Hi, I'm Nadine Naber
Systemic violence breaks us and our scholarship by forcing us to live and work within white supremacist, individualist, and exploitative environments.
I am the founder of Liberate Your Research Workshops and a Professor at the University of Illinois in the Gender and Women's Studies and Global Asian Studies Programs. I have been co-creating connections, research, and activism among radical scholars and social movements for the past 25 years.
My journey to heal myself from systemic violence and academic oppression inspired me to integrate collective healing practices into efforts towards building thriving BIPOC communities, research, and social movements. When I realized I could take responsibility for the way I react to oppression, I became increasingly surrounded by abundant possibilities for living out my full purpose on this planet.
While I strive to align my emotions with my desire to live in harmony with who I am and our intergenerational and collective power, I aim to contribute to the abolition of oppressive systems and to expand our capacity for radical self love, collective healing and liberation. I do this through my Liberate Your Research workshops and my writing, public speaking, activism, and teaching on the topics of racial justice; gender justice; women and queer of color feminisms; Arab and Muslim feminisms; Arab Americans; Muslim Americans; and BIPOC-based activism and solidarity.
I have authored and co-edited five books including
- Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism (NYU Press, 2012);
- Race and Arab Americans (Syracuse University Press, 2008);
- Arab and Arab American Feminisms, winner of the Arab American Book Award 2012 (Syracuse University Press, 2010);
- The Color of Violence (Duke University Press, 2016); and
- Towards the Sun (Tadween Publishing-George Mason University, 2018).
I write regular OpEds and news articles for outlets like Truthout, Jacobin, and Jadaliyya. I am a leading voice for the Chicago Reporter and I have been recognized as an exceptional leader by the OpEd project.
TRUTHOUT—As many sectors of our society are celebrating the “ceasefire” between Palestine and Israel, a chorus of Palestinian voices are blasting across social media echoing a shared consciousness that this ceasefire could never be enough. It is not only recent events but what Palestinian historian Sherene Seikaly explains as the century-long struggle to remain on one’s land in the face of persistent ethnic cleansing that inspires this sentiment.
TRUTHOUT—Now is the time for healing the many divine forms of the feminine, led by Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color (BIPOC), mothers and the stewards of our next generations. As the world is coming face to face with the truth of our mortality through COVID-19, intensified authoritarianism, land confiscation, border control and mass incarceration, anyone who parents will experience Mother’s Day in struggle. Indeed, mother-survivors of victims of police violence, torture, deportation, incarceration and war have walked this road for decades.
Chicago Reporter—After decades of institutionalized racism against people perceived to be Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim in the U.S., it is a great disappointment that the University of Illinois continues to categorize Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) students as racially white in data, surveys, and university records. These populations face significant levels of racism across the U.S., in the state of Illinois, and on college campuses. To fight racism and discrimination and quantify it, this group must have its own designation separate from white.
Ms. Magazine—We remember Nawal El Saadawi, the renowned Egyptian feminist, physician, writer and activist, as our charismatic and outspoken mentor, from her arrival in Seattle in 1994 to teach at the University of Washington.
Liberate Your Research Workshops
My Liberate Your Research workshops train radical scholars and activists in liberating our theories and methods from the constraints of the academic and non-profit industrial complexes. My workshops transform the fear and anxiety that often overpowers writing, theory-making, and activism into a well of abundance, radical self/collective love, and writing prosperity. I developed Liberate Your Research after junior feminist scholars in the Arab region who conduct research on gender violence; training journalists; teaching radical feminist of color methodologies to graduate students and junior faculty for over twenty-years on college campuses; and studying the possibilities of social-movement led research for over twenty years.
I lead workshops and discussions in social movement spaces such as:
- Allied Media Conference;
- The Color of Violence;
- The Knowledge Workshop in Lebanon;
- Jewish Voices for Peace,
- The Arab Resource and Organizing Center in San Francisco, and
- Nazra for Feminist Studies in Cairo, Egypt.
I was chosen as a TEDX speaker by Oak Park TEDX Women in 2019 to produce the talk, "Arab Feminism is not an Oxymoron.”
Awards & Recognitions
I am grateful to be the recipient of awards and recognitions such as the Silver Circle Teaching Award (UIC); the Earl and Edna Stice Social Justice Award Department of Women’s Studies (University of Washington); the Open Societies Foundation designation as an international advisor; the United Nations designation as an expert author; the Institute for the Humanities’ Faculty Fellowship; the American Studies Association’s designation as a distinguished speaker; the YWCA Evanston’s YWomen’s Leadership Award; and the OpEd Project’s exceptional leadership recognition.
Activism, Scholarship, and Institution Building
In the 1990s, I gained clarity that the U.S. had been destroying and displacing my people in Iraq and Palestine. In 1994, I co-founded the Seattle, San Francisco, and North American chapters of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association (AWSA). Through AWSA, I co-created an Arab feminist movement that worked to dismantle the sexist and homophobic systems of U.S.-led war and racism and to integrate Arab feminist perspectives into U.S. feminist of color movements. We sent delegations to the UN World Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, Egypt 1994) and the UN World Conference on Women (Beijing, China, 1995). AWSA helped integrate gender justice into the vision of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Francisco Chapter’s (now AROC) and we worked with the Oakland based Women of Color Resource Center (WCRC) to bring Arab American feminist perspectives on Zionism and racism to the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
After I completed my PhD from the University of California, Davis in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on Arab American activism in 2001, I moved to Cairo, Egypt to work as an Assistant Professor at the American University of Cairo. There, I built alliances with feminist organizations like the Women and Memory Forum and New Woman Foundation.In 2002, I joined the national board of INCITE! (a network of feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in our homes and communities). With INCITE!, I helped integrate the idea that war is a feminist and LGBTQ concern into INCITE’s national conferences, resources for activists, and co-edited book The Color of Violence. also served on the steering committee of movements like Racial Justice 911 to support immigrants and communities of color targeted by the post 9/11 backlash in the U.S. and the growing war of terror.
For 10 years, I worked as a professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2003-2013). There, I co-founded the academic program, Arab and Muslim American Studies which places research and activism about Arab and Muslim Americans in relation to the wide range of indigenous, racial, ethnic, and immigrant communities in the U.S and prioritizes community-based approaches that link universities with local Arab and Muslim American communities from a social-justice-based perspective.
Between 2011 and 2015, I joined feminist activists in Lebanon and Egypt to document and uplift the stories of their participation in the Arab Spring revolutions and related movements for democracy and regime change, culminating in publications like The Radical Potential of Mothering during the Egyptain Revolution and “Reflections on Feminist Interventions within the 2015 Anticorruption Protests in Lebanon HYPERLINK TO THESE ESSAYS IN ACADEMIA.EDU.”
In 2013, I relocated to the University of Illinois at Chicago where she was hired as a Co-PI of the Diaspora Cluster within the Chancellor’s Cluster Initiative for Faculty Diversity. At UIC, I am the faculty founder of the first center on a college campus serving the needs of Arab American students in the United States. The Arab American Cultural Center at UIC builds community, solidarity, and safe spaces while promoting social justice, equality, and inclusivity at UIC and the Chicagoland area. She has also served as a director and a steering committee member of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy. At UIC, I also serve on the advisory board of the Social Justice Initiative at UIC and I am co-director of the Race and Empire Working Group within the Institute for the Humanities.
Between 2013 and 2017, I supported the Arab Women’s Committee of Chicago to co-published a book written by and about Arab immigrant and refugee women about their struggles with displacement, immigration, and isolation and their path towards defining empowerment, dignity, and liberation on their own terms.
In 2020, I co-founded the collective, MAMAS (mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity). MAMAS is a collective of people conducting the labor of mothering about Black, indigenous, and people of color-based communities. Our vision is to integrate the voices and strategies of mamas into social movements, media debates, and policy processes about the systems sustaining U.S. empire and white-supremacy—from policing and immigration to colonization and war. We believe this integration is necessary if we are to survive these systems and build the kinds of connections and alternatives needed to build a just and loving society.