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© 2004
Center for Black Studies
Annual Report 2007

Dr. Claudine Michel

Director’s Statement

Other Projects and Activities

Advisory Committee
and Staff


Organizational Chart

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Screening Noir










    Director's Statement

    The Center's new 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.

    Haiti 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.

  • Haiti Projects
    • 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.
    • Haitian 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.
    • Visiting 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.
    • Poto 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 structural imbalances.

      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 activists globally.

      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.
    • Journal 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.

  • Race and Technology Initiative
    • AfroGEEKS: 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.


  • Ethnic Studies Projects
    • Kalfou—Journal 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 year.


  • Shirley 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.
  • Visiting Researcher
    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 Formation.


  • Community Outreach
    • Project Excel
      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)
    • Other Programming 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)


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