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Rabab Abdulhadi

Award-Winning Academic, Author, and Activist

By TWiP

Rabab Abdulhadi

Born and raised in Nablus, Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi is an internationally known scholar, distinguished professor, mentor, and organic intellectual who has excelled in every aspect of her academic career and public role. Her professional service to academia is only matched by her high-profile involvement and outspokenness for justice in/for Palestine and the indivisibility of justice.
Dr. Abdulhadi received her BA summa cum laude in the Special Honors Curriculum, Sociology and Women’s Studies from Hunter College, and her MA, Mphil, and PhD from Yale University, where she was awarded the prestigious Sterling Fellowship, a full scholarship, a dissertation fellowship, and the Teaching Excellence award, received for the first time by a Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim. She was a popular and highly ranked visiting lecturer at Birzeit University’s Institute for Women’s Studies during her doctoral field research in Palestine, titled “Palestinianness in comparative perspective: Inclusionary Resistance, Exclusionary Citizenship.” This work followed up her undergraduate honors thesis, titled “The Limitations of Nationalism: Gender Dynamics and the Emergent Palestinian Feminist Discourses,” from which she abstracted her widely cited article, “The Palestinian Women’s Autonomous Movement.”
During her first post-PhD appointment at the American University in Cairo, she co-created the Graduate Certificate in Forced Migration and Refugee Studies, received the 2001 Teaching Excellence award, and organized and led the first student delegation to any Arab country. During her postdoctoral fellowship at New York University, she co-created the BA program and Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies and co-organized a transnational feminist conference in collaboration with AUC’s Women and Gender Studies. As the first director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, she initiated and developed several projects such as Mapping Arab Diasporas, Intellectual and Pedagogical Institute in American and Arab American Studies for Palestinian and US Graduate Students in collaboration with Al-Quds University, Picturing Arabs and Muslims Film Series, and Arab and Arab American Writers Series.

In 2007, she was selected as the top-ranking candidate in an international search and hired as the founding director and Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) program at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University. She created the AMED Studies Academic Minor with courses titled “Palestine, Islamophobia, gender and modernity” and “Colonialism, Imperialism and Resistance,” co-created the Edward Said Scholarship, and established the collaborative MOU with An-Najah National University, the first and only agreement that SFSU has with any site in Arab and Muslim communities worldwide.
Professor Abdulhadi has published over 80 articles, book chapters, and anthologies, co-edited books, and co-founded and serves as editorial board member of Islamophobia Studies Journal. A policy adviser for Al-Shabaka, she serves on the boards of Afro-Middle East Center and International Islamophobia Studies Research Association, and as mentor and visiting scholar at the Consortium de Recherche Inter et Transdisciplinaire en Proche et Moyen-Orient (Paris, France), Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme; Aix-Marseille University; Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean; Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
She has initiated numerous innovative scholarly projects and pedagogical curricula, including “Islamophobia: Gender, Sexuality and Racism,” “Living Archives: Third World, Indigenous and anti-Colonial Queer and Feminist International Solidarities.” In response to the global pandemic, she initiated and co-organized major open classrooms webinars on Black Lives and Black Freedom, Abolition and Reparations, and Memorializing of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre. These webinars attracted over 100,000 organic views of the AMED Facebook page, including the open classrooms on Palestine and Resistance narratives, censored by tech giants and the pro-Israel lobby in complicity with the university administration.
As a scholar-activist she co-founded several community organizations such as the US Branch of the General Union of Palestine Students, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Associations in North America, and the Palestine Solidarity Committee. She was the first Arab or Muslim to be elected to the Board of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NY CLU). She co-founded the California Scholars for Academic Freedom and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and has co-organized the BDS campaigns within the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association. She co-organized several Palestine delegations, including the Indigenous and Women of Color Feminist Delegation, the 2016 US Prisoner Solidarity, Labor and Academic Delegation, and in 2018, 2019, and 2022 Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice.


Professor Abdulhadi has been recognized with scholarly and community honors and awards, most recently the Jere L. Bacharach Service Award by the Middle East Studies Association for her life’s commitment to Palestine Studies, the Georgina Smith Award by the American Association of University Professors, the Alex Odeh Award by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Lucius Walker Award by InterFaith Community Organizations/Pastors for Peace, the Courage Awards by Al-Awda: The Palestinian Right of Return Coalition, and an award by Silicon Valley and the National Convention of American Muslims for Palestine. She was honored by the Arab Feminist Union, Palestine, and named Bay Area Visionary by the National Women’s Studies Association, where she co-chairs Feminists for Justice in/for Palestine.
Despite over ten years of relentless New McCarthyist bullying that aims to silence her and dismantle AMED, Professor Abdulhadi has prevailed in every single attack, demonstrating her resilience and commitment to scholarship and public activism.

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