Director's statement

Director's Statement

The Center for Black Studies Research—previously, the Center for Black Studies until it was officially renamed in 2006—continues to serve its dual mission of research and service. The Center remains committed to its public/cultural mission as it also seeks to re-direct its academic agenda towards more systematic efforts to generate original research and publications. A further goal has been to document past activities as well as the ongoing research and activities conducted through the Center, making the work more accessible to the larger academic community, nationally and internationally.

The Center’s general research platform 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. In summary, our research foci fall within three general categories: (1) Haiti projects; (2) Race and Technology initiative; and (3) urban studies.

The 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 has clearly become the leading research center within the African Diaspora for projects on Haiti.  This past year we have joined forces with two outside initiatives to further develop our public mission within the realm of our Haiti projects. These initiatives are Poto Mitan, a film positioning Haitian women within the global economy, and Bibliothèque du Soleil, a newly created community library in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The Center is also viewed as an important research center for race and technology, particularly in terms of racialized utilization of technology. The Race and Technology initiative, developed by the Center’s former director, Dr. Anna Everett, was originally supported by a significant grant from the Ford Foundation. Though the initiative continues to generate substantial interest in the ethnic studies community through, for example, the publication of an AfroGeeks anthology and DVD, the current Director is in communication with Dr. Everett to re-energize the initiative with perhaps a 3rd Afro-Geeks conference during the academic year 2008-2009.

Both the Haiti and Race and Technology projects have yielded a number of publications in print and generated new media products, including several still in production. The Center has several film and video projects related to these two initiatives to help disseminate our ideas, research, and projects in the academic community and among the general public.

Furthermore, we have gained acclaim for our initiative to create a national comparative ethnic studies dialogue through conferences and symposia. This effort is led by the current director as well as Professors George Lipsitz and Clyde Woods, who are developing our new research focus on urban life and culture. Over the past year, we note in particular the successful program on Black Los Angeles and the yearlong Critical Issues series on Race, Place, and Power. This urban studies initiative has also led to the creation of the first nationwide comparative ethnic studies journal, which will focus on pressing social, economic, political, and environmental concerns affecting communities of color. The first issue of KALFOU (“crossroads”) is expected in Spring 2009. Our progress to date includes preparing a comprehensive proposal for an academic press and assembling a distinguished advisory board that will give the journal both a national and global scope. Another aspect of the urban studies initiative is the development of a Black Los Angeles archive, a project that is being spearheaded by Professors Clyde Woods and Gaye T. Johnson.

We also note that the Center’s Associate Director, Dr. Julie Carlson, continues to head a significant outreach activity, Project Excel, aimed at raising family awareness and community support about matters of education for African American and Native American students. It was originally started as a FOG project launched in partnership with the larger Santa Barbara community. Over the past year, Excel earned support from the Office of the President, Student Affairs, and a University Community Engagement Grant. This project has the full endorsement of this campus and the UC system, as well as that of various community constituencies. Excel is in its third year and has gained momentum and respect on campus and in the Santa Barbara community.

I note here the important contributions of Professor Sylvester Ogbechie, who served as Acting Director during the Winter quarter of 2008 while I was on sabbatical. Dr. Ogbechie oversaw the Center’s various ongoing projects, including the annual Shirley Kennedy Memorial Lecture. His expertise in art management was a significant asset to the Center in its continuing efforts to advance the work of painter Hërsza Barjon, a longtime collaborator in the Center’s research on Haitian religion. On the administrative side, Dr. Ogbechie’s graphic design skills proved invaluable as the Center undertook a re-design of its Web site. The Center provided extensive staff support in producing the second issue of Professor Ogbechie’s new journal, Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture.

In years to come, we will continue focusing on these various projects, along with developing other initiatives related to our core programs.  Through our current projects and new ones to come, we plan to maintain the stature of UCSB’s Center for Black Studies Research as one of the finest research and cultural units of its type in the nation.

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 and ten-year anniversary, “Lontan, Kounye-a, ak Demen: Feme Sek-la” (Le passé est le régulateur du present comme de l’avenir; The Past Regulates the Present as it does the Future), was held at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, on November 2-3, 2007. This was a highly successful event attended by international scholars. The group continues to produce original research about the complex rapport of religion with social life, economics, and politics in Haiti and in the Diaspora. The work of our group of researchers has also expanded to include the study of other Diasporic and transnational manifestations of African- based religions in the Caribbean region, U.S. mainland, Brazil, Canada, and France.

  • Under the aegis of KOSANBA over the past year, we have worked on two new books which are either near completion (God in Every Woman) which is under consideration with the University of Illinois Press and Dr. Gede, which is a work in progress. We are in conversation with the Trotter Institute about publishing the proceedings of the 8th KOSANBA international conference.

  • Bibliothèque du Soleil:  The library has proven to be a very successful endeavor by Pierre and Nadège Clitandre, who are the founders.  The Center has collected at least 400 books that have been sent to Haiti to build up the library’s collection, and has supported the library through other initiatives. Nadège Clitandre made an inspiring presentation about the project not only to the campus community, but also at both the Goleta and Santa Barbara public libraries in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Reads project, which featured the award-winning book on Dr. Paul Farmer’s work in Haiti, Mountains Beyond Mountains.

    This new library’s collection now holds more than 4,000 books, most of which were donated by individuals and educational institutions in Haiti and North America. More than 350 people have received library cards, and more than 50 children attended the library’s summer program this year.

  • Poto Mitan: The Center for Black Studies Research acted as the sponsoring organization in applying for a $234,000 grant from the America’s Media Makers program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. We are hopeful that the awarding of such a substantial grant will enable filmmakers Renée Bergan and Mark Schuller to finish post-production work and begin broad distribution of 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.

Principal photography has been completed, and the film is in post-production. Donations in excess of $40,000 from a Center-sponsored fundraiser, various community fundraisers, and private sources have already been raised. A target completion date is Spring 2009.

  • Journal of Haitian Studies: JOHS continues to be extremely well received in the academic community in the U.S. and abroad as the only peer-reviewed journal on Haiti. Volumes 13.1, 13.2 and 14.1 were all released this academic year. Papers are primarily generated within the U.S. and from Haiti; however, a number of submissions were also accepted from Europe. New subscriptions and subscription renewals continue to provide financial support for publication of this journal. The 20th anniversary issue of the journal is currently in preparation. Starting with Volume 15.1, we plan to change JOHS layout and physical presentation to show a new stage of maturity in the publication of the journal. We have also investigated various modes of maximizing the dissemination of the journal, including developing an electronic version of the journal in addition to our print version.

 

Race and Technology Initiative

  • Screening Noir: The second issue of Screening Noir:  A Journal of Black Film, Television and New Media Culture, Volume 1, Number 2 (Winter /Spring 2008) was released and distributed in April 2008. Volume 2, Number 1 is expected to be released in Fall 2008. The journal is edited by former Center director, Professor Anna Everett.

  • The anthology, AfroGEEKS: Beyond the Digital Divide, continues to be distributed through the Center. The interactive DVD featuring clips from speakers, presentation information, links to the internet, and embedded documents from the second AfroGEEKs conference is also distributed by the Center. During this next academic year, speakers and researchers will be brought to the Center to consolidate this earlier work and further expand the race and technology project.

Comparative Ethnic Studies Project/Urban Studies Initiative

KALFOU: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies: In Spring 2009, the Center will launch KALFOU, a new journal of comparative and relational ethnic studies. KALFOU will be an intellectual place to generate ideas on the cultural, historical, political, economic and educational issues which have affected communities of color over time. It will also be a forum to address pressing contemporary issues within these various communities as well as their rapport with one another. KALFOU will focus on social movements, social institutions, and social relations. We aim to build links among 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 change in the realms of public policy and social justice. One of our major goals is to ultimately bring about change within these communities.

  • Race, Place, and Power was a yearlong series of classes, forums, presentations, and discussions aimed at evaluating emerging concepts, theories, and policies about race and space. These lectures and presentations fell in the areas of urban renewal, historical sociology, cultural geographies, race relations, public policy, art, and social change. Selected presenters in the series were invited to submit scholarly and photographic essays for KALFOU. Professor George Lipsitz received seed funding from the Critical Issues in America endowment in the College of Letters & Science. Other funding was also secured to support the series. This series of lectures, panels, and presentations supported by the Center served as a catalyst to further launch our new urban studies initiative.

  • Life and Expressive Culture in Los Angeles: In Summer 2007, Professor Woods received a Cultural and Enrichment Program Grant from the Office of Instructional Development to study and showcase Life and Expressive Culture in Los Angeles. The activities, speakers, and symposia brought intellectual engagement and cultural programming for the Summer session, the campus, and the community at large. The research aspect of the project enhanced our new emphasis in urban studies and public policy, bringing the conversation about urban restructuration and inequality to the forefront of our agenda.

Discourses of development, labor issues, and transformation of public policies that were engaged in this project have re-energize researchers Woods, Lipsitz, and Johnson to create a new study group on Black Los Angeles. The center looks forward to hosting the group and their future activities.

  • Domesticity, Affect, Intimacy, Power, and Justice: 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 initiatives that we are launching following our Katrina project to study urban spaces and the way that these spaces restrict opportunities for communities of color. Initial funding for this conference was received from the Irvine Humanities Institute.

 

Critical Interventions

The Center provided editorial and production support for Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture.  Center staff worked with Professor Sylvester Ogbechie  and co-editor John Peffer to coordinate the second issue of this groundbreaking journal. The premiere issue was designed in South Africa, so Center staff worked internationally to update the layout and proofread the issue prior to publication.

 

Shirley Kennedy Documentary: The Life of an Educator/Activist

The Center for Black Studies Research—with the assistance of IRMMA, the Institute for Representational Multimedia Art—is creating a documentary on Dr. Shirley Kennedy, the late community outreach coordinator for the Center, distinguished educator, and a longtime activist for progressive causes in Santa Barbara. The original video has been expanded into a feature-length documentary about the life of this important local activist. Numerous politicians and high-profile community members and activists have contributed interviews, along with members of Dr. Kennedy’s family. The filming and most of the editing were completed during this past year.

Dr. Kennedy played a critical role during the early days of Black Studies at UCSB, as well as in establishing community foundations such as Building Bridges and Not In Our Town. Upon completion, the final DVD will be available to schools and other organizations, locally and throughout the country, presenting a positive role model for advocating change in the Santa Barbara area—or any other community, for that matter. One goal is to teach youth about the life history of someone who has been called a “bridge builder” and a “crusader for social justice” and who had a clear impact on the education and social welfare of her particular community. The intent is to motivate a new generation of activists, especially young women of color, to learn methods that are effective for community building. A previous grant from the Fund for Santa Barbara provided initial funding to begin the project. This academic year another $10,000 grant was awarded to the Center from the California Council for Humanities as a part of their California Stories program. This assisted greatly with filming and post-production costs, even though services were donated by the filmmakers, Anita David and Frederick Backman, and narrator, Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle.

The Center has also received private donations from individuals and Building Bridges, a Santa Barbara organization founded by Dr. Kennedy.  UCSB and the broader Santa Barbara community have both expressed great support for this project. We hope to premiere the documentary at the 2009 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Arrangements are being made to show the DVD in other educational and public venues in and outside Santa Barbara.

 

Visiting Researcher

This year the Center welcomed Ricardo Guthrie as a visiting researcher in residence.  Dr. Guthrie, who came to us from UC San Diego, worked with both the Center and the Department of Black Studies on several projects, in addition to his own publications. Dr. Guthrie contributed an essay entitled “Mythic Appetites: How Hollywood Re-invents Africa While Uncovering Its Own Heart of Darkness (Why The Last King of Scotland Won’t Be the Last Word on Africa)” to an edited volume, Hollywood’s Africa After 1994 (2008). In addition, Dr. Guthrie worked towards completing a forthcoming journal article, “From Jim Crow to Uhuru: The Discourses of African Independence and Afro-Diasporic Emancipation in the San Francisco Sun-Reporter, 1957,” which examined the impact of Ghana’s 1957 independence on the Black Freedom Movement in the United States. 

Dr. Guthrie was the featured speaker at two well-attended and well-received campus-wide events sponsored by the Center. Faculty and graduate students as well as undergraduates attended Dr. Guthrie’s lunch-hour talk, “Race for the White House: The Black Vote, The Black Candidate, and the 2008 Presidential Election,” held on February 5, 2008 to coincide with the California presidential primary. Dr. Guthrie led a lively discussion past the designated end time of this event.

His second lecture, held on May 28 and titled “Dedicated to the cause of the people, Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, the San Francisco Sun-Reporter and Black Consciousness, 1947-1966,”was a most provocative talk on a leading physician-turned-journalist and politician from the Bay Area. The presentation highlighted the many areas of influence of Dr. Goodlett’s work, in particular its impact on the black public sphere of the time.

After a very productive year with a sustained participation in our Critical Issues series, Dr. Guthrie left the Center in July to accept a tenure-track position at Northern Arizona University.  He was also awarded a UCOP Post Doctoral Fellowship but was able to defer it for the next academic year.


Community Outreach

Project Excel

Project Excel is in its third year. Based at the Center, it is an outreach and early preparation program that seeks to increase the number of academically prepared African American and American Indian students in Santa Barbara and Goleta middle and high Schools (grades 5 -12) for possible eligibility and enrollment at UCSB or other colleges and universities. This project is a clear success with a number of significant steps having been achieved. (see Public Service Activities.)

Santa Barbara Reads – Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World

The Center collaborated with the Santa Barbara Public Library to hold two public events, one in Goleta on October 14, and the other on October 18 at the main library in downtown Santa Barbara.  The purpose was to reach out to community members who had participated in the city’s library program to discuss the selected book by author Tracy Kidder. As the two Haitian experts from the community, Dr. Claudine Michel and Visiting Researcher Nadège Clitandre were present on the panel along with Dr. Harry Brown, founder of SEE International.  This program was enthusiastically received by those in attendance and whose interest in Haiti had increased enormously after reading the biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, a U.S. physician who started major health projects in Haiti and other nations of the southern hemisphere in South America and Africa.  On October 22, Paul Farmer gave a public lecture at the Arlington Theatre which was sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

  

Other Programming

One objective 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 2007-08, we have continued our program of collaboration with various community groups to maintain a Center presence in the community. (see Public Service Activities)

Web site re-design and implementation of online sales

Responding to state- and campus-wide initiatives, the Center for Black Studies Research redesigned its Web site to meet ADA accessibility standards. Standards require that pages be accessible for assistive technologies such as screen readers.

The new site also allows the Center to sell publications online. While print publications have been a large part of the Center’s focus for many years, distribution has been a challenge. This was in part due to an outdated payment system that required a printed order form to be mailed with a check, which created an obstacle for international scholars and institutions hoping to purchase Center publications. We were unable to process credit transactions. As part of the redesign, Center staff worked with the Accounting and Office of Research Systems Development to implement an online payment system with Authorize.net.  The new system allows easy online purchasing. We have seen a positive response to the new system, including several overseas transactions.

Annual Report 2008

Mission Statement

Director's Statement

Advisory Committee
& Staff

Organization Chart

Other Projects and Activities

Awards Administered

Space

Publications

Statistical Summary

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2007 Report

2006 Report

2005 Report

2004 Report

2003 Report