2018-2019 Truck Fellows
Dan KerrHumanities Truck Director | Associate Professor of History
MJ Rymsza-PawlowskaAssistant Professor of History
Benjamin StokesAssistant Professor School of Communication
Ludy GrandasSenior Professorial Lecturer at the Department of World Languages and Cultures
Adrienne PineAssociate Professor of Anthropology | Director, Health Inequity & Care Program
When he dreamed of being a truck driver as a child, Kerr never envisioned himself driving the Humanities Truck. But who knew how much fun that could be? Working alongside other visionaries at American University, Kerr, an associate professor of history at AU, spearheaded and now directs the Humanities Truck Project. He is an active community and oral historian committed to the democratization of knowledge production. Since his earliest work with the Cleveland Homeless History Project, he has sought out ways to bring the oral histories he has collected back to the communities they originated from. Through community workshops, participants in his projects have collectively reflected upon and interpreted the gathered stories. He is currently working on a project to document the past, present, and future of the Federal City Shelter in Washington, DC.
MJ Rymsza-Pawlowska grew up in D.C. and is thrilled to be living and working here! An assistant professor in AU’s Department of History, MJ is interested in popular history, form, and representation, MJ ‘s research asks how our understanding and portrayal of the past changes alongside larger cultural shifts. Her first book, History Comes Alive: Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s was published in 2017, and she is currently in the beginning stages of a new project, tentatively called Burying Our Feelings about time capsules in the twentieth century. As Associate Director of the Grad Program in Public History, MJ’s interdisciplinary teaching and practice revolves around exhibition and interpretation—she is currently developing a Humanities Truck project called Community History Snapshots: students in her Public History Practicum will work with community partners to highlight the way that Washington’s built environment has been changing. MJ is also involved with DC’s local history community; she has written for Washington History magazine, and is on the Planning Committee of the 45th Annual DC History Conference.
Benjamin Stokes is a civic media scholar and designer at American University with the Game Lab and in the School of Communication (SOC). His designs for cities have introduced neighbors through play, and retold local history with rebuilt payphones. Previously, Benjamin co-founded Games for Change, the movement hub for advancing social change with games. Benjamin’s publications include research on participatory design, neighborhood storytelling, and urban mapping by bicycle.
Ludy Grandas is a senior professorial lecturer at the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Her teaching focuses primarily on nation and state formation in Latin America, Studies of Culture in Latin America, the Studies of Culture in Hispanic populations in the US, as well as Spanish Language. Her research interests include labor, immigrant labor, cultural studies as practiced in Latin America. For the last few years she has been collaborating with Trabajadores Unidos de Washington, DC, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower day laborers, low income workers as well as immigrant workers in DC. She has led two Community Based Learning Courses which connect AU students to these specific populations.
Adrienne Pine is a critical medical anthropologist who—despite a general aversion to cars—once drove a truck from Berkeley to Tegucigalpa. While most of her work has examined the embodied impacts of violent and racist U.S. policy abroad, she has recently shifted her focus dramatically to examine the embodied impacts of violent, racist U.S policy in the DMV. She is delighted to be on the Humanities Truck team.
Julie is a PhD candidate in twentieth-century history at American University where her research focuses on the politics of memory and identity, public commemoration, material culture, racism, gender studies. Her dissertation, among other topics, includes the instrumental work that educational traveling exhibitions performed during the early Cold War, a topic that segues nicely with the Humanities Truck.
Currently, Julie is developing the website and community archive for the Humanities Truck.
Maren is a graduate student at American University pursuing her MA in Public History. She earned her BA in Public History and Women & Gender Studies from Ball State University in her hometown of Muncie, IN. Her research interests include reproductive justice. Maren is passionate about finding creative ways to encourage dialogue within and between communities and underserved populations to reflect on issues of social justice. She believes that cultural institutions should initiate and provide space for these conversations while also encouraging them beyond the walls of the institution. Working with the Humanities Truck is an ideal experience because it provides her a hands-on opportunity to take the humanities into communities through community-based projects. She also has the chance to flex her organizational skills using a label-maker and creating color-coded guides.