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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 

 

 

 

 

A.  CENTER'S PROJECTS

1.  Haitian Religion Project - The Spirit and The Reality: Vodou and Haiti

            This research is part of a larger Indigenous Religions Project that the Center plans to pursue.  Under the auspices of the Center for Black Studies and The Congress of Santa Barbara, two conferences were organized on the same theme "The Spirit and The Reality: Vodou and Haiti" (see flyers and reports).  The first conference took place at UCSB on April 25 and 26th 1997 and the second at Brooklyn College in New York City on April 3 and 4, 1998.  The presenters were commissioned to write chapters on the different themes presented at the conferences. The first draft of a book titled The Spirit and The Reality:  Vodou and Haiti was completed during 1998-99. It will be published by The University Press of Florida under the auspices of the Center for Black Studies and the Congress of Santa Barbara. This research is of utmost importance.  This is the first time that a group of highly respected Haitians joined together to research and present their views collectively on the Vodou religion, which impacts other social, political and economic Haitian institutions.  This research is by far the most extensive conducted in the area of Haitian Vodou by contemporary researchers and the book promises to be "the authority" in the field.  Karen McCarthy Brown, from Drew University, the leading non-Haitian scholar on Vodou, is endorsing the project and has also joined the group.  A leading scholar on Haitian religion, and researcher at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, Professor Laennec Hurbon, has joined the Congress of Santa Barbara as has the chair of the Religious Studies Department at Trinity College in Connecticut, Professor Leslie Desmangles. Considering that we have created a permanent scholarly association housed at the Center for Black Studies, we expect that research on the Haitian religion will remain a core research project of the Center. (See Congress of Santa Barbara under Other Projects and Activities).

2. Disney Project: Culture of Illusion and Illusion of Culture

The project involves the study of historical omissions and misrepresentations of Blacks in the productions of Disney.  It also analyzes the impact of these representations and misrepresentations on diverse populations. A number of UCSB faculty along with graduate students are actively researching various aspects of the Disney phenomenon and its impact on the American and world populations.  Other scholars from off-campus are also participating in the research. A first draft is ready.

UCSB researchers

Christopher McAuley is studying "Aspects of Disney's Business History 1937-1955," and researching the early political and economic aspects of the Disney Empire.

Claudine Michel and Francoise Cromer are researching Disney's far-reaching influence on racial and ethnic identity development and on children's acquisition of values in general.

Gˇrard Pigeon studies ethnic and racial representation in the Disney films.

Douglas Daniels explores the theme of racial colonialism in Disneyland's Frontierland and Adventureland.

Claudine Michel and Crystal Griffith (C. Griffith is no longer at UCSB) are researching the influence that the Disney Theme Parks and their excessive reliance on mechanization and technology have on patrons--young patrons in particular.

Richard Appelbaum, Department of Sociology, has been asked to write on the Disney garment workers in Haiti. (participation not confirmed yet.)

Non-UCSB scholars

George Lipsitz, a cultural historian from UC San Diego, has written on the history of the theme parks.

O'Funmilayo Makarah examines racial stereotypes in one Disney prototype--The Lion King.

Ioannis Pissimissis is analyzing Walt Disney World as "commodified leisure" and "escapism".

Crystal Griffith , currently at Smith College & U Mass, Amherst (see work with C. Michel)

Gerald Horne from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is at work on an essay "Re-reading Disney, Race and Class from Mickey Mouse to Mulan.”

3. Research conducted by Damita Brown, as part of a pre-doctoral fellowship to complete her Ph.D. in History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz. 

Her dissertation titled History is a Hungry Traveller: Black Female Subjects and The Grammars of Liberation is an examination of the relationship between theories of subjectivity, Black feminist thought and Black women’s labor in the slave and post-bellum South. She states: “I have been arguing for a Black feminist critical practice which produces more rigorous theory regarding the impact of the Black female subject on liberation discourses and which can provide an analytical framework for explaining the historical implications of slave and Reconstruction era labor for contemporary social justice activism.  While here I have been able to re-work these ideas on both organizational and conceptual levels.  The work bears a greater balance between theory and history, more in-depth discursive analysis, and more structural cohesion in general.  The critical resources of time, a good research facility such as the Davidson Library, and the opportunity to share my work in a professional setting, have allowed me to grow as a scholar and advance my goal of completing the dissertation.

Another aspect of the fellowship involved teaching a course which I designed, History and Theory of Black Feminism.  This experience was quite rewarding. Not only was I able to build on my teaching skills and share my knowledge, but I was able to learn from my students, who exhibited a strong background in Black Studies and avid interest in learning more about feminism. I found teaching in the Department to be a fruitful challenge.  I came away with a better sense of the value of my work to the academic community. Further, teaching the ideas of Black feminism re-vitalized my interest in developing a strong and productive affinity between Black Studies, feminist thought and labor history.

The fellowship also permitted me to participate in two lecture series (which) provided me with target dates for completing certain segments of the work.  They also assured me that I was not writing in a vacuum: the audiences who attended asked useful and sharp questions which stimulated my intellectual process.

Overall, the fellowship year has been a great success. I want to formally thank the Center for Black Studies for what has been a wonderful opportunity.”

4. Research conducted by Catherine Squires, as part of a pre-doctoral fellowship to complete her Ph.D. in Communication Studies at Northwestern University.

Her dissertation titled The Black Public Sphere: An Investigation into the Development of Public Spheres examines the history of the Black public sphere within United States civil society. She believes that the paths and controversies the Black public has traveled contain general lessons abut the formation of a public sphere that will prove helpful in explaining the status of other oppressed publics in democratic societies.

            Catherine writes: “While I was a Dissertation Fellow at the Center, I was able to finish and defend my dissertation.  I ended the year by returning home to Evanston, Illinois to receive my Ph.D. during the graduation ceremonies at Northwestern University.  I was also able to apply for many jobs and postdoctoral fellowships, another successful endeavor.  I am currently a joint-appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in African American Studies and Communication Studies.

Having the support of the Center, both financial and intellectual, was crucial to my speedy finish and successful job search.  I felt I was treated as a scholar and was encouraged by the high expectations of the Director and buoyed by her enthusiasm. Although I wish I had had more one-on-one contact with the faculty and other Dissertation Fellows, I feel I was allowed to make the experience my own. 

I also enjoyed participating in a few activities on campus with the Multicultural Center and the Black Film Group.  After finishing my dissertation, it was nice to give at least a little of my time back to the institution.

Finally, I very much enjoyed teaching a small seminar for the Black Studies Department.  Having such a light teaching load allowed me to give 100% to my students but also leave two quarters of free time to focus exclusively on my dissertation.  I truly believe that had I stayed on at Northwestern and taught the load they expected of me there, I would not yet be a Ph.D.

I would like to thank the Center for providing me with such a great year to write and research.  I hope future scholars enjoy as much success as I have in their tenure there.”

B. AWARDS ADMINISTERED

As mentioned in the Director's statement, in our efforts to bring the Center for Black Studies up to a comparable level with the other organized research units here at UCSB, we have made efforts to encourage faculty and student researchers to secure extramural as well as intramural funding.

The Center administered eight grants in 1998-1999.  The Principal Investigators are faculty in the Department of Black Studies and a professor with emeritus status. The funding agencies are: UCSB College of Letters and Science, Undergraduate Mentorship Program; UCSB Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Project Crossroads mini-grant funded by Hewlett Foundation Education Program in Pluralism and Unity; UC Office of the President, Urban Community-School Collaborative.

Excerpts from each grant’s abstract follow:

Akudinobi, Jude: Lecturer, Department of Black Studies, is conducting research for a book on African filmmakers, Diaspora, Marginality and Identity in “Home Away From Home”. Funds from the  Pre-graduate Mentor Program again provided funds for Black Studies major, Belinda Addo, to assist with the research. 

Daniels, Douglas:  Black Los Angeles Historical Research Project

Though there have been a number of studies of Black Los Angeles in recent years, none have undertaken the kind of basic research which allows a meaningful detailed analysis of family structure, social life, household composition, or residence patterns, migration patterns, schooling, occupations, unemployment, and home-owner or renter’s status using census data.  The published census of 1920 gives the rough contours for the  Black population in Los Angeles, and allows one to locate them spatially.  This particular project lays the groundwork for analyses which are essential for comprehending family structure, living patterns and the degree for racial integration, all of which are necessary for an understanding of the changing social and cultural life of Black Los Angeles.  Undergraduate students will learn the methods of the urban historian, using the 1920 U.S. Manuscript Census (more recent data is not available) and the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the city as the evidential base.  The faculty mentor and the undergraduate students are working on a video production based on their research findings.

Undergraduate students will learn the methods of the urban historian, using the 1920 U.S. Manuscript Census (more recent data is not available) as the evidential base.  This material, together with Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the city, will permit them to reconstruct the households and residents of two specific streets or an entire block in South Central Los Angeles as it existed in 1920. The census data enables them to characterize the population of each residence and then make generalizations about the targeted area regarding household and family structure, place of birth, origins of parents, migration patterns, schooling, occupations, unemployment, and home-owner or renter’s status.

            Los Angeles streets maps will allow the students to view the entire region, and gauge the relationship between the different areas selected for close study. The fire insurance maps permit them to visualize and portray a particular street, household by household.  The census data enables them to characterize the population of each residence and then make generalizations about the targeted area regarding household and family structure, place of birth, origins of parents, migration patterns, schooling, occupations, unemployment, and home-owner or renter’s status.

            The students will learn how to use the census to reconstruct actual households and to ascertain various social patterns.  These include the number of African-American households on a street; the specific family size and composition – whether nuclear, single-parent, or extended; the number of white households on a street; the proportion of California natives and the number of foreign-born; and the percentage owning their own homes (Black Los Angeles residents were exceptional in this regard).  Their experience with the small sample of a street or block constitutes, in effect, a qualitative study which will acquaint them with the methods of the urban and social historian and thus prepare them for more sophisticated quantitative studies in graduate school. 

            Though there have been a number of studies of Black Los Angeles in recent years, none have undertaken the kind of basic research which allows a meaningful detailed analysis of family structure, social life, household composition, or residence patterns using census data.  The published census gives the rough contours for the total Black population, and allows one to locate them spatially.  This particular project lays the groundwork for analyses that are essential for comprehending family structure, living patterns and the degree for racial integration, all of which are necessary for an understanding of the changing social and cultural life of Black Los Angeles.

The students will present their findings concerning geographic origins, occupations, family structure, and residential locations of their selected sites in Black Studies/History 169CR class. The faculty mentor and the undergraduate students are also working on a video production based on their research findings

Kennedy, Shirley: Jazz Symposium A Project Crossroads mini-grant, funded by the Hewlett Foundation Education Program in Pluralism and Unity, was extended in order to prepare the final videotaped version of a series of events held in conjunction with the visit of the UCSB 1998 Regent’s Lecturer Fan Shengqi and other distinguished jazz scholars. This project is still in progress.

Matthews, Pamela: received continuation of an Undergraduate Mentor Award from the UCSB College of Letters & Science to continue her project titled The Contribution of African American Women in Early Black Film.  She also received a Special Travel Award to attend the Acapulco Black Film Festival. Her mentor for both projects was Cedric Robinson.

Matthews, Pamela, Cedric Robinson, Mentor: Cultural Representations of African Americans in “Special” Network Programs

The focus of this research is on the pre-production process of cultural representations of African Americans in “special” programming across the four major networks – NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX.  To understand why and how these decisions are made, the student investigated two periods: 1990, 1991,1992 and 1993 seasons (Set A) and the 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 seasons (Set B). One of her goals was to determine if there is any permanent relief in the demeaning characterization of Blacks in “special” programming.

The student compiling the research data for this project previously worked in the private sector in advertising and marketing targeted to African American consumers.  While working in this capacity, she found differences in criteria in “series” and “special” programming.  Coupled with this find, was the fact that there was a significant difference in criteria for general market (White) households and African American (Black) households in terms of program scheduling. The African American market was specifically interesting because there was really no change in programming format or sponsorship of “series” or “specials”.  And, although “specials” varied among the networks, the sponsors seemed to remain the same across the board, which could account for the repetition in programming type and the culture representational style.  The student rationalized this to account for the continued negative cultural representation of African Americans on television.  She became determined to discover whether this was unconscious and coincidental cultural traces or if they were deliberate.

            Little research has been done in the area of “special” programming.  This project is designed to compare Sets A and B, denoting any changes in programming patterns regarding program format (variety, drama, comedy, interview or documentary), program sponsor and program producers.

            This project intends to observe any patterns formed by industry executives and corporate sponsorship toward the cultural representations of African Americans specifically in “special” programming across the four major networks and the impact corporate sponsorship has on programming schedules.  While the student has not located any research previously done in the proposed area of “special” programming, she has found an abundance of work in the area of series programming.

This area is research is important because “special” programming sponsorship of African American programs has not yet been researched.  It is important work because corporate funding provides the primary sponsorship for this programming.  African American advertising agencies are the link between corporate funding and selection of programming.  The relationship between the corporate sponsor and program selection may hold key answers/reasons for the continued negative cultural representation of African Americans in network programming.

Miller, Tyiesha: received a Genesis Research Award from the UCSB College of Letters & Science. The project is titled African American Immersion Schools: A Model For the Academic Success of Black Males. Her mentor was Claudine Michel.

            The United States public school system has failed to meet the social and academic needs of students, particularly black males. This notion is substantiated by the disproportionately high rates of illiteracy, academic failure, high school drop out, unemployment and incarceration seen among the black male population. In the early 1990s a model of reform known as African American immersion schooling developed in direct response to the social and academic displacement of Black males. Effective components of most of these schools include: competent staff dedicated to meeting the needs of Black students, the use of culturally reflective school curriculum, and continuity between the child’s home and school environment. The success of these schools can be measured in terms of students’ improved academic performance I pertinent areas such as reading. The goal of this project is to conduct ethnographic research at African American immersion schools. In so doing, Ms. Miler hopes to discover ways of establishing learning environments most conducive to the literacy and academic success of Black males in public elementary schools. This study may impact educational reform, and perhaps serve as a successful school model for diverse student populations across the nation.

Robinson, Cedric: conducted research on early Black filmmakers for his project titled Early Black Filmmakers: The Silent Film Era. His work focused primarily on those screenwriters, directors, and performers who produced movies from 1912 (Bill Foster’s Pullman Porter), to the end of their silent movie era in 1931 (due to production costs, Black filmmakers worked without sound for several years beyond the introduction of talkies in 1927 by big studios).  Since the earliest surviving Black film (Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates), only dates back to 1919, and nearly all the black films made between 1912 and 1931 have been lost, the study of these films and filmmakers requires reclamation from secondary sources. These sources are: newspaper advertisements, notices and reviews (particularly Black newspapers like New York Age and New York’s Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, Chicago Defender, California Eagle, Seattle’s Republican and Cayton’s Weekly, the District of Columbia’s Washington Bee, the Boston Guardian, Atlanta’s Daily World); entertainment (Billboard, Variety) and movie periodicals (Moving Picture World, Moving Picture News and Moving Picture Magazine); special museum and library collections (George Eastman House in Buffalo, UCLA’s George P. Johnson collection); and documents housed at the American Film Institute in Washington D.C. and New York. Funds from the Pre-Graduate Mentor Program provided funds for Pamela Matthews and Tasha Stamps to assist with the research.

Among the empirical questions to be researched are:

_    An accurate list of films: where, when, and by whom were they made?

_    Who were the Black filmmakers and the makers of Black-focused films?

_    What were the differences between Black Film and Black-focused films?

_    What were the occupational and regional origins of Black filmmakers?

_    What were the roles of theatrical groups, theaters-owners in silent film production?

_    Where were these films exhibited and who organized exhibition circuits?

Some of the analytical issues to be examined are:

_    What were the narrative, thematic, and subjects-matter of these films?

_    What were the influences of gender, class and race conflict on these films?

_    What marketing and technical impact did big studio productions have on Black filmmakers?

_    What were audience reactions to these films?

_    What was the critical reaction to these films?

            _    Were Black films political or merely entertainment?

Robinson, Cedric: Methods of Production and Distribution in Early Black Film is a

continuation of an earlier project, related to the project described above. He is assisted by Tasha Stamps who received an Undergraduate Mentor Award from the UCSB College of Letters & Science.

Smith, James:  The Extent to Which a Community Learning Center Affects Positive Results in the Academic Performance of Students in Urban Community Schools.  

For the past several years, the UC Urban Community-School Collaborative has increased the visibility of the University by combining forces with the community and with local schools.  This alliance will promote the work that has already been started in Santa Barbara by a small volunteer group of lay people and a professional educator.

            The proposal was designed to provide support services through Lucy’s Learning Center to enhance the academic performance of underachieving urban students, Pre-K through 8, from the Santa Barbara area. While the center currently provides a comprehensive list of services to its attendees, the main focus of this project is on assisting students with homework, hands-on activities in mathematics and science, and parenting sessions for adults (especially teenage parents). Emphasis is given to strengthening and reinforcing students’ understanding of fundamental concepts and approaches to problem-solving in mathematics and science.  Enrichment lessons are incorporated to stimulate quality thinking and reasoning.  Where appropriate, cooperative learning strategies are employed.

3.     MINI-GRANTS AWARDED BY CBLS

Tettegah, Sharon:  Doctoral Candidate in Graduate School of Education, Educational Psychology, UC Santa Barbara:  A grant was awarded to Ms. Tettegah to help defray costs related to the completion of her dissertation titled Impact of Teachers' Racial Identity Development on their Perception of Students’ Academic Potential.  Her research systematically brings cross-cultural and multicultural perspectives to the core of traditional psychological research. Her groundbreaking material provides a clear analysis of the systemic impact of oppression and racism on the cognitive and mental well being of school children and of the American population in particular.  

Wakefield, David:       Doctoral Candidate in the Graduate School of Education, Educational Psychology, UC Santa Barbara: David is researching the prevalence of racial and ethnic discrimination in the experience of ethnic minority individuals in the United States.  One area that developmental psychologists, educational researchers, and educators should better understand is how children cope and respond in situations of discrimination. His current research examines how African American male adolescents think about discrimination, specifically, how ethnic identity, causal attributions, and the presence of an audience impact behavior in situations of discrimination.  This study found that adolescents who had a strong sense of the meaning and relevance of their ethnic group membership were less likely to respond passively to discrimination.  It further suggests that having a strong ethnic identity may be helpful in the development of ethnic minority children.