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Helen Rizzo

  • Position: Associate Professor and Sociology Unit Head
  • Department: Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology
  • Email: hrizzo@aucegypt.edu
Brief Biography

Helen Mary Rizzo is an associate professor of sociology at The American University in Cairo and she received her PhD in sociology from Ohio State University in 2000. She has published numerous articles on public opinion, citizenship rights and the democratization process in Kuwait. Her book, Islam, Democracy and the Status of Women: The Case of Kuwait, was published in 2005 by Routledge Press. 

Her more recent projects include working with colleagues from anthropology and media studies on a British Academy Small Grants funded project, titled Youth Perspectives on Gender Norms and Public Sexual Violence in Cairo: Cultural and Media Perspectives, in addition to research focusing on social movement campaigns against street sexual harassment in Egypt. Rizzo has also volunteered in the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights campaign titled Making Our Streets Safe for Everyone and worked as a research consultant with Harassmap, an initiative to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment.  

She is currently the Unit Head of Sociology and serves on the graduate advisory committee of the Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women's Studies at AUC.

    Research Interest

    Research Interests

    • Political sociology, with a focus on democratization and development in the Middle East
    • Stratification, emphasizing gender and race/ethnicity

    Teaching Interests

    • Research methods and statistics
    • Political sociology
    • Social stratification, including international
    • Sociology of development
    • Sociology of gender
    • Introductory sociology
    • Race/ethnicity
    • Sociology of religion
    • Sociological theory
    • Gender and development
    • Arab family


    Rizzo, Helen Mary. 2005. Islam, Democracy and the Status of Women: The Case of Kuwait. New York: Routledge Press series: Middle East Studies: History, Politics and Law.

    Edited volumes

    • Rizzo, Helen Mary (guest editor). 2015. Special issue on “The Intersection of Culture and Politics in post January 2011 Egypt.” International Journal of Sociology 45 (3). (refereed journal).
    • Rizzo, Helen and Iman Hamdy (editors). 2014. Special issue on “Masculinities in Egypt and the Arab World: Historical, Literary, and Social Science Perspectives”.Cairo Papers in Social Science 33 (1). (in house journal).

    Articles and book chapters

    • Zarif, Ereny and Helen Rizzo. 2018. “Kuwait.” Pp. 249-274 for Arab Family Studies, Critical Reviews, edited by Suad Joseph. Doha: Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) and Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
    • Rizzo, Helen Mary. 2015. “How Culture and Politics Intersect in Post-January 2011 Egypt.” International Journal of Sociology 45 (3): 171-175. (Introduction to special issue on “The Intersection of Culture and Politics in post January 2011 Egypt”).
    • Rizzo, Helen. 2014. “The State of the Field of Masculinity Studies.” Cairo Papers in Social Science 33 (1): 1-11(Introduction to the special issue on “Masculinities in Egypt and the Arab World: Historical, Literary, and Social Science Perspectives”).
    • Rizzo, Helen. 2014. “The Role of Women’s Rights Organizations in Promoting Masculine Responsibility: The Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign in Egypt.” Cairo Papers in Social Science 33 (1): 102-129. Special issue on “Masculinities in Egypt and the Arab World: Historical, Literary, and Social Science Perspectives”. (in house journal).
    • Rizzo, Helen, Anne M. Price and Katherine Meyer. 2012. “Anti Sexual Harassment Campaign in Egypt.” Mobilization 17 (4): 457-475.  (refereed journal).
    • Rizzo, Helen. 2012. “Democratization in Kuwait and the Gendered Responses of Islamist Movements.” Pp. 143-166 in Islam: Islamist Movements and Democracy in the Middle East, edited by Rajeesh Kumar and Navaz Nizar. New Delhi, India: Global Vision Publishing House. (book chapter).
    • Tétreault, Mary Ann, Helen Rizzo and Doron Shultziner. 2012. “Fashioning the Future:  The Women’s Movement in Kuwait.” Pp. 253-278 in Mapping Arab Women’s Movements, edited by Nawar Al Hassan Golley and Pernille Arenfeldt. Cairo, Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. (book chapter).
    • Rizzo, Helen. 2011. "Creating Community Around Women's Rights: The Anti Sexual Harassment Campaign in Egypt." Pp. 137-150 in Local governance in the Arab World and the Mediterranean: What role for women?, edited by Sylvette Denefle and Safaa Monqid. Cairo, Egypt: CEDEJ (book chapter).
    • Tétreault, Mary Ann, Katherine Meyer, and Helen Rizzo. 2009. “Women’s Rights in the Middle East: A Longitudinal Study of Kuwait.” International Political Sociology 3(2): 218–237(refereed journal).

    In the Media

    • Price, Anne, Helen Rizzo, Chelsea Marty and Katherine Meyer. 2017. “The Arab Spring and Women’s Continued Mobilization in the Region.” Mobilizing Ideas (March 1). (A blog of The Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame, editorial home of the journal Mobilization.) https://mobilizingideas.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/the-arab-spring-and-wom...
    • U.S., Middle East Myths on Gender Equality, Common Ground News Service, 2012.

    PhD, 2000, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

    MA, 1995, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

    BA, 1993, Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio.

    • ASA Sociology of Religion Section
    • Membership Committee (2000-2001)
    • Graduate Student Representative to the Governing Council (1999-2000)
    • ASA Sociology of Sex and Gender Section
    • ASA Political Sociology Section
    • ASA Labor and Labor Movements Section
    • ASA Caucus on Transnational Approaches to Gender and Sexuality
    • Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS)
    • AMEWS Graduate Student Outreach Committee (January 2016-present)
    • Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
    • International Sociological Association (ISA)
    • Research Committee on Comparative Sociology
    • Research Committee on Women in Society
    • Research Committee on Social Movements, Collective  Action and Social Change
    • Middle East Studies Association (MESA)
    • Middle East Sociology Working Group
    • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
    • Publications Committee (2009-2011)