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Report Index

Director's Statement 

Summary of Research Highlights 

Other Projects and Activities 


Statistical Summary 

Staff/Advisory Board 

Other Participants 




1. Overview  

June 1998 marked the end of my second year as Acting Director in the Center for Black Studies.  Though the Center remains affiliated with the Office of Research (OR), it is no longer an ORU (Organized Research Unit). Over the past couple years, it was important to spend time re-thinking new directions for the unit.  I have worked with the Advisory Board members to develop a new agenda for the Center in accordance with its recently re-defined academic and public missions.  A number of research and community oriented projects are currently being developed at the Center for Black Studies. 

Over the past two years, the Center has been quite productive, contributing in a variety of ways to the intellectual and cultural life of the university: sponsoring conferences, debates, and colloquia during which faculty presented their latest research to the campus community; supporting faculty's research projects; and engaging in a number of publication ventures.  Thanks to the efforts of our Cultural and Community Affairs Coordinator, we have also begun to establish a strong presence in the Santa Barbara community.   Furthermore, the Center now serves as headquarters for a new international scholarly organization, The Congress of Santa Barbara, and will be publishing a scholarly journal, The Journal of Haitian Studies, starting in Winter 1999.  Also noteworthy is the fact that we were able to attract Dr. Jacob Olupona, a distinguished professor from UC Davis who stayed in residence at the Center during his tenure as a Guggenheim Fellow.  

The Center's pre-doctoral fellowship program continues to be successful as demonstrated by the very large number of first-rate candidates who apply for our pre-doc positions.  The candidates chosen by the Center are often offered other nationally competitive fellowships.  This year's fellows were able to make considerable progress towards the completion of their dissertations.  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.  However, it is also clear that it will take a lot of effort and commitment over the next few years to bring it to the next level of excellence.  

2. Structural Concerns  

The 1997-1998 year was again a year of transition, planning, and re-organization for the Center for Black Studies.  During the year, we have been able to solve a number of structural and administrative problems, including two major ones --getting new staff and finally getting the Center equipped with adequate computers, printers and internet connections.  The hiring of two new staff members (AA III and AA I) took place respectively in October and December 97.  Unfortunately, the half-time position filled in December did not work out and we had to start the process again, which resulted in the hiring of our current AA I last February.  The hiring process itself, the adjustment of the staff to one another, the amount of back log work accumulated for at least two years, my having to constantly rely for advice during this period of transition on L. Moore and N. Doner from OR, were taxing for all.  Although this whole process (from the time the positions were requested from the administration) took two long years, I am glad to report that we are now fully staffed with efficient personnel and that we are ready to move forward.  
Another major set back was the serious computer problems we encountered (old machines, inadequate software and internet connections, and maintenance personnel).   Not having, at times, one single working computer or printer to be used by the staff, the ABD fellows or myself constituted a serious hardship for the Center and a major impediment to production.  Although the Office of Research showed continued support during times of crisis, the problems were not satisfactorily solved until the end of May 98 -- the end of the academic year and the end of my second year as Acting Director in the Center.  

I have to state that these two major problems made the past two years quite difficult and the transition slower than I had expected. Hopefully, all this is now behind us. 
Selected members of the Advisory Board and I met with Dr. France Cordova, Vice-Chancellor for Research, in early June 98 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 the director's search remains unsolved.  Dr. Cordova was to consult with other administrators from the College, but so far no decision seems to have been reached by the administration.  At that meeting, I also indicated my unwillingness to continue to serve as "acting" director past this current year.  This would not be desirable for the unit, which needs to have a permanent director on board for obvious reasons.  There is only so much an "acting" person can do.  We hope that some resolution will be reached within the next few months.  (see my statement about Director's Search in the 1996-1997 annual report).   
On a more positive note, the Office of Research was able to offer a modest stipend for an Associate Director, effective Oct. 1st, 1998.  This will be of great help to the Center.   

3.  Mission and Direction 

The Center for Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the only research center in the UC system devoted primarily to the study of people of African descent, appears uniquely qualified to enter current intellectual debates about the position and the experience of Blacks in Africa and in the Americas.  The Center's research agenda should aim at unearthing the truths of life as experienced by millions of African, African-Americans and Caribbean Islanders, a reality which remains buried under the misconceptions of public opinion and slanted historical depiction.  
Among other concerns, the Center for Black Studies must fulfill two primary goals.  

(1) First, through its research and its public fora for colloquia, the Center must be a place to generate ideas on the culture, history, politics, economic factors, and educational matters that 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 the 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 with the aim of filling this startling void that a new publishing venture has been proposed by UCSB' s Center for Black Studies (see Publications section). 

Over the past two years, the Center's Advisory Board members have 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 statements 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.   
Furthermore, the dissertation fellowship program has always been 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.  This is another area we feel requires additional documentation (see Publications section). 

New Mission Statement 

The Center's current mission is two-fold: 

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; 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 newly established mission statement.  In the future, we envision that research will be conducted at the Center at two levels: (1) research originating from various faculty and graduate students who wish to have their grants administered by the Center.  (2) research originated by the Center. Different faculty will be encouraged to participate both at the planning stage and at the level of conducting research.  
At the first level, we are glad to report that the Center was able to administer a few small grants during this academic year (see section on Research Highlights).  The Center offered administrative and secretarial support for these grants.  We plan to encourage and support our affiliated faculty to seek more extramural funding in the years to come.  Starting in 1998-1999, efforts will be generated to ensure that faculty systematically seek external funding.  In addition to the generous help she already offers, Dr. Barbara Harthorn, Research Specialist for the Social Sciences, will hold office hours at the Center to assist the faculty in both Black Studies and Chicano Studies in their efforts to pursue extramural funding.  Sylvia Curtis, Librarian, will also hold office hours at the Center over the next year to assist faculty with searches related to grant applications and other research projects.  
At the level of Center-generated research, the Advisory Board’s research/publications sub-committee and the acting director are still defining the specific areas of research.  (Here we are trying to be careful since we would not want our ideas to be in conflict with the vision of an incoming director).  
We have agreed to pursue a project originally proposed by Dr. Charles Long, the former director.  This project --Route of the Salves-- 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.   
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 newly created association for the study of Haitian Vodou, housed at the Center.  Furthermore, Drs. Jacob Olupona, Ines Talamantez and I have submitted a proposal focusing on the larger African Indigenous Religion Project with additional components on Yoruba and Native American religions. 
Among other projects housed at the Center is some 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 lead by Dr. Edward Donnerstein from the Department of Communication.  Dr. Jacqueline Bobo’s expertise in films, communication and gender studies will be a tremendous asset for this project if we decide to pursue it.  Dr. Bobo has accepted the position of Associate Director, effective Oct. 1st, 1998.  Dr. Bobo is already participating in another project, listed in the Publications section, and we believe that her presence and contributions will greatly enhance the Center's research mission.  
I have discussed these projects and plans with a number of 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 will be reflected in the Colloquium series for the current academic year).  We also plan to collaborate 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 the 30-year anniversary of the creation of Black Studies and Chicano Studies at UCSB.  
The goal for the coming years will be to actively develop proposals (1998-1999) and to seek funding (1999-2000)  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 2000/2001.  

Publication -- It has been determined that not only should we work on publishing new research findings, but that we should also actively document research which has already been conducted in the Center over the years.  With this in mind, I have developed a statement to explain our publication goals and objectives, which 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.  I 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).  The Center will thus continue to sponsor its colloquium series and workshops and advertise in local newspapers to ensure wider community participation at its events. 
In 1996-1997, 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, who was appointed as Coordinator of Cultural and Community Affairs for the Center, effective September 1st, 1997 (See Report of Cultural and Community Affairs, Coordinator, Dr. Shirley Kennedy). 
We also plan to establish a presence at the K-12 level in the local schools in the near future.