Rights & Identities in the Americas:

Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, and Contemporary Challenges

Exploring human rights principles within the context of migration and identity.

The Americas are a historic crucible for the development of human rights principles. The region has witnessed devastating abuses; it has also given rise to compelling ideas about protection of rights, including the rights of indigenous communities, women and families.

Rights & Identities in the Americas takes an interdisciplinary, integrated look at the history of human rights in the Americas, indigenous rights through the lens of language and culture, and connections between the state, family, gender and immigration. The program examines these issues on the ground in Durham and Mexico, where Dr. Liliana Paredes is conducting on-going research. Students meet with and interview indigenous immigrant families who have settled in Durham, then visit the “feeder towns” in Mexico where these families came from and still maintain close ties. This paired focus will allow students to see rights questions “at home” while at the same time linking them to transnational issues and processes that are reshaping the relationship between North and South America.

Rights & Identities in the Americas draws on the expertise of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), the Duke Human Rights Archive in the Rubenstein Library and the Duke Human Rights Center @the Franklin Humanities Institute.


Locations: Durham, NC; Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico

Term: Spring 2023

Dates: Travel Schedule TBD

Application Deadline: TBD

Academic Themes: Cultural Anthropology, History, Romance Studies,  Human Rights, Latin American Studies, Linguistics, Public Policy

Eligibility: Students must have taken WRITING 101; non-Duke students matriculated at Duke are eligible for this program

Program Fee

Participants are required to pay a program fee of $1,000 in addition to regular Duke tuition, fees, and room and board. This fee covers all program costs, including airfare. Financial aid packages may be used to cover these costs; if you have any question or concern as to whether financial aid will be able to cover this for you, please reach out to the Karsh Financial Support Office directly (finaid@duke.edu); they are familiar with Duke Immerse and can answer your questions. 


Students accepted into Rights & Identities in the Americas will receive the permission numbers needed to enroll in this set of Duke Immerse courses. Enrolled students must take the four courses outlined below. Overloading is acceptable with the permission of all instructors; no underload is permitted. One Duke semester course credit is equivalent to four semester hours.

Course numbers: CULANTH 245S-01, LATAMER 246S-01, HISTORY 242S-01, RIGHTS 245S-01
Curriculum codes: CCI, CZ, W
Course Description: This course introduces students to the history of human rights in Latin America, with a focus on certain regions. We will begin with the Conquest and cover the emergence of independent nation-states; the role of imposed economic policies, including neoliberalism; indigenous protest movements and their relationships to corporate interests; and the influence of the United States on human rights, government formation, immigration, and the drug trade.
Instructor: Robin Kirk

Course numbers: HISTORY 389S-02, PUBPOL 346S-02, RIGHTS 389S-02
Curriculum codes: CCI, CZ, EI, SS
Course Description: This course explores the relationship between the state, family formation, and individuals. Students will look closely at the regulation of sexuality, reproduction, adoption, immigration, and incarceration in the U.S. over the past 200 years using the writing of historians and other scholars, autobiography, and film. 
Instructor: Sarah Deutsch, Ph.D.

Course numbers: HISTORY 390S-01, CULANTH 290S-01, PUBPOL 290S-01, ROMST 390S-01
Curriculum codes: EI, R, SS, W
Course Description: Students will develop individual and team projects using primary and secondary sources collected throughout the semester, with a focus on human rights, history, activism, and scholarly engagement. Students are expected to draw heavily on the materials at the Duke Human Rights Archive. Travel to Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico is required, where the cohort will visit indigenous communities and the neighborhoods where many Durham families have ties.
Instructors: Liliana Paredes, Ph.D. & Sarah Deutsch, Ph.D.

Course numbers: ROMST 389S-01, LINGUIST 389S-01
Curriculum codes: CCI, EI, SS
Course Description: This Duke Immerse course brings together topics of language and human rights, focusing on situations of linguistic disparities in the Americas. Explores questions of language contact, bilingualism, and endangered languages from perspectives of social injustices and human rights. Examines how language aids in the construct of social context and institutions and how it reflects and sustains social realities, reflecting on situations of oppression and how they are associated with sociolinguistic attitudes and behavior. Explores overlap of linguistic human rights with cultural and minority rights; all in connection to the right of maintaining one’s identity as well as sustaining human rights.
Instructor: Liliana Paredes, Ph.D.

Lead Faculty

Liliana Parades

Liliana Parades

Professor of the Practice, Romance Studies

Robin Kirk

Faculty Co-Chair of the Duke Human Rights Center @ the Franklin Humanities Institute; Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and International Comparative Studies

Melissa A. Simmermeyer

Senior Lecturer of Romance Studies

Program contacts: Email Robin Kirk (rights@duke.edu), Emily Stewart (emily.stewart@duke.edu). or Duke Immerse (immerse@duke.edu) for more information.


All students who are interested, regardless of documentation or citizenship status, are encouraged to apply; accommodations and opportunities will be made for students who are unable to travel. We welcome Durham-based DKU students and UNC Robertson Scholars to apply. Please email Duke Immerse director (immerse@duke.edu) if you are interested in participating. Complete the online application using MyExperientialEd.

Elizabeth Barahona quote, "“Duke Immerse was one of the best decisions I made in my undergraduate education because it allowed me to create strong relationships with my professors and peers, explore a topic in depth and improve my research skills.”