Past events - FALL 2023

December 5, 2023

“Militarized Play” in Consolidating the US-South Korean Alliance
HI244 Class Presentation, Tray Lunch at Smith Room in Roberts Dining Hall
4:00 p.m. Open Lecture, Brewster Reading Room, Miller Library

Join Dr. Sun Eun Kim from the GW Institute for Korean Studies as he presents on the role of militarized “play” in consolidating the US-South Korean military alliance by maintaining Cold War hostilities on the Korean peninsula, concentrating on the annual “War Games” in which American and South Korean forces simulate defense maneuvers aimed at North Korea along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). 

Co-Sponsored by the Center for the Arts and Humanities, History Department, East Asian Studies Department, American Studies Department, Global Studies Program, Oak Institute for Human Rights, Office of the Provost, Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs. 

November 28, 2023

After Ethnic Cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh: Lessons on Resilient Advocacy
4:30pm, Grossman 209/210

Join us on Tuesday, November 28th at 4:30pm in Grossman 209/210 for a discussion and appetizers with Tamar Hayrikyan, the Lead Researcher on University Network for Human Rights Armenia Project, on documenting atrocities and adapting advocacy strategies in a changing landscape. Hear about the tools we can use to document ethnic cleansing and other atrocity crimes during armed conflict, and how we can strategically adjust as the situation on the ground becomes more dire and opportunities close. Tamar lived in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) from 2007-2009. Azerbaijani forces emptied the self-governed enclave of its ethnic Armenian population this past September. Tamar has led four fact finding missions in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and Armenia over the past four years.

November 15, 2023

Film Screening: Kattumaram
7:00pm, Maine Film Center, 93 Main Street, Waterville, ME 04901

Cinema Studies presents a Free Screening of Kattumaram! See the film, Kattumaram, and meet the filmmaker, Swarnavel Eswaran, in a post-film Q&A!

Set in a south Indian village that was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, Kattumaram (“Catamaran”) follows Singaram and his niece Ananthi as they grapple with fundamental changes to their ways of life. One of the first Tamil movies to center a queer love story, Swarnavel Eswaran’s Kattumaram is an exploration of tradition and change, love and loss, and the resilience of the human spirit. The filmmaker will be present for a half-hour Q&A after the screening.

In Tamil with English subtitles.

Co-sponsored by Center for Arts and Humanities, Cultural Events Committee, Oak Institute for Human Rights, Religious Studies, and WGSS.

November 8, 2023

Middle Eastern Melodies
6:00pm Appetizer Reception, 7:00pm Storytelling and Songs with Mesafa, Greene Block + Studies, 18 Main Street, Waterville, ME 04901

Please join us for an evening of Middle Eastern storytelling and song with Mesafa. مسافة / MESAFA is Alsarah, Sarah FM, and Nahid in a musical conversation exploring the intimate spaces, both small and infinite. #sudanitriphop

The program is sponsored by the Colby Oak Institute for Human Rights with co-sponsorship from the 2021-24 Public Humanistic Inquiry Lab, the Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Colby Arts Office, the Departments of Anthropology, English and Creative Writing, Global Studies Program, Environmental Studies, Music, and Performance, Theater, and Dance.

November 1, 2023

Film Screening: The Janes
7:00pm, Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building

Please join Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Cinema Studies, the Center for the Arts & Humanities, the Oak Institute and the Pugh Center for a panel discussion featuring Heather Booth, founder of the Jane Collective, Patricia Novick, an original Jane, and Destie Hohman Sprague, Executive Director of Maine Women’s Lobby.  The panel will discuss the action organized by the Jane Collective to provide safe abortion care in the 1960s, as well as broader conversations on human rights, democracy and civic engagement, and social justice in Maine.

The Janes tells the story of a group of unlikely outlaws. Defying the state legislature that outlawed abortion, the Catholic Church that condemned it, and the Chicago Mob that was profiting from it, the members of Jane risked their personal and professional lives to help women in need. In the pre-Roe v. Wade era –– a time when abortion was a crime in most states and even circulating information about abortion was a felony in Illinois –– the Janes provided low-cost and free abortions to an estimated 11,000 women.

October 12, 2023

Film Screening: Holy Spider
7:00pm, Maine Film Center, 93 Main Street, Waterville, ME 04901

The Cannes Film Festival Award winning film, Holy Spider, is an Iranian serial killer drama that is based on the real-life case of a man who murdered sixteen women. Set in Mashhad, Iran, a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse unfolds between a serial killer and a journalist seeking justice. Sponsored by the Oak Institute for Human Rights, the film is a relevant take on feminist issues in Iran, horrifically exemplified by the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022. “Moment to moment, scene after scene, both dramatically and stylistically, the film impresses with its careful control, attention to detail and unerring subtlety.” –

In Persian with English subtitles.

September 28, 2023

Film Screening: Israelism
7:00pm Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building

When two young American Jews raised to unconditionally love Israel witness the brutal way Israel treats Palestinians, their lives take sharp left turns. They join a movement of young American Jews battling the old guard to redefine Judaism’s relationship with Israel, revealing a deepening generational divide over modern Jewish identity. Israelism sold out twice at the Maine International Film Festival and the following week at the Maine Film Center. Erin Axelman is a trans (they/them) Jewish filmmaker from Skowhegan Maine, and is the Co-Executive Director of Tikkun Olam Productions, the non-profit production company producing Israelism. Israelism is inspired by their personal relationship with Israel/Palestine.

Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Erin Axelman.

Presented by the Women, Gender, and Sexualities Department. Co-sponsored by the Department of American Studies, Cinema Studies, Colby College Libraries, Oak Institute for Human Rights, and the Center for the Arts and Humanities.

September 20, 2023

An Evening with the Oak Fellow
6:30pm Reception, 7:00pm Moderated Discussion, Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building

The Oak Institute welcomes 2023 Fellow Khosro Kalbasi Isfahani to campus. Come and hear Khosro share about his work as an Iranian journalist related to Health and Human Rights in a moderated discussion with Oak Associate Director, Sam Plasencia. Khosro’s work includes articles on Iran’s violence against protestors, persecution of ethnic, religious, and LGBTQ+ minorities, and the inadequate responses to health crises like Covid-19, from medicine shortages to the lack of medical care for minority groups. Isfahani, who identifies as queer and non-binary, has focused most recently on LGBTQ+ issues in Iran.