Associate Professor of English
B.A., Calvin College, 1993
Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2001
Specialties: Postcolonial studies, International Fiction, Performance Studies/Theater
For the past twenty years, my research has been shaped by working with survivors of torture, by women who fought as guerrilla fighters, by refugees who have re-shaped their lives and identities in trans-national crossings. While perched in the English department, I believe that stories reside not only in the texts that travel globally, such as blogs, but also in the plays of the stage, the cries of street poets, and the political performances of Arab and African Spring. Both my teaching and my research on gender and protest have been deeply shaped by living in Shaqlawa, Iraq, during sanctions and amidst the civil war. Listening to stories and histories of friends, I studied Sorani language and Kurdish culture, especially how stories and songs were important in times of atrocity for transitioning from individual alienation to re-building community in a young democracy. Also, my time in Palestine/Israel, Jordan, Morocco, and Egypt have influenced my views of ongoing dictatorships and time lines given by western media for democracy and political healing. Years later in Seattle, I facilitated a performance forum with Shiite women to raise awareness of refugee crisis.
After living in Iraq, my interest in how stories provide a witness to the past and are part of the shaping of post-war identity continued as I lived for almost two years in South Africa, and return every other year. I attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, analyzed theater, and worked with a South African psychologist on a drama workshop for former political prisoners of Apartheid. This workshop led to the testimonial play Khumbulani / Remembrance. My interdisciplinary approach is due to Northwestern University, where my Ph.D. committee reflected professors from African Studies, Performance Studies, Postcolonial Theater/Lit. After studying the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, I became interested in the Commission in Morocco. I lead two study abroad programs: Morocco and South Africa.
Performing Democracy in Iraq and South Africa: Gender, Media, and Resistance(Syracuse University Press, 2013).
"Contestational Spaces and the Nervous Conditions of Postcolonial Theories,”Teaching the African Novel, edited by Gaurav Desai (MLA / Modern Language Association Series, 2009), 371-385.
“Melancholy Ties: Inter-generational Loss and Exile in Persepolis,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 28.1 (2008), 38-49
"Collective Mourning Practices in Iraq and South Africa," Lamentations in Ancient and Contemporary Contexts, edited by Nancy Lee and Carleen Mandolfo (Atlanta: SBL, 2008), 177-1
"Postmodern Mourning in Durrant’s Postcolonial Narrative and the Work of Mourning,” Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Rhetoric, Writing, and Politics26.3 (2006): 706-714.
"Story and Song in Iraq and South Africa: From Individual to Collective Mourning Performances,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East,25:1 (2005): 138-151.
“Pursuing Ghosts: The Traumatic Sublime in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace,” Research in African Literatures, 36:4 (2005): 40-52
"Postcolonial Performatives of Victimization,” Public Culture 38 (2002): 617-619.