Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Cultivating a Critical Eye

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Cultivating a Critical Eye

Article excerpt

Dr. Theresa Runstedtler brings to academia an extensive knowledge and background in bisiory, African-American studies, cultural studies and sports.

Previously an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, Runstedtler now leads the department of Critical Race, Gender, and Cultural Studies Collaborative at American University (AU) as chair since fail 2015.

The Canadian-born history professor brings her own distinct identity and research interests - race, gender, resistance in popular culture, imperialism and globalization - to the interdisciplinary program that explores "diverse voices, histories and experiences through socially engaged scholarship," according to the program's website.

Runstedtler's intellectual endeavors began at York University in Toronto, Canada, where there were few courses in the history deparı meni ihat dealt wilh questions of race, social justice and social movements, she says. One African-American history course, however, inspired her to further her studies by enrolling in a graduate program in the United States.

"I wanted to figure out how we got to where we arc and think about the interrelations between the situation in the U.S, regarding slavery, internal colonialism ... and how that related to not just the Canadian context, but the context all across the global South," Runstedtler tells Diverse.

She says that she uses an intersectional framework to analyze different concepts, adding that she is always thinking about how what she studies manifests itself in culture and how systems of oppression like patriarchy, While supremacy, and heterosexism all intertwine.

Her passion for sports in her adolescence has also found a way into Runstedtler's scholarship. Growing up, she was a figure skater and a soccer player, and she was on her university's rugby team. Before she returned to graduate school at Yale University to complete her Ph,D„ she was a professional dancer.

This also fed her intellectual curiosity and love for history, race, sports and their intersections in culture. Iler book Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Une explores the first African-American world heavyweight champion's life and resistance against colonialism, White American exceptionalism and racism in the early 20th century,

"There's a long history of athletes and entertainers becoming a flashpoint for these larger discussions" of race, politics and power, she says. It is why she enjoys researching the intersections of these converging dynamics, adding that she has included figures like Colin Kaepernick and other Black sports heroes into her class discussions. …

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