Faculty Profile

professor kimberly segall

Kimberly Wedeven Segall

Professor of English and Cultural Studies; Director of Social Justice & Cultural Studies; Director of the South Africa and Spain/Morocco Study Abroad Programs

Email: segalk@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2040
Office: Marston 234

Education: BA, Calvin College, 1993; PhD, Northwestern University, 2001
Specialties: Cultural Studies, Political Performance, Postcolonial studies, Arab American and South African Studies

For the past 20 years, Kimberly Segall’s research has been shaped by collaborative work with torture survivors who protested for reparations, with women activists who led empowerment groups and have fought as guerrilla fighters, with women writers who have re-shaped their lives and identities in trans-national crossings. She has worked on solidarity projects in Shaqlawa, Iraq, during sanctions and amidst the civil wars, and on reparations projects in Cape Town, South Africa, during the era of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings. Leading workshops on resistance strategies, she has initiated forums for women in refugee camps through Caritas with Khawla Hadi, as well as co-facilitated workshop on strategies of protest with Aneelah Afzali, at the American Muslim Empowerment Network in Puget Sound. Trained in post-colonial studies, her approach considers theater activism, political performances, and protest tactics.  

In these spaces of performance activism, her work with healing strategies and emancipatory tactics have emerged from her experiences in South Africa that began over twenty years ago, as documented in her first book. Drawing attention to the ways women activists use local resistance strategies, her book on gender, media, and resistance shows how women claim and name their own political forms and their own alternative feminisms and non-western agencies that, in effect, are Performing Democracy (Syracuse UP, 2013). These protest modes expose neo-imperialist violence that have objectified Arab American, African, South Asian, and U.S. Muslims. 

Her interdisciplinary approach to African Studies, Performance Studies, Postcolonial Studies started with her Ph.D. at Northwestern University. Further intervening in de-imperializing conceptions, she founded a new major, utilizing knowledge of restorative justice in South Africa in the framework of Critical Race Theories; and conceives of gender and sexualities with alternative nodes of Arab American protest movements, digitalized feminisms and intersectional sexualities in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Palestine—all part of the trans-national and urban activism that formed the heartland of the Social Justice/Cultural Studies Major. 

Selected Publications

  • Performing Democracy in Iraq and South Africa: Gender, Media, and Resistance (Syracuse University Press, 2013). 
  • “Media Sites: Political Revivals of American Muslim Women.” In Oxford Handbook of Performance and Politics, edited by Shirin Rai et al. Oxford University Press. Feb. 2021.
  • "De-imperializing Gender: Political Revivals, Shifting Beliefs, & Unexpected Trajectories in Lalami's Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits." Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. 15:1 (March 2019). Duke University Press, 75-94.\
  • “Contestational Spaces and the Nervous Conditions of Postcolonial Theories,” Teaching the African Novel, edited by Gaurav Desai (MLA / Modern Language Association Series, 2009), 371-385. 
  • “Melancholy Ties: Inter-generational Loss and Exile in Persepolis,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 28.1 (2008), 38-49\
  • “Collective Mourning Practices in Iraq and South Africa," Lamentations in Ancient and Contemporary Contexts, edited by Nancy Lee and Carleen Mandolfo (Atlanta: SBL, 2008), 177-194.
  • “Postmodern Mourning in Durrant’s Postcolonial Narrative and the Work of Mourning,” Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Rhetoric, Writing, and Politics 26.3 (2006): 706-714.
  • “Story and Song in Iraq and South Africa: From Individual to Collective Mourning Performances,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 25:1 (2005): 138-151. 
  • “Pursuing Ghosts: The Traumatic Sublime in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace,” Research in African Literatures, 36:4 (2005): 40-52
  • “Postcolonial Performatives of Victimization,” Public Culture 38 (2002): 617-619.

Personal Links

Kimberly Segall’s website