Umayyah Cable is Assistant Professor of English at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. They have a BA in American studies from Smith College and a PhD in American studies & ethnicity from the University of Southern California, as well as a graduate certificate in visual studies from the USC Visual Studies Research Institute. Before joining Hartwick, Umayyah completed a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University in the programs of Asian American studies and Middle East and North African studies. Their research and teaching interests span the fields of ethnic studies, film and media studies, postcolonial studies, and queer theory, with a particular focus on the roles that art, film, and media play in the mobilization of Palestine solidarity activism.
Umayyah is currently working on a book project based on their dissertation, Cinematic Activism: Film Festivals and the Queer Cultural Politics of Palestine in the United States, which examines how marginalized or underrepresented identity-based and cause-based groups leverage film culture in order to foment social, cultural, or political change. This project examines how engagements with cinema have cohered into a strategy for the open expression of Palestinian cultural politics and Palestine-focused activism in the United States. The project traces the emergence of Palestinian cinematic activism in the United States to the 1970s and 1980s, wherein controversies over the exhibition of Palestinian cinema made the institutional and cultural censorship of Palestinian cultural politics highly visible while simultaneously identifying film exhibition as a tool by which to challenge institutional and ideological forms of power. During the 1980s and 1990s, these censorship controversies were frequently cast in relation to controversies over the expression of LGBT/Q cultural politics within the realms of art and cinema. This project therefore also historicizes the relationships between Palestinian cultural politics and LGBT/Q cultural politics, which continue to interact today within the realm of Palestine themed and LGBTQ themed film festivals.
Umayyah has previously taught courses in Arab American studies and film studies, including “Introduction to Arab American Studies,” “Arab American Arts and Cinema,” and “Film Festivals: Art and Activism in the Public Sphere.” At Hartwick, Umayyah teaches “Introduction to Media Studies” and “Postcolonial Literature and Culture.” Umayyah also served on the Executive Board of the Arab American Studies Association from 2014 to 2017.