During this lecture, Ashli will ask questions such as: What is the difference between Art & Craft? Between Artist & Artisan? And most significantly: “Can art be considered a human right?” A penetrating worldview has given artists low-class status universally, but has subjugated indigenous “artisans” as even lower, often not even labelling them as creative artists. Ashli will explore conditions such as discrimination and unsustainable development that have led to the weakening of artistic resilience, as well as key threats that endanger culturally significant art. She will also discuss the positive impact that art has on society, and in particular women and indigenous populations.
Ashli Akins is a human rights advocate, artist, and social entrepreneur. When she was 21, she founded Mosqoy, an international charitable organization that works with highland indigenous communities of the Andean mountains in Peru, to mitigate the adverse effects of unsustainable tourism and development by providing economic opportunities that nurture their threatened indigenous culture. Mosqoy is now 10 years old and is a strong force for marginalized youth and weavers in the Cusco region. For the past decade, Ashli acted as Mosqoy’s Executive Director, and now advises the charity’s operations as President of its Board of Directors.
Ashli is one of Canada’s top doctoral candidates, as the recipient of the competitive Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. She is a PhD student in interdisciplinary studies with the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, supervised by National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Wade Davis (anthropology) and Dr. Michelle LeBaron (law), with committee members Dr. Mark Turin (linguistics) and Dr. Nancy Turner (ethnobotany). In 2014, she graduated from the University of Oxford with a master’s in International Human Rights Law; her thesis explored why the loss of culturally significant art is a human rights violation. She previously attended the University of Victoria, where she received a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, Latin American studies, and professional writing. She was recently honoured as one of UVic’s top 50 alumni in history who have made a difference in the world.
Ashli uses photography and creative writing to educate about international human rights and environmental injustices. In 2008, she completed a photography internship with National Geographic Adventure Magazine, and has published and exhibited around the world. Ashli has been honoured with dozens of awards, and has given hundreds of lectures and presentations globally, including two recent TedX talks.