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Rachel N. Stern is a geographer and researcher focused on the intersection of land rights, transitional justice, and political ecology. She is pursuing a Master of Arts in the Department of Geography at UBC, co-supervised by Mohammed Rafi Arefin (Geography) and Leila Harris (IRES).
Her research focuses on how transitional justice mechanisms incorporate land and other environmental concerns, specifically understanding how structural violence and displacement fit into post-conflict justice and reconciliation processes. She is interested in the role of memory politics, storytelling, oral histories, and arts-based methodologies in articulating and healing relationships to land and place, as well as legal and social possibilities for land restitution and environmental justice work.
She was born and raised in New York City (ancestral homeland of the Lenape) and has always been interested by urban land and relationship to place. As a recent settler on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations, she is interested in how land rights and urban articulations of power and place intersect in Vancouver. Rachel holds a B.A. in Individualized Study from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University where she concentrated in Environmental Justice, Conflict and Cooperation and minored in Peace and Conflict Studies. She currently works with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience’s Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation, where she supports GIJTR’s transitional justice projects across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the MENA region. She also is a Graduate Academic Assistant with the UBC Climate Hub’s Climate Justice Research Collaborative.
Rachel has also worked with the Environmental Law Institute’s Environmental Peacebuilding program, both as a volunteer Coordinator for their program and on various research projects, and as a Research Assistant at New York University.