Category Archives: Community events

Social Impact Talks

The Department of Anthropology’s Social Impact Talks (formerly “Social Justice Colloquium”) is an exciting weekly speaker series highlighting cutting edge scholarship dedicated to social justice and impacting society beyond the academy. The Social Impact Talks series provides an informal setting where speakers share new work and works-in- progress. Audience members are encouraged to be active participants and to engage the speakers in an exciting intellectual exchange.

Speakers include anthropologists, scholars in other disciplines, and people working outside academia to build social justice and progressive change.

The Social Impact Talks take place Tuesdays, 4-5pm, beginning September 12, 2017, and continue until the first week in May 2018 (except when noted). Please join us for these exciting discussions.

These events are free and open to everyone. All are welcome!  Coffee, tea, and light snacks will be served.

Social Impact Talks Spring 2018

Unless otherwise noted, all talks are on Tuesdays, 4-5 pm, at the Humanities Lab, Battelle-Tompkins 228


  January 30, 2018: Chelsi Slotten (AU Anthropology/Women in Archaeology Podcast): “Podcasting and the Public: Leveraging Digital Media to Make Your Work Matter”

As scholars we all believe the work we do is important, and want it to have an impact on the wider world.  However, we sometimes struggle with bridging the gap between what we know, and making an impact with what we know.  Many factors contribute to this difficulty, but a major factor that can be fairly easily addressed is accessibility.  While the Open Access movement has helped to make our work more accessible, there are still many barriers to truly reaching the general public.  This talk will focus on how podcasts can be used to reach and engage with a broader audience.  I will briefly discuss the founding of the Women in Archaeology Podcast, identify issues of accessibility with traditional modes of academic knowledge dispersal, discuss the benefits of podcasting as a mode of communication, and look at how to successfully run or participate in a podcast.

 February 6, 2018: Kalfani Ture’ (Yale University) [CANCELLED]





 February 13, 2018: Arvenita Cherry (AU Anthropology): “Creating Anti-Racist Classrooms and Supporting Educators in Building Equitable and Inclusive Environments for Learning—An Example of Public Anthropology”   




February 20, 2018: Abdülhamit Bilici and Ori Z. Soltes: “Press Freedom, Human Rights, and Democracy in Turkey”

Turkey experienced an unprecedented economic growth and reform in every aspect of life during the last decade after years of economic and political instability. It was thought to be a model for the Islamic world for the peaceful existence of a secular system in an Muslim majority society. This picture started to change with the mass protests of 2013. Within the last 4 years the country experienced a now suppressed corruption probe, a failed coup attempt, and significant erosion of rights and freedoms that exist in a functioning democracy. How did Turkey come to this low point from being a success story? What are the sociological, political, economic, regional, and global factors that led to rising authoritarianism and a pivot away from its traditional allies? In short, the speakers will discuss the factors behind the rise and fall of Turkey in the last decade with a look towards its future.

February 27, 2018: Amanda Huron (University of the District of Columbia): “Stewards in the City, or, How to Give Away a Multi-Million-Dollar Building without Losing Your Soul”

In 2016, a community church in Washington, D.C. decided to close its doors. Founded fifty years earlier as a neighborhood-based, social justice-focused Christian community, the Community of Christ had owned a building in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, which they called La Casa, since 1974. Over the decades, they’d opened the building to a wide array of community uses, and La Casa had become an important neighborhood center. So when the church decided to shut down — membership had dropped, and they wanted to end things intentionally, rather than wither away — one of the decisions they needed to make was what to do with La Casa. My research is the story of the Community of Christ’s remarkable process of determining what to do with this building, and the story of how they would ultimately give it away in order to further the cause of social justice in the neighborhood it had long served. In this work, I think through the Community’s decision through the lens of stewardship. To steward a resource is to care for it, both for its present use, and also with an eye towards how it can continue to be used in the future, by people who may be as yet unknown. To steward is to recognize that one person’s, or group’s, use of a resource is only every temporary: resources — buildings, land, water, air — outlast the lives of the humans and organizations that use them. The example of the Community of Christ, I hope, may stimulate new ways of thinking about stewarding resources for collective use in the midst of the grinding capitalist city.

March 6, 2018: Laurel Mei-Singh (Princeton University American Studies): “Island on the Axis: Military Fences and Oceanic Indigeneity in Hawai’i”

While Hawai‘i functions as the command center for US military operations from India to California, this presentation contends that the military does not impose unilateral hegemony on the islands. Rather, Hawaiian paradigms and practices premised on human-environment interconnectivity persist and thrive, shaping the landscape of a highly militarized place and posing an ongoing threat to US territorial domination. In response, the military partitioning of land aims to regulate and contain indigenous environmental practices that continue to yield viable alternatives to capitalism and war. As I show, starting in World War II, the fencing and partitioning of land produced carceral geographies that constitute a central strategy of US occupation. The martial law that followed the Pearl Harbor bombing enclosed land where people fished and grew food to eat, and unfurled a spatialized security infrastructure that continues to police people in Hawai‘i to this day. In sum, this presentation aims to illuminate a theory of indigenous resistance both against and in the shadows of a militarized carceral state.


March 20, 2018:“Terrorism and the Colonial Present in North Eastern Kenya” Zoltán Glück (Graduate Center, CUNY Anthropology)

This talk will examine at the campaign to reopen Garissa University College, in North Eastern Kenya, in the wake of the terrorist attack that killed 148 students and staff there in 2015. I place the Garissa attack and the campaign to reopen the university within the context of the historical marginalization and violence against Ethnic Somalis in the region. Through an analysis of the contradictions of activism within field of security, I look at how the long shadows of colonialism and the Shifta War are today transformed and reassembled today under the auspices of counter-terrorism. In doing so, I analyze how the War on Terror operates to expand the repressive powers the postcolonial state, here through internal colonization and the resurrection of the erstwhile colonial “frontier zone.


March 27, 2018: Elissa Margolin (AU Health Studies): “Mindfulness in Education: Authentic Teaching & Optimal Learning”

Given the overwhelming levels of stress and anxiety among students today, including at AU, evidence shows that mindfulness practices are providing many solutions.  Learn the role of mindfulness to: inspire more authentic, present teaching; cultivate deeper receptivity to learning; bolster the foundation for more courageous dialogue and enhance values of tolerance and inclusiveness; create more meaningful connections in the classroom; alleviate stress; and optimize the learning environment for all.  Experience practical tools that you can implement for yourself and share with your students.


April 3, 2018: Jeanne Hanna (Au Anthropology) “‘Radical Islam Could Be the Thing We Use to Distinguish Ourselves’: The Role of Race and Racism in the Fate of Post-Referendum Ukip”

I plan to lead a discussion examining some of the discursive strategies that activists in the UK Independence Party use to distance themselves from their party’s reputation for racism and xenophobia while simultaneously affirming their affinity for an exclusionary understanding of British racial, cultural, and national identity. In this discussion I hope to grant particular attention to how competing ideas about race, religion, and culture fomented ongoing conflicts among UKIP’s supporters following the group’s success in the June 2016 EU Referendum.


April 10, 2018: Amelia Tseng (Georgetown University, Linguistics and American University, School of Education) “Who decides who belongs? Deconstructing essentialism and authenticity in raciolinguistic discourses by and about immigrants”

Despite increased recognition of constructivist and intersectional approaches to identity in academia and the public sphere over recent decades, essentialist ideologies which reduce identity to imposed categories of race and ethnicity, indexed by language and nationality, retain pervasive hegemonic force. This discussion will examine how monolithic understandings of race, ethnicity, and culture, and ideologies of “one nation, one language, one people” are simultaneously imposed by the majority culture and perpetuated/resisted within minority communities, with implications for intergenerational family relations, cultural continuity, and heritage language loss. The discussion will also interrogate theoretical and methodological implications for social science and humanities research paradigms. Examples will be drawn from two diasporic sites where dynamic raciolinguistic identities challenge simplistic assumptions about race, language, and identity: Washington, D.C.’s Latino/African American contact, and Peruvian Chinese in Lima.

April 17, 2018: Denise Brennan (Georgetown University Anthropology) “Undocumented: Field Research from Migrant Communities inside the 100-Mile Border Zone”

This talk draws from field research in migrant communities inside the 100-Mile Border Zone (an enhanced immigration enforcement zone) as well as from communities deep within the interior of the United States. The border may not be everywhere, but it’s policing is. The talk will test drive ideas that will undergird a new book I’m writing Undocumented: Criminalizing Everyday Life in the United States. Undocumented asks what it’s like to live with the everyday threat of deportation? It spotlights the lived experience of criminalization and being “wanted” as well as how undocumented individuals counter such surveillance with community organizing.


April 24, 2018: Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, (AU SOCY) “Latinx as a Site of Exclusion? (or the limits of inclusivity)” 

A common assumption is that Latinx as a term is a most inclusive one and, while it may not roll off one’s tongue easily (you think that’s hard? try it in Spanish!), the result of its implementation should be a series of openings, instead of a closing off of conversations about identity, political categories, and ethno-racial nomenclatures. As AU, academe, and the general public get exposed to the use of the term “Latinx,” we face the task of reconciling the historical doings and undoings of “Hispanic” and “Latina/o” with the Latinx term. I am interested not just in the trace of these categories, but in what they do, who they serve, and what ethnicized and (de)racialized readings flow from such decisions. With this talk, I seek to question the implicit assumptions of the primary extremes of the public debates about the use of Latinx: gender queer inclusion, or language imperialism/imposition. The open question with the newly (almost uncritically) insertion of the term Latinx is whether we can maximize its capacity for diversification, including gender (and perhaps sexuality), without leaving behind racial components, and thus leaving power dynamics uninterrogated.


Join us for one event or for the whole series!

Check out pictures from our events below:

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Washington Consortium Conference

Please join us for this celebration of literary and interdisciplinary work by DC area graduate students.  Organized by graduate students at American University, this annual conference brings together MA and PhD students from American University,  Georgetown University, and University of Maryland.

Washington Consortium Conference

Spring 2019

Updates will be posted soon.

2017 Inaugural Washington Consortium Conference
Saturday September 30, 2017
9 am -5 pm, Humanities Lab, Battelle-Tompkins 228



Black Lives Matter

Join us for the launch of the Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative at American University, with a special event discussing the importance, challenges and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 4-7 pm
Battelle-Tompkins Atrium

Black Lives matter event

4 -5 pm: Conversation with AU student activists involved with Black Lives Matter and AU Alumna Marita Golden

5-6pm: Talk – Erika Totten (BLM Activist in DC): “We are accountable when we are specific”

6-7pm: Talk – Marcia Chatelain (Associate Professor, History, Georgetown University – #fergusonsyllabus):

“What #BlackLivesMatter Teaches Us: Woke Pedagogies, Social Media, and the Academy”


This event is free and open to the public.

Cosponsored by the Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative and the Humanities Lab.

About the Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative 

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

The collaborative houses six interdisciplinary programs that offer bachelor’s degrees, minors, and certificates:

Our courses discuss race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, culture, religion, and more from a critical perspective. We encourage our students to research complex problems and explore interdisciplinary interests.