The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Luis van Isschot

Assistant Professor

Office Location:  Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St George St, Room 3109, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3


Luis van Isschot is a historian of modern Latin America, specializing in the study of social movements, political violence and human rights.  His first book The Social Origins of Human Rights: Protesting Political Violence in Colombia’s Oil Capital, 1919-2010, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2015 as part of their Critical Human Rights series. An essay that he wrote about social memory and popular movement organizing in the aftermath of catastrophic violence appears in the Palgrave Macmillan edited volume, Off the Record: Unspoken Negotiations in the Practice of Oral History, recipient of the 2013 Oral History Association Book Award.

His current research concerns the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Since the late 1980s there has been a dramatic tendency towards the international judicialization of rights claims. While this trend is global, nowhere has its impact been greater than in Latin America. In a short period of time, court proceedings from Madrid, Spain to San José, Costa Rica have transformed the way in which human rights advocacy in the region is organized. The aim of this project is to understand the effects of these cases on the societies concerned.

Luis van Isschot’s work emerges out of the creative tension between scholarship and practice. For more than a decade he has been academically and professionally concerned with international human rights. He has conducted research and worked on behalf of non-governmental organizations in Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico, as well as Haiti and the Great Lakes region of Africa.

He received his PhD in History from McGill University in 2010.  Prior to his appointment to the University of Toronto, van Isschot worked at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal, was a postdoctoral fellow at the City University of New York, and Assistant Professor of History and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut.

Authored Publications:


  • PhD, McGill University