Scholar, political science professor, activist
Larycia Hawkins, PhD, is a scholar, a political science professor, and activist. In a December 10, 2015, Facebook post, she declared her intention to don a hijab in embodied solidarity with Muslim sisters throughout the Christian season of Advent. The post initiated a national and international conversation about the nature of God and the possibilities for multifaith solidarity in a time where Islamaphobia, xenophobia, religiously-motivated hate crimes, and racism are more prolific than any time in history. The Rev. Jesse Jackson has called Larycia Hawkins, PhD, a modern-day Rosa Parks.
At the time of her activism, Doc Hawk (as her students called her) was associate professor of political science at Wheaton College (IL), where she was the first black woman to receive tenure in the history of the university founded in 1860 by abolitionists. Two months following the commencement of her embodied solidarity with Muslim women, she and Wheaton College, a Christian university, “parted ways.”
Her research confronts the most pressing questions of the day. She explores Donald Trump’s ascendance to office in the forthcoming book Trump, Tea Party Women, and the Rebirth of a White Christian Nation, by examining the cultural logics of evangelical Tea Party women, including their discourse around birthing and raising citizens (e.g. white, Christian Americans).
In an era where the contours of American citizenship are actively contested on multiple fronts, Professor Hawkins continues to walk in embodied solidarity with Syrian refugees during a visit to Turkey with the Zakat Foundation; and to speak nationally and internationally, including at the Free University of Berlin, Harvard University, Princeton University, Pomona College, and a TedX talk on her act of embodied solidarity.
Her story is the subject of a documentary film Same God (Midgett Productions) that recently had its world premiere at the LA Film Festival, won the Best Documentary Award at the Bentonville Film Festival, and was a finalist for a jury award at the Cork Film Festival in Ireland. A New York Times Magazine feature, “The Professor Wore a Hijab in Solidarity—Then Lost Her Job,” also documents her story. This summer, she is finishing a book on the origin of embodied solidarity, including a visit to Rwanda in 2014, when she witnessed the "miraculous" reconciliation of survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.
Recent publications include “Prophetic and Priestly: The Politics of a Black Catholic Parish” and “Jesus and Justice: The Moral Framing of the Black Agenda.”
Professor Hawkins is general faculty in the departments of politics and religious studies at the University of Virginia; serves as faculty in the Religion, Race, and Democracy Lab; is a co-convener of the Religion and Its Publics Project of the Henry Luce Foundation; and is a faculty fellow on the Race, Faith, and Culture Project at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.