Projects and Activities
Annual Report 2001
mission statement emphasizes a commitment to retaining
the Center's public/cultural mission while also re-directing
its agenda towards a more systematic effort to engage in
research and publications. Though the Center's old mission
statement also indicated a commitment to research and public
service, publications to document work done in these areas
were lacking. Our recent goal has been to systematically
document past work as well as ongoing research currently
done at the Center, making the work done at the Center accessible
to the international academic community.
In 2006, the Center took one more opportunity to further
enhance its research visibility in the academic community.
After consultation with various academic and administrative
entities, and after approval from the Office of Research,
the Center for Black Studies was officially renamed the
Center for Black Studies Research. We have
received very positive feedback about the renaming of the
Center from colleagues on and off-campus who believe that
this new name better reflects the types of work in which
the Center is engaged.
The Center’s general research agenda is uniquely positioned
to provide a critical synthesis of issues of race, social
equality and justice; these narratives and approaches are
present in all our projects and are a central part of our
effort to merge theoretical findings with social change.
projects continue to be a prominent topic of research
and publication at the Center. Through various projects
focusing on either religion or issues of economic and social
justice and via the publication of the highly acclaimed
Journal of Haitian Studies, the UCSB Center for
Black Studies Research is clearly becoming the leading research
center within the Diaspora for projects on Haiti.
The Center is also viewed as an important research center
for race and technology, in particular, in terms of racialized
utilization of technology. The Race and Technology initiative,
founded by Anna Everett, was supported by a significant
grant from the Ford Foundation and continues to generate
substantial interest in the ethnic studies community with
a new AfroGeeks
anthology and DVD.
Both the Haiti and the Race and Technology projects have
yielded a number of publications in print and new media,
including several still in production. The Center has several
film and video projects related to these initiatives in
progress for the purpose of disseminating our ideas, research,
and community projects in the academic community and among
the general public.
Furthermore, we are gaining acclaim for our initiative to
create a national comparative ethnic studies dialogue through
conferences and symposia; this initiative is also leading
to the creation of the first nationwide comparative ethnic
studies journal. The first issue of Kalfou
(“crossroads”) is expected in Winter 2008. The
journal will be a place to generate ideas on the cultural,
historical, political, economic and educational issues which
have affected communities of color over time. Kalfou will
address pressing contemporary issues within aggrieved communities
of color as well as their rapport with one another; one
of our major goals is to ultimately bring about change within
these communities. Another aspect of this initiative is
the Critical Issues series, a project on urban studies that
we are now developing with the Department of Black Studies.
We also note that Center’s Associate Director continues
to head a significant outreach project, Project
Excel, aimed at raising family awareness and community
support about matters of education for African American
and Native American students. It is a FOG project launched
in partnership with the larger Santa Barbara community.
This project has the full endorsement of the university
as well as that of various community constituencies, and
has been able to grow from this support over the past year.
In years to come we plan to continue focusing on these various
projects along with other initiatives related to our core
programs. We also plan to work towards maintaining the UCSB
Center for Black Studies Research’s stature as one
of the finest research and cultural units of its type.
KOSANBA: The Congress of Santa Barbara
(KOSANBA) is a scholarly association for the study of
Haitian Vodou housed at the Center for Black Studies
Research. KOSANBA’s eighth international colloquium,
“Lontan, Kounye-a, ak Demen: Feme Sek-la (The
Past Regulates the Present as It does the Future),”
will be held at the University of Massachusetts, Boston,
on November 2-3, 2007.
Vodou: Spirit, Myth, Reality (Indiana
University Press) and Vodou: Invisible Powers
(Palgrave/McMillan) were both published in the fall
of 2006 under the auspices of the Center for Black Studies
Research. Two more books are in progress: Dr. Gede
and God in Every Woman. These four volumes
are work done by the KOSANBA researchers.
Researchers’ Projects: The Center’s
visiting researcher in 2006-2007, Dr. Myriam Chancy,
worked on completing a book while in residence at the
Center. The work focused on transnationalism and identity.
Dr. Legrace Benson, the Center’s 2005-2006 visiting
researcher, has informed us that she has received two
book contracts for work done while in residence at the
Center on the history of Haitian art.
Mitan: The Center for
Black Studies is currently working with filmmakers Renée
Bergan and Mark Schuller to produce Poto Mitan:
Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy.
The image of Haiti that comes out of both mainstream
and alternative media is almost entirely negative: a
seemingly endless stream of dire poverty, protracted
violence, and extreme fallout from natural disasters.
While it is true that Haiti is a society that is poor
and divided, there are important structural causes of
this poverty and division. Poto Mitan steps forward
where the press has left off, providing context and
understanding for the people who are confronting these
The film is a story of struggle, resistance, solidarity,
democracy and global justice. Through gripping images
of injustice and the powerful, compelling stories/lives
of five courageous Haitian women, Poto Mitan will inspire
women around the world. The filmmakers’ approach
is to depict how inequalities based on globalization
and gender roles intersect and are experienced on the
ground. It is a tool to educate and empower solidarity
The filming for the project has been completed after
three successful trips to Haiti. The project is now
in its final editing phase. Donations from community
fundraisers, private donations, and grants secured by
the filmmakers have helped to offset production costs.
of Haitian Studies: JOHS
continues to be well received in the academic community
in the U.S. and abroad. Volume 12 was released this
year. Papers are primarily generated from within the
US and from Haiti; we also receive submissions from
places as far away as Belgium, Finland, and Greece.
After a spike in income generated by the Haitian Studies
Association last year, subscription levels have returned
to the norm established in prior years and the number
of subscribers remains fairly stable, combining internationally
approximately 200 individual and institutional subscriptions.
An outreach mailing to U.S. libraries is projected for
Fall 2007/Winter 2008. We sent 60 complimentary copies
of each issue of JOHS to Haiti.
and Technology Initiative
Beyond the Digital Divide (Anthology and
DVD): In March 2007, the Center published an anthology
and DVD produced from the two successful AfroGEEKS conferences,
funded by a grant awarded to Dr. Anna Everett by the Ford
Foundation. The anthology includes seventeen essays from
participants from both conferences on various topics including
the digital divide, the importance of the internet and
virtual communities, technology and art, connectivity
and the Diaspora, representation of race in computer and
other technology-related sciences, and globalization and
modernization. The anthology also incorporates a DVD highlighting
both conferences, with special emphasis on the second,
international conference funded by the Ford Foundation.
The interactive DVD features clips from speakers, presentation
information, links to the internet, and embedded documents.
Both the anthology and DVD are being widely distributed
by the Center.
Screening Noir: The new journal
Screening Noir: A Journal of Black Film, Television
and New Media Culture, continued its stage of growth
and distribution. Edited by former Center director, Professor
Anna Everett, the inaugural issue entitled “Blaxploitation
Revisited” was released and distributed to various
university scholars and libraries in the United States
in 2006. The journal is currently accepting submissions
after releasing an open-call, and is poised to release
its next two issues before in Fall 2007.
of Comparative Ethnic and Relational Studies:
In Winter 2008, the Center will launch Kalfou (crossroads),
a new Journal of Comparative Ethnic and Relational Studies.
Kalfou will focus on social movements, social institutions
and social relations. We aim to build links between intellectuals,
artists and activists, to promote the development of ethnic
studies scholarship, and to disseminate the specialized
knowledge produced in the university to a broader public,
and in particular, to aggrieved communities of color with
the goal of effecting changes in the realms of public
policy and social justice.
Space, Race, and Power Conference: A
third Ethnic Studies conference (the first one was in
1999; the second one in 2006) will take place in Fall
2008 and is being organized by Professors George Lipsitz
and Clyde Woods on space, race and power as they relate
to urban issues. This is one of the initiative that we
are launching following our Katrina project to study urban
spaces and the way that these spaces restrict opportunities
for communities of color. Professor Lipsitz has already
received seeds funding from the college in the form of
their annual Critical Issues Grant for this current academic
Kennedy Documentary: The Life of an Educator/Activist
The Center for Black Studies Research and IRMMA, the Institute
for Representational Multimedia Art, are creating a documentary
on Dr. Shirley Kennedy, the late community outreach coordinator
for the Center and a long-time activist for progressive
causes in Santa Barbara. We are currently working on expanding
the video introduction about the life of Dr. Shirley Kennedy
used to introduce the Center’s Annual Shirley Kennedy
Memorial Lecture into a longer film about the life of this
important local activist.
Dr. Kennedy played a critical role in establishing Black
Studies at UCSB, as well as establishing community foundations
such as Building Bridges and Not In Our Town. The DVD, directed
by Anita David and Frederick Backman, will be available
to local schools and other organizations, presenting a positive
role model for advocating change in the Santa Barbara, or
any community. The intent is to motivate a new generation
of activists, especially young women of color. A grant from
the Fund for Santa Barbara has provided initial funding
to begin the project and start interviews, and since then
the Center has received a $10,000 grant from the California
Council for Humanities as a part of their California Stories
program. This grant will be applied towards filming and
production of the documentary, among other expenses.
The Center and IRMMA are seeking additional support through
grants and individual donations, and hope to develop the
current nine-minute DVD into a feature length film highlighting
the life of this local activist and educator. UCSB and the
broader Santa Barbara community have both expressed great
support for this project.
This year the Center welcomed Myriam J.A. Chancy as visiting
researcher in residence. Dr. Chancy is a Canadian writer
of Haitian origin, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised
in Quebec City and Winnipeg. Her first novel, Spirit
of Haiti (London : Mango Publications, 2003), was a
finalist for the Commonwealth Prize 2004. She is also the
author of two books of literary criticism, Framing Silence:
Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women (Rutgers UP,
1997) and Searching for Safe Spaces: Afro-Caribbean
Women Writers in Exile (Temple UP, 1997). Searching
for Safe Spaces was awarded an Outstanding Academic
Book Award 1998 by the Choice, the journal of the
American Library Association. Her second novel, The
Scorpion’s Claw (Peepal Tree Press, 2005) has
just been released in the UK and North America. The former
editor-in-chief of the Ford-funded academic/arts journal
Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism and a former
Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies
at Arizona State University and Smith College, Dr. Chancy
recently completed several projects on which she worked
while in residence at the Center: her third novel, The
Loneliness of Angels; a memoir, Fractured;
and a work of philosophical inquiry entitled, Floating
Islands: Cosmopolitanism, Transnationalism and Racial Identity
Project Excel, a new initiative based at the Center
for Black Studies Research, is an outreach and early
preparation program that seeks to increase the number
of academically better prepared African American and
American Indian students in Santa Barbara and Goleta
Middle and High Schools (6 -12) for possible eligibility
and enrollment at UCSB and other colleges and universities.
This second year of the project is a clear success with
a number of significant steps having been achieved.
(see Public Service Activities)
One role of our community outreach effort is to encourage
and facilitate community attendance at campus events
and participation in campus programs. Another goal is
the joint sponsorship of events and activities. In 2006-2007,
we have continued our program of collaboration with
various community groups to maintain a Center presence
in the Community. (see Public Service Activities)