Billie Jean King, Cornell West, Elizabeth Pryor, and Bob Woodward. The words interdisciplinary, collaborative, inclusive, global, and public are superimposed.

Upcoming Events

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Jennifer Bickham Mendez
Jennifer Bickham Mendez

April 11, 2024

Claiming Space in the “Birthplace of America:” Latin American Immigrants and Struggles for Belonging in Williamsburg, Virginia

4:00 p.m. (In person)

The speaker for this event is Jennifer Bickham Mendez, PhD, Professor and Chair of Sociology at William & Mary.

HRC Speaker Series

Gaynell Sherrod and her book
Gaynell Sherrod

April 22, 2024

Reading the Invisible Script: How Black Dance Pioneers of the 1930s-40s Danced Between the Lines

12:00 p.m. (Online)

The speaker for this event is E. Gaynell Sherrod, PhD, dance educator, choreographer, historian, and professor in the Department of Dance + Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Meet VCU Authors

The Afterlives of Medical Exploitation: The East Marshall Street Well Project Symposium
The Afterlives of Medical Exploitation

April 27, 2024

The Afterlives of Medical Exploitation: The East Marshall Street Well Project Symposium

10:00 a.m. (In person)

The Health Humanities Lab at the Humanities Research Center will host a mini-symposium on the work of the East Marshall Street Well Project, underscoring its critical importance not only for VCU as it grapples with its own history of medical racism but also for other institutions nationally as they contend with their own similar histories.

HRC Events

New Event Videos

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Medicine Literature and a Desire Called Utopia

Rishi Goyal, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of the Medical Humanities major, Columbia University

The Borders of AIDS and the Uses of Disease

Karma Chávez, PhD, MPH
Bobby and Sherri Patton Professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies and Department Chair, UT Austin

Melis Hafez

Faculty Spotlight: Melis Hafez

Written by KT Shively, Associate Professor, Department of History


As the VCU community wrestles with ongoing violence in the Middle East, we are extremely fortunate to have Melis Hafez as a member of the history department. Melis is a specialist on the Ottoman Empire—a multi-ethnic polity that stretched across what is today called the Middle East and the Balkans—in the long nineteenth century. Her deeply-researched first book, Inventing Laziness: The Culture of Productivity in Late Ottoman Society (Cambridge University Press, 2021), is an incisive look at how laziness came to be viewed as a social problem that grew in tandem with new conceptions of nationhood, citizenship, and morality. For those of us who wonder, “Why must we relentlessly work?” this book is essential reading.

Melis brings a rigorous commitment to supporting our community through both her teaching and service. A member of the history department’s Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee for the past 3 years, Melis has helped make the history department a more welcoming and equitable environment for all students, faculty, and staff.

In her twelfth year on faculty at VCU, Melis continues to be decorated with numerous grants and fellowships, from such institutions as the National Endowment for the Humanities and VCU’s own Humanities Research Center, and regularly presents her research around the world, from Turkey to the UK. I sat down with Melis to learn a little more about her important work.

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