June 1999 marked the end of my third year as Acting Director in the Center for
Black Studies. The Center remains affiliated with the Office
of Research (OR), though it is not an ORU (Organized Research Unit). We have continued
spending time re-thinking new directions for the unit and working with the Advisory Board
members in developing a new agenda for the Center in accordance with its re-defined
academic and public missions. A number of research and community oriented projects
continue to be developed at the Center for Black Studies.
Over the past three years, the Center has been very productive. We contributed to
the intellectual and cultural life of the university by sponsoring colloquia, during which
faculty presented their latest research to the campus community, by supporting faculty and
student research projects and by engaging in a number of publication ventures. Thanks to
the continued efforts of our Cultural and Community Affairs Coordinator, we have a strong
presence in the Santa Barbara community. The Center continues to serve as headquarters for
the international scholarly organization, The
Congress of Santa Barbara, and will publish a scholarly journal, The Journal of Haitian Studies, starting in
Due to confusion regarding the date that applications were due, the pool of
candidates for the Center's 1998-99 pre-doctoral fellowship program was considerably
smaller than in the past. However we still attracted several fine applicants. One of this
years fellows completed her dissertation very quickly and was able to file in March,
the earliest in the history of our fellowship program. Very soon after filing, she
received and accepted an outstanding offer of an assistant professor position at a major
university. The other fellow was able to make considerable progress towards the completion
of her dissertation. Former fellows nationwide were asked to contribute to an anthology
that the Center is publishing.
We all view the Center as a viable and valuable unit on campus.
The effort and commitment we expended over the last few years have
left no doubt that the Center for Black Studies has reestablished
a strong presence at UCSB. We have
begun to take a leadership role in working more closely with other
Ethnic Studies departments and programs at UCSB and in the UC System
as evidenced by the Ethnic Studies Conference planned for December
2. Structural Concerns
The 1998-99 year was again a year of transition, planning, and re-organization for
the Center for Black Studies. On a positive note, the computer problems we experienced
during the past three years are solved, and we are fully operational. However, unexpected
personnel problems emerged that create a hardship for the Center. We are working to solve staff transitions to keep
loss of production at a minimum. Louise Moore, Nancy Doner and Beverly Lutz from the
Office of Research and Judie Stowe from the Department of Black Studies have all provided
invaluable assistance, advice and encouragement during this process.
Selected members of the Advisory Board
and myself met with Dr. France Cordova, Vice-Chancellor for Research, in the summer of
1998 to discuss the future of the Center for Black Studies, and, in particular, the need
for an external search for a new director. The meeting was productive in that a lot of
information was exchanged and passed on to Dr. Cordova.
However, the issue of which route to follow about the search for a director
remained unsolved for another year (until a second meeting which took place on August 16,
1999. Dr. Cordova was to consult with other
administrators from the College but no decision was reached in 1998-99. At that meeting, I also indicated my unwillingness
to continue to serve as "acting" director past that current year. This would not be desirable as our unit needs to
have a permanent director on board to maintain the intellectual life of the Center. There is only so much an "acting" person
can do. A meeting with the Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor
for Research, the Provost and the Deans took place in the latter part of the summer of
1999 to continue the conversation started a year ago. A resolution was reached. All
parties agreed to fill the position internally (short-term plan) and to later proceed with
a national search (long-term plan).
The Office of Research provides a modest stipend for an Associate Director which is
a great help to the Center. Dr. Jacqueline Bobo, Associate Professor and Chair of the
Womens Studies Program, accepted the
position of Associate Director for the Center for Black Studies, effective October 1,
1998. We believe that her presence and contributions have greatly enhanced the Center's
research mission. Having an Associate Director is an essential factor in making the Center
for Black Studies a strong presence both on campus and nationally as two faculty members
leading the unit provides the opportunity for intellectual exchange which results in
better and more diverse planning.
3. Mission and
The Center for Black Studies conducts research on the social, historical,
political, economic experiences and the cultural meanings that have affected peoples of
African heritage throughout the world. The Center sponsors a faculty development program
(dissertation fellows); supports and disseminates faculty research; organizes and presents
seminars, lectures, and symposia; and serves as a liaison between the campus and the Santa
Among other concerns, the Center for
Black Studies must fulfill two primary goals:
(1) First, through its research and its public fora
and colloquia, the Center must be a place to generate ideas on the culture, history,
politics, economic factors and educational matters which have affected the course of life
for various Black populations over time. In
addition, it must address pressing contemporary issues for Africans, African-Americans,
and other diasporatic communities and people of color.
It is also important to study rapport between people of African descent, people of color and other groups.
Furthermore, the Center must possess more efficient tools to disseminate its
research and the vigorous debates in which it engages.
It is precisely the aim of fulfilling this startling void that new publishing
ventures are being proposed by the UCSB' s Center for Black Studies (see Publications).
Additionally, the Dissertation
Fellowship program is a central and successful part of the Center's agenda and the
Advisory Board wishes to keep it as such. The pre-doctoral program in the area of
African/African-American scholarship has always been successful, with at least 80% of the
Fellows having finished their dissertations and committed themselves to careers in
research and teaching at various institutions throughout the country. Many of the Center's former fellows are now
tenured professors at major research institutions. One of our projects is to document work
done by the Centers Dissertation Fellows (see Publications).
Over the past three years, the Center's
Advisory Board members drafted a new mission statement which emphasizes their strong
support for retaining the Center's public/cultural mission while also re-directing the
Center's 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, documents supporting work done
in these areas are lacking. We are now in the
process of more systematically documenting past work done at the Center.
The Center's two primary missions
To organize, promote and administer interdisciplinary research among faculty and
students on the social, political, historical, cultural, and economic experiences of
people of African descent. The Center is also committed to facilitating rapport between
people of African descent and other people of color as well as with the US population in
To disseminate the research products and the ideas generated therein through a
variety of mechanisms including, but not limited to working papers, edited volumes,
special editions of journals, conferences and colloquia.
To provide training in interdisciplinary scholarship for faculty, graduate
students, and undergraduates.
To house, support, and mentor dissertation fellows.
One goal of the Center's research agenda is active engagement in shaping and
implementing public policy. Therefore, the
academic mission is complemented by a public mission.
The Center's research agenda uniquely positions us to provide a critical synthesis
of issues of race, social equality and justice.
Furthermore, the broader public mission embraces a commitment to community
collaboration. This collaboration can take on
many forms, including: enhancing
communication between the university and the community on issues of mutual concern; facilitating access for the community to
university resources; participating in the
development and implementation of community based educational and social initiatives, and
providing co-sponsorship for cultural activities on campus and in the community.
4. Goals and Objectives: Response to the University Academic Mission and the Needs of the Community
Research is central to the Center's
mission and is conducted at the Center at two levels: (1) research originating from
various faculty and students for whom we administer grants (2) research originated by the
Center. We will continue to encourage faculty to join in both the planning stage and at
the level of conducting actual research. Professor Jacob Olupona from UC Davis, who spent
his Guggenheim year in residence at the Center, is an example of a faculty member from
another university who has brought a research project to the Center. One faculty member
from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee who is also involved in a number of projects
at the Center for Black Studies has expressed interest in spending a year in residence
during at UCSB. We are working to make this possible for the next academic year.
This is the second year that the Center administered a few small grants (see Research Highlights).
The Center offered administrative and secretarial support for these grants. We plan to encourage and support our affiliated
faculty to seek more extra-mural funding in the years to come. Starting in 1998-1999, efforts were made to ensure
that faculty systematically seek external funding. In
addition to the generous help that she already offers, Dr. Barbara Harthorn, Director,
Social Science Research Development for the Office of Research, organized meetings at the
Center to assist both the faculty in Black Studies and Chicano Studies in their efforts to
pursue extra mural funding. Sylvia Curtis,
Librarian, twice held office hours at the
Center to assist faculty with searches related to grant applications and other research
projects. As these initiatives did not yet produce the results that we expected, we will
rethink our methods to help faculty seek extra-mural funding.
At the level of Center-generated research, the specific areas of research are still
being defined by the Advisory Board's research/publications sub-committee, the Acting Director and the Associate Director. This is
another example of the crucial role the new position of Associate Director plays.
We have agreed to pursue a project originally proposed by Dr. Charles Long, the
former director. This project, Route of the Slaves, is interdisciplinary in nature and offers great
potential for collaborative research both on campus and in the larger community. It ties in well with a world-wide project
sponsored by UNESCO in a number of countries.
The second major research project is on African Indigenous Religions, currently
with a focus on Haitian Vodou. The project on Haitian Vodou is continuing to
develop. Various scholars are at work
researching different aspects of Haitian Vodou for the Congress of Santa Barbara, the
Association for the study of Haitian Vodou, housed at the Center (see Congress of Santa Barbara). Furthermore, Drs. Jacob Olupona, Ines Talamantez
and I are continuing the planning phase of the larger African Indigenous Religion Project with
additional components on Yoruba and Native American religions. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith,
from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, is pursuing similar goals for African
religions in the Americas. His book, Fragments of Bone, will be published under the
auspices of the Center.
Among other projects housed at the Center is collaborative research on Disney
which should be completed by the end of the next academic year. We have also
discussed other potential projects such as a proposal to work in the local high schools as
part of a larger project on the Education of
African-Americans in California. Another
possible option currently under discussion is to research Black representation in the media possibly using some of the
data-base already established through the campus violence project. Jacqueline Bobos expertise in films, communication and gender
studies will be a tremendous asset for this project if we decide to pursue it. Cedric
Robinson can also be a formidable resource for the project.
I have discussed these projects and plans with Board members
and with others who run research units on campus.
I found it important to connect with other researchers who
can support our interdisciplinary research agenda (this is reflected
in the Colloquium series for the past academic year). We also plan to continue collaborating with the other Ethnic Studies units
on both research and public events.
In particular, we are planning a major inter-campus conference
on Ethnic Studies to celebrate 30 years of Ethnic Studies research
in the UC System. (UCSB Ethnic Studies
The goal for the coming years will be to actively develop proposals (1999-00) and
to seek funding (2000-01) in order to pursue our research and public agendas. We expect that the Center will be running a number
of large-scale research projects by the year 2001-02.
The Centers dual publishing goals
are 1) to publish new research findings and 2) to actively document prior Center research. A statement that explains our publication
goals/objectives appears in the section on Publications.
Cultural Activities/Public Service:
The Center has a long successful
history of organizing cultural activities both on campus and in collaboration with
community organizations. We see a need to do
even more in the years to come, especially ensuring more student participation at both the
planning stage and the execution phase of those community activities (for example, a
project with the students from NAACP is being developed).
Due to the major efforts involved in
organizing the Ethnic Studies Conference scheduled for December, 1999, there will be no
colloquium series in Fall Quarter. The Center will continue to sponsor its Winter Quarter
and Spring Quarter colloquium series, as well as workshops, and to advertise in local
newspapers to ensure wider community participation at its programs.
In 1998-1999, we were able to extend the scope of our presence in the community and
greatly expand the community/cultural agenda of the Center.
This is due to the relentless efforts and strong organizing skills of Dr. Shirley
Kennedy, our Coordinator of Cultural and Community
Affairs (See Section on of Cultural
and Community Affairs ).
In the future, we also plan to establish a presence at the K-12 level in the local