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1999 Report Index

Director's Statement 
 
Organizational Chart 

Summary of Research Highlights 

Other Projects and Activities 

Space 

Publications

Statistical Summary 

Staff/Advisory Board 

Other Participants 

 

 

 

1. Overview

            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 Winter 2000.

            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 year’s 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 of 1999.

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 Women’s 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 Direction

            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 Barbara community

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. 

(2)  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 Center’s Dissertation Fellows (see Publications).

Mission Statement

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 are:

Academic Mission

            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 general.

            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.

Public Mission

            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 Agenda:

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 Bobo’s  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 Conference)

            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.

Publication:

The Center’s 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 schools.