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Engaged Scholarship Initiatives


Community Alliance for Democratic Education

PIs Esther Lezra, Chela Sandoval, and Diane Fujino received a grant from the UC-wide Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC, 2015–16) to create an interdisciplinary, equity-oriented, race-based collaboration, the Community Alliance for Democratic Education (CADE). This project builds on the CBSR’s ongoing partnerships with two local community organizations fostering educational equality, Dos Pueblos High School’s Committee on Equity and Excellence in Education and La Casa de La Raza, as well as with Students at the Center (SAC) in New Orleans, which works in the few remaining public schools there and uses writing and story-circle learning to foster critical analysis and creative solutions for a city devastated by natural and unnatural disasters.

kalumu ya saalam photoThe CCREC grant will, in part, enable us to bring poet, activist, and teacher Kalamu ya Salaam, who co-directs SAC, to Santa Barbara for a series of lectures and meetings with the CBSR and our community partners. This project builds on the CBSR’s work in the local schools this past year to promote educational equity by, among other endeavors, supporting the Dons Net Café’s student-run social entrepreneurial projects at Santa Barbara High School and serving as facilitators with Just Communities to foster dialogues about racism and other social issues. Together, we seek to understand and illuminate the models of social movement organizing that foster the participation of parents, students, teachers, and community members as agents of change; that cultivate the leadership of those most affected by educational inequities; and that develop new democratic programs to transform the educational experiences and lives of students, families, and teachers.

Transformative Pedagogy Project

We developed the Transformative Pedagogy Project (TPP) as an experimental method for enhancing democratic participation and active learning around critical race issues. From January to June 2015, the TPP met every Friday morning to discuss a key reading on the history of Black freedom struggles, critical pedagogy, and current social issues through a story-circle learning format. We deployed dialogue in a more deliberate way that built on Chela Sandoval’s pedagogical work, the subject of her current book project, and on the inspiring learning and writings of Students at the Center in New Orleans. We “learn to listen and listen to learn” in order to develop a critical analysis combined with compassionate listening and to recognize the power in witnessing or reflecting on the impact of the spoken word. The project, initiated by CBSR director Diane Fujino in collaboration with faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and a good number of undergraduate students, kept growing in unexpected ways, with a new student joining us nearly every week. The work also inspired a collaboration with Freedom4Youth and its co-founder and director Billi Jo Starr to begin story-circle dialogues at the Los Prietos Boys Camp, located in the Los Padres National Forest and under jurisdiction of the Santa Barbara County Probation Department. Coordinated by Dr. Teishan Latner of the CBSR and with Freedom4Youth and TPP student mentors, the CBSR implemented a five-session pilot program of a Chicano-Black studies curriculum, which we plan to extend in the upcoming year.

Professors Diane Fujino and Esther Lezra and doctoral student Jonathan Gomez also made a presentation on the TPP’s pedagogical methodology at a meeting of the Dos Pueblos High School’s Committee on Equity and Excellence in Education.

Social Movement Organizing Collaborations

PIs Diane Fujino, Chris McAuley, and Natalia Molina were awarded a grant from the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC, 2014–15) to fund “New Politics and New Polities: Equity-Oriented, Race-Conscious Social Movement Mobilization in California Communities.” This engaged scholarship project initiated a dialogue among social justice organizers, scholars, and students about theories and strategies, structural and personal obstacles, and leadership models that guide social movement organizing under conditions of racial neoliberalism. Toward this end, we developed a two-day Symposium consisting of a public panel, dinner and discussion, and a day-long closed-door meeting held May 8–9 at UCSB’s MultiCultural Center. The Symposium featured six community partners: the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) of Los Angeles, working to empower community advocates to eliminate race, class, and gender barriers around issues of violence and homelessness; the Environmental Health Coalition of San Diego, seeking environmental and social justice by empowered communities acting together to make social change; the Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA) of Oakland, developing the collective leadership of low-income immigrant women and youth to organize for positive changes in their living and working conditions; The Committee of Los Angeles, addressing issues of severe abuse within social movements through an Afrikan People’s Liberation Tribunal; PODER (People Organized for the Defense & Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth), which won the first successful court case against a gang injunction; and United Parents/Padres Unidos of Santa Barbara, empowering predominantly Spanish-speaking, working-class parents to advocate for equity in education. Through the Symposium, we developed a space for an intergenerational discussion and the development of knowledge on social movements and community organizing among activists, scholars, and students—not in unilateral, but rather multidirectional and spiraling ways. The process of the Symposium was one of mutual respect, active listening, and a desire to learn from one another in ways that reflect our commitment to the “situated knowledges” that are interwoven in historical and social life rather than abstracted from it, and that generate theory through praxis by scholars and activists.

PI George Lipsitz was awarded a grant from the UC Center for New Racial Studies to organize and edit a special issue of the journal Kalfou on improvisation and social movement mobilization. This issue will explore the ways in which race-based but not race-bound social movement organizations in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Oakland are using improvisation to deepen the capacity for democracy in urban areas.

Art and Social Transformation

Improvisation and Social Movements. PI George Lipsitz was awarded a grant from the UC Center for New Racial Studies to organize and edit a special issue of the journal Kalfou on improvisation and social movement mobilization. This issue will explore the ways in which race-based but not race-bound social movement organizations in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Oakland are using improvisation to deepen the capacity for democracy in urban areas.

Fandango, Music, and Community Making. PI Gaye Johnson received a grant from the University of California Humanities Research Institute to fund a public humanities collaborative research project, “Afro-Mexican and Afro-American Encounters: Creating a Space of Convivencia in a Hollowed Out World” that brought together scholars, performers and community leaders to explore how the revival of Mexico’s most African-based music—son jarocho—serves as a register of the intertwined histories of Blacks and Chicana/os in California and signals the possibility of forging new relations between members of these groups. Framed by the arguments Johnson advanced in Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles about the ways in which shared sounds have helped Blacks and Mexicans in the United States find common ground, the CBSR staged a community son jarocho performance featuring the Grammy award–winning band Quetzal and, in the fandango tradition, engaged in participatory music making among participants of different races, classes, citizenship statuses, and levels of musical ability. The concert was held at La Casa de la Raza on February 26, 2015. The next day, the CBSR hosted an academic panel in which musicians Dr. Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores, scholar Ana Rosas, and CBSR Advisory Committee faculty Gaye Johnson and George Lipsitz spoke about the ways in which the convivencia (a deliberate act of convening outside of commercial culture) of fandango can help us better understand both the forces that divide Black and Brown people in California and those that unite them, as well as how the occluded history of Black-Brown coalition and collaboration can inform our shared civic and social life in the years ahead. At the CSBR, we recognize son jarocho music, convivencia, and fandango gatherings as, in part, expressions of an Afro-diasporic tradition of community-based art making and art-based community making.

International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation. The CBSR was appointed executive partner of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) in Guelph, Canada, becoming the only US executive partner of this previously all-Canadian project. The IICSI has been very successful in securing funding from Canadian research foundations and we expect that this partnership will help to position us to secure similar support from US funders to build our engaged scholarship initiative.

The Black Panther Party and Revolutionary Art. On behalf of the CBSR, professors Felice Blake and Diane Fujino were awarded a $5,000 Public Events Curatorial Grant from the UC Consortium for Black Studies in California for a multi-component symposium on the Black Panther Party (BPP) and art activism. The symposium, held in November 2016, featured Emory Douglas, revolutionary artist and the former Minister of Culture of the BPP, and Akinsanya Kambon, pan-Africanist artist and author of the Black Panther Coloring Book. In collaboration with the UCSB MultiCultural Center, which hosted the event, the CBSR developed a quarter-long art exhibit, “50 Years Strong and Counting: The Revolutionary Art of the Black Panther Party,” that showcased Douglas’s graphic prints and Kambon’s drawings, watercolors, and paintings. The two Panther artists delivered the CBSR’s 2016–17 Clyde Woods Memorial Lecture, “Revolutionary Art and Black Liberation: The Black Panther Party to Black Lives Matter and Beyond.” As part of our pedagogical research in dialogic learning and our commitment to community collaborations, we also organized an “Intergenerational Dialogue,” held at and in partnership with La Casa de la Raza in Santa Barbara, as a community discussion promoting youth voices and youth leadership in collaboration with various generations of those in struggle for social justice.

Black Freedom Struggles

In preparation for the CBSR’s fiftieth anniversary in Fall 2018, we are developing a workshop series on “Transformational Scholarship, Freedom Dreams, and Future of Black Studies,” funded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research, that enables us to develop small-group discussions, public talks, meetings with graduate and undergraduate students, and book readings to foster critical and creative thinking about the future of Black studies as a field and to facilitate dialogue about Black studies on the campus. In early January 2017, we hosted a discussion-based gathering to meet with Professor Tricia Rose, of Brown University, who discussed ideas about program building and intellectual projects in support of transformative scholarship based on her experiences as Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives as well as her innovative work as a scholar of Black culture, popular music, social issues, and gender and sexuality. In late January 2017, Robin Kelley of UCLA opened up the discussion to a historical and structural analysis of current social problems; he emphasized the importance of knowing what we want to do at the university while being aware of its constraints and possibilities, and explored ways to develop the work of public intellectuals. Both were planned as small-group discussions to facilitate dialogic thinking and engagement among CBSR and Black Studies scholars on campus. Appreciation to the Workshop Committee: Felice Blake, Eileen Boris, Victor Rios, Vilna Bashi Treitler, and Diane Fujino, chair. Given the Center’s overflowing Spring schedule, we decided to continue the workshop series in 2017–18.

For 2017–18, we are developing a series of programs on the Black Radical Tradition. First, we will host a year-long reading group to discuss: (a) former CBSR director Cedric Robinson’s magnum opus, Black Marxism; (b) two books that came out this year by Clyde Woods, also a former CBSR director: Development Arrested (reissued with an introduction by Ruthie Gilmore) and Development Drowned and Reborn (edited by Jordan Camp and Laura Pulido); and (c) Gaye Johnson and Alex Lubin’s new edited volume, Future of Black Radicalism. Second, we plan for public programs and small-group discussion with these authors and UCSB scholars on the history of Black radicalism and possibilities for the future development of Black Studies.

West African Solar Energy Project

CBSR postdoctoral scholar Dena Montague partnered with the UCSB Black Engineering Society and EnergieRich in Burkina Faso, West Africa, to develop a sustainable energy project that also bridges the social sciences, humanities, and STEM fields in the areas of Black studies and engineering. The project is designing solar-powered poultry egg incubators to enable sustainable local economic development in Burkina Faso. The idea is to develop technology that is transferrable to local communities, empowering them to build their own solar-powered units. Students from UCSB’s National Society of Black Engineers, Ugo Nze, Antonia Sowunmi, David Chau, Karlon Johnson and Ricardo Vidrio, and former student Erica Johnson worked on the project over the past year.

Community and Academic Partners

International Partners

  • Haitian Studies Association
  • Bibliothèque du Soleil/ Haiti Soleil (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
  • International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (Guelph, Canada)
  • Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh (UK)
  • ÉnergieRich (Burkina Faso, West Africa)

National Partners

  • Students At The Center, New Orleans
  • Temple University Press
  • Edwidge Danticat Society

Statewide Partners

  • UC Consortium for Black Studies in California
  • Los Angeles Community Action Network
  • Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC)
  • Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA)

Local Community Partners

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Committee
  • La Casa de la Raza
  • Freedom4Youth
  • Ethnic Studies Now! Coalition of Santa Barbara

On-Campus Partners

  • Department of Black Studies
  • Black Graduate Student Association
  • Black Student Union
  • Black Student Engagement Program
  • Black Resource Committee
  • Division of Student Affairs
  • MultiCultural Center
  • ISBER
  • Chicano Studies Institute
Institutional Supporters:
  • Office of the Associate Vice-Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Academic Policy
  • Office of Equal Opportunity
  • Dean of Social Sciences
  • Executive Vice-Chancellor