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Director's Message

Welcome to the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research (CBSR)!  If you’re looking at this page, you’re seeing the new look of our redesigned website.  This website offers an opportunity to explore the vision and projects of the CBSR’s scholars, its publications, and its work in communities locally, nationally, and internationally.

Sharon Tettegah photo

Dr. Sharon Tettegah

The CBSR began in Fall 1969 as a result of student struggles for Black Studies in Fall 1968.  From the onset, the Center’s mission has been to support interdisciplinary research on the social, political, historical, cultural, and economic experiences of communities in the United States and the African Diaspora.

The Center has two primary research initiatives.  Through the Engaged Scholarship initiative, we are developing scholarly epistemologies and methodologies based on a collaborative process of knowledge production among scholars and community members, activists, and artists.  The Haitian Studies initiative has resulted in the CBSR being recognized as one of the most prominent research centers on Haitian Studies in the United States and beyond. 

The Center’s publishing arm produces two journals. The CBSR’s focus on engaged scholarship is exemplified in Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies (George Lipsitz, editor), which connects antisubordination scholarship to the ideas, experiences, archives, and imaginaries of organic intellectuals, activists, and artists from aggrieved communities. The Journal of Haitian Studies (Claudine Michel, editor) is the flagship journal in the field of Haitian Studies and the journal of the Haitian Studies Association.

The CBSR is recognized for its public programming focused on structural racism, especially connecting scholarly knowledge of history, race, and critical studies with social justice issues. In 2016–17, our small research unit organized nineteen CBSR programs, co-curated two art exhibits, and co-sponsored another sixteen events.  As one example, the CBSR developed a symposium and art exhibit on the Revolutionary Art of the Black Panther Party, featuring Panther artists Emory Douglas and Akinsanya Kambon.  This was funded by a grant from the UC Consortium for Black Studies in California. This project extends our examination of the role of art in developing social justice movements and builds on the Center’s previous programs on Panthers and prisons.  We are currently developing a book manuscript that examines the afterlife of the Black Panther Party.

While the CBSR centers issues affecting Black communities, we are never only about Blackness.  Instead, Black studies in California is structured by specific histories that require a relational or comparative approach, framing racial studies in a broader context of systems of oppression impacting multiple groups. As we witness the growth of social movements protesting state violence, unnatural environmental disasters, and racial and gender oppression, the CBSR’s work of critical studies and community engagement takes on a particular urgency.