Linda Rabben did graduate work at Sussex University (UK) and received a Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology and Latin American studies from Cornell University. She did pre-doctoral field research in London and Rio de Janeiro. Later she returned many times to Brazil to carry out research on urban and rural social movements and represent international organizations.
Linda has studied, written about and worked on human rights, development and environmental issues in the United States, Brazil and other countries for more than 25 years. Her professional experience includes work as a writer, editor and researcher for international nongovernmental organizations, magazines and newspapers, public radio programs, colleges and universities. She has been the coordinator of a small nonprofit organization, a researcher and country expert for Amnesty International, a campaigner and an independent scholar. As an Amnesty representative she investigated the 1993 Candelária street-children's massacre, the Carandiru Prison massacre and other human rights violations in Brazil. In 2003 she was a Fulbright senior fellow at Brazil’s University of Rio Grande do Sul.
Since the mid-1990s she has focused on international migration issues as an activist and a scholar. From 2008 to 2010 she coordinated the Refugee Professional Recertification Project at RefugeeWorks, a program of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Her work there included organizing the first National Conference on Refugee Professional Recertification; producing guides to American professions for resettlement workers and refugees; providing technical assistance to resettlement agencies, social service providers and refugees; making presentations and conducting trainings; and building coalitions on recertification issues.
Her involvement in refugee and asylum issues led her to research and write Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present and Future of Sanctuary (Left Coast Press 2011). A second edition, Sanctuary and Asylum: A Social and Political History, will be published by University of Washington Press in 2016.She did research on British asylum policy as a visiting fellow at London School of Economics’ Centre for the Study of Human Rights in 2007 and returned to the UK in 2011 and 2013 to speak about sanctuary and asylum at universities, human rights groups, churches and community organizations.
Her previous books included Unnatural Selection: The Yanomami, the Kayapó and the Onslaught of Civilization (1998). A second edition, Brazil’s Indians and the Onslaught of Civilization, appeared in 2004. Fierce Legion of Friends: A History of Human Rights Campaigns and Campaigners was published in 2002. Her articles on human rights, environmental and development issues have appeared in The Nation, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Discovery Channel Magazine and other publications. Linda won the Spann Memorial Prize of the Debs Foundation, for an essay on human rights and the environment in Brazil, and a Catholic Press Association award for an article about Brazilian environmental martyr Chico Mendes. Her translation of Walking the Forest with Chico Mendes was published by the University of Texas Press in 2007.
Linda has given presentations on human rights to groups in the United States, Britain, Europe and Brazil. She served on the American Anthropological Association's Committee for Human Rights, the Brazilian Studies Association's executive committee and its human rights task force, and the Academic Freedom and Human Rights Committee of the Latin American Studies Association. In 2013-14 she organized an international conference, “Chico Vive: The Legacy of Chico Mendes and the Global Grassroots Environmental Movement,” which took place at American University in April 2014. She continues working on migration issues, helping students, lecturing and participating in the life of University of Maryland’s Anthropology Department as an associate research professor.