Hector Reyes Zaga, Spanish

Immigration, Human Rights and Sustainability in Contemporary Hispano-American Literature

I applied for the Valley and Ridge workshop seeking ways to make the issue of sustainability more explicit in a course on Human Rights and Literature that I have taught twice during my tenure at Dickinson. This course explored the aesthetic and ethical complexities of the relationship between human rights and literature, throughout the analysis of well-known cases of human rights abuses that occurred in Latin America and Spain during the twentieth and twenty first century.

During the different discussions and presentations that we had in the workshop, I realized that although the main focus of my course had been on social justice, it didn’t mean that I was teaching a course related to sustainability, since I was not making a connection with the core concepts and theories of sustainability. As consequence, I’ve decided to change the heart of my course, and now, I am planning to focus on immigration issues and human rights, specifically in the migration from developing to developed countries, the so-called 'South-to-North' component of international migration. For the class that I am planning to teach next semester during my directorship of the Dickinson in Spain program, I will incorporate the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals as an integral component of course work in my class. Since 11 out of 17 goals contain targets and indicators that are relevant to migration or mobility, one of the main goals will be that the students make explicit connections between the SDGs goals and the two cases of immigration that we are using in class (Mexico-USA and Morocco-Spain) with the purpose to understand how the different development challenges affect immigration and also how the links between migration and these different development issues affect the achievement of the SDGs. In my class, I will continue to primarily use a variety of literary, legal and visual texts such as novels, short stories, plays, testimonials, treaties, legal cases, songs, films, etc. However, since during the semester we will visit Morocco, I will be designing hands-on, place-based activities while visiting different refugee camps. The goal of this experience will be aimed at reinforcing students’ understanding of sustainability and the connection with immigration and human rights.