Arwa Awan: 'Political organizing on campus has been a really important part of my time at Cornell.'

April 14, 2017

Arwa Awan

History & Government

Pacific Grove, CA

What is your main extracurricular activity? Why is it important to you?

Political organizing on campus has been a really important part of my time at Cornell, especially given its deep relevance to my academic interests in colonialism, capitalism, race, gender and sexuality. Being involved with Students for Justice in Palestine and the divestment campaign during my freshman year paved way for involvement with wider campus activism, notably the student group Islamic Alliance for Justice, which organizes around issues affecting Muslims from U.S. imperialism abroad to domestic policing and surveillance.

What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?

I am writing my history honors thesis on gendered liberal subject-formation in the context of liberal imperialism, capitalism and nationalism in late colonial India based on archival research at the British Library last year. This has been an exciting project, bridging history and theory and bringing together my eclectic intellectual interests.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?

I came to Cornell quite undecided about what I wanted to study. Being able to take classes in comparative literature, Near Eastern studies, economics and German studies among other departments before eventually choosing history and government was key in helping me define my interests. Through this interdisciplinary path, I discovered critical social and post-colonial theories in addition to intellectual history, all of which I intend to pursue in graduate school.

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