Manissa M. Maharawal is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at American University in Washington DC. Her research focuses on the spatial and temporal dynamics of contemporary urban social movements in the United States, from Occupy Wall Street and anti-gentrification activism to Black Lives Matter. She is currently preparing a book manuscript, titled Affective Afterlives: An Ethnography of Activism Between Movements. Her research and writing have been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the New York Council for the Humanities, The Center for Place Culture and Politics, The American Council of Learned Societies and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She is broadly interested in historical and contemporary struggles for social justice, the production of space, and understanding dynamics of race, class, and gender in formation of political subjectivities. Her work has been published in American Anthropologist, Anthropological Theory (forthcoming), 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.
Manissa is a Consulting Editor at Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology. She was past editor and contributor to the Findings Column in Anthropology Now and from 2009-2013 she was a co-chair of Women of Color Network at CUNY.
As a trained oral historian she uses oral history to conduct life history interviews with activists in order to explore how life history contributes to the formation of “radical” politics. She is currently the “Director At Large” for the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project‘s “Narratives of Displacement and Resistance” project. This oral history project aims to document urban change and resistance in the San Francisco Bay Area by foregrounding the stories of people who have been, or who are being, displaced. Through collecting life-histories and placing them on an online map of the city, the project creates a living archive, documenting deep and detailed neighborhood and personal histories. This project was celebrated as part of the “new generation of oral historians” here.
Manissa was also an oral history interviewer for the Crossing Borders Bridging Generations project. This project examined the history and experiences of mixed-heritage people and families, cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity, and identity. Interviews she conducted for this project can be listened to here and an article she wrote on race and oral history can be read here.
Maharawal is also a published poet. Her poems have appeared in Smartish Pace, The Watershed Review, and The Berkeley Journal of Sociology. In 2015 she was a Writing Fellow at the Blue Mountain Center. She is currently working on a manuscript of poems based upon her ethnographic fieldwork.