Sara Awartani

Sara Awartani sitting on a bench.
Sara Awartani began the Ph.D. program in American Studies in Fall 2014 after receiving her B.A. in History from the University of Florida (Go Gators!). Her research interests include transnational and comparative history, cultural politics, and political culture, particularly that of Puerto Rico and the mainland diaspora community. This work is a culmination of her undergraduate honors thesis focused on the anti-imperialist Puerto Rican independence movement, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberaci╠üon Nacional (FALN), an armed clandestine organization. She is eager to refashion, elaborate, and complicate her original analysis into a larger examination of Puerto Rican and Palestinian anti-imperialist independence movements in the United States through a study of shared political context and radicalization. She is interested in examining how Puerto Rican and Palestinian independence activists negotiated their national identities with larger legacies of colonialism, transnationalism, and marginalization from mainstream U.S. society, such as accusations of terrorism and delinquency.
Sara is interested in challenging standard, increasingly common stereotypes and paradigms for understanding anti-colonial struggles in a variety of forms. As a minority student herself, studying history has been a source of empowerment for Sara, and she is thus deeply committed to helping other minority students empower their own historical identities.


Student Spotlight

Where were you born?
In Gainesville, Florida, and I have lived there all of my life.

Where did you go for college and what did you study?
I went to the University of Florida and I majored in History. I decided to pursue my PhD right after graduation. 

What are you studying right now?
I am studying the comparative history of Puerto Rican and Palestinian activists in the United States.

What made you come to GW to pursue your PhD?
The professors were so approachable and I felt that the environment fostered the right type of intellectual development. I feel comfortable admitting if I'm not good at something and I know the faculty is always there to help. 

What has been your favorite part of being in D.C. so far?
Having actual seasons, which we don't really have in Florida. Although I'm sure in a month I won't be too happy with the weather anymore.

What is your favorite book?
On the Road by Jack Kerouac, probably because it is an escape into a world that is very different from mine. 

Do you have any hobbies?
I love to bake. I've had friends call me "Grandma Sara" because of my baking, and I completely embrace the nickname. 

What are your future career goals?
I'm not sure what I want to do yet, but I know studying history has been a source of empowerment for me as a minority. I want to help other minority students empower their historical identities.


Prizes, Fellowships, & Grants:


Sara traveled to Atlanta in November where she presented the paper, “Solidarity Redux: Contemporary Puerto Rican and Palestinian Visions of Liberation,” at the 2018 American Studies Association Conference and the National Women’s Studies Association Conference. In September, Sara attended the Young Lords’ 50th Anniversary Symposium held at DePaul University. There, she had the privilege of meeting the Young Lords’ founder, José “Cha Cha” Jiménez. Her reflections on the 50th anniversary celebrations and the lasting legacies of the Young Lords will be published in a forthcoming issue of Kalfou, a comparative ethnic studies journal. 


Sara traveled to Chicago in November of 2017 where she participated in two invited panels, both of which were based on her recently published article in Radical History Review. The first lecture, held at Batey Urbano in the heart of Chicago's Puerto Rican community, centered around discussions of Puerto Rican nationalism, identity, and resistance and was attended by a diverse crowd of scholars, activists, and community members. She was also invited to discuss her dissertation research with José López's undergraduate Puerto Rican history class and the Union for Puerto Rican Students at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


At the 12th biennial Puerto Rican Studies Association's conference, Education, Gender, Equity, and Social Justice: Puerto Rican Alliances to Advance Change, I presented a paper titled, "'We Salute You and We Make Your Revolutionary Slogans Our Own': Puerto Rico, Palestine, and an Archive of Solidarity." I also presented the paper, "Two Occupied Nations, Two Diasporas, One Struggle: Palestine in the Puerto Rican Political Imaginary," at this years American Studies Association conference in Denver, Colorado. I also published a review of Paul Thomas Chamberlin's The Global Offensive: The United States, The Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order in the spring issue of Arab Studies Journal. Finally, I had an article manuscript accepted for publication in next year's (summer 2017) special issue of Radical History Review, "Puerto Rico: A US Colony in a Post-Colonial World?"

Sara Awartani traveled to Beirut, Lebanon to present her paper, "In Solidarity: Palestine in the Puerto Rican Political Imaginary," at the American University of Beirut's Center for American Studies and Research's 6th annual conference, Fragments of Empire After the American Century in January 2016.


Jeffrey C. Kasch Foundation Research Grant: Read more about Sara's research trip here