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Department of Critical Race, Gender & Culture Studies  (CRGC)

What is the CRGC?

The Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies (CRGC) is a vibrant and inclusive community of faculty and students that explores diverse voices, histories, and experiences through socially engaged scholarship:


News & Notes

Dr. Elizabeth Rule joined New Book Network for a discussion about Rule's book Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s First Capital.

Dr. Tanja Aho and Dr. Mary Ellen Curtin have won the 2022-2023 Ann Ferren Curriculum Design Award for their creation of the “Disability, Health, and Bodies” undergraduate certificate. This award recognizes the collaborative work of two or more faculty who creatively integrate the values of a liberal education in the design of courses or curricula for majors or academic programs.

Professor Christina Riley, a specialist in feminist digital media, was quoted in the article, "The Unsettling Rise of the Anti-Pick Me Girl."

Read about Prof. Tanja Aho's work with the Disability+ Faculty and Staff Affinity Group in "'Bare minimum of legality': Students, faculty and staff face ongoing challenges with campus accessibility".

Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, Laura Pulido, Perla Guerrero, Ricardo Ortiz, Kristie Dorr, Laura Pulido, and Ricardo Ortiz.Latinx Symposium featured Laura Pulido and a round-table discussion with Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, Perla Guerrero, Ricardo Ortiz, Kristie Dorr, Laura Pulido, and David Vazquez.

  • Professor Irene Calis, with Prof Rochelle Davis at Georgetown University, launch 2022-23 virtual Speaker Series "Palestine: Land, Life Dignity."
  • Tanja Aho won the university’s Faculty-Staff Collaboration Award for their work founding and growing the Disability + Faculty/Staff Affinity Group.
  • Sybil Roberts-Williams was the inaugural recipient of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center’s Career Advancement Fellowship to support her creation of a docu-drama film on women in Rastafarianism entitled She Talks to Empress Menen.
  • Elizabeth Rule was selected as a Humanities Truck Fellow for AY 2022-23. She will be using this fellowship to conduct oral histories on sites of Indigenous importance in Washington, DC as explored in her Guide to Indigenous DC mapping project and mobile application.
  • Onaje Woodbine’s article "White Hauntings, Black Hoops: The Ghosts of Kyrie Irving" has been published in the anthology Religion and Sport in North America: Critical Essays for the Twenty-First Century eds. Jeffrey Scholes and Randall Balmer (Routledge, 2022).
  • Christina Juhász-Wood  presented her paper “Arthur Sze’s “Poetics of Outer Space” on the panel (Re)mediating Frontier Mythologies of the American West which she organized for the 2022 Association of Asian American Studies conference
  • Professor Tanja Aho discusses "How their disability justice pedagogy informs their ideas on wellness within the classroom."
  • Professor Anna Kaplan’s "Women’s Voices through Time" classes made websites for their final projects showcasing women’s history and voices. Click on the websites to explore their projects: 
    Women Throughout Time website
    Women's Voices Through Time website 1,
    Women's Voices Through Time website 2.
  • Professor Tanja Aho discussed the new certificate Disability, Health, and Bodies in "American University launches certificate in Disability, Health, and Bodies."
  • Professor Sybil Roberts Williams is the playwright for “The Black Flute,” a work produced by the IN-Series opera company and made into a film which was screened on the National Mall October 8. “Black Flute” reimagines Mozart’s classic work “Magic Flute” in DC’s historically Black neighborhoods and explores what it means to be young, black, and gifted in today’s world.
  • Prof. Abdallah Hendawy, has just published a new book, Bleeding Hearts: From Passionate Activism to Violent Insurgency in Egypt, which is currently the number three best-seller on Amazon’s Middle Eastern Studies list. Bleeding Hearts examines the wave of violence that broke out in Egypt in the aftermath of the 2013 military takeover against the country’s first democratically elected president. Abdallah Hendawy sheds light on the stories of several political activists who abandoned their commitment to nonviolence and took up arms against the state. Through multiple interviews, ethnographic observations, fieldwork, and qualitative data analysis, Hendawy challenges the dominant theoretical paradigms on radicalization that often attribute this complex phenomenon to ideological or religious beliefs. Instead, Hendawy shows that rigid state authoritarianism, especially sustained repression targeting peaceful activists, turned them toward armed resistance.
  • Prof. Irene Calis has won the College Dean’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to an Inclusive Community for her “Thinking Freedom from the Global South” Speaker and Intellectual Workshop series during spring 2021. The series brought grass-roots organizer-intellectuals from around the world to dialogue with students and the public about transformative organizing for radical social change.
  • Prof. Morad Elsana's book Indigenous Land Rights in Israel:A Comparative Study of the Bedouin was published by Routledge in November 2020. He also recently wrote an op-ed published at the Middle East Institute about the Covid-19 pandemic among the Bedouins in Israel 
  • Prof. Katharina Vester has won a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers from the German government to support the writing of her next book, Bodies to Die for: Self-Help Ideology, Biopolitics, and Popular Culture. 
  • Prof. K. Tyler Christensen published That Boy from Idaho, a collection of poems.
  • Professor Elizabeth Rule has received The Library Company of Philadelphia’s 2021 Innovation Award for Guide to Indigenous DC, a digital map, mobile application, and monograph of sites of Indigenous importance in the nation’s capital. This biennial award goes to a project that critically and creatively expands the possibilities of humanistic scholarship.
  • Prof. Donald Earl Collins wrote about the joy of being Black in America in NBC Think; argued that America is a failed state in Al-Jazeera; described the weight of American racism upon BIPOC; and discussed, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, ongoing protests and whether America might be permanently broken on ABC’s The Signal.
  • Prof. Tanja Aho won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to an Inclusive Community for their impassioned commitment to fostering campus-wide discussions about how better to serve our disabled students and faculty.
  • Maria Gramajo, double major in American Studies and Women’s Gender, & Sexuality Studies presented her research at three national conferences. In March 2020 at the Humanities and Education Research Association Conference in Chicago, she presented a paper entitled "This Is Our School Too: Queer and Trans Students of Color’s Narratives at American University.” In January 2020, at the LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Conference in Dallas TX, she ran a workshop “Love in Color: QTPOC Storytelling.” In November 2019 at the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Conference in San Francisco, she presented her paper “Trans History(ies) and Future(s).”
  • WGSS Student Corinne Ahrens' article was published by Ms. Magazine on 13 April 2020.  Read her piece Schools Implement “Pink Box Project” to Make Menstrual Products Available Despite Closures. On 28 April 2020 they published her piece Trump Attempted to Move a Reporter to the Back of the Room. Nevertheless, She Resisted.
  • Prof. Sybil Roberts Williams, Director of African American & African Diaspora Studies, has won a Mellon Faculty grant for her proposal with Prof. Nancy Jo Snider of the Performing Arts Department: “Art, Politics and Identity: Community Transformations through Creation.” 
  • Prof. Alison Thomas’ American Studies course, Political Humor in Modern America: What's so Funny?(AMST-296-001) was chosen as one of the 17 most innovative courses taught in 2020 in US universities.
  • Prof. Sybil Roberts Williams Director of African American & African Diaspora Studies, took a group of students to Cape Town, South Africa over winter break to research the history of artists’ role in the struggle against apartheid.
  • Prof. Bob Connelly was on the Emmy-Award winning team behind the Nat Geo show "Weird But True!" Bob serves as their head of research. Read more about their Emmy win.  
  • Prof. Irene Calis was invited by the Afro-Middle East Centre in Pretoria, South Africa, to speak at their October colloquium  “A Playground for foreign powers: The MENA region as a target for foreign intervention.” 
  • Prof. Martyn Oliver, Director of Arab World Studies, wrote and recorded a 12-part lecture series “Introduction to the Quran” for the Great Courses series.
Smithsonian National Native American Museum, Courtesy Smithsonian Institution

Achievements ·

Elizabeth Rule’s “Indigenous DC” Wins AES Outstanding Book Award

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1987 March on Washington

AU Celebrates New ENLACE Digital Archive

Nearly 500 historical documents document DC’s first Latino/a gay and lesbian organization

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National Native American Veterans Memorial, Harvey Pratt

In the Community ·

Elizabeth Rule Creates Award-Winning Guide to Indigenous DC

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Past Events

Indigenous Health: A Roundtable Discussion
Virtual | November 17

Join AU's American Studies Department for a conversation about Indigenous health with Josie Raphaelito (Diné/Navajo Nation), Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee), Candi Brings Plenty (Oglala Sioux), and Elizabeth Rule (Chicasaw Nation), moderated by Tanja Aho. Our panelists will discuss their work on Indigenous cancer research, Two Spirit and Native LGBTQIA+ advocacy and community work, resistance to colonial theft, exploitation, and gender violence, and reteaching Indigenous foodways.


Josie Raphaelito (Diné, Navajo) is a passionate advocate for tribal public health. Josie serves as the Research Project Coordinator for the new Center for Indigenous Cancer Research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She also is co-author of the Indigenizing Love Toolkit.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule (Chickasaw Nation) is Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. Rule’s research on Indigenous issues has been featured in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and NPR.

Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee) graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and returned home where she developed Indigikitchen, an online tool for reteaching information about Indigenous foods.

Candi Brings Plenty (Oglala Sioux) is a queer, indigenous, Two Spirit, cis, Oglala Lakota Sioux Activist and Spiritual Practitioner. She works as an indigenous justice organizer with the South Dakota ACLU and specializes in advocating for Two Spirit warriors, community health, and protesters at the Keystone XL pipeline.

Dr. Tanja Aho is a Professional Lecturer of American Studies at American University , where they teach two core courses of the new Disability, Health, and Bodies certificate. They serve on the board of the Rainbow History Project and were a copy editor of the Indigenizing Love Toolkit.

Indigenous Health: A Roundtable Discussion
Nov 17 4p.m. ET

Sacred Tools of Resistance: Immune System Qigong Workshop
Oct 14

Muhammad: Prophet of Peace: A conversation with Prof. Juan Cole
Oct 20 1:00 pm EST

The Palestinian Exception to Calls for Social Justice
Oct 29 7:00 pm EST

Applying to Grad School 101
Dec 2, 8:30 - 10 pm EST, via zoom

Scholarship, Community, & Resistance
Feb 26, 7:30 - 8:30 pm EST, via zoom

Thinking Freedom from the Global South

Curatorial Evolutions: Insights from Two Exhibitions at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
Mar 19, 2:30 - 3:45 pm ET, via zoom

Applying to Grad School 101
Apr 26, 8 - 9:30 pm EST, via zoom

ASIA- 18 Sept Wednesday McDowell Formal 2:30 pm A Casual Conversation with a Zen Master 

AWST- 23 September Monday 1 pm - 6 pm in SIS Founders Room Symposium

CRGC-25 September The Bridge 7:30 pm The Welcoming Stage

ASIA 3-October Thursday Letts Formal 1 pm - 2:30 pm Mind-Only Buddhism and the Ethics of Universal Liberation

AWST-21 October Monday Mona Makram-Ebeid 3 pm - 4:30 pm 

AMST 22 October Tuesday 6 pm - 8 pm Voices of Youth < Letts Formal Lounge 

AWST-23 October

AFAM-30 October coronation celebration

AMST-31 Oct planning meeting 

AMST- 5 Nov 2- 4 pm lunch and learn


January 22
CRGC Presents the Welcoming Stage Open Mic Night

Join CRGC for a night of community, performance, pizza, and cafe drinks. Meet with faculty, reunite after winter break.
Location: The Bridge Cafe
Time: 7:30 - 9 pm



January 29
CRGC Presents Asian Studies Night

Come learn about the Asian Studies program, meet Asian Studies faculty members & hear how to combine Asian Studies with other majors. Enjoy Chinese catered dinner by Meiwah. 
Location: McDowell Formal Lounge
Time: 6 - 8 pm


February 5
Arab World Studies presents Dr. Sahar Khamis, Arab Women's Activism(s) and Resistance(s): Unfinished Gendered Revolutions

Join Arab World Studies and CRGC for this lecture followed by Q & A. Light refreshments will be served. 

Dr. Sahar Khamis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is an expert on Arab and Muslim media, and the former Head of the Mass Communication Department in Qatar University. She is the co-author of the books: Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and Egyptian Revolution 2.0: Political Blogging, Civic Engagement and Citizen Journalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). She is the co-editor of the book: Arab Women’s Activism and Socio-Political Transformation: Unfinished Gendered Revolutions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
Location: Hughes Formal Lounge
Time: 3 - 4:30 pm 


February 25
CAS Exploration Week; Step outside the box, explore CRGC & Sneak peek for Fall 2020

Come learn about majors, minors, electives, and AU Core classes with The Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative. Meet informally with professors and grab lunch too.
Location: Battelle Atrium
Time: 12 - 1:30 pm 


ongoing - February 29 *** New Extended Deadline! 
Asian Studies invites you to enter the 6th annual essay contest

Download your entry form. E-mail entry form and essay in a single pdf document to For your e-mail subject please use "Asian Studies Essay Contest Entry." Must be a current American University Student in February 2020 to enter. 
Time: 11:59 pm on February 29 *New Extended Deadline! 

26 September Wednesday 3:30 pm - 5 pm McDowell Formal Lounge Is Justice Possible?: Arab and Muslim Americans in the Age of Trump

23 October Tuesday 6 pm - 8 pm McDowell Formal Lounge Voices of Youth   

25 October Thursday 6 pm - 9 pm Kerwin 2 Asian Film Nights Series 1 

1 November Thursday 6:45 pm - 8 pm MGC 315 Black LGBTQ Life in DC

13 November Tuesday 4 pm - 5:30 pm MGC 200 Muslim Women and White Femininity: Reenactment and Resistance Haneen al-Ghabra 

28 November Wednesday 12:30 pm - 2 pm Battelle Atrium Activism & The AIDS Crisis: Remembering the Significance of OUT! 

23 January The Bridge AU CRGC The Welcoming Stage

27 February Wednesday 7:30 pm - 9 pm Katzen Welcome Center Auditorium (2nd floor) BOOMscat 

6 March Wednesday 6pm MGC 3-5 What’s the feminist frequency? with Anita Sarkeesian

26 March Tuesday 7:30 - 8:30 pm MGC 200 The Truth about Awiti with CP Patrick

28 March Thursday 2:30 - 4:30 pm Kay Lounge Unacknowledged Echoes of Black Women: Disrupting Sexual Violence

3 April 11 SOC co sponsored event Stonewall 50

9 April Tuesday 2:30 - 4pm Palestinian Short Film with filmmaker - Kerwin 2 - 

10 April Wednesday 7:30 am - 6 pm Disability, Access, & Teaching: A One-Day Symposium 

11 April Thursday 7 - 8:30 pm MGC 2 North Korean Refugees: Escape, Adjustments, and the Role of English

16 April Tuesday 5:30 - 7 pm McDowell Formal Sexual Science & Transgender China

Data is forthcoming

Statement in Solidarity with Anti-Racist Efforts from CRGC

The faculty of the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies join with protesters across the world to denounce police brutality and systemic anti-Black violence. 

Read the full statement

Steven Dashiell and Ashely Tisdale

Academic Diversity Postdocs Enriching AU Scholarship

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