Luis van Isschot

Assistant Professor
Hoursemail for appointment
OfficeWood Hall 314
Phone(860) 486-4597
Fax(860) 486-0641

I am Assistant Professor of History and Human Rights. This is a joint appointment between the Department of History and the Human Rights Institute. I am also an affiliate of El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies.

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, I received my PhD from McGill University in 2010. More recently I was a Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC) postodctoral fellow based at the City University of New York (CUNY). I earned a BA in History from the University of British Columbia and an MA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Simon Fraser University.

My research seeks to explain the emergence of human rights as a new paradigm of social protest during the Cold War.

My first book project, The Social Origins of Human Rights: Protesting Political Violence in Colombia’s Oil Capital, 1919-2010, examines why, how, and with what impact, people living in conflcit areas organize collectively to assert human rights. Established by Standard Oil in 1919, the oil enclave of Barrancabermeja has long been a critical battleground in Colombia’s armed conflict. Drawing on interviews, as well as social movement and legal archives, I situate the experiences of frontline activists within broader debates on the history of the international movement for human rights.

The goal of my new research project - When the Courts Make History: the Impact of the Inter American Court of Human Rights in Latin America's Conflict Zones - is to understand the historical changes set in motion by the pursuit of justice across borders.

My work emerges out of the tension between scholarship and practice.  For more than a decade I worked internationally supporting human rights advocates in Latin America and elsewhere, mainly with the NGO Peace Brigades International

Methodologically, I am interested in oral interviewing, as well as social and political history. In 2008 I was full-time Coordinator of the Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and Other Human Rights Violations oral history project, and have written a chapter for the upcoming Palgrave Macmillan edited volume, Off the Record: Unspoken Negotiations in the Practice of Oral History.