Noam Schimmel

Supervisor:  Lilie Chouliaraki|

Research topic: American liberal presidential rhetoric on healthcare reform and the social imaginary and moral order it advocates in the context of conservative opposition to government guarantee of universal healthcare to US citizens.


I earned an MSc in Philosophy, Policy and Social Value from the LSE in 2004, where I wrote my dissertation on the subject of the applicability of international human rights law to street children, drawing upon my experiences in the field volunteering with street children in Cape Town, South Africa and Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have volunteered and worked in Africa and Asia on international development and humanitarian relief projects, with a focus on securing the rights of street children and indigenous peoples, and addressing poverty through community development. Most recently, I served as an intern with the Office of the Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Arusha, Tanzania. Following my internship there I travelled to Rwanda where I volunteered with Survivor's Fund, an NGO dedicated to securing the human rights of genocide survivors. I continue to support their work and plan to return to Rwanda to volunteer in the field again.

My doctoral research builds upon a subject that became of interest to me as an undergraduate majoring in English and Political Science at Yale University. My thesis aims to fill a gap in the academic literature by using rhetoric analysis to illuminate the social imaginary and moral order that liberals, specifically presidents Truman, Johnson, and Obama offered as justification for their healthcare plans to expand access to healthcare in the United States irrespective of income. It analyzes their rhetoric comparatively and situates it in relationship to opposing conservative rhetorics which have emphasized limited government and rejected the principle of universal or near-universal healthcare insurance to be guaranteed to American citizens.

Specifically, I analyze how liberal presidents justify their healthcare plans and respond to conservative discourse around the issue of the size of the government and its corresponding characteristics. Healthcare is significant because it represents one of the most fundamental human needs, along with shelter, access to food and clothing, and education. The lack of universal healthcare for Americans has been one of the great social injustices that tens of millions of Americans have suffered for almost a century; its impacts on life expectancy, quality of life, individual freedom, family stability, economic productivity, and social cohesion are substantial.

I consider how the debate over healthcare reflects the larger discursive struggle over the moral and social obligations of the United States government to its citizens. Conservatives and liberals alike understand that enabling healthcare reform or disabling it has profound implications on how Americans imagine themselves, the bonds that tie them, and the obligations of government to United States citizens.

Peer-reviewed articles:

  • (2012) 'The Moral case for restorative justice as a Corollary of Responsibility to Protect: A Rwandan Case Study of the Insufficiency of Impact of Retributive Jutice on the Rights and Well Being of Genocide Survivors'. Journal of Human Rights. Volume 11, Issue 2. 
  • (2011) ‘The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village: Community Development for Rwandan Orphans and its Impact on Orphaned Genocide Survivors.’ Progress in Development Studies. Volume 11, Issue 3.
  • (2010) ‘An Invisible Genocide: How The Western Media Failed to Report the 1994 Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsis and Why.’ International Journal of Human Rights, August 16.
  • (2010) ‘Failed Aid: How Development Agencies Are Neglecting and Marginalizing Rwandan Genocide Survivors.’ Development in Practice. Volume 20, Issue 3.
  • (2009) 'Media Accountability to Investigate Human Rights Violations.' Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice. Volume 21, Issue 4.
  • (2009) 'The Abuse of Development and its Consequences for Indigenous People: A Case Study of Botswana's Bushman Community.' Development. Volume 52, Issue 4.
  • (2009) 'Towards a Sustainable and Holistic Model of Peace Education in Israel.' The Journal of Peace Education. Volume 6, Issue 1.
  • (2009) 'Judaism and the Origins of Erich Fromm's Humanistic Psychology: The Religious Reverence of a Heretic.' Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Volume 49, No. 1.
  • (2008) 'Challenging Dutch Holocaust Education'. Ethics and Education. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 57-74 (co-authored with Jacob Boersema). 
  • (2008) 'A Humanistic Approach to Caring for Street Children.' Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies. Volume 3, Issue 3.
  • (2007) 'Indigenous Education and Human Rights.' International Journal on Minority and Group Rights. Volume 14, Number 4.   
  • (2006) 'Freedom and Autonomy of Street Children.' International Journal of Children's Rights. Volume 14, Issue 3.

Book Chapters:

  • 'Challenging Dutch Holocaust Education: Towards a Curriculum Based on Moral Choices and Empathetic Capacity' Pages 54-67, in Reflections on the Holocaust, published by Humanity in Action, edited by Julia Zarankin, New York, 2011. (Abridged version of article previously published with Jacob Boersema in Ethics and Education.)

Conference papers:

  • (2012) 'The Evolution of Healthcare Reform Policy from Truman to Obama: The Triumph of Conservatism' at the Policy History Conference, Richmond, Virginia. June 9, 2012 co-sponsored by the University of Virginia Miller Centre or Public Affairs, the Journal of Policy History and the Institiute for Political History.
  • (2011) 'Appropriating Conservative Rhetoric for Liberal Ends: Libertarian Ideas in Obama's Healthcare Reform' at the Northeastern Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. November 18, 2011
  • (2011) American Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. ‘Obama's Delicate Balance: Moral and Practical Emphases in Obama's Healthcare Reform Rhetoric.’ September 3, 2011.
  • (2011) Conference on Empathy, Self, Society and Culture hosted by the University of Indiana at Bloomington Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions. ‘The Role of Empathy in Barack Obama’s Political Rhetoric and Vision of Social Solidarity.’ November 12, 2011.
  • (2010) Presented paper entitled, ‘Memory, Empathy, Solidarity: Jews and Rwandan Tutsis and the Communication Resulting from Shared Experiences of Atrocity’ at the International Communication Association Conference. June 22-26, 2010. Singapore.
  • (2009) 'Communicating Radical Evil: The Challenge of Reporting on Genocide to an Indifferent Public by an Indifferent Media' at the 2009 International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference. July 21-24, 2009. Mexico City, Mexico.
  • (2009) 'Piety and Poverty: Conservative Religious Discourse on the Causes of Poverty' at the pre-conference on Religion, Politics, and Media of the International Communication Association. May 21, 2009. Chicago, USA.
  • (2008) Presented paper entitled, ‘The Uses and Abuses of the Media by Governments Violating Human Rights’ at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Conference on Media, Communication, and Humanity. September 23, 2008.

Academic Service:

  • Peer Reviewer for the Journal, Development in Practice (May, 2011)
  • Peer Reviewer for the Journal, Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies (March 2009)
  • Peer Reviewer for the secondary school textbook on gencide studies under development by the publisher Marshall Cavendish. (August, 2009). Book published as Genocide: Stand by or Intervene'by Lila Perl, New York, 2011.

Selected Fellowships and Grants:

London School of Economics and Political Science Annual Fund Grant for project entitled, “Restorative Justice: Healing Wounds and Repairing Lives - Advancing the Human Rights of Survivors of Genocide in Africa” to organize exhibit on restorative justice and organize seminars on restorative justice for LSE students. November, 2010.

London School of Economics and Political Science Annual Fund Grant for project entitled, “Restoring the Personal and Human in Human Rights” to bring two Rwandan genocide survivors to speak to LSE students and faculty about their life experiences and about the human rights challenges faced by genocide survivors and to organize an exhibit on the human rights challenges facing Rwandan genocide survivors. October, 2009.

Invited delegate at UNESCO Youth Forum and Regional International Leadership Development Training Program, Kigali, Rwanda, January 1 – January 10, 2010.

Invited delegate at the UNESCO Intergenerational Leadership Training Conference at the UNESCO Institute of Comparative Human Rights summer conference on 'Human Rights as a Tool for Social Change,' August 4-12, 2007, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.

Selected Books Reviews:

Review of Jean Hatzfeld’s ‘Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 22, Issue 3, 2010.

Review of Phil Cark and Zachary Kaufman’s ‘After Genocide.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 22, Issue 2, 2010.

Film review of Amin Matalqa’s ‘Captain Abu Raed.’ Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication. Volume 3, Number 1, 2010.

Review of Daniela Kroslak’s ‘The Role of France in the Rwandan Genocide.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 21, Issue 2, 2009.

Review of Jared Cohen’s ‘One Hundred Days of Silence.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 20, Issue 4, 2008.

Review of Scott Straus’ ‘The Order of Genocide.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 20, Issue 4, 2008.

Review of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s ‘The Israel Lobby.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 20, Issue 3, 2008.

Review of Donald Dutton’s ‘The Psychology of Genocide, Massacres, and Extreme Violence.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 20, Issue 2, 2008.

Review of Augustus Richard Norton's ‘Hezbollah.’ The Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 20, Issue 1, 2008.

Review of Geoffrey Nunberg's ‘Talking Right.’ The Journal of American Studies. Volume 42, Issue 2, 2008.

Review of Jacqueline Rose's ‘The Last Resistance.’ Israel Affairs. Volume 14, Issue 2, 2008.

Review of Geoffrey Nunberg's ‘Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times.’ Columbia Journal of American Studies (CJAS). July, 2007.

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