You are here: American University College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Manissa Maharawal

Back to top

Manissa Maharawal Asst Professor Department of Anthropology

Degrees
PhD (2017) Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
MPhil (2013) Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
BA (2005) Sarah Lawrence College

Bio
I am a cultural anthropologist and critical geographer whose work focuses on eviction, race, displacement and the spatial and temporal dynamics of contemporary urban social movements from Occupy Wall Street and anti-gentrification activism to Black Lives Matter. I am broadly interested in historical and contemporary struggles for social justice in cities.

I am currently preparing two book manuscripts, the first titled, "Eviction Blues: Displacement and Resistance in a Tech Capital." This work is a study of urban transformation, activism and the regional impacts of the technology industry in the San Francisco Bay Area. It examines San Francisco’s “eviction epidemic” through the lens of the housing policies, the urban political economy of speculation, and an ethnography of the protests which have cropped up in its wake. The second book project is, "Between Movements: Race, Affect and Activism From Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter." This work traces the spatial and temporal dynamics of waves of mobilization, organizing and urban protests as activists navigate the complex afterlives of “movement moments”. Bringing together affect theory, critical race theory, oral history, political ethnography and urban studies, this book asks the question of “what happens” when social movements retreat from the public eye. I am also co-Editor of "Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance" (PM Press 2021), a collaborative edited volume by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.

My work has been published in Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Antipode, Sociological Quarterly, American Anthropologist, Anthropological Theory, Anthropological Quarterly (forthcoming), Abolition Journal, Radical Housing Journal, and in such media outlets as The Guardian, N+1, AlterNet, The Indypendent, Racialicious, Counterpunch, and Waging Nonviolence, among other online and print periodicals, as well as in a number of edited books and anthologies.

My research and writing have been funded by the The American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York Council for the Humanities, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and The Center for Place Culture and Politics. I am also been the co-recipient of major professional awards from the American Studies Association (The Susan Garfinkel Prize in Digital Humanities) and the American Association of Geographers (The Alternative Geography Award).

I am the co-founder and (currently) the Director-at-Large for the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project‘s Narratives of Displacement and Resistance project. This digital humanities and oral history project documents urban change and resistance in the San Francisco Bay Area by foregrounding the stories of people who have been, or who are being, displaced. As a trained oral historian I conduct life-history interviews with activists in order to explore how life history contributes to the formation of “radical” politics. Through collecting life-histories and placing them on a digital online map of the city, the project creates a living archive, documenting deep and detailed neighborhood and personal histories.