Lecturer in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights
Sara Awartani’s teaching interests span the fields of Latinx Studies, Puerto Rican history, comparative social movement histories, carceral studies, and histories of the United States in the World. In Spring 2021, she will teach the seminar, EMR 141: Race, Solidarity, and the Carceral State.
Sara Awartani is a Global American Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. An interdisciplinary U.S. social movement historian, her research, publications, and teaching interrogate twentieth-century Latinx and Arab American radicalism, interracial solidarities, policing, and American global power. Her book manuscript, Solidarities of Liberation, Geographies of Empire: Puerto Rico, Palestine, and the U.S. Imperial Project, traces the cultural and political history of how the “Palestine problem” and Puerto Rico’s “status question” produced novel solidarities among U.S. social movements, while simultaneously enabling the expansion of U.S. empire and statecraft. Awartani documents how, beginning in the 1970s, an array of militant Puerto Rican radicals in Chicago wedded their rejection of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico to the Palestinian struggle, and how those very solidarities became part of a larger set of justifications in the U.S. government’s emerging fight against international terrorism. She argues that these solidarities enabled the United States to further consolidate its surveillance and policing efforts against Puerto Rican radicals by casting the Puerto Rican independence movement, like Palestinian resistance, as a terrorist—and therefore illegitimate—menace. In what was ultimately a battle over the United States’ reputation as a global leader of democracy during the late Cold War, Puerto Rican solidarities with Palestine were weaponized in service of imperial ambitions, demarcating the boundaries of legitimate political dissent.
An inaugural member of MERIP, NACLA, and Jadaliyya’s “Latin East” project, her scholarship has received support from the Arab American National Museum and Puerto Rican Studies Association, with additional recognition by the Ford Foundation and Latin American Studies Association’s Latino Studies caucus. Her articles have appeared in Radical History Review, Middle East Report, and Kalfou: A Comparative Ethnic Studies Journal, with a forthcoming chapter in the anthology, Critical Diálogos in Latina and Latino Studies.
Awartani received her Ph.D. in American Studies from George Washington University in 2020. She is a proud alumna of the University of Florida, where she graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in History.