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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:

Spring 2021 Events

Scholarship, Community, & Resistance

Feb 26, 7:30 - 8:30 pm EST, via zoom

This is an informal session to introduce both current AU students and potential first year students to the African American & African Diaspora Studies (AFAM) major and minor in the Critical Race, Gender, & Culture Studies Department.  

The African American and African Diaspora Studies program offers a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum that provides students with an understanding of the historical and contemporary realities of African-descended peoples in the United States and across the diaspora. Students explore Black social movements and race politics, racial ideologies and critical race theory, and the distinctive artistic, literary, cultural practices of African peoples worldwide.

Professors will present on their research, we will talk about upcoming Fall 2021 African American & African Diaspora Studies classes, and current AFAM seniors will speak as well.  

There will also be time for Q & A.  

Thinking Freedom from the Global South

CRGC is proud to co sponsor this event series with the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. 

Curatorial Evolutions: Insights from Two Exhibitions at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Mar 19, 2:30 - 3:45  pm ET, via zoom

Focusing on the exhibitions, Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa and I Am... Contemporary Women Artists of Africa, Senior Curator Karen E. Milbourne will explore her own navigations of working with Africa's artists, understanding the history of collections in the United States, responding to timely topics with the arts, and creating sustainable initiatives within a museum.

Applying to Grad School 101

Apr 26, 8 - 9:30 pm EST, via zoom

In this workshop CRGC faculty members will offer an overview of the application process for graduate school (with a focus on CRGC-related PhD programs). We will discuss the pros and cons of going to graduate school, how to build a strong application, and provide some resources. Come meet other students thinking about grad school!

Fall 2020 Events

Applying to Grad School 101

Dec 2, 8:30 - 10 pm EST, via zoom

In this workshop CRGC faculty members will offer an overview of the application process for graduate school (with a focus on CRGC-related PhD programs). We will discuss the pros and cons of going to graduate school, how to build a strong application, and provide some resources. Come meet other students thinking about grad school!

The Palestinian Exception to Calls for Social Justice

Oct 29 7:00 pm EST

Join us for an invited talk with Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of San Francisco State University, facilitated by Prof. Irene Calis & Prof. Zein El Amine.

In this moment, as calls for social justice around the world deepen, the issue of Palestinian human rights remains unspeakable in the US. Palestinian voices are systemically not allowed to be heard. This pervasive silencing, including on college and university campuses, operates through intimidation, bullying, criminalizing, lawsuits, policing, and smearing. In practical terms, this has meant jobs rescinded, funding withheld, events shutdown, livelihoods denied.  Join us as Professor Rabab Abdulhadi speaks to this moment and why working for Palestinian social justice remains the last taboo, the enduring exception to that cornerstone of American civil liberties, the freedom to speak.  

The event is sponsored by: AU's Chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine in conjunction with the following groups: UMD's Chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, B-Well, AU Pride, African Student Organization, Public Health Association, South Asian Student Association, Asian American Student Association, Ethiopian & Eritrean Student Union, Albanian Student Association, Black Student Union, AU Hawaii, Department of Sociology

Muhammad: Prophet of Peace: A conversation with Prof. Juan Cole

Oct 20 1:00 pm EST

A conversation with Prof. Juan Cole about his most recent book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires. Learn more at Cosponsored by: The Mohamed S. Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace; Arab World Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences; The AU Antiracist Research & Policy Center

Sacred Tools of Resistance: Immune System Qigong Workshop

Oct 14 

This session explores ancient Chinese Daoist Qìgong, meaning “energy work” or “moving meditation,” and its usage in stimulating the immune system and strengthening internal organs from within the body. Participants will learn how to do Embryonic Breathing to build up their own immune systems. Sponsored by AU Department of Philosopy & Religion with CRGC co-sponsorship.

Steven Dashiell and Ashely Tisdale

Academic Diversity Postdocs Enriching AU Scholarship

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Past Events

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


  • 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.

  • 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, recently presented 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 this year in U.S. 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. Elizabeth Rule has won a CAS Mellon Grant to support her book project Rebuilding the Tribal/First Nation: Mohawk Girls and the Indian Act. She also presented “Indigenous Pedagogy: Teaching, Learning, Decolonizing” at AU’s Ann Ferren Teaching Conference.

  • Prof. Tanja Aho, Prof. Elizabeth Rule, and Prof. Maddox Pennington won a grant from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion to develop an Indigenous DC Field Trip Series which is available to all AU students this semester.

  • Prof. Morad Elsana participated in a panel at McGill University Law School on February 3 entitled “The Bedouins in the Negev: Legal Pluralism, Indigenous Rights, and Social Justice in Practice.”
  • Prof. Mustafa Gurbuz was featured in the Washington Post.
  • 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.

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

Donald Earl Collins

Achievements ·

Opening Eyes to Racism, African American Identity, and American Narcissism

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BOOMscat perform in front of AU students

On Campus ·

An Evening with BOOMscat

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