Wednesday, December 11

UCLA to lead black studies consortium across UC

Researchers in black studies from southern University of California campuses will soon bring together their research on humanities-based topics in a UCLA-led program.

Robin Kelley, a UCLA history professor and director of the newly formed Consortium for Black Studies in California, said the campuses will put on programs as part of the project and share research on black studies. The consortium received a grant on Feb. 9 from the UC for more than $1 million, but its budget is being revised.

The UC awarded the grant to the consortium as part of the Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives competition, which gave $23 million to 18 projects over four years. To qualify for a grant, projects had to involve a collaboration with researchers from at least three UC campuses or two campuses and one UC-managed lab.

Kelley said he chose to apply for the grant because it is made for programs that emphasize collaboration among UC campuses.

“Southern California has a lot of talent in people doing black studies, and we wanted to develop this into one big consortium,” Kelley said.

The consortium will support research in four areas of black studies: black arts, the black pacific, blackness as a problem of thought, and the black body, said Stephanie Batiste, an English and black studies professor at UC Santa Barbara.

“Black studies is global studies,” Kelley said. “The concept of race is a myth. The study of race is the study of all races.”

The consortium would hold one conference a year where faculty would share the research they have done with each other and make connections with other researchers, Batiste said.

Researchers from UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego and UCLA are involved in the consortium, said Dayo F. Gore, a professor of ethnic studies and critical gender studies at UCSD.

Batiste said she got involved with the consortium because it offers funding and opportunities to discuss research in black studies across the UC.

“We have the research base, the intellectual power and scholars doing groundbreaking work that put us on par with these other institutions like Harvard and Duke that are better known in the field of black studies,” Batiste said.

Much of the current research taking place in the UC system takes a humanities-based approach to black studies.

“I studyblack film and theater,” Batiste said. “I look at the ways in which black people have responded to and created notions of nation, national identity and power.”

Gore said the consortium is important because she thinks there is limited institutional support to sustain research in black studies.

For instance, UCSD only has a black studies minor and UCLA is in its first year of an African American studies department, Gore said. UCR has a department of ethnic studies, but does not have a department of black studies.

“Some universities have black studies program, but what the consortium is meant to do is to work across those programs and take advantage of those working in the field of black studies, even when there is no specific black studies program, ” said Frederick Moten, an English professor at UCR.

The consortium will not just focus on research about black studies in the United States, Gore said. It will include not only African American studies, but also African diaspora studies and transnational black studies, Gore said.

There will be a meeting on March 2 to plan out the programming for the next academic year and determine the next steps for the consortium, Kelley said.

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