International Sociology and International Sociology Reviews

Topic of the Month, November 2021

‘Human Rights Activism’ is our Topic of the Month for November 2021. On this topic, enjoy Free Access all month to this article by Thomas E Shriver, Adriana M Szabo and Laura A Bray (North Carolina State University, USA) published in International Sociology, Opportunity and threat behind the Iron Curtain: The failed diffusion of human rights activism in Romania. Read on to know more about the authors trajectory and work.

Thomas E Shriver

Adriana M Szabo

Laura A Bray

Why are you working on this topic? Could you share an experience, a fact, or a person who made you get engaged in that research?

A. Szabo: I was born in “Ceaucescu's Romania,” and among some of my earliest memories, pre-1989 are those of the adults in my family congregating around a radio in the evenings, trying to “catch” the news from Radio Free Europe. I specifically remember my paternal grandfather whispering his concern to my father, that someone might hear us listening to RFE and report us to the Securitate (Ceau?escu’s Secret Police). I explored some of this history and the 1989 social changes in Eastern Europe during my undergraduate years and came back to the topic during my doctoral studies, with a renewed interest in social movements prompted by recent events in Romania that built on the rhetoric of the 1989 Revolution.

T. Shriver: My spouse is from the Czech Republic and we spend a lot of our time in the country. I have always been interested in the nexus of repression and dissent and many of our closest friends and family members were persecuted under the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. I have studied these issues for many years and when I met Adriana we decided to collaborate and analyze dissident activity in both Romania and Czechoslovakia.

What would you emphasize about your academic trajectory? Can you highlight which have been your academic positions, universities, awards, departments and research centers?

A. Szabo: I came to academia/graduate school through a non-traditional path, after having worked as a journalist in my native Romania for two years before moving abroad to work in international development projects in Norway, Mozambique and Brazil. I received my MA in Anthropology and my PhD in sociology at NC State and I am currently a Teaching Faculty Associate at Arizona State University’s campus in Hainan, China. My doctoral research in Romania was funded through a 2019 dissertation award from the Rural Sociological Society.

T. Shriver: I have been on the faculty at North Carolina State University since 2013, where I teach and conduct research in the areas of social movement activism, repression, and environmental sociology. Prior to this appointment, I was on the faculty at Oklahoma State University. I was recently awarded the 2021 Outstanding Social Scientist Research Award from North Carolina State University.

L. Bray: I completed my PhD work in Sociology at North Carolina State University earlier this year and currently work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Applied Social Research at the University of Oklahoma.

Do you want to add any other information?

T. Shriver, A. Szabo and L. Bray: We think it is important to analyze the factors that shape the successful mobilization of human rights activism, as well as to better understand the diffusion of human rights across different political environments. We hope that our article points to some of the critical factors shaping these processes and opens up the door for future research on human rights in both historical and contemporary settings.