Divine Poem (Security of Defenders project)

This poem was written by Juliana Mensah.

Divine is one of 16 poems composed and arranged by Juliana Mensah (English and Related Literature) from the interview transcripts of the project Navigating Risk, Managing Security, and Receiving Support. Formerly an artist-in-residence at the Centre for Applied Human Rights, Juliana’s practice-led research spans prose, theatre, and participatory arts, and frequently engages with issues of human rights and social justice. 

The largest study of its kind, this research project focused on how human rights defenders navigate risks, manage their personal security, and receive protection support in five countries – Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, Kenya, and Indonesia. Through interviews, focus groups and surveys with over 400 defenders at risk, this project proposed ways in which protection can be reconceptualised and reorganised for greater effectiveness. The project was led by Alice Nah. The research project was also the inspiration for the work Divine by Ruben Ochoa.


This artwork was created by Ruben Ochoa.

Ink on perspex

Ruben Ochoa's artwork Divine is based on the poem Divine by Juliana Mensah (English and Related Literature), for the Navigating Risk, Managing Security, and Receiving Support research project, within the Centre for Applied Human Rights. It is concerned with the mission of Priest Alejandro Solalinde, one of the most active human rights defenders in Mexico and a 2017 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. 

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a human rights defender, and defending human rights here is often a matter of life and death. Nevertheless, Solalinde has publicly denounced the abuses committed against undocumented Latin American migrants, and has been threatened multiple times by criminal organisations that traffic humans, weapons and organs. Divine is a plea and also a reflection on the offences we inflict as a society on those who fight every day for human rights.

York: Human Rights City

These posters were created by the Centre for Applied Human Rights.

The posters advertise the annual York Human Rights Film Festival organised by the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) under the auspices of the York: Human Rights City Network (YHRCN). The Festival offers York residents the opportunity to raise their awareness of human rights.

In 2017, York declared itself the UK’s first Human Rights City. YHRCN has evolved since to become a strong civil society initiative with close relationships with local statutory bodies and intellectual leadership.

Through their work in the city, CAHR has modelled a new approach to human rights, intervening in an integrated way to inform policy and practice, public awareness and action, and protection for vulnerable groups. The YHRCN approach to social change seeks a mature relationship with the City of York Council and other power-holders in the city, combining collaboration and critique, as well as aiming to reclaim a positive image for human rights by addressing local, everyday concerns.

A Map of a Civil Society

This illustration was created by Helen Cann.

This is the artist, illustrator and mapmaker Helen Cann’s answer to the question ‘What makes for a civilised society?’, posed as part of the public engagement strand of the project ‘Rethinking Civil Society: History, Theory, Critique’. The project is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award given to Tim Stanton (Politics).

Its aim is to examine the historical evolution and contemporary resonance of the idea of civil society, and it spans a broad range of fields of inquiry – political theory and philosophy, intellectual, literary and art history. The project examines how and why societies in different cultural, historical and economic contexts experience quite different forms of social and political integration, civility and solidarity.

Liminal Banquet (Arctivism)

Queer Respirator created this photographic series.

The Liminal Banquet is the work of Queer Respirator from Serbia and the West Balkans and is part of the Arctivism project (Centre for Applied Human Rights). It was developed by Zoe Gudović, Andrej Ostroški and Vladimir Bjeličić and their amazing drag personas Zed Zeldich Zed, Dekadenca and the Markiza deSada. All three performers are part of the Ephemeral Confessions collective where they actively work on developing merry alternatives to bleak reality with cautious optimism and sharp irony.

This photographic series depicts the aforementioned drag personas in an idealised version of the kitchen, the space where people spent most of their time preparing food during the lockdown, in an attempt to indulge themselves and to dream, for a moment, while escaping from news reports, and screens. To capture the essence of COVID-19 induced isolation, boredom, exhaustion, fear, and rage, they used the Liminal Banquet, a unique and critically engaged approach to queer storytelling in the domain of the visual arts.

Invisible Vox Pops

This photographic series was created by Les Monaghan.

This is a showcase of a series of photographs partially shot by the artist independently and partially when collaborating with researchers Sara de Jong (Politics) and Tom O’Brien (Sociology), to give visibility to those rendered less visible in our society. Those who are rendered voiceless are the human manifestation of a system of living that pitches humans in competition for the benefit of a few.

Invisible Vox Pops aims to make visible that which is less visible, and to make heard what we often don’t want to hear. The collaboration looked at Doncaster through the lens of continual crisis. A question arose with almost every participant and collaborator that they shot or worked with: “Are things getting better or worse?” The short answer is always worse. Individually, some are making progress at work, growing families or dealing with addiction or ailment. Nonetheless, when reflecting on society and collectivity, we see more poverty, intolerance, injustice, direct and existential threats to life and wellbeing.

Precarious transitions: Mobility, democracy and citizenship in a Rising Power

This photographic series was created by Zaheed Ajmal, Atul Anand and Ankur Jayaswal.

A series of photographs was shot by various artists across India collaborating with Indrajit Roy (Politics) on the Precarious Transitions Research Project, funded by the Economic and Research Social Council (ESRC). The project ethnographically examines the disjunctions between mobility, development and citizenship experienced by India’s 100 million migrants.

On the one hand, social movements and political change challenge caste hierarchies in the countryside, generating hope for a transition to a better future; conversely, limited livelihood opportunities and growing inequalities dashed those hopes and rendered those transitions precarious. India’s internal migrants journey through the rural, the urban and in-between, building the country from below. The showcase tells the backstories of the internal migrant labourers who power India’s economic growth.

Feminicide Murals: Visualising feminicide, reconfiguring public space and embodying activism through feminist murals in Mexico

Claudia Matamoros is the creator of this photographic series.

These photographs by Claudia Matamoros show some of the murals painted by Las RestaurAmoras, a local feminist collective in Quintana Roo, Mexico, that honours and gives visibility to victims of femicide in the state through their artwork. Friends, family members and members of the community close to the victims joined Las RestaurAmoras in painting these murals between March and September 2021.

Tallulah Lines (Politics), a member of Las RestaurAmoras, argues in her work that these murals expose and make visible the reality of femicide in Quintana Roo and have important repercussions for the families of victims, the authorities, and the public. Furthermore, the murals challenge and reconfigure gendered notions of violence and public space. For the activists involved in the Las RestaurAmoras collective, painting the murals foments their politicised identities and their connection to the female bodies that give meaning to the contemporary Mexican feminist movement.