Each year the Oak Institute hosts a series of events highlighting human rights in relation to the particular theme of the fellowship. The 2019 theme is water and human rights.

Oak Fall 2019 Events Calendar

September 5

Kashmir Teach-In 

Thursday, September 5  /  7:00 – 8:30pm  /  Diamond 122

This teach-in is a chance to ask questions about a current human rights crisis. The teach-in will be hosted by Professor Ather Zia from the University of Northern Colorado and Colby’s Professor Sonja Thomas. Zia is the co-editor of Resisting Occupation in Kashmir, author of Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir, and numerous articles on the erosion of Kashmiri sovereignty under late-modern colonial occupation.






September 11

“Riding the Wave: Reflections on Fog Collecting in Morocco” with Jamila Bargach, 2019 Oak Fellow

Wednesday, September 11  /  7:00 – 8:30pm  /   Ostrove, Diamond

The Welcome Lecture is a formal introduction the 2019 Oak Fellow is Dr. Jamila Bargach. Her transformational work has significantly improved the lives of Berber communities in Morocco that had long suffered from limited access to water. At Colby, Dr. Bargach will share her knowledge and passion in addressing this year’s Oak theme, Water as a Human Right. Bargach is an activist and scholar who has dedicated her life to serving under-resourced communities in Southwest Morocco, creating sustainable initiatives through education and scientific innovation. She is the co-founder of Dar Si Hmad, which operates the largest functioning fog collection project in the world, a system which fosters the independence of Amazigh women in Ait Baamrane, a Berber region, by delivering potable water to their households. Her talk will also feature a short film and a discussion with Professor Hillary Jeanne Haldane.


September 11 – October 29 

Gideon Mendel’s Drowning World

September 11 to October 29  /  Diamond Atrium 

Gideon Mendel is an artist and filmmaker with more than twenty years of experience, focusing on dealing with pressing crises like climate change. In his collection Drowning World, Mendel explores the calamitous impact of climate change, specifically rising sea levels around the world, with intimate photos of human victims


October 2

“Climate Crisis and Indigenous Resistance” with Tara Houska, Tribal Attorney

Wednesday, October 2  /  7:00 – 8:30pm  /  Ostrove, Diamond

Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is a tribal attorney based in Washington, D.C., the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. She advocates on behalf of tribal nations at the local and federal levels on a range of issues impacting indigenous peoples. She will speak about the months she spent in North Dakota fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the concept of nature rights in relation to water.

Cosponsored by the Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, the History Department, the Environmental Studies Program, the Anthropology Department, and the American Studies Department.


October 7

“Indigenous Resistance, Planetary Dystopia, and the Politics of Environmental Justice” with Jaskiran Dhillon, The New School

Monday, October 7  /  4:00 pm  /  Diamond, Room 122 

Jaskiran Dhillon is an anti-colonial scholar and organizer. Her work spans the fields of settler colonialism, anthropology of the state, anti-racist and indigenous feminism, colonial violence, and critical indigenous studies. She has been published in The Guardian, Cultural Anthropology, Truthout, Public Seminar, Feminist Formations, Environment and Society, and Decolonization, among other venues.

Organized by the Anthropology Department and cosponsored by Office the Provost, the Oak Institute for Human Rights, and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department


October 8

Panel: “Wabanaki Perspectives on Climate Change”

Tuesday, October 8  /  7:00 – 9:00pm  /  Given Auditorium, Bixler 

Wíwənikan…the beauty we carry is an exhibition of contemporary art of the First Nations people of what is now Maine and Maritime Canada currently on view at the Colby Museum of Art. As part of the exhibition’s programming, this panel discussion will focus on how climate change is affecting indigenous artists and indigenous communities in Maine more broadly. The panelists will include Barry Dana, Suzanne Greenlaw, Prof. Darren Ranco and Richard Silliboy. The panel will be followed by a reception at 8:00 pm in the Colby Museum of Art.

Organized by the Colby Museum of Art and cosponsored by the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, the Environmental Studies Program, the Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the Oak Institute for Human Rights


October 16

“Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantlement of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit” with Monica Lewis-Patrick

Wednesday, October 16  /  7:00 – 8:30pm  /  Ostrove, Diamond

Monica Lewis-Patrick is an educator, entrepreneur, and human rights activist/advocate. She is the co-founder and CEO of We the People of Detriot. Monica is actively engaged in struggles on behalf of Detroit residents. She is an active member of the People’s Water Board Coalition, US Human Rights Network, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and D-REM.org, and was named to the World Water Justice Council in October of 2015. As a former Lead Legislative Policy Analyst for Detroit City Council, Monica has authored legislation, conducted research and delivered constituency services to thousands of city residents. Monica attended the historic Bennett College. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a Bachelors degree in Social Work and Sociology and a Masters of Arts of Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in Criminal Justice/Sociology and Public Management. She is currently one of the leaders at the forefront of the water rights struggle in Detroit. 

Cosponsored by the Environmental Studies Program, the Economics Department Christian Johnson Fund, and the African American Studies Program


October 29

“Water Rights and Decolonization: A Lecture and Poetry Reading” with Craig Santos Perez

Tuesday, October 29⋅ /  7:00 – 8:30pm  /  Robinson Room, Miller Library 

Dr. Craig Santos Perez, award-winning poet and professor of English at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. In his words, “My work is deeply influenced by Chamorro aesthetics in particular, and indigenous aesthetics in general, in which much art, architecture, weaving, tattooing, etc., employ symmetrical and repeating patterns. The same is true for many indigenous oral narratives. At the same time, there are also moments of variation within the repeating patterns.” “Much of my eco-poetry is engaged with “solastalgia,” which refers to a nostalgia for a place that is being environmentally degraded. So it’s not about desiring an ideal nature, but instead a mourning and desire to protect our lands and water from further desecration. In terms of my political poetry, I think it is more so grounded in witness, protest, and resistance. What this work desires is not a past ideal political situation, but instead it longs and advocates for a decolonized, sovereign, and indigenous future.”

Cosponsored by the French and Italian Department, the English Department, and the Center for the Arts and Humanities


October 28

“Oceanic Humanities in Southern Africa: Hydrocolonial Perspectives” with Isabel Hofmeyr

Monday, October 28  /  12:00 – 1:30pm  /  Wormser Room, Miller Library 

Isabel Hofmeyr is Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and Global Distinguished Professor in the English Department of New York University. Her most recent book is ‘Gandhi’s Printing Pres: Experiments in Slow Reading’ (2013). She currently heads up a Mellon-funded project “Oceanic Humanities for the Global South” with partners from South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius, India, Jamaica and Barbados.






October 30

“Haunting without Ghosts: Spectral Realism in Colombian Film” 

Wednesday, October 30  /  7:00 – 8:30pm  /  Lovejoy 213 

Based on the forthcoming book Spectral Realism, Violence in Colombian Literature, Film and Art, this talk outlines to concept of spectral realism through the analysis of three recent Colombian films: La sirga (William Vega 2012) [The Towrope], Violencia (Jorge Forero 2015) [Violence] and Oscuro animal (Felipe Guerrero 2016) [Dark Animal].








November 5

Teach-in on Kurdish Genocide and Turkish State Violence

Tuesday, November 5  /  7:00 – 9:00pm  / Diamond 122 

This teach-in is a chance for students, staff, and faculty to learn the basics about a current human rights crisis directly from experts on the subject. The teach-in is featuring via live stream Dr. Stan Thangaraj, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the City College of New York, Elif Genc, PhD Candidate at the New School, and Yuksel Serindag, Law Librarian at Yale University. Colby students’ questions will be taken and answered in realtime.





November 6

“Jumping Ship? Jakarta, Climate Change, and Decolonization” with Arnout van der Meer

Wednesday, November 6  /  12:00 – 1:30pm  / Wormser Room, Miller Library 

This past August the Indonesian government announced its intention to move the capital of the nation from Jakarta – the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the world – to East Kalimantan. The primary motivation behind this remarkable plan was to address Jakarta’s increasing vulnerability to flooding. But other motives can be discerned too, foremost the move marks an important moment in Indonesia’s process of decolonization. This talked will explore how Jakarta’s relationship with the water and environment has changed over time as well as the symbolic meanings that belie the move of the capital to Kalimantan.





November 20

Artifishal | The Fight to Save Wild Salmon – Patagonia Film 

Wednesday, November 20  /  7:00 – 8:30pm  /  Ostrove, Diamond

Artifishal is a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them. It explores wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature.








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