UIC scholar earns ASA lifetime achievement award

University of Illinois Chicago cultural anthropologist Nadine Naber is the recipient of the American Studies Association’s 2022 Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize, which recognizes the outstanding achievement of an individual who has dedicated a lifetime of work to the mission and values of American studies.

Nadine Naber, UIC professor of global Asian studies and gender and women’s studies
Nadine Naber, UIC professor of global Asian studies and gender and women’s studies.

Naber, a UIC professor of global Asian studies and gender and women’s studies who is affiliated with the department of anthropology, will be honored Nov. 3 at an awards ceremony during the association’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Her research challenges how racism, classism, heterosexism and U.S.-led empire-building impact Arab and Arab American communities and explores the possibilities for feminists of color to lead social movements to build a world without oppression.

In a nomination letter from Evelyn Alsultany, associate professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California, Naber is cited as one of the field’s leading scholars in the areas of transnational Arab and decolonial abolitionist feminisms.

“Dr. Naber’s work has markedly transformed and updated the field of American Studies around some of the most urgent issues of our times. Her extraordinary contributions reverberate across many areas in our field, producing groundbreaking impacts theoretically, internationally, methodologically, publicly and institutionally,” Alsultany wrote.

Naber is author of “Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism.” She is co-editor of the books “Race and Arab Americans”; “Arab and Arab American Feminisms,” which won the 2012 Arab American Book Award; “The Color of Violence”; and “Towards the Sun.”

For more than two decades she has been connecting scholars, students and the public to issues related to activism and community engagement.

“By mentoring faculty and students to ‘Liberate their Research’ and collectively founding and leading several academic programs and community-based organizations, Dr. Naber has institutionalized the contributions named above across campuses, national and disciplinary borders, and communities, and has therefore given permission to more and more American Studies scholars to continue growing intersectional, decolonial, transnational, social movement-led research and practice,” Alsultany wrote.

At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Naber co-founded the Arab and Muslim American Studies Program. At UIC, Naber was the founding director of the Arab American Culture Center when it was created in 2016. Under her leadership, the center launched educational and cultural programming for the campus; supported networks for international, undergraduate and graduate students; provided research experiences for students interested in developing research that supports Arab American communities; and established an Arab American graduation recognition for the UIC campus.

Since coming to UIC in 2013, she has taught courses in the areas of Arab American studies, Middle East women’s studies, global feminisms, activism and social change, Asian and Arab American solidarity, and feminist methodologies.

Naber’s work has previously been recognized with the YWCA’s Y-Women’s Leadership Award, an international fellowship from the Open Society Foundation, a grant from the Humanities Without Walls consortium and UIC’s Silver Circle Teaching Award.

Naber is currently co-authoring a book on the significance of activism led by people who are mothering and caregiving in the face of police violence, attacks on undocumented migrants, and colonization and war.

The American Studies Association’s Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize honors two early pioneers in American studies, both of whom were integral in the early movement to institutionalize American studies. Carl Bode was the founder and first president of the American Studies Association. He was a literary critic and cultural historian known for The American Lyceum, and he spent his academic career in the American Civilization program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Norman Holmes Pearson was an editor, literary critic and archivist, and he co-founded the American Civilization program at Yale University in the 1940s.

Founded in 1951, the American Studies Association is the oldest and largest academic association dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. culture and history in a global context.

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