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Oct 6, 2016

In Episode 11 of The Rights Track, Todd talks to Professor William Paul Simmons from the University of Arizona about marginalised groups and his latest research on the joyfulness of human rights.

0.00-7.20 mins

  • Explanation and discussion of the term ‘marginalised others’ and how these groups are “branded”
  • How this relates to the current migrant crisis in Europe, the UK and US and how it plays out in practice/politics/media around the world

7.20-13.30 mins

  • Bill’s theoretical research tries to cut through discourse around marginalised groups including among human rights groups
  • The importance of listening to and presenting voices that are not normally heard
  • Todd asks Bill for his view on the Black Lives Matter lobby and the way it has been presented/misrepresented by some
  • Bill mentions the French philosopher, Jacques Rancière and standing up for one’s rights
  • Bill suggests the challenging discussions around Black Lives Matter may be a reason to be optimistic about the possibility of change although admits it may also be something of a sisyphean task


  • Human rights is often framed in a very woeful way, but is this the best way?
  • Bill talks about his content analysis of human rights teaching syllabi around the world and his reflections on how the negative terminology and language surrounding human rights impacts on students
  • Are we only telling half the story when it comes to human rights? We should talk abut the joy associated with it too
  • Todd talks about how The Rights Track podcast also indicates that there is a more positive story to tell about human rights. He specifically mentions episodes with Chris Fariss and James Ron
  • Todd mentions Stephen Hopgood’s book, The Endtimes of Human Rights
  • How looking at the joyful side of human rights opens up a new type of discourse and approach and a new way of looking at human rights
  • Bill mentions his femicide research and his experiences talking with victims
  • When we see people as victims we try to provide for them rather than learn from them says Bill
  • Todd explains more about the circumstances of Bill’s research on the murders of numerous women in South America


  • How can the joyful approach to human rights can be applied to questions around immigration?
  • Bill talks about a former political prisoner in Eritrea who describes himself as a “human rights winner” rather than “victim or survivor”
  • Migrants should not be reduced to their status as migrants or ‘victms’
  • Bill acknowledges the complexities around the use of the term “joy” and how he is mindful of how that could be used to assume people have been helped enough or how people are sometimes “joyful” when carrying out abuses
  • Todd concludes the interview referencing a book, The intimate history of killing

Some of Bill’s favourite images