LibertyCon 2019: Seeking Sanctuary – Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness

Friday, March 29, 2019 – 7:00pm-9:00pm

Snyder Hall, Siena College – 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211 


Click here for digital copy of conference journal  LibertyCon 2019 – Seeking Sanctuary – Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness Journal

Opening Address – Shaping Inclusive Communities: Solidarity in Times of Othering – Vera Eccarius-Kelly, Ph.D., Professor of Comparative Politics

Dr. Eccarius-Kelly will discuss the fundamental social, cultural, political, and legal challenges immigrants and refugees encounter today when they make claims to human rights and asylum protections. This presentation offers particular insights into notions of identity and belonging, and explores community based strategies that allow us to actively engage in creating a more inclusive and just environment.

Vera Eccarius-Kelly is professor of comparative politics in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Siena College. She teaches courses on social movements, comparative politics, and women and minorities in Latin American and the Middle East. Her research interests include ethno-national, cultural and political dissent within Kurdish diaspora movements and transnational activism in Latin American indigenous communities. She graduated with an M.A.L.D. (Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy) and a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Boston (2002). Eccarius-Kelly is the Faculty Chair of Siena College’s Fair Trade and Social Justice Committee and serves as the Scholars-at-Risk liaison on campus.

She regularly takes students to Guatemala to familiarize them with women’s empowerment models in indigenous communities and to train students in ethnographic interviewing methodologies. Eccarius-Kelly collaborates with The Legal Project and has served as an expert witness for asylum cases in immigration court. As part of her community outreach, Eccarius-Kelly also regularly participates in WAMC Northeast Public Radio’s Roundtable Panel and serves on the board of Mayan Hands, which is a fair trade, nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Mayan women artisans.

Eccarius-Kelly is currently completing an edited volume entitled Kurdish Autonomy and U.S. Foreign Policy: Change within Continuity (expected publication 2019) and a book chapter titled “Do I Even Exist?’ Kurdish Diaspora Artists Reflect on Imaginary Exhibits in a Kurdistan Museum.” Among her recent journal publications are “Dynamics of Peace in Colombia and War in Turkey,” in Peace Review (with Veronica Musa, 2018); “The Kurdistan Referendum: An Evaluation of the Kurdistan Lobby,” in The Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (2017); “The imaginary Kurdish Museum: ordinary Kurds, narrative nationalisms, and collective memory” in Kurdish Studies (2015); and “Surreptitious Lifelines: A Structural Analysis of the FARC and the PKK,” in Terrorism and Political Violence (2012). She published numerous book chapters in edited collections including “Critical Ethnography: Emancipatory Knowledge and Alternative Dialogues,” in Methodological Approaches in Kurdish Studies (2018); “Kurdish Studies in Europe” and “Kurds in Germany” in The Routledge Handbook on the Kurds (2018); “The Kurdish Diaspora and Europe’s Gatekeeping after Kobane,” in Domestic and Regional Uncertainties in the New Turkey (2017) and “Behind the Front Lines: Kobane, Legitimacy, and Kurdish Diaspora Mobilization” in Kurdish Issues (2016). Her monograph entitled The Militant Kurds: A Dual Strategy for Freedom appeared in 2011.

Responders to Dr. Eccarius-Kelly include Dr. Alan Singer and Dr. Darryl O. Freeman

Alan Singer is a professor of Teaching, Learning and Technology and the director of social studies education programs. Dr. Singer is a former New York City high school social studies teacher and is editor of Social Science Docket, a joint publication of the New York and New Jersey Councils for the Social Studies. He is the author of Teaching Global History (Routledge, 2011), New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth (SUNY Press, Excelsior Editions, 2008), Social Studies for Secondary Schools (Routledge, 3rd edition, 2008), and editor of a 268-page secondary school curriculum guide, New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance. In 2011, the Long Island Conference for the Social Studies awarded Dr. Singer the Mark Rothman Teacher Mentoring Award, for his commitment to students and continued excellence in education. He received his Masters and Doctoral degrees from Rutgers University.

Darryl Omar Freeman is a University Faculty Senator and Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento. He is an accomplished researcher, writer, speaker, and social/cultural critic. His scholastic work spans many different social and political arenas – from public policy reform and racial/cultural representation in the United States to community of color identity issues, critical ethnic coalition movement building, and social political issues of the African Diaspora. He is presently part of the leadership committee coordinating the “Ethnic Studies Now” effort to institute a requirement in the State of California that all high school students take an Introduction to Ethnic Studies course as a graduation requirement. There is presently a pilot program in five Sacramento Unified School District high schools

As an engaged community activist Freeman has served as a Board Member, Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution, Black Lives Matter moderator, co-organizer of the “Red Hand Day” Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, African American Graduation Celebration Steering Committee member, a Cooper-Woodson College Peer Mentor and has been a Loaves and Fishes Homeless Inc. service volunteer for over 20 years.

Professor Freeman has been a guest speaker and chaired many academic conference panels and is a member of the following academic organizations; The American Anthropological Association, The American Political Science Association, National Association of Ethnic Studies, National Conference of Black Political Scientists, National Council for Black Studies, and the Southwestern Social Sciences Association. He has also been Associate Editor for the Africana Journal, San Francisco State University and Assistant Editor of the Sacramento Hmong Journal, Sacramento. Publications include “Mixed-Race Individuals: A Solution for Race Relations in America” in Introduction to Ethnic Studies. Dale Allender and Gregory Ye Mark ed. Kendal Hunt Publishing 2016.


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