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Their America

Friday, April 7, 2017

6:00 - 8:00 PM

The New School

Theresa Lang Student and Community Center

55 West 13th Street

New York, NY 10011

Join us for the eleventh in our Public Voices series. In the aftermath of a fiercely divisive campaign and election, and a disruptive first 100 days of the new presidency, the United States is, again, under intense scrutiny from the international community. So it seems a moment that begs for addressing the issue of how America is viewed by the rest of the world particularly given President Trump’s executive orders banning travel from predominantly Muslim countries, his threat to tear up the nuclear agreement with Iran, his promise to deport massive numbers of undocumented immigrants, and to bar the very people who desperately need to come here as a refuge from coming.

This event will examine the effects of our changing political identity as a way of deepening understanding of our current situation and what is likely to be in store not only for the U.S, but for the rest of the world. It features a panel discussion among renowned experts on China, Israel and Palestine, Mexico, the Middle East, and Russia to discuss the ways in which political and social perceptions of America are changing and are likely to change as a result of the new administration.


Jerome Cohen, Professor of Law and Director, US-Asia Law Institute, New York University

Oz Frankel, Associate Professor of History, The New School

Masha Gessen, Author, The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

Laura Secor, Author, Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran

Jose Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of Americas Division, Human Rights Watch

Moderator: Aryeh Neier, President – Emeritus, Open Society Foundations

This panel was made possible with generous funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York


Jerome Cohen is the senior American expert on East Asian law and Professor of Law and Director, US-Asia Law Institute, New York University. As Jeremiah Smith Professor, associate dean, and director of East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard Law School from 1964 to 1979, he helped pioneer the introduction of East Asian legal systems and perspectives into American legal curricula.

Oz Frankel teaches social and political history of 19th-century U.S., Victorian Britain, the American Empire, race, media and print culture, reform, state formation, and historiography. His recently published book States of Inquiry: Social Investigations and Print Culture in Nineteenth Century Britain and the United States explores the early roots of the modern informational states. He is now engaged in a transnational study that follows the social, cultural and political relationship between the US and Israel at the turn of the 1970s.

Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of ten books of nonfiction, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, to be published in October 2017. She is also the author of the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). She is a contributing opinion writer to The New York Times and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, among other publications. She has received numerous awards, including a Carnegie Millennial Fellowship (2015-2016), a Nieman Fellowship (2003-2004), and the 2017 Overseas Press Club Award for Best Commentary. She serves as vice-president of PEN America.

Gessen was born in Moscow and immigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1981, at the age of 14. She returned to Moscow as a correspondent ten years later and stayed, becoming a Russian-language journalist in addition to her work for American magazines. She re-immigrated to the United States in 2013, after her family was targeted by Putin’s antigay campaign. She lives in New York City.

While a Guggenheim Fellow, Gessen will be writing a book tentatively titled How to Destroy a Democracy: Five Lessons in Imagining the Worst and Some Notes on Resistance.

Laura Secor is the author of Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran, one of Foreign Affairs magazine’s top three books for 2016 and a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award and the Lionel Gelber Prize. Her writing on Iran has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. She has served as staff editor at the New York Times Op-ed page and as a reporter at The Boston Globe. A past fellow at the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and at the American Academy in Berlin, she has taught journalism at New York University and at Princeton.

José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division, is a general expert on Latin America. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Vivanco worked as an attorney for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the Organization of American States (OAS). In 1990, he founded the Center for Justice and International Law, an NGO that files complaints before international human rights bodies. Vivanco has also been an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. He has published articles in leading American and Latin American newspapers and is interviewed regularly for television news. A Chilean, Vivanco studied law at the University of Chile and Salamanca Law School in Spain and holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School.

Aryeh Neier is President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po. He served as President of the Open Society Foundations from 1993 to 2012. Prior to that, he served as The Founding Executive Director of Human Rights Watch and, before that, as national Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. His most recent book is The International Human Rights Movement: A History (Princeton, 2012).

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