Tania DoCarmo

Tania DoCarmo is a doctoral student in Sociology, entering her fourth year of study. Her research interests are in sociology of culture, representation, migration, human rights, humanitarian ethics, global inequality, law and society. She is currently working on multiple collaborative projects with faculty and peers on storytelling for advocacy more generally, and the experience of detained migrants in California, in addition to individual projects on the international institutionalization of human trafficking as a contemporary social problem, tensions between international discourses on “crime” and “rights,” and the experiences of trafficking survivors in Cambodia during and after receiving assistance from law enforcement and social service providers. Prior to doctoral studies, she worked ten years for international NGOs in Brazil, Cambodia and the US on projects related to violence, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Email: tdocarmo@uci.edu

Human Rights Stories As Technology For Social Change

International human rights activism relies heavily on storytelling. New digital technologies and “image politics” transform how advocacy groups and NGOs make their claims, with many dispersing stories via social media, photography and video. These stories are often utilized as a form of technology for social change in and of themselves, with innate transformative and political potential, posing as democratic discourses of truth and “evidence” of what is real. And yet, storytelling for human rights is not without controversy. Are stories truly democratic? Who are human rights stories for? Few studies focused on storytelling for social change bring together literatures on international human rights in addition to the social construction of the narrative form, or consider how rights stories are crafted by international advocacy groups. Drawing on interview data and actual stories disseminated online, I analyze how and why international human rights stories are produced, and how advocates reconcile ethical and practical challenges in telling them.