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The School of Humanities and Social Sciences has been awarded a significant three-year grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support teaching, research and public outreach in the field of  humanities and humanistic social sciences.

This grant program will give faculty, graduate students and undergraduates the opportunity to rethink and reconsider disciplinary boundaries in the classroom, pursue critical research questions and address the urgent need for academic humanities' interventions in public debates in Egypt, the MENA region and the Global South.

A summary of the grant activities and a schedule of grant-related events will be published on this site shortly. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this grant, please send your inquiries to: or

This new grant builds on the Theory and Practice Workshops, which were also funded the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. The outcomes of these workshops are documented separately



HUSSLab is an organized research unit within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) at The American University in Cairo (AUC).

It was set up to implement a three-year Mellon-funded program to support research, teaching, and public engagement in the humanities. This program will promote community outreach, faculty and student exchanges, publications, and public-oriented humanities research at AUC and its partners in Egypt and across the Global South.

This multi-institutional, global initiative coincides with a crucial transition point as AUC and other universities across the Global South consider new ways to serve their constituent communities—chief among them students—during a time of profound social, cultural, and political instability.

Our definition of humanities research and teaching is broad and includes those disciplines that seek to explore the contours of human cultures and societies past, present and future. This includes the arts, traditional humanities subjects and the non-quantitative social sciences. At AUC, these subjects are taught by faculty from the following departments:

  • Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations
  • Department of Applied Linguistics
  • Department of the Arts
  • Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Department of History
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology

While our definition of the public humanities certainly begins with these traditional academic groupings and their traditions of expertise, we understand the public humanities as a more dynamic, problem-focused, and inchoate realm of public discourse that seeks to bring subjects of concern out from the isolated silos of academic specializations into the public sphere.

Here we bring academics into conversation with activists, we break down barriers between academic communities in the Global South and the Global North, we empower students to challenge received wisdom and redefine their own areas of interest, and we challenge academic specialists to speak to contemporary social issues of broad interest beyond the walls of academic institutions.



HUSSLab is headed by Ehab Abdel-Rahman (Provost, AUC), and directed by Stephen Nimis (Department of English and Comparative Literature, AUC) and Pascale Ghazaleh (Department of History, AUC). Mark Muehlhaeusler (AUC Libaries) assists them as deputy director.

The grant proposal was written by Adam Talib (now Durham University), who continues to serve on the grant as external research associates together with Hakem Al-Rustom (University of Michigan).


The activities of the HUSSLab program can be divided into three tracks:

Track One: Cultivating an Intellectual Community in HUSS:
To promote the role of the humanities in teaching and research at AUC.

Specific Objectives
  • Cultivate existing intellectual resources (faculty and students)
  • Dismantle administrative barriers that hinder inter-disciplinary research and teaching
  • Promote the humanities as a realm of inquiry among students
  • Expand research opportunities for AUC faculty and students

Track Two: Forging Global Partnerships in Research and Pedagogy:
To promote knowledge production outside the Global North.

Specific Objectives

  • Promote cross-pollination of ideas and teaching strategies by bringing scholars from other Global South contexts to AUC
  • Establish research collaborations between local and regional institutions
  • Promote nascent research and teaching efforts in Egypt by collaborating with local partners outside the university and governmental structure
  • Bring Global South researchers and knowledge practitioners to academic audiences in the Global North.

Track Three: Extending AUC’s Public Outreach:
To decolonize knowledge by promoting Arabic-language knowledge production and to direct AUC’s considerable expertise in the humanities to the wider community in Cairo, Egypt, and the region.

Specific Objectives

  • Promote the production and dissemination of accessible scholarly knowledge in Arabic for a non-academic audience in Egypt and across the Arab World via texts and podcasts
  • Offer intensive workshops (winter schools) for non-academic professionals whose work would benefit from exposure to cutting-edge humanities methodologies, debates, and approaches, but who cannot take time to pursue an advanced degree
  • Engage the public in conversations pertaining to issues of contemporary relevance or resonance with academics from AUC and from other institutions, especially those working in Global South contexts


HUSSLab Lectures
The HUSSLab will convene a series of lectures on the humanities disciplines for interested AUC freshmen and sophomores each semester during the lifetime of the grant. These lectures will offer lively, exciting and engaging introductions to all the humanities disciplines taught in HUSS.

Academic Writing Workshops
The HUSSLab will convene academic writing and research workshops for advanced
undergraduate and MA students at AUC on a monthly basis over the course of the academic year (ie 3 - 4 meetings per semester). We envision offering five rounds (five semesters) of the academic writing and research workshops over the lifetime of the grant.

HUSSLab Multidisciplinary Teaching Fund
The HUSSLab will invite applications for collaboration projects between AUC faculty to develop and deliver a co-taught course for undergraduates that creates a new multidisciplinary collaboration. One impediment to multidisciplinary team-teaching at AUC is the way that course load is calculated. The HUSSLab will give cover the cost of one course release per collaboration pair so that the problem of how faculty course loads are calculated does not impede multi-disciplinary collaborative teaching.

HUSSLab Writing Fellowships for AUC Faculty
The HUSSLab will offer course releases to AUC faculty who need extra time to complete imminently publishable monographs or peer-reviewed articles. This fellowship is intended to revitalize intellectual production in the humanities at AUC and to encourage the dissemination of research that is relevant to critical discussions in the public humanities in Egypt and the Global South. HUSSLab Writing Fellows will receive one course release for one semester.

MENA Colloquium
The HUSSLab will convene a research-in-progress roundtable for faculty from across all departments at AUC who are working on original publications related to MENA topics. This roundtable allows AUC faculty to receive feedback from peers and share original research. The roundtable meets three times per semester and participants enjoy a catered lunch.

HUSSLab Arabizing the Academy Workshops
The HUSSLab will convene a series of Arabizing the Academy Workshops organized by the Centers for Translation Studies at the American University in Cairo and the American University of Beirut. These weekend workshops are intended to support the production and publication of original humanistic academic research in Arabic.

HUSSLab Global South Co-Teaching Fund
The HUSSLab will invite applications for collaboration projects between AUC faculty and partners at other Global South institutions of higher education. Funding will be provided for teaching exchanges during the course of the term in which the course is taught. The AUC faculty member will travel to the counterpartís university for one week and the counterpart faculty member will come to AUC for the same amount of time. These visits should not take places simultaneously. The HUSSLab will not match AUC faculty with counterparts abroad as only applications from paired collaborators (one AUC, one non-AUC) will be considered. Collaborations within Egypt are welcomed.

Global South Exchanges for MA Students
The HUSSLab will fund and coordinate opportunities for exceptional humanities MA students to spend a semester studying or doing research elsewhere in the Global South on humanities-related subjects. This includes language training for students seeking to learn a Global South language other than Arabic for their academic research. Four students will be selected in a competitive process each year over the duration of the grant.

Post-MA Fellowship Program
Recent graduates of an AUC humanities MA program who have defended their theses in the past 24 months may apply for the opportunity to spend one year (two semesters) gaining valuable research and teaching experience in the department or center from which they graduated. 1 Post-MA fellows will be assigned a faculty mentor who will advise them on future research and career plans. Post-MA fellows may be invited to teach up to one course per semester during their fellowship for which they will be compensated at the AUC adjunct rate. They are expected to attend departmental meetings and to contribute to intellectual life in their department and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. They will also be fellows of the HUSSLab and will contribute to supporting the HUSSLab program as requested by the HUSSLab director.

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program
Recent PhD recipients will be invited to apply for post-doctoral fellowships in the HUSSLab during which time they will contribute to teaching, research and the public programming activities of the HUSSLab. Post-doctoral fellows will be mentored by AUC faculty and will be supervised by the Director of the HUSSLab. Post-doctoral fellows may be asked to teach up to one course during their fellowship period. Their research plan and public outreach activities during their fellowship will be developed in consultation with the HUSSLab director and their faculty mentor. Post-doctoral fellows will be fellows of the HUSSLab and will contribute to supporting the HUSSLab program as directed by the HUSSLab Director.

Global South Senior Research Fellowship
The HUSSLab will invite applications for one Global South Senior Research Fellow who, during their one semester at AUC, will

  1. Contribute to HUSSLab seminars and workshops
  2. Give one public lecture at the Tahrir campus on an issue in the public humanities related to their research
  3. Offer research mentoring workshops for junior AUC faculty. The Senior Research Fellow may also be asked to offer workshops or mentoring to HUSSLab partner organizations during their fellowship. The Senior Fellowís research and outreach plan for their fellowship will be determined in consultation with the HUSSLab Director before the beginning of the fellowship term.

HUSSLab Podcasting Initiative
The HUSSLab will begin making high-quality audio recordings of important HUSS lectures and workshops available online via open access and other podcasting dissemination platforms.

HUSSLab support for the Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women Studies
Building on the Institute for Gender and Women Studies (IGWS) commitment, both in its graduate curriculum and research, to critical theory in conversations across regions, the institute will hold two comparative Global South workshops engaging questions of research methodologies in contemporary gender studies. Two publications are planned as an output from these workshops.

HUSSLab Winter Schools
The HUSSLab will hold three winter schools over the duration of the grant. These six-day winter schools will target non-academic professionals, government employees, journalists and other qualified participants from Egypt who have an interest in public humanities related subjects but are not able to devote themselves to full-time academic study of these subjects.

Cairo Conversations Series
The HUSSLab will host a series of evening conversations at the AUC Tahrir campus in which academics, artists, writers and activists come together to discuss ways in which to bring theory and practice into conversation with each other. These events will be held six times per year during the lifetime of the grant and the language of the series will alternate between English and Arabic. AUC will liaise with local partners to plan the program for these events.

HUSSLab Author Workshops
The HUSSLab will invite the author of a notable recent academic book to Cairo each semester during the duration of the grant. The author visit will take place over one week during which time the author will participate in two events (a lecture and a workshop) to support research innovation and the public humanities.

HUSSLab WMF Partnership
The HUSSLab will partner with the Cairo-based Women and Memory Forum to promote public understanding of the liberal arts and their central role in society. This will be achieved through workshops, lectures, mini-classes, film screenings and exhibitions. The HUSSLab will also provide funds for training support for AUC undergraduate and graduate interns at the Women and Memory Forum.

HUSSLab CILAS Partnership
The HUSSLab will partner with the Cairo Initiative for Liberal Arts and Sciences to promote public understanding of the liberal arts and their central role in society. This will be achieved through workshops, lectures, mini-classes, film screenings and exhibitions.

HUSSLab University of Michigan Teaching and Public Humanities Collaboration
The HUSSLab will collaborate with Prof. Hakem Al-Rustom at the University of Michigan to support co-teaching and research dissemination activities in Cairo and Ann Arbor, MI. At the University of Michigan, Prof. Al-Rustom will convene a monthly workshop titled ìTheory and Practice: Humanities in the Worldî in conversation with AUC HUSSLab roundtable workshops (ie Author Workshops and Cairo Conversations) and will also promote pedagogical innovation by supporting exchanges between faculty at Michigan and AUC.

The interdisciplinary workshop and the development of new courses (for credit courses and short courses) aim at contributing to a vision of the decolonization of knowledge by creating an intellectual space in which participants can discuss and rethink contemporary problems and critical theories in the Global South in English as well as in non-European languages. Workshop meetings will explore the variety of ways in which critical theories have been interpreted, translated and applied in different locales so as to map theory as it travels to, from and between the global south therefore expanding Michiganís outreach and partnerships with universities in the Global South by establishing new partnerships with AUC.

HUSSLab Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and Northwestern University 
Global Humanities Initiative Collaboration

AUC's HUSSLab will regularly send faculty to Georgetown or Northwestern to disseminate their research and collaborate on research pertaining to humanities subjects in the Global South. In turn, the AUC HUSSLab will host visiting researchers from Georgetown or Northwestern for lectures, workshops and research collaborations. We envision sending one AUC researchers per year to either Georgetown or Northwestern and hosting one researchers from Georgetown or Northwestern per year for trips of approximately one week to ten days duration.

Arabic Critical Introductions Series
The HUSSLab will commission and disseminate via open-access eight volumes which will serve as short, accessible and innovative original Arabic-language monographs on topics of broad social interest and relevance for the public humanities.

HUSSLab Offices
The HUSSLab will establish two offices (one in New Cairo and one in Tahrir). These are for the use of the HUSSLab admin. Asst., HUSSLab Director, HUSSLab postdoctoral fellow and Global South fellows. Post-MA fellows may be offered office accommodation in their host departments.
The HUSSLab will convene a series of lectures on the humanities disciplines for interested AUC freshmen and sophomores each semester during the lifetime of the grant. These lectures will offer lively, exciting and engaging introductions to all the humanities disciplines taught in HUSS.