Human rights researcher presents at EOU Colloquium

LA GRANDE – Eastern Oregon University welcomes Ben Dorfman, an American professor living in Germany and teaching at Aalborg University in Denmark, to discuss his research on history, contemporary politics, and human rights at the Dec. 10 EOU Colloquium.

Dorfman has been focusing on human rights issues for 10 years, and has published two books of essays and a range of articles exploring a plethora of issues in human rights, from contemporary news items to historial scenes—such as the site of the Potsdam Conference and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. 

Recognizing that human rights invite many opinions and ideas, Dorfman acknowledges that many feel the need to weigh in on the subject. 

“There are very few people that you can say the words to and they don’t light up immediately and feel like they have some sort of sense of the meaning of the term and imaginations they engage in about different sceneries from the past and present,” Dorfman said.  

While on sabbatical in the U.S., Dorfman is working on a book explaining why human rights continue to play a central role in modern culture. During his colloquium, he plans to cover the role rights have played in the recent election, including the right to be recognized as a political subject, a voting individual, or a participant in democracy.   

Initially, Dorfman didn’t realize that human rights were the blanket term under which the social concerns he was looking to address fell. His definition of human rights has changed as his research developed. 

“The important point is the realization that even though we may imagine that we come from irreconcilable political positions, in fact, we don’t,” Dorfman said. “That’s because we have a bedrock of ideas that flows underneath the multiple places we stand. We have ourselves convinced that we don’t. But we do.”  

Dorfman’s talk will be held via Zoom (ID: 92178553423) at 4 p.m. on Thursday Dec. 10.  

For more information about upcoming EOU Colloquium topics, visit eou.edu/colloquium.