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A Torah Guideline: “Save one life, you save the world”
January 11, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Defending Human Rights One Asylum Case at a Time
with UF Professor emeritus of anthropology, Allan Burns
January 11th from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Summary: The work of an expert witness in asylum and deportation cases includes documenting the conditions of violent and dangerous parts of the world today and testifying about those conditions. I take my perspective from the anthropologist Margaret Mead who always said that anthropology should be relative to the world today. Her emphasis on studying small groups shows the importance of understanding human rights from the perspective of human rights lawyers, experts, Department of Homeland Security lawyers, immigration judges, and of course asylum seekers and their families. Asylum seekers seek to live without the threats of drug cartels, corrupt governments, criminal organizations, and hate crimes people. Asylum laws and procedures as well as changes in those who seek asylum today have created a humanitarian crisis. So, what can we do?
Allan Burns is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Latin American Studies at U.F. and Adjunct Professor at Duke’s campus in China, Duke Kunshan University. In addition to UF and Duke, Burns was a Fulbright scholar at Copenhagen University, Visiting Professor at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and a guest professor at the Autonomous University of the Yucatan in Mexico. He was the Fulbright advisor at UF and was the President of the international Society for Applied Anthropology where he received the Sol Tax award for distinguished service to the profession of anthropology.
His research has included the political, social, and cultural conditions of Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, with an emphasis on indigenous communities there and human rights. His books include Maya in Exile: Guatemalans in Florida and An Epoch of Miracles: Yucatec Mayan Oral Literature. He is a pro-bono expert witness on over 100 asylum and human rights cases, working with Human Rights First, The Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, and other social justice organizations. Burns was the chair of the Department of Anthropology for eight years and Senior Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for five years. Burns lives in Rock Creek with his wife Alba Amaya Burns and is a neighbor of Paul and Doris Hargrave.
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