Of Rights Without Guarantees: Friction at the Borders of Nations, Digital Spaces, and Classrooms

  • Stephen J Parks University of Virginia
  • Ahmed Abdelhakim Hachelaf Ecole Normale Supérieure, Algeria
Keywords: community, partnership, politics, literacy, neo-liberalism, critical pedagogy, transnationalism, decolonialism, digital spaces

Abstract

This essay details the development of The Twiza Project, an initiative designed to allow students in the United States and Algeria to engage in on-line dialogues on issues such as human rights and democracy. At a time when there is a global crisis in democratic institutions, the goal was to enable students to collaboratively develop frameworks and responses which would address the crises of their specific contexts. It soon became clear, however, that while “social media” might allow terms, such as “human rights,” to circulate back and forth in their conversations, when embedded in the materiality of their lives these same terms seem to lead to unavoidable conflicts amongst them. It is out of such conflicts, out of such contradictions, we argue, that new democratic strategies and human rights practices much emerge.

Author Biographies

Stephen J Parks, University of Virginia

Parks is an Associate Professor in the Writing and Rhetoric Program, Department of English, University of Virginia. He is the current Editor of Studies in Writing and Rhetoric (swreditor.org) and one of the founders of Syrians for Truth and Justice (stj-sy.org). His early work focused on the Students’ Right to Their Own Language, with a particular emphasis on the need to embed the politics of such a resolution into progressive community partnerships and publications. This led to his creating New City Community Press (newcitycommunitypress.com) in Philadelphia which links university classrooms, local communities, and publishing technologies in support of efforts to expand human rights. Currently, he is working with Syrian activists to record the human rights abuses of the current regime, ISIS, and militia active in Syria. He is author of Class Politics: The Movement for a Students’ Right to Their Own LanguageGravyland: Writing Beyond the Curriculum in the City of Brotherly Love;and co-editor of Circulating Communities: The Tactics and Strategies of Community Publishing.His most recent work is Writing Communities, a textbook designed to support writing classrooms become a site of community collaboration and publishing. 

Ahmed Abdelhakim Hachelaf, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Algeria

Hachelaf is an Educationalist and Civic Engagement Specialist focused on building capacity within educational institutions to support youth working for social change. He has also worked for national Algerian NGOs and supervised a nationwide active-citizenship program as well as the training of local NGO leaders on community service and leadership in three Algerian provinces. Hachelaf also founded an initiative that fights 21st-century illiteracy by teaching IT skills to women. This project allowed marginalized segments of society to benefit from access to technology and widened their opportunities. Hachelaf is also a frequent presenter on civic education and democratic schooling in the Middle East and North African region. In 2012, Hachelaf was chosen as a Leaders for Democracy fellow and subsequently was chosen to be the delegate of Algeria in a UN event in New York and most recently as a Caux Scholar in Switzerland. In 2017, Hachelaf was a Research Fellow at the Moynihan Institute at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, where he researches civic education and engagement.

Published
2019-03-30
Section
Articles