Director's Statement

The Center for Black Studies (CBS) at UCSB is affiliated with the Office of Research (OR), though it is not an ORU (Organized Research Unit). By its very nature, the Center encourages interdisciplinary academic inquiry. The faculty members who interact with the Center come from a variety of academic departments including Black Studies, Education, English, History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Film Studies and the Women's Studies Programs. We collaborate with the Multicultural Center, the Women's Center, the Education Program for Culture Awareness (EPCA) and Arts & Lectures in pursuing cross-discipline interaction. We work closely with other Ethnic Studies departments at UCSB and with other schools to encourage inter-ethnic research dialogues across disciplines and campuses both within the UC-system and in the larger academy.

June 2001 marked the end of my fifth year as Acting Director/Director of the Center for Black Studies. As it is customary to conduct reviews of units such as this one at the end of such a period of time, it is appropriate to offer in this year's Director's Statement a type of general overview of the Center's accomplishments and on-going projects. As our image had changed, an important aspect of my work was to reestablish a strong presence for the Center. The progress accomplished as a team of colleagues, researchers, administrators and supporters are evident. The efforts and commitment we expended left no doubt that the Center for Black Studies is again a viable and valuable unit on campus and in our local, national and international academic communities. On June 13, 2001, a gathering of faculty, staff, students, administrators and community members celebrated the achievements of the past five years and acknowledged faculty publications, awards, promotions and the many contributions of our affiliates. Within the next few years, our goal is to position the UCSB Center for Black Studies as one of the finest research and cultural centers of its type. The attainments of the past few years suggest that we are well on the way to reaching our objective.

Highlights - Center for Black Studies 1996-2001

The first challenge was to address the considerable structural problems encountered at the Center. These problems ranged from the total absence of computer equipment and technical support (the 4th floor of South Hall not being wired for email and the internet), to the debilitating predicament of not having qualified staff as well as an image problem which had to be addressed quickly. These problems were serious and solving them was challenging. Five years later, the Center has regained a pre-eminent place on campus, in our local community and on the national and international fronts. This was achieved by demonstrating the important contributions that the Center makes to the intellectual and cultural life of our local and campus communities and to the academy in general.

A great sense of isolation became apparent to me soon after joining the unit. The Center had a .50 academic FTE and AA I--1.00 FTE. With the support of the Office of Research, we made two very crucial appointments. Dr. Jacqueline Bobo, Professor of Women's Studies and Black Studies, is now Associate Director and Dr. Shirley Kennedy from the Department of Black Studies serves as Cultural and Community Affairs Coordinator. They are both truly committed to the research and public missions of the Center and are engaged in all aspects of our agenda and projects. Having three academics officially attached to the Center is a real gain. We also obtained resources from OR to upgrade our business officer's position and to hire a part-time Assistant II for our Publications Office. Two very dedicated professionals are now on board.

Over the past five years our programs, symposia, conferences and research agenda have attracted a number of scholars from various campus departments who are now working very closely with the Center. We have also engaged other scholars from other research universities in some of our projects as researchers, contributors to volumes, guest speakers, editorial board members, and consultants. We are pleased that projects launched at the Center have been of interest to scholars from the UC System, and from universities such as Yale, MIT, Princeton, Harvard, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Chicago among others. Three extremely well-published scholars were visiting professors in residence at the Center: Professor Jacob Olupona from UC Davis spent two quarters at the Center in 1997 during his tenure as a Guggenheim Fellow; in 2000-2001 we hosted Professors Gerald C. Horne, distinguished historian from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, renowned Caribbean specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

A major goal for the Center was to establish a strong research profile and develop a publication record. A list of some of the major projects currently underway include: "The Comparative Ethnic Studies Project," "Ethnic Representation and Stereotyping in the Creations of Disney"; "The Henrietta Marie Project" and the "Teaching of Black History in K-12;" "New Vision and New Challenges for Black Women Filmmakers"; "Individual Voices and Collective Vision"; an outreach project on "The Middle Passage," and a community project, "Closing the Cultural and Virtual Divide." Among other efforts to look at education and outreach in the state of California, the Center hosted a conference on the "State of African-American Education in California" and made possible a state-wide exchange on this major topic. We are also planning a conference to be held in May 2002 on the large-scale economic and political impact of the Slave Trade.

A number of projects have already led to book contracts with university presses. We hosted four international conferences on the study of traditional/indigenous religion with a particular focus on Haiti. The first conference took place at UCSB in 1997, followed by two others in New York at Brooklyn College (1998) and Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut in 2000. The fourth one took place in 2001 conjointly hosted by the Haitian Studies Association in Vermont in October 2001. The creation of the Congress of Santa Barbara, a Scholarly Association for the Study of Haitian Vodou, resulted from our research efforts to document the significant social, economic and political role played by Vodou in the life of Haitian nationals and in furthering Haiti's rapport with the international community. So far this research has resulted in the preparation of two edited volumes to be published under the auspices of the Center for Black Studies. Also, Dr. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith has pledged to publish an additional volume on Indigenous African Religion in the Americas to be included in the same series. The work of the Congress of Santa Barbara is of importance and has great potential for extra-mural funding. It is in line with other major national efforts such as the Indigenous Religions Project of the American Academy of Religion.

The "Journal of Haitian Studies" has been revamped and moved to the Center for Black Studies in 1999. I serve as its new editor. It is the only refereed journal focusing solely on Haiti and Haiti's rapport with the international community. The journal is published in three languages (English, French and Kreyol) and is interdisciplinary in nature. A new editorial board made up of very distinguished scholars from major U.S. universities and from universities in France, Canada and the West Indies was formed. The journal as currently envisioned represents a major contribution to the fields of Black Studies, Ethnic Studies, Diasporic Studies, and International and Global Studies.

Through the assistance of very capable colleagues from the Advisory Board and with the support of the Center's Associate Director, we were able to mount several additional publications through the Center. The Associate Director, Dr. Jacqueline Bobo, and I are co-editors of two volumes of essays written by scholars connected with the Center-faculty, former dissertation scholars, guests and colleagues from other universities. Black Studies: Current Issues, Enduring Questions, was published in 2001 and Centering Black Studies is forthcoming in 2002. Dr. Cynthia Hudley is also co-editor on this second volume. Two other Center associates, Dr. Oyeronke Oyewumi and Professor Helen Pyne-Timothy are editing two additional volumes which will also be published under the Center's auspices. The first volume focuses on women in Africa and the other one on women of African descent in the Americas, Europe and Canada.

In 1999-2000, the Associate Director and I were awarded the College of Letters and Science "Critical Issues in America" grant. The project entitled "Ethnic Studies Dialogue: A Critical Issue for Twenty-First Century America" included a series of speakers, seminars, films and performances. In conjunction with Professor Bobo's Women's Studies class, we sponsored a Black Women Filmmakers Series that showcased the talents of major filmmakers such as Julie Dash, Dianne Houston (the only Black woman nominated for an Academy Award in the Director category), and Camille Billops, among others. As part of two of my seminars in the Department of Black Studies, we hosted celebrated Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, National Book Award Finalist and Winner of the 1999 American Book Award, and noted anthropologist Karen McCarthy Brown among six other prominent scholars. We are in the process of making three professional videos on this project--"Black Women Filmmakers," "Ethnic Studies Dialogue in the 21st Century" and "Dreamkeeper" (on award-winning author, Edwidge Danticat).

Several years ago I conceived the idea of a University of California Ethnic Studies conference. In December 1999, the Center was the major facilitator of this successful systemwide gathering of prestigious Ethnic Studies scholars. The Center's role in coordinating the various units-the Center for Chicano Studies, the Departments of Black Studies, Chicano Studies, and Asian American Studies, as well as the Women's Studies Program-was instrumental in the success of this fruitful venture. We are honored to have earned the trust and respect of our colleagues such that we were enabled to re-establish the viability of joint Ethnic Studies scholarship on our campus and to a large extent within the UC system and nationally. Concomitantly, the Center is taking the lead in starting the first UC-based Ethnic Studies Journal. This is a major project and we are delighted to be the originator of such a ground-breaking academic endeavor.

Noteworthy are also the work of our Cultural and Community Affairs Coordinator, Dr. Shirley Kennedy, whose relentless presence in local activities has re-positioned the Center as an important player in the Santa Barbara community. To mention just one of our joint ventures with the community, the Center has been involved with the Santa Barbara Building Bridges committee which concomitantly with the Center for Black Studies conference on slavery will be bringing to town in April/May 2002 a major exhibit from the wreckage of the Henrietta Marie, a slave ship that sank near the coast of Florida in the early 1700s. Students from all schools will be invited to visit the exhibit. Our outreach project on "The Middle Passage" is in place in three local schools in Goleta and Santa Barbara; this collaboration/partnership with local teachers and students also enhances our visibility. Nicole Williams from the Graduate School of Education serves as Coordinator for the project.

Now that we have reestablished our presence at UCSB and within the larger academic community, we are ready to embark on an aggressive pursuit of extramural research funds. The preliminary inquiries made are promising and it appears that many of our projects are highly fundable. Thus the pursuit of outside funding will be a major part of our agenda during the coming academic years.