Professor of Law
Formerly a practicing attorney representing low-income clients and community organizations, he has taught at Harvard and Northeastern law schools and at the University of Massachusetts and Wesleyan University. His interests include civil and human rights, transnational migrations, and Latino and Latin American studies with special focus on Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, literary) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. We will critique and decenter the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in US popular and official culture, and we will examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S., to its diaspora in Miami, and elsewhere. Students will write frequent short response essays and undertake a 12-15-page independent research paper that will include a proposal, draft, and revision. This course is open to all, though it is best suited to students beyond their first semester of study. The class will be conducted in English, with many readings available in Spanish and English. Papers may be submitted in either language. For students wishing to apply for the Hampshire in Havana spring semester program, this course will offer critical foundational knowledge and application support. (Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is strongly recommended for non-fluent speakers considering the Hampshire in Havana program.)
Millions of people are moving across national borders every day. How easily they do so is critically dependent not only on their nationality (documented or not), but also on race, gender, religion and class. What does it mean to be called a migrant, an exile, a refugee or an illegal alien? How are these categories created and policed? How does migrant detention connect to other policies of mass incarceration? Students will be introduced to the alien management systems of several regions though in-depth case studies on the European Union, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, the US/Mexico border and others. Students can expect to engage in group and individual research projects and to lead class discussions of readings from time to time.
War crimes, torture and genocides demonstrate all too frequently that "never again" remains an elusive ideal. What role does the international system of human rights and humanitarian law play in deterring abuses of power? We examine the debates over the definition, adjudication and punishment of such acts, and evaluate how effective domestic and international legal and extra-legal strategies can be in preventing such crimes in the future, redressing those that do occur, and shaping collective memory and reconciliation after the fact, often called transitional justice. The Nuremberg trial legacy, the ICC, and varied approaches to justice after state violence in South Africa, Rwanda, the Balkans, Chile and Argentina, among others, will provide primary material for critical reflection. The course constitutes an introduction to international human rights discourses and to legal modes of analysis.
How do we explain the long history of treating people differently based on race in a nation formally committed to equality of "all persons"? Slavery, Indian "removal", Asian exclusion, Jim Crow laws, the illegalizing of Latino/a workers and today's disproportionate police killings of people of color suggest that the American legal system has hardly been color-blind. How has the judiciary participated in racializing the nation's "non-white" populations, and what ideological and material effects have its decisions produced? The course will help students develop answers to such questions through historical and legal analysis of judicial decisions purporting to determine the legal personhood of Native, African, Asian and Latino Americans. In addition to court decisions, readings in critical race theory, political theory and history will deepen our inquiry.