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Artistic freedom is a fundamental democratic right. Creative expression, from poetry to street art, theater, and literature, is often at the vanguard of political resistance and change, and so artists are some of the first to be silenced. In this panel, speakers discuss their own experiences as artists in authoritarian contexts where their ability to produce art was violently suppressed.These artists have all found haven at Cornell. Their art speaks to the trauma of authoritarianism and the hope for change.

Sharifa “Elja” Sharifi is an Afghan visiting scholar and a 2022–23 Institute of International Education Artist Protection Fund Fellow at the Johnson Museum.

Pedro X. Molina is a Nicaraguan political cartoonist and visiting critic with the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Khadija Monis ’24 is an Afghan student, poet, and artist.

Moderator Rachel Beatty Riedl is the director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and a John S. Knight Professor of International Studies.

The event was sponsored by the Johnson Museum and Global Cornell as part of the university’s theme this year, “The Indispensable Condition: Freedom of Expression at Cornell.”

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