One of my major goals since assuming leadership at the Center has been to establish a strong research and publication foundation.
The Journal of Haitian Studies has been revamped and has recently moved to the Center for Black Studies, as I am 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 and is interdisciplinary in nature. I have formed a new editorial board comprised of distinguished scholars from major universities in the United States as well as in France, Canada and the West Indies. The Journal as it is presently envisioned represents a major contribution to the fields of Black Studies, Ethnic Studies, Diasporic Studies and International and Global Studies. We successfully published the Winter 2000 issue early this year.
Dr. Bobo, and I are co-editors of a volume of essays written by scholars connected with the Center. We have a signed contract for our book, Black Studies: Current Issues, Enduring Questions. As this report is being written, the book is in the final stages of production, with an expected publication date of November 2000.
Along with Dr. Cynthia Hudley from the Graduate School of Education Dr. Bobo and I are in the process of completing the editorship of a volume of essays written by the Center's present and former Dissertation Fellows. Titled Telling Our Stories: 25 Years of Research and Pioneering Efforts. Contributions from a Center for Black Studies, we anticipate publication in the fall of 2000. The Center is also preparing a book about the experiences of women of color in academe.
A first draft of a collection of essays titled Culture of Illusion/Illusion of Culture: The Case of Disney is completed. The book will be published under the auspices of the Center and we hope to make considerable progress toward its completion in 2000. The proposal is currently under review at SUNY Press. 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. They include: Christopher McAuley who is researching the early political and economic aspects of the Disney Empire; Claudine Michel and Francoise Cromer who are investigating Disney's far-reaching influence on racial and ethnic identity development and on children's acquisition of values in general; Claudine Michel and Crystal Griffith who are researching the influence that the Disney Theme Parks, and their excessive reliance on mechanization and technology, have on patrons, particularly young patrons. Crystal Griffith was formerly at UCSB and is now at Smith College. Others include Gˇrard Pigeon who studies ethnic and racial representation in Disney films, Douglas Daniels who explores the theme of racial colonialism in Disneyland's "Frontierland" and "Adventureland" and Richard Appelbaum, who contributed a piece about Disney and the garment industry.
Scholars from off-campus are also participating in the research. They include: George Lipsitz, a cultural historian from UC San Diego, who has written on the history of Disney theme parks; O'Funmilayo Makarah who examines racial stereotypes in one Disney prototype, "The Lion King"; Ioannis Pissimissis who is analyzing Walt Disney World as "commodified leisure" and "escapism" and Gerald Horne from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who is at work on an essay titled "Re-reading Disney, Race and Class from Mickey Mouse to Mulan." A first draft is complete and publication is expected in 2001 of The Spirit and The Reality: Vodou and Haiti. It will be published under the auspices of the Center and the Congress of Santa Barbara, by the University Press of Florida, a leading publisher in the area of Caribbean Studies. 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. The research group includes Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, a most distinguished scholar in the area of Haitian, Caribbean and Latin-American politics and culture, who is also involved in a number of other projects at the Center for Black Studies. Professor Bellegarde-Smith will be in residence at UCSB during the 2000-01 academic year. Other prominent scholars involved in the research group include Karen McCarthy Brown, from Drew University, the leading non-Haitian scholar on Vodou, Professor Laennec Hurbon, a leading scholar on Haitian religion and a researcher at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, and Professor Leslie Desmangles, the chair of the Religious Studies Department at Trinity College in Connecticut. Considering that we have created a permanent scholarly association (the Congress of Santa Barbara, described below) housed at the Center for Black Studies, we expect that research on the Haitian religion will remain a core research project of the Center. Various scholars are at work researching different aspects of African indigenous religions and Haitian Vodou for the Congress of Santa Barbara. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith is pursuing similar goals for African religions in the Americas. His book, Fragments of Bone, will be published under the auspices of the Center.
The Center continues to serve as headquarters for the international scholarly organization, The Congress of Santa Barbara. We consider it a major achievement that "The Congress of Santa Barbara" was created at UCSB in 1997 as a result of our work here at the Center. The group has pledged to institutionalize its efforts to further research the religion of Haiti and to disseminate its research findings. At present, the Association has over 70 members. The Association met at Trinity College in March 22-23, 2000 for the third conference, "Ancestors and Progeny".
The following excerpt from its Declaration summarizes the goals and objectives of the Congress of Santa Barbara:
"The presence, role, and importance of Vodou in Haitian history, society, and culture are unarguable, and recognizably a part of the national ethos. The impact of the religion qua spiritual and intellectual disciplines on virtually all aspects of life is indisputable. It is the belief of the Congress that Vodou plays, and shall continue to play, a major role in the grand scheme of Haitian development and in the socio-economic, political, and cultural arenas. Development, when real and successful, always comes from the modernization of ancestral traditions, anchored in the rich cultural expressions of a people."
We have agreed to pursue a project originally proposed by Dr. Charles Long, a former director of the Center for Black Studies. 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 worldwide project sponsored by UNESCO in a number of countries.
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. We also plan to continue collaborating with the other Ethnic Studies units.
The Dissertation Fellowship program is a central part of the Center's agenda. This 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. We consistently have a strong pool of scholars who apply.
While in residence, the Fellows teach one course in their area of expertise, participate in Colloquia, interact with graduate and undergraduate students and participate in the intellectual life of the campus.
Thanks to the continued efforts of our Coordinator for Cultural and Community Affairs, Shirley Kennedy, we have re-established a strong presence in the community. Her active leadership with the "Building Bridges" committee is a fine example of her efforts. Dr. Kennedy promotes outreach to the campus and community, acts as a liaison and a clearinghouse for information, and initiates special events and projects. Often these endeavors are collaborative in nature, and serve to connect the Center to the campus and the campus to the community. The Center for Black Studies realizes the important role that an institution such as UCSB plays in the surrounding community, and therefore recognizes its own role in taking leadership and assuming that responsibility.