“However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they
may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss
them with our fellows. Whatever cannot become the object of discourse -
the truly sublime, the truly horrible or the uncanny - may find human voice
through which to sound into the world, but it is not exactly human.
We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by
speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human.”

― Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times

The Fromm Institute invites you to conversations of ideas, views and experiences on the topic of Rights Around the World. Join Fromm Institute Professor Mara Kolesas in a conversation with guest speakers followed by a question and answer period with attendees. Each conversatory is designed to build on the others, however attendance at prior conversatories is not required. All events are free and open to the public, but attendance is limited. All of the "Conversatory on Rights Around the World" & "Conversatory on Racism" Lectures can be viewed on the Frommcast. CLICK HERE. 

To see past Conversatories Speakers, CLICK HERE.

About the Moderator

Mara Kolesas

Mara Kolesas is a political theorist whose interests extend from the conceptualization of citizenship, democracy, and human plurality to issues of political subjectivity, social justice, education, and the thought of Hannah Arendt. She received her doctorate from the New School of Social Research in New York, and has taught in Argentina, Peru, the US, and Lebanon. Committed to bringing academic insights to practical uses and social endeavors, she has worked as a strategist, institutional analyst, DEI practitioner, and consultant for organizations such as the University of California and the United Nations.


Friday, January 21, 2022
The Corrosion of the World's Largest Democracy: India under Modi with Sanjay Ruparelia

Sanjay Ruparelia in Conversation with Mara Kolesas

Sanjay RupareliaSanjay Ruparelia holds the Jarislowsky Democracy Chair at Ryerson University in Toronto. His major publications include Divided We Govern: Coalition Politics in Modern India (OUP 2015), The Indian Ideology: Three Responses to Perry Anderson (Permanent Black 2015), and Understanding India’s New Political Economy: A Great Transformation? (Routledge 2011). Sanjay serves as a co-chair of the Participedia network <participedia.net>, associate editor of Pacific Affairs, and as an expert for V-Dem: the Varieties of Democracy Project (Sweden). He hosts On the Frontlines of Democracy, a monthly public lecture series, co-organized with the Toronto Public Library.

CLICK HERE to register for the Conversatory at 10am
CLICK HERE to register for the Discussion Group at 12pm




Friday, February 4, 2022
Negotiating Rights Under the Religio-Chauvinist Rule of the Taliban
Dr. Omar Sadr in Conversation with Mara Kolesas

Omar SadrDr. Omar Sadr is a Research Fellow at the Center for Governance and Markets (CGM) in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh where he will lead Afghanistan Project and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). Previously, he worked as a Senior Researcher at the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) and as a Researcher at the Department of Peace Studies, the National Centre for Policy Research (NCPR), Kabul University. His primary research interests include political theory, governance of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and multiculturalism, democratic governance, as well as political history of Afghanistan. Dr. Sadr holds a Ph.D. (2018) and an MA (2013) from South Asian University (SAU), a university established by the SAARC nations. He is the first PhD holder in the Social Science Faculty and also the first Afghanistan citizen to hold a doctorate from SAU. Dr. Sadr is an author of numerous books, chapters, book reviews, papers and articles. His most recent book, Negotiating Cultural Diversity in Afghanistan, was published in 2020 by Routledge in London and New Delhi.

A short list of his publications include the following:

Negotiating Cultural Diversity in Afghanistan, London and New Delhi, Routledge, 2020.

The Republic and Its Enemies: The Status of the Republic in Afghanistan, Kabul: AISS, 2021.

Political Settlement of Afghanistan Conflict: Divergent Perspectives, Kabul: AISS, 2019. 

The Fallacy of Afghanistan’s Peace Process: A People’s Perspectives, Kabul: AISS, 2018. 

‘Mahmud Tarzi: Intellectual and Reformist’, in Dev N Pathak and Sanjeev Kumar H.M. (eds.), Modern South Asian Thinkers, Delhi: Sage, 2018.

‘Rethinking Stability for Afghanistan: Socializing Great Powers in a Multilateral Order’, in Rajen Harshe and Dhananjay Tripathi (eds.), Afghanistan Post 9/11: Power Configurations and Evaluating Trajectories, London and New Delhi: Routledge, 2017.

 ‘Afghanistan: the Vulnerabilities of Minorities’, in Sajjad Hassan (ed.) South Asia State of Minorities Report- 2016: Mapping the Terrain, Delhi: Books for Change, 2016.

Short Bio in Persian 

دکتر عمر صدر پژوهشکر مرکز حکومتداری و بازارها در دانشکده امور عامه و بین الملل دانشگاه پیتزبورگ و استاد علوم سیاسی در دانشگاه امریکایی افغانستان است. وی قبلن به عنوان پژوهشگر در انستیتوت مطالعات استراتژیک افغانستان و مرکز ملی تحقیقات پالیسی، دانشگاه کابل کار نموده است. حوزه علاقه او نظریه سیاسی، کثرت‌گرایی فرهنگی، گذار به دموکراسی و دولت‌سازی و حکومتداری می باشد. او دکترا خویش  (۱۳۹۷) را در حوزه سیاست از دانشکده روابط بین‌الملل، دانشگاه آسیای جنوبی، دانشگاه تاسیس شده توسط سازمان همکاری‌های منطقه‌ای آسیایی جنوبی گرفته است. عمر صدر نویسنده چند کتاب، رساله و مقاله علمی است. آخرین کتاب او زیر عنوان کثرت‌گرایی فرهنگی در افغانستان توسط انتشارات راتلج در لندن و دهلی نشر گردید. قبلن از آن سه رساله او زیر عنوان . «جمهوری و دشمنان آن: موضعیت جمهوری در أفغانستان»، «حل سیاسی منازعه افغانستان» و «فرآیند صلح در افغانستان» توسط انستیتوت مطالعات استراتژیک چاپ شدند. سه نوشته‌ای دیگر او زیر عنوان‌های "وضیعت اقلیت‌ها در افغانستان" در کتاب "اقلیت های آسیای جنوبی" و "محمود طرزی: روشنفکر و اصلاح‌گر" در "دانش‌نامه اندیشمندان آسیایی جنوبی" و بازاندیشی ثبات در افغانستان در کتاب «افغانستان پسا ۲۰۱۴: صورت‌بندی قدرت‌ها و تحول مسیرهای پیش‌رو» به زبان انگلیسی چاپ شده اند

CLICK HERE to register for the Conversatory at 10am
CLICK HERE to register for the Discussion Group at 12pm

Past Conversatories

August 26, 2021
Rethinking the Future of Israel/Palestine: Between Two States and One
Omar Dajani in Conversation with Mara Kolesas

Omar DajaniOmar M. Dajani is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Global Center at McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, in Sacramento, California. He is recognized as a leading expert on legal aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He began his legal career by clerking for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and working as a litigation associate at the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley & Austin. In 1999, Professor Dajani was recruited to serve as a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team in peace talks with Israel, ultimately participating in the summits at Camp David and Taba. He then joined the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), where he worked on peacebuilding initiatives and played a lead role in marshaling and organizing international efforts to support Palestinian legal and political reforms. Professor Dajani has continued since that time to work as a consultant for institutions including the U.S. Department of State, the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center (NOREF), and the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Widely published in legal and policy journals, Professor Dajani ’s scholarly work explores the links between international law, legal and political history, and contract and negotiation theory. His current research focuses on what’s next for the states of the Middle East. He is exploring the status and protection of ethnic and religious minorities and considering the extent to which federalism and other forms of decentralization offer solutions to ethno-national conflicts in the region. Watch the Conversation




September 2, 2021
Narrating Israel-Palestine

Farid Abdel Nour in Conversation with Mara Kolesas

Abdel Nour

Farid Abdel-Nour received his PhD in Political Science in 1999 from Rutgers University, New Brunswick. He is Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University, where he currently serves as Department Chair. He is a core faculty member of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies that he helped found and that he directed for several terms. His research and teaching interests are in Political Theory and Middle East Politics. His scholarly work focuses on the responsibility that ordinary citizens bear for outcomes brought about by their states. He has a special interest in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Watch the Conversation



September 3, 2021
The New Israel Fund and How to Protect and Advance Democracy and Equality in Israel

Daniel Sokatch in Conversation with Mara Kolesas

Daniel SokatchDaniel Sokatch has served as the CEO of the New Israel Fund since 2009. During the past decade of extraordinary challenges, NIF has risen to new heights as the great defender of justice, democracy and equality in Israel.

Before joining NIF, Daniel served as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Prior to his tenure at the Federation, he was founding Executive Director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance (now Bend the Arc). In recognition of his leadership, Daniel has been named four times to the Forward newspaper’s “Forward 50,” an annual list of the fifty leading Jewish decision-makers and opinion-shapers. He has contributed articles to leading newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Forward and Haaretz, and is the author of forthcoming book, Can We Talk About Israel: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted (Bloomsbury, Fall 2021). Daniel holds an MA from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, a JD from Boston College Law School, and a BA from Brandeis University. He is married, is father to two daughters, and resides in San Francisco. Watch the Conversation



September 8, 2021
Citizen-Enemies: Failed and Emerging Promises of Citizenship in Israel/Palestine
Smadar Ben-Natan in Conversation with Mara Kolesas



Smadar Ben-NatanSmadar is a longtime Israeli human rights lawyer and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle. Specializing in socio-legal studies and international law, her research focuses on Israel/Palestine and the intersection of political sociology and law, postcolonial theory, carceral studies and criminal justice, national security and human rights. Research topics include military courts, human rights, torture, and incarceration. She is a 2020 Harry Frank Guggenheim distinguished scholar, granted support for her project The Carceral State in Conflict: Between Reconciliation and Radicalization. Smadar holds a PhD in Law and a Master in International Human Rights Law, and was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and Harvard University. You can find a list of her publications here (in English and Hebrew). Watch the Conversation 




October 15, 2021
Rights, Activism and Representation - Reflections from the Armenian Diaspora
Sossie Kasbarian in Conversation with Mara Kolesas


Sossie KasbarianSossie Kasbarian is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Stirling and currently an academic visitor at the Oriental Institute, the University of Oxford (Michaelmas 2021). She earned her doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 2006. She has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Edinburgh and has taught at SOAS, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva), the University of Lancaster (England), and the American University in Cairo. She is co-editor of Diaspora- A Journal of Transnational Studies.

Dr. Kasbarian's research interests and publications broadly span diaspora studies; contemporary Middle East politics and society; nationalism and ethnicity; transnational political activism; refugee, displacement and migration studies.  She is the co-editor (with Anthony Gorman) of Diasporas of the Modern Middle East: Contextualising Community (Edinburgh University Press 2015) and the forthcoming Diaspora and ‘Stateless Power’: Social Discipline and Identity Formation Across the Armenian Diaspora during the Long Twentieth Century (co-edited with Talar Chahinian and Tsolin Nalbantian). She is currently working on a monograph entitled, Diasporizing the modern Middle East – Armenian remnants, resilience and reconfigurations. Please see




November 15, 2021
Limits of Supranational Justice : The European Court of Human Rights & Turkey's Kurdish Conflict
Dilek Kurban in Conversation with Mara Kolesas



Dilek Kurban is a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow at the European University Institute (2021-2022). She holds a PhD from Maastricht University Law Faculty, a JD from Columbia Law School and a master’s from Columbia University. Her dissertation received the Erasmus Prize in the Netherlands and was published as a monograph under the title Limits of Supranational Justice: The European Court of Human Rights and Turkey’s Kurdish Conflict (CUP, 2020). The book has been awarded a Special Mention by the 2021 International Society of Public Law (ICON.S) Book Prize Committee. Kurban’s research interests are regional human rights courts, state violence, legal mobilization and judicial politics, with a particular focus on authoritarian regimes and a regional focus on Turkey. Her research has also been published in edited volumes and in peer-reviewed journals, including Human Rights Law Review and Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Before transitioning to academia, Kurban engaged in policy-oriented research in Turkey. Earlier in her career, Kurban worked at the UN Department of Political Affairs in New York. Watch the Conversation


December 8, 2021
Narrative on War and Justice in the 21st Century
Luis Moreno Acampo in Conversation with Mara Kolesas


Luis Moreno Ocampo

Luis Moreno-Ocampo is the founder Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, where he served from 2003 to 2012. He was involved in 20 of the most serious conflicts of the 21st century including Darfur, Korea and Palestine, and indicted presidents Omar Al Bashir,  Laurent Gbagbo, Muammar Gaddafi, Joseph Kony and other leaders involved in massive crimes. He had previously served as a Prosecutor in Argentina from 1985-1992, having a key role in one of the first transitional justice models developed in the world. He was the Deputy Prosecutor in charge of investigations during the Junta Trial (1985). He was also similarly involved in the cases against Junta’s subordinate commanders and officers (1986-87). He led the prosecution of 2 military rebellion cases (1988 and 1990), and a military malpractice case against the top Army commanders in the Malvinas-Falkland war (1988). As Federal Prosecutor of Buenos Aires he led the investigation of dozens of grand corruption cases involving business leaders, ministers and judges. 

He worked for World Bank and the Inter American Development Bank, worked pro bono for NGOs including Transparency International and New Tactics for Human Rights. He has taught at Stanford, HArvard, NYU, Yale, University of Buenos Aires, Hebrew University and Al Qud University, among others, and he is currently a visiting Professor at USC Cinematic Art School exploring the narratives about crimes and justice.

Oxford University Press will publish in January 2022 a book about his experience: War and Justice in the 21st Century.
Watch the Conversation.


January 6, 2022
The Crisis of Democracy

Larry Diamond in Conversation with Mara Kolesas

Larry DiamondLarry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University. He also chairs the Hoover Institution Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Region and is the principal investigator of the Global Digital Policy Incubator, part of Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. For more than six years, he directed FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, where he now leads its Program on Arab Reform and Democracy. During 2017–18, he cochaired, with Orville Schell, a working group formed of researchers from Hoover and from the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations, culminating in the report China’s Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructing Vigilance (published by the Hoover Institution Press in 2019). He is the founding coeditor of the Journal of Democracy and also serves as senior consultant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Diamond’s research focuses on democratic trends and conditions around the world and on policies and reforms to defend and advance democracy. His latest book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency, analyzes the challenges confronting liberal democracy in the United States and around the world at this potential “hinge in history,” and offers an agenda for strengthening and defending democracy at home and abroad. 

Diamond is professor by courtesy of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford University, where he teaches courses on democracy and American foreign policy. He is currently offering Comparative Democratic Development as a massive open online course (MOOC) on the edX platform.

During 2002–03, Diamond served as a consultant to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and was a contributing author of its report Foreign Aid in the National Interest. He has also advised and lectured to universities and think tanks around the world, and to the World Bank, the United Nations, the State Department, and other governmental and nongovernmental agencies dealing with governance and development. During the first three months of 2004, Diamond served as a senior adviser on governance to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. His 2005 book, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq, was one of the first books to critically analyze America's postwar engagement in Iraq.

Diamond’s other books include In Search of Democracy (2016), The Spirit of Democracy (2008), Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation (1999), Promoting Democracy in the 1990s (1995), and Class, Ethnicity, and Democracy in Nigeria (1989). He has also edited or coedited some fifty books on democratic development around the world. Among them are Democracy in Decline? (2016); Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World (2014); Will China Democratize? (2013); and Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy (2012), all edited with Marc F. Plattner; and Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran (2015), with Abbas Milani. With Juan J. Linz and Seymour Martin Lipset he edited the four-volume series Democracy in Developing Countries (1988–89), which helped to shape a new generation of comparative study of democratic development.

Diamond writes a monthly column for the American Interest and frequently writes, speaks, and consults about how to defend and reform liberal democracy

He received all of his degrees from Stanford University, including a B.A. in 1974, an M.A. in 1978, and a Ph.D. in Sociology in 1980. He taught Sociology at Vanderbilt University from 1980-85. 
Watch the Conversation.