Lifelines 2001: The Literature of Human Rights (video)

Lifelines 2001: The Literature of Human Rights (video)

Resource Type
Event Recording
Publication Year
English (US)




Held on March 7, 2001, International Women's Day, the second annual Lifelines: The Literature of Human Rights event, is held at the Library of Congress and sponsored by Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), in collaboration with American University and the Library of Congress. 

[00:00:17]  Beverly Gray, Head of the Library of Congress's African and Middle Eastern Studies division, introduces the event and its purpose: to bring literature that comes from the struggle for human rights around the world to a United States audience. She introduces Mahnaz Afkhami, founder of Women's Learning Partnership, and host of the event. 

[00:03:35]  Afkhami elaborates on what is hoped to be achieved by the event before introducing its first speaker Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.  

[00:08:10] Azar Nafisi reads a piece composed specifically for the event by Goli Taraghi, who was unable to attend. Before reading the piece, Between Two Worlds, Nafisi introduces and contextualizes its main themes of exile and censorship. 

[00:23:10]  Afkhami then introduces Argentinian poet, scholar, and activist Emma Sepúlveda. Sepúlveda describes how she came to be a writer in the United States before introducing her piece, a series of letters she wrote to her friend beginning while she was living in Pinochet's Chile, which she was collecting for a book. She also reads a poem entitled, September 11, 1973.

[00:45:12]  Leila Ahmed, professor of Women's Studies in Religion at Harvard Divinity School and author of Women and Gender in Islam, describes growing up in pre-revolution Cairo and reads from some of her autobiographical work. (Note: The beginning of her speech is cut due to a flaw in the recording.)

[01:03:00]  Afkhami introduces Abena Busia, a native Ghanaian and a professor of English literature at Rutgers University, who reads a selection of poems from different periods of her life, the longest of which was composed after the release of Nelson Mandela. 

[01:26:05]  Afkhami and the authors take questions from the audience.