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UT Anthropology program will host an international conference investigating disasters, displacement, and human rights.

An intersection is a space or condition where two or more things exist simultaneously. In the last 20 years or so intersectionality has become a part of the public and academic conversation around cultural and social ideas of race, gender, religion, class, and more. It is this concept of intersection that inspired the theme of the 2020 Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights (DDHR) conference.

Presented as a joint conference with the Southern Anthropological Society (SAS), “Intersections: Adversity, Identity, Perspectives” will be the thematic focus of the conference.

“Intersectionality is more than a buzzword; it is central to the human condition and lived experience. It is also important for research and engagement,” said Tricia Hepner, associate professor of anthropology and director of the disasters, displacement, and human rights program. “Whether in terms of interdisciplinary perspectives, relationships among researchers and communities, or the complex dynamics of disasters, displacement, and human rights crises, we all live, think, and act in multidimensional ways.”   

The conference has secured experts in the field to focus the discussion on how these intersections impact every facet of the human experience.

Alisse Waterston is a cultural anthropologist who studies the consequences of structural and systemic violence and inequality. She is a past president of the American Anthropological Association and specializes in a number of areas impacting humans around the world and in east Tennessee, including urban poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse.

Faye V. Harrison is a professor of African American studies and anthropology at the University of Illinois. A sociocultural anthropologist, she focuses on the study of social inequalities, human rights, and intersections of race, gender, and class.

Previous years of the DDHR conference have addressed periods of transition in the wake of wars, disasters and paradigm shifts, and strategies that can be used to engage the population in addressing such issues.

The DDHR program has joined with the Southern Anthropological Society to present a joint conference, serving as the Fourth Biennial Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights Conference and the 54th Annual Meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society, which will take place April 3rd through April 5th, 2020. A call for papers and the conference agenda will be released shortly.


The Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights (DDHR) conference is a biennial conference sponsored by the Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights program in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The conference launched in 2013 and explores work focusing on the contemporary problems associated with human rights concepts and norms. For additional information contact Tricia Hepner via email at or phone at (865)974-8962, or visit the DDHR website at