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JHM talk to focus on ‘the right to have rights’

Lida Maxwell

The Jewish History Museum’s “States of Rightlessness” series will culminate with a keynote lecture by Lida Maxwell on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 24.

The museum coordinated “States of Rightlessness” to mark 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, says JHM Executive Director Bryan Davis. The series uses the museum’s current contemporary human rights exhibition, “Call Me Rohingya,” as a jumping off point to consider the ways citizenship laws have been used to harass and isolate marginalized peoples in various contexts and how social media is used to spread misinformation in often dangerous ways. “Call Me Rohyinga” is a photographic examination of a stateless people persecuted in Burma and Bangladesh.

“States of Rightlessness,” Davis explains, is a meditation on the phrase “the right to have rights” from Hannah Arendt’s book “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” which was first published in 1951.

Maxwell is one of four co-authors of a new book, “The Right to Have Rights,” that explores Arendt’s concept, published by Verso in 2018. On Jan. 24 at 7 p.m., she will present “A Right to Love? Claims of Family and Feeling,” asking, in the context of immigration family separation, whether we should see love and family as human rights.

Maxell is an associate professor of political science and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Boston University. Her next book, “Insurgent Truth: Chelsea Manning and the Politics of Outsider Truth-Telling,” will be published in the fall by Oxford University Press.

Maxwell’s talk will take place. at the community space at City Center for Collaborative Learning, 37 E. Pennington Street.

Davis kicked off the “States of Rightlessness” series with a gallery chat Dec. 14 on the book, “The Right to Have Rights.” On Jan. 9, University of Arizona cultural anthropologist Jill Koyama presented “Fragmented Policy: Legitimized Pain Inflicted on Those Who Are Displaced and Seeking to Claim Human Rights.”

Each of the three talks is self-contained, notes Davis.

“The series engages with Hannah Arendt’s critique of human rights discourses and realities and brings our 21st century reality into conversation with human rights claims of the past,” says Davis. “Additionally, the program highlights the Jewish History Museum’s work as a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.”

Students from both Paulo Freire middle schools and City High School will attend the keynote presentation. For more information, visit www.jewish