  The archive has been a leader in developing practices and models for the archiving of video documentation in a human rights context, and in recognizing the importance of archives to the promotion and defense of human rights.

“The HRDI holds a deep respect for WITNESS’ work around human rights video agency, advocacy and archiving, so it’s truly an honor to play a pivotal role in the preservation of and access to the powerful human rights narratives that WITNESS and its partners have brought to the fore of public awareness over the past twenty years,” says HRDI archivist T-Kay Sangwand. “The collections that we have received so far complement the HRDI’s existing holdings, particularly on armed conflict and genocide in Central America and Africa.“

The collaboration with WITNESS is the sixth such by the HRDI since its launch in 2008. Previous work includes the project’s founding partnership with the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda to archive and provide access to documents of the 1994 genocide in that country, as well as a recently publicized project to undertake similar work for the Guatemalan National Police Archive, a cache of records including documentation of torture, disappearances and other human rights abuses from the period of authoritarian rule in that country. The HRDI also collaborates with the Texas After Violence ProjectFree Burma Rangers and the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen.

“As a large research library with a robust digital preservation infrastructure, the University of Texas Libraries is well equipped to ensure the long-term preservation of and access to WITNESS’s rich material,” continues Sangwand. “This not only helps fulfill the university’s mission to provide the resources our faculty and students need for teaching and scholarship, but also enables the public, particularly the communities documented in the archive, to easily access the materials.”

Examples of materials from the WITNESS archive:

For further information, or to learn more about accessing the collections, please contact either T-Kay Sangwand from HRDI at sangwand@austin.utexas.edu or Yvonne Ng from WITNESS at 718.783.2000,yvonne@witness.org.

About the Human Rights Documentation Archive

The University of Texas Libraries established the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) at the University of Texas at Austin with a generous grant from the Bridgeway Foundation in 2008. Working with activists, scholars, and organizations to identify electronic and analog resources that are particularly vulnerable to loss, the HRDI aims to preserve the most fragile records of human rights struggles worldwide, promote the security and use of human rights archival materials and further human rights research and advocacy around the world. lib.utexas.edu/hrdi


WITNESS is the global pioneer in the use of video to expose human rights abuses. We empower people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change. Founded in 1992, WITNESS has partnered with more than 300 human rights groups in over 80 countries, trained over 3,000 human rights defenders, developed widely-used training materials and tools, and supported the inclusion of video in more than 100 campaigns, increasing their visibility and impact. Videos made by WITNESS and our partners have told dozens of critical human rights stories, and have galvanized grassroots communities, judges, activists, media and decision-makers at local, national and international levels to action. www.witness.org

Source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/about/news/libraries-and-witness-partner-expand-human-rights-video-archives

HRDI Shares Best Practices

Photo: “Memory and Documentation” sign from Ibuka archive, Rwanda. Taken on 2009 HRDI trip.

(Cross-posted at Tex Libris)

In September, UT Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative representatives Christian Kelleher and T-Kay Sangwand traveled to Columbia University to participate in an advisory group meeting for theCenter for Research Libraries (CRL) MacArthur Foundation funded project, Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study.  The Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study aims to understand the human rights documentation landscape – technologies, documentation creators and end users – and to identify tools and practices for improving documentation’s uses for advocacy and scholarship.

In addition to Kelleher and Sangwand, the advisory group consisted of librarians and archivists from Columbia University, Duke University and human rights organization, WITNESS, as well as practicing lawyers and professors from the University of Texas School of Law. During this day-long meeting, the group discussed how human rights documentation is used from the point of creation by an organization/activist to how it ends up in an archive for educational purposes and a courtroom for legal purposes. Based on their experience of establishing digital preservation partnerships with organizations that create human right documentation, Kelleher and Sangwand shared some of the challenges that can prevent such documentation from ever arriving to the archive (namely, trust and ownership disputes) as well as the HRDI’s approach to overcoming this challenge – the use of the post custodial archival model that allows organizations to maintain physical and intellectual ownership of their materials while depositing digital copies at UT for long-term preservation. Through presentations by legal experts (including the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice  Co-Director, Dan Brinks) on how human rights documentation may be used in U.S. and international courts, the HRDI was proud to learn that its metadata and preservation standards meet and even surpass the general recommended criteria for documentation authentication in a court of law.

The meeting’s discussion on the creation, preservation, and use of human rights documentation will be synthesized with the study’s findings in CRL’s final report due out in late 2011/early 2012.

Introducing an Online Tutorial for Archival Research on Human Rights at UT-Austin

The papers of author and activist Gloria Anzaldúa.
(Image courtesy of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

The Human Rights Documentation Initiative is excited to introduce the online Tutorial for Archival Research on Women’s Human Rights, a new tool created by a UT iSchool student, Amelia Koford.  While the tutorial is geared towards students and faculty who are researching women’s human rights rights at UT, the tutorial can be useful to anyone who is unfamiliar with the archival research process and questions of ethical engagement with archival material. The link to the tutorial is given below. You can also find a link to it from the UT Collections page on the HRDI website.


By: Amelia Koford

The archives at the University of Texas at Austin are invaluable resources for scholars, students, and activists interested in human rights. It can be challenging, however, for people unfamiliar with archives to locate, access, and interpret these resources. This semester, as a project for my dual master’s degree in Information Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, I created an online tutorial to help people conduct archival research.

The tutorial focuses on research topics related to women’s human rights.  However, it can useful for anyone conducting archival research at UT-Austin.  I invite you to explore the tutorial here: http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/cwgs/womens-rights/Archival-Research-Tutorial

The idea for this resource came from a conversation with Dr. Kristen Hogan, Project Director of the Embrey Women’s Human Rights Initiative in the UT-Austin Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.  I wanted to find a project that would let me use my skills as an information professional to support feminist scholarship and activism.  I sat down for a brainstorming meeting with Dr. Hogan, who explained that the Embrey Women’s Human Rights Initiative was funding the development of several new Signature Courses on women, gender, and human rights.

Signature Courses at UT-Austin are interdisciplinary classes designed to introduce undergraduate students to college work. The newly developed courses would promote student and faculty engagement with women’s human rights frameworks. One of the innovative components of these courses would be the incorporation of research using the archives at UT-Austin. However, for many students and faculty, archival research would be an unfamiliar and potentially daunting undertaking. Perhaps, Dr. Hogan and I thought, an online tutorial could help them bridge this information gap.

I was drawn to this idea because I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed as a first-time archives user.  During my first year in the School of Information, I learned the particularities of archival research through trial and error.  “I can’t bring my backpack into the reading room?”  “I need to look at something called a finding aid?”  “I should have done some background research before I came?”  I learned the answers to these questions piecemeal, from kind and patient staff members at the archives.  By creating an online tutorial for archival research, I sought to answer some of these questions up front and demystify the archives experience.

Writing and developing the tutorial was extremely rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to learn about information literacy, human rights education, and archival theory and practice. I was able to connect with inspirational archivists, librarians, scholars, and activists who helped me edit the content and gather images to illustrate the website.

The tutorial helps researchers find and use both the physical archives on campus and the digital archives preserved by the Human Rights Documentation Initiative.  It offers tips for conducting background research, analyzing and interpreting archival material, and considering emotional and ethical questions.

Although the tutorial was designed to support Signature Courses on women, gender, and human rights, it is useful for anyone conducting archival research at UT-Austin.  Some potential uses for the tutorial are:

  • As an assigned reading for undergraduate or graduate students before they begin an archival research project.
  • As a guide for individual students choosing to use archives as sources for class assignments.
  • As a resource for professors seeking to incorporate archival research on women’s human rights into their courses.
  • As a teaching tool in the classroom.
  • By students, staff, and faculty at UT-Austin and neighboring colleges.
  • By activists and other community members not affiliated with UT-Austin.

I hope the tutorial will increase the visibility and accessibility of UT-Austin’s human rights archives and facilitate human rights research, teaching, and advocacy.

Amelia Koford is a second-year graduate student pursuing dual master’s degrees in Information Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at UT-Austin.  She works at the Perry-Castañeda Library and has also worked at the Seminary of the Southwest Booher Library.  Previously, she served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member at College Forward, interned at the West African Women’s Association in Senegal, and studied English and French at Grinnell College.