Director's statement

Director's Statement

The Center for Black Studies Research 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.

We are pleased to report that 2008-09 has been a significant year for the Center; we completed numerous projects and publications that had been in progress, and hosted several events that strengthened the Center’s connections with our campus and with other scholars as well as with the larger Santa Barbara community.

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 Initiative.

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 Center for Black Studies Research is the leading research center within the African Diaspora for projects on Haiti. During the past year, the documentary film Poto Mitan, about five Haitian women struggling to survive in the global economy, has been completed, and the Center hosted a symposium of Haiti scholars from around the nation. The Center has also formed a partnership with Nadège Clitandre to support Bibliothèque du Soleil, a newly created community library in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

During the past year, the Race and Technology Initiative has primarily manifested as efforts in a variety of media to document the public history of Santa Barbara’s African-American community. These efforts have included the completion of a documentary film about campus and community figure Dr. Shirley Kennedy, the initiation of an oral and video history project of African-American seniors sharing their experiences of civil rights struggles and triumphs in Santa Barbara, and a project to catalogue the papers of Dr. Shirley Kennedy. In addition, the Center published the book Synergy: Digital to Diaspora, a photo essay by former Center visiting fellow William Jones in which he explores his use of technology and the influence of indigenous spiritual practices on his art during his travels in Africa.

Our Urban Studies Initiative, which includes a Comparative Ethnic Studies dialogue, has made significant progress this year. The Center co-sponsored two conferences in this area of research: “Domesticity, Affect, Intimacy, Power, and Justice,” organized by Professor George Lipsitz, and “African American Traditions in California,” organized by Professor Clyde Woods as part of his project with Professor Gaye Theresa Johnson to establish a University of California system-wide network to address research, curricular, public policy, and archival needs, with the specific goal of a Black Los Angeles archive. The Center collaborated with Professor Woods to seek additional extramural sources of funding for this initiative and will continue to do so in the future. The dire national economic situation has proved an impediment to finding a publisher for our new journal of comparative ethnic studies, Kalfou; however, work continues on the journal, which is currently under review by University of Minnesota Press.

The Center’s Associate Director, Professor Julie Carlson, continues to head a significant outreach activity, Project Excel, aimed at improving the academic achievement of participating African-American and American Indian students, and increasing college readiness and awareness for the students as well as their families. Over the past year, Excel earned support from the Office of the President (University-Community Engagement Grant), the Office of Academic Preparation (Faculty Outreach Grant), and from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor. Excel was also awarded a federal Community Development Block Grant administered by the City of Santa Barbara. 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 fourth year and has gained momentum and respect on campus and in the Santa Barbara community.

We would also like to note significant accomplishments during the past year in terms of publications and student outreach. In addition to our regular output of journals, the Center published two books: the previously mentioned Synergy: Digital to Diaspora, by photographer and former Center visiting fellow William Jones; and Black Street, a collection of poetry by Santa Barbara poet and activist (and the Center’s community outreach coordinator), Sojourner Kincaid Rolle. Our publications have also gained wider exposure (and generated additional revenue) since we implemented online purchasing capability on our Web site in the previous fiscal year. From fiscal year 2005-06, when all transactions had to be conducted via check, to 2008-09, the first full year we offered online purchasing, we saw a 160 percent increase in revenue from sales of our publications (mostly through subscriptions and purchases of individual issues of our journals). With the leadership of Nadège Clitandre (a former dissertation fellow in the Department of Black Studies), we have also begun forging new connections with students. During the past year; Dr. Clitandre organized several events to introduce undergraduates as well as graduate students to the Center and its mission.

On a more personal note, I would like to extend a warm welcome and best wishes to Professor Clyde Woods of the Department of Black Studies, who recently earned tenure and will serve as Acting Director (effective September 1, 2009) for the remainder of the fiscal year, while I am on sabbatical. Professor Woods has served on the Center’s advisory committee and has made significant contributions to the Center’s various initiatives, organizing conferences on African American traditions in California in 2007 and 2009, leading a discussion of rebuilding efforts in New Orleans after an Arts & Lectures screening of the Hurricane Katrina documentary Trouble the Water, and contributing an article to the inaugural issue of Kalfou. I am grateful to Professor Woods for agreeing to lead the Center during these challenging fiscal times, and I am confident that he will prove an able steward of the Center’s many initiatives.

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

  • Poto Mitan: The documentary film Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy, to which the Center gave both technical and administrative support (raising more than $50,000 in community donations toward production costs), premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January 2009.

  • 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 media have 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, Renée Bergan and Mark Schuller, have depicted how inequalities based on globalization and gender roles intersect and are experienced on the ground. In addition, the Center is grateful for the participation of award-winning Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, who contributed narration to the film, telling a traditional Haitian krik krak story that lends structure to the narrative, places the struggles of the women depicted in the film in a historical and cultural context, and we believe adds a whole new level to the film.

  • Since its premiere, the film has been screened in many cities, including New York and Boston, and at film festivals in Michigan, Washington, and Texas. It has gained international notice with acceptance to the upcoming 2009 Montreal World Film Festival. We are also pleased that Poto Mitan is succeeding as an educational tool, having been screened in a number of academic venues, among them a screening and roundtable discussion of the film in Kingston, Jamaica organized by associate producer Gina Ulysse of Wesleyan University. The film has also been picked up for distribution by DER, a leading producer and distributor of cross-cultural documentary films for educational use.

  • Bibliothèque du Soleil: This community library in Port-au-Prince, Haiti was co-founded by Dr. Nadège Clitandre, a former dissertation fellow in UCSB’s Department of Black Studies; the library is a project of the nonprofit organization Haiti Soleil. In partnership with the Center, and through her own tireless efforts, Dr. Clitandre has secured donations of $9,170 in cash as well as about 25 boxes of books and educational supplies for the library; the donations were processed through the Center. In addition, Dr. Clitandre forged a partnership with the Santa Barbara Public Library and raised $1,500 within the University to stage a photo and art exhibit at the Santa Barbara Central Library to raise awareness of Bibliothèque du Soleil.

  • Bibliothèque du Soleil’s collection now holds close to 6,000 books, most of which were donated by individuals and educational institutions in Haiti and North America. The library currently has 500 members, and more than 50 children attended the library’s summer program this year. The Center has provided support to the library project by assisting with fundraising events and producing promotional materials, including color brochures for the library in English and in French.

  • Haiti Flag Week: The Center hosted several events in observance of Haiti Flag Week, including a lunch forum for graduate and undergraduate students, “Beyond Revolution and ‘Voodoo’: Opportunities for Research and Outreach in Haiti,” and a lecture by highly regarded Haiti scholar Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, “Links Between Haitian Vodou and Santería.” Bellegarde-Smith, a professor of Africology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is author of the works Haiti: The Breached Citadel and In the Shadow of Powers.

  • Haiti: False Starts, New Beginnings. This symposium was also part of the Center’s Haiti Flag Week observances, bringing together speakers and scholars from around the nation for a full day of panels, lectures, and films, including the Center’s own Poto Mitan as well as a documentary about rural-to-urban internal migration in Haiti, The Road to Fondwa. Among the program’s speakers were economist Tatiana Wah, who has served as a consultant to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme on Haiti development, and Carolle Charles, a sociologist and former Fulbright scholar whose research focuses on gender and transnational labor issues. This symposium was key in moving the discussion about Haiti past the typical narrative of revolution, rebellion, and struggle toward a conversation about development, reforestation, and economic sustainability. The symposium was a turning point for the Center, helping us to position ourselves in this new debate. Scholarly work growing out of the symposium includes a new book, Haiti, Beyond Revolution: False Starts, New Beginnings, an edited volume being prepared by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, LeGrace Benson, Claudine Michel, and Chryss Yost.

    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. Volume 14.2, the twentieth anniversary issue of the journal, was released this academic year and contained an index of the first fourteen volumes of the journal. Submissions this year were primarily generated within North America, with additional submissions coming from the United Kingdom. New subscriptions and subscription renewals continue to provide financial support for this journal, which is currently self-published. To extend the reach of the journal, we plan to investigate electronic distribution as well as an outside publisher.

  • Haitian Studies Association: In November 2008, at its annual meeting, the Haitian Studies Association recognized the Center’s Director, Professor Claudine Michel, with its Service Award in recognition of her commitment to the advancement of Haitian studies, particularly as editor of the Journal of Haitian Studies, which is the association's official publication. Chryss Yost, managing editor of the Journal of Haitian Studies, attended the HSA conference in Montrouis, Haiti — her first visit to Haiti as well as her first opportunity to meet face-to-face many JOHS contributors and HSA board members with whom she has corresponded by e-mail. Getting to see Haiti firsthand was “illuminating,” noted Yost, who said the opportunity to experience Haitian daily life and meet Haiti scholars will be invaluable in her work on the journal and the Center’s other 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. Although the group’s ninth international colloquium — held in Mirebalais, Haiti — did not occur until July 2009, Center staff were engaged in extensive preparations for the conference during the spring of 2009. The ongoing work of the association also resulted in a Portuguese translation of Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, and Reality, a volume edited by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Michel; the new work, translated by Amanda Orlando, will be released in the fall of 2009 by Pallas Editora of Brazil. A translation of the same work into French is currently in progress by KOSANBA member Viviane Nicolas.

Race and Technology Initiative
(Public History of Santa Barbara’s African-American Community)

    • It Was All of Us: Dr. Shirley Kennedy, The Life of an Activist: This documentary film about the late Dr. Kennedy — community outreach coordinator for the Center, distinguished educator, and a longtime activist for progressive causes in Santa Barbara — premiered in April 2009 at the MultiCultural Center Theater, with an additional public showing at the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Central Library. The film was produced by the Center with the assistance of the Institute for Representational Multimedia Art (IRMMA), as well as grants from the Fund for Santa Barbara and the California Council for the Humanities California Stories program, and donations from Building Bridges and from individuals. Services were donated by the filmmakers, Anita David and Frederick Backman, and the narrator/interviewer, Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle. In November 2008, David and Backman traveled to Chicago to complete interviews with Kennedy family members and to record Barack Obama’s acceptance speech on election night, later incorporating footage from that historic event into the film. Numerous Santa Barbara-area elected officials (past and present) and high-profile community members and activists contributed interviews to the documentary, along with members of Dr. Kennedy’s family; many of the interviewees were present for the premiere.

    • 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. Now that the film is completed, the 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 in 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.

    • Oral history project: In order to preserve the observations, experiences, and wisdom of Santa Barbara’s African-American community — many of whose members are aging — the Center has undertaken an oral history project, spearheaded by the director and the community outreach coordinator, Sojourner Kincaid Rolle. Ms. Rolle has conducted five interviews so far. Transcripts as well as the original videotaped interviews will be made available to scholars as part of the Davidson Library’s special collections.

    • Shirley Kennedy papers: The Center has undertaken the task of preserving and archiving Dr. Kennedy’s papers. As a first step, three undergraduates have offered research assistance for the project by creating an electronic archive of the 4,000 notes written by schoolchildren after viewing the 2002 Henrietta Marie slave ship exhibit in Santa Barbara.

Urban Studies Initiative/Comparative Ethnic Studies Project

  • Domesticity, Affect, Intimacy, Power, and Justice: This third ethnic studies conference in a series was organized by Professor George Lipsitz and took place in October 2008. The conference staged an intercampus and interdisciplinary conversation about the ways in which sentiment, fear, anger, and love function as social and political forces. The dialogue featured intergenerational and interracial perspectives, and several speakers addressed the crucial roles played by gender and sexual normativity in shaping the social and cultural ecology of neo-liberalism. Speakers included scholars from the fields of History, Literature, Political Science, Art History, Global Studies, and Black Studies, as well as a filmmaker, a webzine editor, a dancer, a spoken-word artist, and a youth arts organizer. It featured fifteen different presentations by scholars from UCSB, UCI, UCLA, Brown, New York University, Williams College, Ithaca College, and the University of Oregon, and presentations by artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland. There was an audience of close to 100 people on the first night of the conference, and 75 on the second day. All sessions were videotaped and placed on DVDs for use in courses, future study, reading groups on campuses throughout the UC system, and to be made available at the library. The papers presented at the conference by Tricia Rose, Lisa Duggan, Ondine Chavoya, and Daniel HoSang as well as the responses to them by Erin Ninh, Sohail Dalautzai, Paula Ioanide, and David Garcia will be published in a special issue of Kalfou. Funding for this conference was received from the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

  • African American Traditions in California: Establishing a University of California System-wide Network to Address Research, Curricular, Public Policy, and Archival Needs: This conference, organized by Professor Clyde Woods, convened scholars for an exploration of how to create and build a Black California digital archive within the Journal of California Studies and Calisphere initiatives and how the Black California Studies initiative can support and coordinate public policy research on, and in, California’s African-American communities. Funding for this conference was received from the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

  • Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies: As mentioned previously, finding a publisher for the journal has proved challenging in the current economic climate. By next year, however, we hope to report that the journal has been picked up by University of Minnesota Press, which is currently reviewing our proposal. Professor George Lipsitz, senior editor of the journal, reports that he and the journal’s staff are “putting the finishing touches on issue one.” If necessary, we will continue to send proposals to academic publishers, and we plan to self-publish the first few issues, as a contingency. In addition, submissions are under review for two future issues; Professor Jeffrey Stewart, chair of the Department of Black Studies, and Professor Devin Fergus of Vanderbilt University are each editing special issues as well. As we had hoped, the journal will be truly global in scope and appeal: we have received inquiries and submissions from scholars working in China and Nigeria.

Community and Student Outreach

  • Project Excel: Project Excel is in its fourth year. Based at the Franklin Community Center and the Center for Black Studies Research, it is an outreach and academic 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 accomplishments. (See Public Service Activities)

  • Community Programming: In 2008-09, we have continued our program of collaboration with various community groups to maintain a Center presence in the community. (See Community Outreach Report)

  • Student Outreach: Dr. Nadège Clitandre, a former dissertation fellow in the Department of Black Studies, has led a number of initiatives during the past year to forge stronger connections between the Center and students. These have included research-oriented as well as social events to introduce undergraduates and graduate students to the Center and its mission. Dr. Clitandre also founded AHEAD (Aiding Haitian Education and Development), a student group raising funds and awareness for Haiti.

  • Anita Mackey Awards: Named for a longtime supporter and benefactor of the Center, the Anita Mackey Scholarship and Service Awards are bestowed each year by the Center on an undergraduate and graduate student who exhibit a high level of academic excellence and who have made meaningful contributions
    to the campus and community. For the 2008-09 academic year, the recipients of this award were Eziaku Nwokocha (undergraduate) and Nadège Clitandre (graduate student).

Annual Report 2009

Mission Statement

Director's Statement

Advisory Committee
& Staff

Organization Chart

Other Projects and Activities

Awards Administered



Statistical Summary

Download PDF Version of Report

2008 Report

2007 Report

2006 Report

2005 Report

2004 Report

2003 Report