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Current Research Projects

1. Migration and Human RIghts Project (with Daniel Kanstroom and Jessica Chicco, Boston College)

As to its cruelty, nothing can exceed a forcible deportation from a country of one’s residence, and the breaking up of all the relations of friendship, family, and business....” -Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698, 730 (1892) (Justice Field, dissenting)

Over the past decade, immigrant communities in the U.S. have been subjected to an increasing range of systematic human rights violations, including arrest without warrants, incarceration without bail, and deportation without regard to family ties, length of residence in the U.S., or other humanitarian factors.

The Migration and Human Rights Project, based at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College, was designed to address respond to increasing numbers of forced migrants in the United States and the harsh effects of current U.S. deportation policies. The Project aims to conceptualize a new area of law, providing direct representation to individuals who have been deported, and to promote the rights of deportees and their family members through research, community education, policy analysis, human rights advocacy, and training programs. Through participatory action research carried out in close collaboration with community-based organizations in New England and Guatemala, the Project addresses the psychosocial impact of forced migration and deportation on individuals, families, and communities and provides legal and technical assistance to facilitate community responses. The ultimate aim of the Project is to advocate, in collaboration with affected families and communities, for fundamental changes that will introduce proportionality, compassion, and respect for family unity into U.S. immigration laws and bring these laws into compliance with international human rights standards. Website:http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/centers/humanrights/projects.html


Annual Reports (PDF downloads)

Migration & Human Rights Project Annual Report 2012 (English) (Spanish)

PDHRP Annual Report 2011 (English) (Spanish)

PDHRP Annual Report 2010 (English) (Spanish)

PDHRP Annual Report 2009 (English) (Spanish)

Human Rights of Migrants: Transnational and Mixed-Status Families

The Center for Human Rights and International Justice has partnered with community-based organizations in the Boston area to collaborate on an interdisciplinary and transnational project. The project brings together Central American immigrant members of the organizations, staff organizers from the group, lawyers, psychologists, and social workers to document how the recent upsurge of immigration enforcement is affecting immigrants and their families and communities. The aim of the PAR project is twofold: to develop human rights research and advocacy skills among immigrant community members within the United States; and, to produce detailed documentation about the effects of detention and deportation on transnational mixed-status families that can form the basis of a more comprehensive understanding of these families, improve services available to them and their children, and develop human rights documentation for sustained and effective advocacy campaigns. Past partners of the project were Centro Presente, English for Action, and Organización Maya K’iche’. In 2011-2012, the Center partnered with the newly founded Casa El Salvador, located in East Boston. The project has included dozens of collaborative community-university meetings over the past four years and resulted in two major documentation and research projects as well as a series of Know Your Rights workshops.

Human Rights and Migration Project, Zacualpa Guatemala

The Migration and Human Rights Project, based in Zacualpa, Quiché, Guatemala, is a collaborative project between local Zacualpans, Guatemala-based researchers and religious, and Boston College-based students, faculty, and legal staff. The project has various aims as it studies social, political and psychological factors contributing to migration among the local population and seeks to offer assistance to them where practical. To these ends, the project conducts a range of activities including: assisting local Zacualpans seeking to locate their family members that have migrated to the US; offering legal assistance from BC-based legal staff when applicable; offering support services and networking to family members “left behind” through a local staffed office; studying the demographics of migrating community members as well as the effects of migration on local families through community surveys; collaborating in participatory and action research with local Zacualpans to better understand the social and psychological effects of on families separated transnationally by migration, and to better understand the push and pull factors of migration through interviews with local residents; and conducting participatory workshops to encourage the local residents, particularly youth, to engage the how?, where?, why?, questions that emerge for them as their families and friends around them depart for distant lands. Finally, the projects seeks to work with those who have returned – either voluntarily or through deportation – to explore varied uses of their social capital in developing local initiatives and creating more life options for those living in Guatemala.

Post-Deportation Human Rights Project

Over the past decade, immigrant communities in the U.S. have been subjected to an increasing range of systematic human rights violations, including arrest without warrants, incarceration without bail, and deportation without regard to humanitarian factors. Many of those deported have been in the United States since early childhood, and many leave behind spouses, children, parents, and other family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Many have not had the benefit of legal counsel in their removal proceedings, and have not had the opportunity to pursue all available avenues of relief. Yet once they have left the country, deportees are generally barred from reopening their removal proceedings, and many are barred for life from returning to the U.S.

The Post-Deportation Human Rights Project (PDHRP), based at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College, offers a novel and multi-tiered approach to the problem of harsh and unlawful deportations from the United States. It is the first and only legal advocacy project in the country to systematically undertake the representation of individuals who have been deported from the United States.

2. Participatory Action Research in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Developing psychosocial resources for cross-community dialogue, healing, and organizing for change.

The CHRIJ-sponsored project is a Participatory and Action Research PhotoVoice Project in post-Katrina New Orleans. It was designed collaboratively by M. Brinton Lykes, Community-Cultural Psychologist and Associate Director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice; Luanne Francis, health educator and program director at Kingsley House; and, Shaula Lovera, health educator and program director at the Hispanic Apostolate of Catholic Charities.

Katrina Exhibit and Project (PDF downloads)

Photo Voice Exhibit Announcement (8.7MB)
Poster 1 - Introduction and Methods (30.9 MB)
Poster 2 - Helping Hand (18.8MB)
Poster 3 - Post-Katrina Communities (23.8 MB)
Poster 4 - Analyzing Oppression (22.7MB)
Poster 5 - Promoting Healthy Lifestyle (14.5 MB)
Poster 6 - Neighbors Helping Neighbors (15.4 MB)
Poster 7 - Conclusion (3.6 MB)

Website: http://www.bc.edu/centers/humanrights/projects/PAR.html

3. Understanding women's struggles for justice, healing and redress: A study of gender and reparation in Guatemala (with Alison Crosby, York University)

A participatory action research project funded by: Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (external link) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC) (external link) Principal Investigator: Dr. Alison Crosby, Assistant Professor of Women's Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada Research partners: Dr. M. Brinton Lykes (external link), Professor of Community-Cultural Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG) Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) York University, Toronto, Canada Centre for Human Rights and International Justice (CHRIJ) Boston College, Boston.

Project Description: (versión en español abajo) This project examines the nature and forms of reparation for women survivors of sexual violence during the 36-year long armed conflict in Guatemala, within a context of ongoing structural impunity, militarism and gender-based violence. We start with the understanding that in situations of systematic and systemic violations of human rights such as the genocidal war in Guatemala, it is not possible or even desirable to erase the consequences of violence, nor is it possible to adequately compensate for what has been lost. We cannot “repair the irreparable” (Hamber 2006, 567). Thus in terms of impact, reparation for massive human rights violations during violent conflict must be viewed as largely symbolic, even when material compensation is provided (Hamber, 2006; Lykes and Mersky, 2006).

The project addresses the existing gaps in the study of reparation as a part of the field of transitional justice. These gaps are both empirical and theoretical. As such, the project aims to bring new understandings of gender and reparations in the aftermath of truth-telling processes through an examination of the implementation of the National Reparations Program in Guatemala from the standpoint of women survivors of sexual violence during the armed conflict. We are working with 62 women survivors who have been engaged in a process of mutual support and organizing for the past five years (ECAP and UNAMG, in the framework of Consorcio Actoras de Cambio, 2009), and who have provided their own oral histories of their experiences of the armed conflict. This research is centred on these women survivors’ conception of reparation and their broader struggles for justice.

The project seeks to avoid a hyper-reductionist focus on sexual harm. We do this by making visible women’s multifaceted agency and subjectivity as victims, survivors, and resisters within armed conflict and its aftermath, their search for voice as well as their preservation of certain silences, and their complex and conflictive struggles as political actors to create new social relations within the families, communities and society in which they live. This project draws on the work of Kleinman (1988), Martín-Baró (1996) and others who emphasize the nature of suffering as deeply social, collective, and historical, rather than only or exclusively individual. Given this analysis of social suffering and the structural nature of oppression and violence, the project situates reparations strategies within broader struggles for justice. Such an approach depathologizes survivors of trauma and deconstructs the tendency to reduce them to the status of victim-object. This research project does not seek to “give voice” to women survivors, but rather to create the spaces and opportunities for listening to the voices women have within the contexts in which they live and act.

Género y Resarcimiento:Comprendiendo las luchas de las mujeres por la justicia, la memoria histórica y el resarcimiento en la Guatemala de posguerra.

Un proyecto de investigación acción participativa financiado por: Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (external link) y el International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Investigdora Principal: Dr. Alison Crosby, Profesora Asistente de Estudios de la Mujer, York University, Toronto, Canadá Investigadores Asociados: Dra. M. Brinton Lykes, Profesora de Psicología Comunitaria-Cultural, Lynch School of Education, Boston College Unión Nacional de Mujeres de Guatemala (UNAMG) Centro para la Investigación sobre América Latina y el Caribe (CERLAC), York University, Toronto, Canadá Centro para los Derechos Humanos y la Justicia Internacional (CHRIJ), Boston College, Boston.

Descripción del Proyecto:

En este proyecto se examinan la naturaleza y las formas de resarcimiento para mujeres sobrevivientes de violencia sexual perpetrada durante los 36 años de conflicto armado interno en Guatemala, en un contexto permanente de impunidad estructural, militarismo y violencia de género. Partimos del entendimiento de que en situaciones de violaciones de derechos humanos sistemáticas y sistémicas, como es el caso de la guerra genocida en Guatemala, no es posible ni deseable borrar las consecuencias de la violencia, así como tampoco es posible resarcir adecuadamente las pérdidas. No podemos “reparar lo irreparable” (Hamber 2006, 567). Así, en términos de su impacto, las reparaciones por violaciones masivas de los derechos humanos durante conflictos violentos se deberán entender como mayormente simbólicas, aún cuando se provea compensación material (Hamber, 2006; Lykes y Mersky, 2006).

El proyecto se enfoca en los vacíos existentes en el campo de estudio de las reparaciones como parte del ámbito de la justicia transicional. Estos vacíos son tanto empíricos como teóricos. En concreto, el proyecto trata de generar nuevas comprensiones en torno a género y reparaciones luego de procesos de recolección y develación de la verdad, por medio de examinar la implementación del Programa Nacional de Resarcimiento en Guatemala, desde las miradas de mujeres sobrevivientes de violencia sexual durante el conflicto armado interno. Estamos trabajando con 62 mujeres sobrevivientes quienes desde hace cinco años vienen desarrollando procesos de apoyo mutuo y organización (ECAP y UNAMG, en el marco del Consorcio Actoras de Cambio, 2009), y han compartido las historias orales de sus experiencias durante el conflicto armado. El trabajo de investigación se centra en cómo estas mujeres sobrevivientes conceptualizan el resarcimiento, así como en sus luchas por la justicia.

Este proyecto busca evitar un enfoque excesivamente reduccionista sobre el daño sexual. Logramos este propósito por medio de visibilizar la actoría-agencia multifacética y la subjetividad de las mujeres como víctimas, sobrevivientes y resistentes durante el conflicto armado y en el contexto de sus secuelas; su búsqueda por encontrar voz y también por preservar ciertos silencios, así como sus complejas y conflictivas luchas como actoras políticas que persiguen dar vida a nuevas relaciones sociales al interior de las familias, las comunidades y en la sociedad en la cual viven. El proyecto se nutre del trabajo de Kleinman (1988), Martín-Baró (1996) y otros que enfatizan la naturaleza profundamente social, colectiva e histórica del sufrimiento, en vez de entenderlo como única o exclusivamente individual. Partiendo del análisis del sufrimiento social y de la naturaleza estructural de la opresión y la violencia, el proyecto ubica las estrategias de resarcimiento en el contexto de las luchas más amplias por la justicia. Este tipo de enfoque des-patologiza a los sobrevivientes de trauma y des-construye la tendencia a reducirlas al estatus de víctima-objeto. El proyecto de investigación no persigue “dar voz” a las mujeres sobrevivientes, sino más bien generar espacios y oportunidades para escuchar las voces que tienen las mujeres en los contextos en los cuales viven y actúan.

WWW SITE/SITUO DE WEB: http://acrosby.apps01.yorku.ca/tiki-index.php