Date of Graduation

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department/Program

International and Multicultural Education

First Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad

Second Advisor

Monisha Bajaj

Third Advisor

Chris Thomas

Abstract

Through a participatory action research project with human rights activists in Myanmar, this study builds on discourse around inherent power imbalances in international human rights work by highlighting voices often left out of the human rights discourse. Using postcolonial and third world feminist frameworks, this research offers analysis of ten research participants’ narratives on their relationship with human rights discourse and a discussion of their practice. By looking at questions of how community activists from Myanmar engaged in a human rights discourse, the study offers nuanced understandings and critical analysis of how and why certain activists will embrace or reject the use of human rights standards and practice. Based on these findings, the study offers suggestions for how foreign born human rights activists can engage in solidarity with local community agents in ways that do not reinforce narratives of victimization and salvation. It offers the reader thoughts on how to build solidarity across borders by highlighting specific recommendations from local activists in Myanmar that offer insights on how one can engage in human rights work across borders in a way that focuses on building local relationships based on trust and collaboration that make room for a constant examination on power dynamics.

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