Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is proud to recognize world-renowned Palestinian feminist, scholar & activist Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, who has been awarded the Jere L. Bacharach Service Award of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). The award “recognizes the contributions of individuals through their outstanding service to MESA or the profession.” Her nomination letter highlights her work as a scholar-activist and impact in establishing institutional spaces and intellectual infrastructures for activists and scholars doing work relevant to MESA, and dedicating her life to developing and broadening Middle East Studies.
Upon receiving her PhD from Yale University, she helped build the graduate Certificate in Forced Migration & Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC). As a postdoctoral Fellow at New York University (NYU), she assisted in creating the undergraduate major and the Graduate Certificate in Gender & Sexuality Studies while leading a university-wide colloquium on Gender & Sexuality and nationalism. Abdulhadi was the first director of the Center for Arab American Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Dearborn (2004-2006). Subsequently, she became the founding director of the Arab & Muslim Ethnicities & Diasporas Studies (AMED) at the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU).
In her work as the founding director of AMED, Dr. Abdulhadi maintains a rigorous academic program through which students, staff and members of the community can collectively engage in the struggle for international justice. She has worked to develop critical intellectual and scholarly thinking while creating spaces for advocacy for justice, dignity, and peace. As AMED Director, she negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding between SFSU and An-Najah National University in Palestine – and has worked tirelessly with the community to build power through The International Campaign to Defend Professor Rabab Abdulhadi.
As part of her scholar-activist praxis, Dr. Abdulhadi has been working on her intellectual project of Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis & the Indivisibility of Justice. Teaching Palestine challenges hegemonic narratives on Palestine and calls for decolonizing of the curriculum. As a part of Teaching Palestine, she initiated Teaching Palestine Open Classroom Series, providing accessible, free and quality educational programming that was streamed live in an interactive format that engaged both student and community audiences. Through this series, Abdulhadi challenges the traditional definition of the classroom while organizing a rich living archive of conversations, oral histories and intergenerational discussions that historicize contemporary issues and debates.
Her outspokenness against the erasure of Palestine and her advocacy for critical AMED curriculum has made Dr. Abdulhadi a particular target of Zionist, rightwing and white supremacist Islamophobes, such as David Horowitz, Canary Mission, Campus Watch/Middle East Forum, AMCHA, the Lawfare Project and the Academic Engagement Network. This award shows that Dr. Abdulhadi has not been silenced and will not be defeated in her fight for justice. Join us in expressing our appreciation for Dr. Abdulhadi.