Rachel Ann Lewis

Rachel Ann Lewis

Rachel Ann Lewis

Associate Professor

transnational sexualities; race and immigration; human rights; feminist and queer theory; media and cultural studies; disability studies

Rachel Lewis earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University and is an Associate Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program at George Mason University. Starting Fall 2017, she will be the graduate director for the graduate certificate and MAIS concentration in Women and Gender Studies. Prior to joining George Mason, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Sexualities in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Connecticut. Her research and teaching interests include transnational feminisms, queer theory, media and cultural studies, race and immigration, human rights, and feminist and queer disability studies. She is currently working on two book-length manuscripts, both of which explore the relationship between queer media and lesbian human rights activism. Integrating visual and textual criticism with an analysis of the legal discourses that underwrite lesbian claims for asylum and refugee status, Deportable Subjects: Lesbians and the Political Asylum Process considers the political asylum system as a site for the production of lesbian human rights narratives. Her second book project, Queer Intimacies: Visualizing Black Lesbian Desire in Post-Apartheid South Africa, examines media and cultural advocacy produced by lesbian, intersex, and transgender human rights activists in South Africa.


Selected Publications

“LGBTQ Migration Crises,” forthcoming in Cecelia Menjivar, Marie Ruiz and Immanuel Ness, eds., The Handbook of Migration Crises (Oxford University Press, 2019).

With Wendy S. Hesford, “Queering Human Rights: The Transgender Child,” forthcoming in Crystal Parikh, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Human Rights and Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

“And Suddenly I Became a Lesbian!”: Performing Lesbian Identity in the Political Asylum Process,” forthcoming in Bridget Haas and Amy Shuman, eds., Political Asylum and the Politics of Suspicion (Ohio University Press, 2018).

“Lesbian Cinema Post-Feminism: Ageism, Difference, and Desire,” in E. Ann Kaplan, Patrice Petro, Dijana Jelača, and Kristin Hole, eds.,Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender (New York and London: Rutledge, 2016).

With Wendy S. Hesford, “Mobilizing Vulnerability: New Directions in Transnational Feminisms and Human Rights,” in Feminist Formations 28/1. Special issue guest edited by Wendy S. Hesford and Rachel Lewis.

“Queering Vulnerability: Visualizing Black Lesbian Desire in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” in Feminist Formations 28/1 (2016).

 “‘Gay? Prove It’: The Politics of Queer Anti-Deportation Activism,” Sexualities 17/8 (2014): 958-975. Special issue guest edited by Rachel Lewis and Nancy A. Naples, “Queer Migration, Asylum, and Displacement.”

“Deportable Subjects: Lesbians and Political Asylum,” Feminist Formations 25/2 (2013): 173-193. Special issue, “Feminists Interrogate States of Emergency.”

“Towards a Transnational Lesbian Cinema,” Journal of Lesbian Studies 16/3 (2012): 273-290. Special issue, “Global Lesbian Cinema.”

“The Cultural Politics of Lesbian Asylum: Angelina Maccarone’s Unveiled (2005) and the Case of the Lesbian Asylum-Seeker,” International Feminist Journal of Politics 12/3-4 (2010): 424-443. Special issue, “New Directions in Feminism and Human Rights.”


Courses Taught

WMST 200: Introduction to Women and Gender Studies           

WMST 330: Theoretical Perspectives in Women and Gender Studies

WMST 450/550: Queer Theory

WMST 450/550: Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights

WMST 450/550: Gender, Sexuality, and International Migration

WMST 450/550: Gender, Sexuality and Disability

WMST 450/550: Lesbian and Bisexual Theories

WMST 450/550: Women and the Media

WMST 600: Transnational Sexualities

WMST 630: Feminist Theories across the Disciplines

MAIS 797: Interdisciplinary Studies Research Proposal


Ph.D. from Cornell University

Recent Presentations

“Defective Citizens: Disability, Immigration and the Afterlife of Eugenics,” Annual Disability Studies Lecture, Wesleyan University, April 26, 2018.

“Precarious Temporalities: Neoliberalism, Sexual Citizenship and the Global Deportation Regime,” Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Washington and Lee University, March 30, 2017.

“Detention, Deportation, and Asylum,” Keynote Lecture, “Keywords in Migration Studies Conference,” University of California, Santa Cruz, May 6-7, 2016.

“Queer Intimacies: Visualizing Black Lesbian Desire in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” Invited Lecture, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Washington and Lee University, March 24, 2016.

“They Wanted Me to Prove that I’m a Lesbian but they Wouldn’t Tell Me How I Could”: The Problem of Credibility in Lesbian Asylum Narratives,” Featured Speaker, Political Asylum and the Politics of Suspicion Symposium, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, March, 2015.

“Queering Vulnerability: Re-conceptualizing the Erotic in Political Asylum Narratives,” Featured Speaker, Global Human Rights, Sexualities, Vulnerabilities Symposium, The Ohio State University, April 12–13, 2013.