Five Questions for UCHRI Grantees: Jonathan Caravello and Sherri Lynn Conklin

Published on October 19, 2016


Now that UCHRI’s calls for applications are open for the 2017-18 academic year, we are profiling previous grantees by asking them five questions about their experience, including any advice they have for potential applicants. This week we are speaking with Jonathan Caravello and Sherri Lynn Conklin, recipients of a 2015-16 Graduate Student Working Group grant to explore inclusive pedagogy in philosophy. 

What appealed to you about the Graduate Student Working Group grant and why did you apply?

In philosophy, women hold less than 25% of tenure track positions, and people of color hold less than 1%. This lack of diversity is comparable only to STEM fields, such as physics and engineering, and is a detriment to the growth of the discipline as perspectives of women and minority philosophers are filtered out.

To combat inequality in philosophy, our working group sought to further the work of organizations like Minorities and Philosophy [MAP], which “aims to examine and address issues of minority participation in academic philosophy.” In 2014-2015, a year before we received the UCHRI grant, five chapters of MAP in Southern California [USC, UCLA, UCR, UCI, UCSB] initiated a year-long regional collaboration on the topic of Philosophy and Inclusive Pedagogy, which culminated in a well-attended conference at UC Irvine in Spring 2015.

The UCHRI Multi-Campus Graduate Working Group Award perfectly provided multi-level support for this developing project. First, the funding supported genuine collaboration between multiple graduate student researchers across several campuses. Second, the grant provided enough flexibility for individuals at each research site to work on a common theme while maintaining focus on their own projects. Third, in addition to research, the grant supported the kind of implementation, outreach, and points of collaboration that is critical to addressing underrepresentation in philosophy.

Can you discuss the process of developing your working group (e.g., how did you prepare, what did you hope to learn, how often did you meet)?

In addition to monthly Skype meetings, working group members communicated frequently in person and via email. We also met three times for face-to-face meetings. With four of the five working group members currently advancing to candidacy, we all faced significant time burdens; however, there were many opportunities for formal and informal collaboration throughout the year.


All photos used with permission of Michael Nekrasov

What is exciting about working in this group is that members have different methods for addressing the problem of Inclusive Pedagogy in Philosophy. Some of us are taking very theoretical approaches to systemic issues in the discipline and others are developing pedagogical tools to be used in the classroom.

Throughout the course of the working group, what stands out to you as the most beneficial element?

By far the most beneficial aspect of the working group is that it gave us the opportunity to interact with our peers at different UC campuses. As a graduate students, we are told that we ought to narrow our the focus of our studies to a manageable size. But writing a dissertation (not to mention teaching) still makes it difficult to grasp the big picture. Collaborating with peers has helped to connect what we’re doing individually to a larger whole. All of a sudden there is an outlet for the big ideas that we all hope to address but that do not quite fit within the sharpened focus of our dissertations.

What do you wish you had known before starting the grant, and is there anything you would have done differently?

It can be extremely hard to work on long-distance projects with many people. Projects like this require a lot of attention to make sure they are successful, and sometimes the working group took second to our responsibilities as graduate students. However, we have had a huge number of valuable successes, and some of us are already sending out workshops for presentation and papers for publication on topics surrounding equity in philosophy.

What advice do you have for applicants and recipients of the Graduate Student Working Group grant?

Projects like this are necessarily experimental, so please keep in mind that there will be successes and failures. The working group will be successful as long as you have made inroads into achieving your goal. And if at any time you feel like you could use more support, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  

Categories: Blog |

Five Questions with UCHRI Grantees: Imani Kai Johnson

Published on October 12, 2016

Now that UCHRI’s calls for applications are open for the 2017-18 academic year, we are profiling previous grantees by asking them five questions about their experience, including any advice they have for potential applicants. This week we are speaking with Imani Kai Johnson, Assistant Professor of dance at UC Riverside, who received a 2015-16 conference grant for the Show & Prove 2016 Hip Hop Studies Conference.

What appealed to you about the conference grant and why did you apply?

I was excited to see that UCHRI’s conference grant offered institutional support for fledgling conferences.  I applied because I believe the work of the conference that I organized—the “Show & Prove 2016 Hip Hop Studies Conference”—spoke to the award’s interest in events that work across communities and campuses, and are free and open to the public.  These stipulations in particular further demonstrate the grant’s intentions to build with local communities, which made this grant all the more enticing.


Facebook banner for the 2016 Show & Prove conference.

Can you discuss the process of planning and implementing the grant (e.g., how did you prepare, what did you hope to learn, how did you incorporate graduate students)?

Knowing that the bulk of my funding was secured more than a year in advance made the process of organizing Show & Prove 2016 exciting and busy, precisely because we had time and the resources to implement a bigger vision.

From the earliest stages, the UCHRI grant has afforded me unexpected benefits.  The grant application required that I thoroughly represent the conference and account for its history and place within the context of the field.  It also meant being open about my vision for the conference this year and in the future.  As a result, I produced a document with a usefulness that far exceeds the application itself. 

With additional funding for graduate student assistance, we brainstormed incredible programming ideas, ensuring that the interests of graduate students were met broadly.  Graduate students volunteered at the conference, presented new material, and took part in the numerous workshops and master classes. 

My plans for the conference included supporting the attendance of various international and undergraduate presenters who came to the conference.  The grant was indispensable to ensuring that those extra expenses did not prevent us from following through on all of our other plans.  Overall, the conference was a wonderful success. 

From the initial planning phase through the end of the grant period, what stands out to you as the most beneficial element?

Through honoraria and other forms of assistance, Show & Prove 2016 was able to contribute to the attendance and participation of multiple artists, graduate and undergraduate students, and international scholars.  The UCHRI grant made this possible, and its benefits are numerous.  First, it created an environment wherein those who put in the greatest effort to participate—traveling thousands of miles or taking the steps to attend their first academic conference—where able to do so more comfortably. Secondly, by providing some support, it maximized the conference’s diversity.  Finally, it ensured that we could demonstrate community building in practice by supporting the least financially able among us, which is at the core of the conference’s goals.

What do you wish you had known before starting the grant, and is there anything you would have done differently?

I found out about the grant only two days before its due date(!), and submitted a subpar initial application as a result.  Luckily and thankfully, they gave me a second chance to submit something more significant and of greater substance.  In the future, I would start the application early and look out for the deadline sooner!

What advice do you have for applicants and recipients of the conference grant?

Start you application early.  Be open about your vision and the possibilities of the conference you’re planning.  Take advantage of the opportunities afforded by UCHRI grants. 

Categories: Blog |

Five Questions for UCHRI Grantees: Jessica Schwartz

Published on October 5, 2016



Now that UCHRI’s calls for applications are open for the 2017-18 academic year, we are profiling previous grantees by asking them five questions about their experience, including any advice they have for potential applicants. This week we are speaking with Jessica Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Musicology at UCLA, who received a 2015-16 Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop grant to prepare her manuscript for publication.

What appealed to you about the Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop grant and why did you apply?

I applied to the UCHRI Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop grant for three main reasons.

First, after receiving the readers’ reports from my editor and revising my manuscript, I felt the project would benefit from critical, collaborative discussion among scholars from diverse fields, and ultimately, their insights would offer new perspectives and help me assess the success of my revision goals. I have learned from workshops, conferences, and invited lectures that collaborative commentary and discussion is one of the most productive ways to begin revisions, from refining small points to unpacking larger claims. I believe strongly that critical attention to my work helps me focus my arguments and broadens perspective. Talking with exceptionally insightful scholars pushes me to think beyond the limits of what is on the page.

Second, my project, Radiation Sounds: Marshallese Music and Nuclear Silences, is highly interdisciplinary. To analyze the ways in which Marshallese musical material, sound, and performance share and shape our global nuclear legacy, I draw from scholarly work in fields such as anthropology, rhetoric, indigenous and Pacific studies, American studies, and women and gender studies. Bringing together six scholars from different disciplines—primarily fields that are not my “home” (musicology)—seemed crucial in preparing a cogent thesis and supporting interpretations with a depth that speaks meaningfully to music scholars (e.g., musicologists, ethnomusicologists) and scholars with whom my work intellectually dialogues.

Third, I wanted more feedback about my revised manuscript prior to the post-contract submission to my publisher, and six more critiques of my work would help me assess whether and in which ways I had met or fallen short of my revision goals. The two anonymous readers’ reports, my editor’s insights, and comments by dedicated friends and colleagues were instrumental in terms of specific chapters and revisions, but it has been difficult during the ever-busy academic year to read the entire manuscript myself more than a few times, much less expect six scholars in several disciplines to provide a critique in their “spare time.” I was excited to be able to offer the participants an honorarium, which allowed me to request a definite date by which their reading would be completed.

Can you discuss the process of developing and offering your workshop (e.g., how did you prepare, what did you hope to learn, how was your workshop organized)?

The UCHRI Junior Faculty Workshop application stressed that the majority of participants should be UC Faculty and one or two could be from outside universities. I was having a difficult time narrowing my lists down, so I wrote to Juliet Williams, UCLA’s representative on the UCHRI Advisory Committee. We met and discussed my application and rationale for applying. She read through my project and pointed me in the direction of four other faculty from whose work she felt mine would benefit. Instead of narrowing the list, the list was actually expanded, but I had a better sense of the workshop. I went back over the readers’ reports and matched the scholars that I felt would contribute the most in helping work through reader comments and my plans to revise the manuscript.   

In terms of preparation—after the scholars agreed to participate in the workshop and we found a convenient time for us all to meet, I sent a preliminary schedule. Without templates, I structured how I would lead the workshop and made my own handouts.

From the initial planning phase through the end of the workshop, what stands out to you as the most beneficial element?

The actual workshop was very challenging, and I am still processing the group and individual comments as I work through the larger-scale revisions in preparation for publication.  The direction I received was incredible, and I learned a great deal about setting goals and creating an environment where those goals can be met. Two aspects of the workshop from which I continue to benefit are having to distill my arguments and articulate my work to expert scholars in advance of the actual publication and hearing/receiving their honest feedback, both during and after the workshop.

What do you wish you had known before starting the grant, and is there anything you would have done differently?

I realized that I would have benefitted from more one-on-one time with the expert scholars. I did have a two-day workshop, but I would organize it differently. After the opening presentation of my work in front of all of the expert scholars, I would give participants the opportunity to comment on the project based on the feedback sheet I circulated in advance. This would last four hours and would be followed by a group dinner. The following day, I would meet with scholars individually for one hour each to make sure I understood their questions, comments, and advice.

What advice do you have for applicants and recipients of the Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop grant?

This is a wonderful opportunity. For applicants, I would stress that you present a very strong rationale based on the work you have already done. Having concrete reasons why your project would benefit from this workshop will also strengthen the application. For grant recipients, I would advise that you begin thinking about the organization and timeline of the actual event early in your planning process. As I stated above, I realized that instead of having a group for both days, I would have benefitted from some individual meetings as well. I imagine that is not true for everyone, and it helps to imagine the scenario far in advance. Also, consider whether you want to give your expert scholars reading or review guidelines. If so, think about how far in advance you would like to share your guidelines and the way in which these guidelines relate to your workshop goals. Trying to envision how to meet your goals for manuscript revisions is important. Overall, learning how to articulate your project goals and findings beyond the elevator speech, abstract, and job talk to actual scholars that are present only to help you is difficult, exhilarating, energizing, exhausting, and—most importantly—amazingly worthwhile.

I want to extend my sincerest appreciation to UCHRI and my expert scholars for this amazing experience as I finish up my manuscript revisions. Thank you!


Categories: Blog |

UC Irvine Receives $1.5 Million Grant for UCHRI to Examine Humanistic Inquiry and its Institutional Infrastructures

Published on July 11, 2016

HoH_ImageThe three-year initiative will examine implications for the humanities as distinctions between animals, humans, and technology are increasingly blurred. 


Press Release

The University of California, Irvine has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a 3.5-year UC Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) initiative, Infrastructure and its Inquiries: Horizons of the Humanities.

“We are thrilled to be supported by the Mellon Foundation on this ambitious program,” states UCHRI director David Theo Goldberg. “Horizons of the Humanities will engage faculty and graduate students throughout the UC system, nationally, and globally in an innovative series of projects and partnerships that will apply experimental humanistic inquiry to a range of contemporary topics. Hats off to the Mellon Foundation for continuing to support innovation in the humanities.”

Horizons of the Humanities seeks to analyze changes in technology, society, and higher education in a way that challenges traditional humanistic inquiry. “Traditionally, humanists have used a (self-)critical lens to comprehend and evaluate artifacts of human expression,” maintains Goldberg. “Today, however, lines are blurred between humans and technology, between knowledge and data production, and between discrete disciplines and methodologies.”

To analyze these changes, humanities faculty and graduate students throughout the University of California will partner with media and technology professionals, prominent national and international scholars, and other key stakeholders to experiment with the following four interrelated themes:

Techno-Humanities: Life at the Interface. An examination of the ways in which digital technology, including algorithmic logic, is contesting our understanding of what makes us human and how humanity itself embodies disparate forms across public, private, and digital interfaces.

On Social Heterogeneity. An inquiry into the challenges and opportunities of supercharged ethnoracial, cultural, religious, and political heterogeneities as a result of hyper-mobilities, and the pressing consequences raised for sociality, democracy, political engagement, and knowledge production.

The University and its Futures. A call to consider and advance the role of postsecondary humanistic learning in the face of these socio-technological changes, with the recognition that these developments cannot be addressed through one single knowledge discipline (however broadly defined).

Research Infrastructure for the Humanities. An analysis of the manner in which interdisciplinary humanities centers can foster the type of innovative, experimental research necessary to address these kinds of challenges, and the infrastructure required to do so.

In addition to evaluating these key themes, the initiative features exploratory research models that aim to cultivate collaboration within and outside the humanities conventionally defined. These models support in-person and digital engagement and include humanities studios, research residencies, mobile researcher networking events and graduate student seminars, non-traditional postdoctoral fellows, and a variety of public engagements and partnerships. “In many ways, the interdisciplinary research models we are developing are as critical to Horizons of the Humanities as the themes they investigate,” notes UCHRI assistant director Kelly Brown. “Both reflect the initiative’s eye toward the experimentation and innovation necessary to conduct contemporary humanities research.”      

Media Contact

Beth Greene, (949) 824-4858,

About the University of California Humanities Research Institute

Based at the University of California, Irvine, UCHRI supports innovative, collaborative, interdisciplinary research and pedagogy across the University of California system and within the larger communities these campuses inhabit. UCHRI bridges gaps between disciplines across the humanities and human sciences and seeks to overcome the intellectual and institutional barriers that can separate the humanities from other fields. Recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership, UCHRI also directs its own robust initiatives, which aim to critically evaluate pressing issues for the future of higher education and the humanities.

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at

Categories: Blog |

Critical Refugee Studies Interdisciplinary Bibliography (Part II)

Published on June 13, 2016

This post is part of a two-part interdisciplinary bibliography of critical refugee studies. Click here to read the first part of this post.

Nigel Hatton
Humanities World Cultures | UC Merced

Nigel Hatton is an assistant professor of literature and philosophy at the University of California, Merced. He has published articles on the writing of Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ivan Klima and others. Courses taught include Literature & Philosophy, Human Rights & Literature, Modernity, Cosmopolitanisms, Kierkegaard and the Human Condition, and African-American Lifeworlds, Global Thinking & Human Rights. He has been a visiting scholar at the Du Bois Institute, the International Criminal Court, the American Academy in Rome, and The George Brandes School. His current book project comparatively traces the narrative arc of justice in human rights discourses and literary texts.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees. “Refugee Stories.” Accessed on May 26, 2016.

Stories, telling them, hearing them, sharing them, are fundamental to human existence. Stories also play a central role in every aspect of human rights, humanitarianism, and pursuits of justice and peace. Curiously, those of us who study narrative or stories are left out of discussions in which stories are the central unit or metaphor of action when engaging in human rights practice, scholarship or teaching. Lawyers tell stories, anthropologists ask for stories, sociologists structure stories, scientists create stories, yet their contributions often take the concept of story for granted.  UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has collected the unedited stories of refugees from around the world and placed them on a website designed to elicit sympathy from viewers/readers and compel them to support UNHCR’s valiant mission. These are stories told by brave human beings who have found themselves in difficult predicaments. But their stories, as presented here, are unlikely to have impact that resists the phobic West-centered late capitalist patriarchal racist sexist ableist frame of the world. Anyone who writes, tells, or studies stories for a living knows this and can posit ways out of the predicament.

Lila Sharif
Asian American Studies | U of I Urbana-Champaign 

Lila Sharif earned a dual Ph.D. in Sociology and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego in 2014. She is currently a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is completing a book manuscript entitled “Consuming Indigeneity in the 21st Century” (tentative title). Using the olive as an optic, Dr. Sharif’s research analyzes the point of convergence between transnational settler-colonialism and neoliberal capitalism. She traces the olive from the moment it is picked by farmers in the West Bank, to their circulation and consumption in the United States by renowned brands like Dr. Bronner. She asks: How is Palestine made palatable to Western consumers and what is masked/revealed in this process? Dr. Sharif is the first  Palestinian American to earn a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies. She will be joining the faculty of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in Fall 2016.

Shehadeh, Raja. Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape.  New York: Scribner, 2008.

Enloe, Cynthia. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2014.

El-Haddad, Laila, and Maggie Schmitt. The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey. Charlottesville, VA: Just World Books: 2012.

What happens when indigenous and militarized spaces become consumed transnationally through fair trade, organic, and other alternative food movement circuits? What are the impacts of these evolving consumption practices on native producers and consumers, and how can this contribute to what we know about the processes of settler-colonialism? In my work, I use the olive as an optic to analyze the production, circulation, and consumption of Palestinian olive oils  from the West Bank that are marketed to Western consumers.

Inspired by indigenous feminisms, food and consumption studies, and contemporary works on militarization, I introduce “Vanishment” as a poetic and epistemological concept that links neoliberal capitalism with settler colonialism through a transnational framework. I first came to the term Vanishment after reading Palestinian Walks, in which Palestinian author and human rights lawyer Raja Shehadeh treks through Palestine, watching the landscape before him shrink. Building on  his concept of a “vanishing landscape”t, my book project offers Vanishment to name the simultaneity of disappearing lands and the assumed integration of indigeneity into global markets. Cynthia Enloe’s chapter “Going Bananas! Where Are Women in the International Politics of Bananas?” in Bananas, Beaches and Bases has allowed me to link the gendered process of militarization as they relate to the production and consumption of the racialized commodity-the banana- linking its emergent popularity to the increasing stretch of U.S. empire. Expanding on this linkage between food, militarization and settler-colonialism, I also show that food sites are active sites of memory making for displaced Palestinians. This multi-sited, interdisciplinary work remaps Palestine through narratives around the Palestinian olive tree, fruit and harvest that trouble the assumed completion of Vanishment.

Khatharya Um
Ethnic Studies | UC Berkeley 

Khatharya Um is Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies/ Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program, and Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of From the Land of Shadows: War, Revolution and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora (NYU, 2015) and co-editor of Southeast Asian Migration:  People on the Move In Search of Work, Refuge, and Belonging (Sussex, 2015).  She has also written widely on Southeast Asian politics and society and on critical issues facing Southeast Asian refugees in the diaspora, including on issues of education access, health, language politics, and equity and inclusion. Her research interests center on global refugees, diasporas, colonial and postcolonial imaginary, and the politics of memory and memorialization. Her current project interrogates the concept of liminality within the frame of critical refugee studies.

Panh, Rithy. The Elimination. New York: Other Press, 2013.

“I don’t like the overused word ‘trauma.’ Today, every individual has its trauma, whether large or small.  In my case, it manifests itself as unending desolation; as ineradicable images, gestures no longer possible, silences that pursue me…What wounds me has no name.”

My work interrogates the pathology of power and its impact on individuals and social systems.  It addresses and moves beyond the question of what produces mass violence to illuminate the struggle of individuals and communities to make meaning of and move through historical injuries. It engages with issues of accountability and transitional justice, the politics of memory, and the daily acts of resistance and repair through interdisciplinary, transgenerational  and trans-geopolitcal lenses, spanning Southeast Asia and  the Cambodian diaspora.

Ma Vang
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies | UC Merced

Ma Vang is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Merced. She is the author of “The Refugee Soldier: A Critique of Recognition and Citizenship in the Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 1977” published in the special issue on Southeast Asian American Studies for positions: asia critique 20.3. She is a co-editor of Claiming Place: On the Agency of Hmong Women (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). This collection will be the first of its kind to provide a critical Hmong studies lens to intersections of race, gender, class, nation, displacement, and citizenship contributing to the burgeoning field of critical refugee studies. Her current research focuses on the historiography of the Cold War and Vietnam War with an emphasis on the United States’ “secret war” in Laos and on the Hmong public engagements with the representational absence of their involvement in this history.

Weld, Kirstin. Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.

“The Hmongstory 40 Project.” Accessed on May 26, 2016.

The first source is a book on the archive as a tool used by the state to impose violence, but which can be utilized by people to work toward social change and justice. This book informs my research on the “secret war” in Laos and how secrecy produces absence but also opens up possibilities for alternative stories of a conflict that was kept secret from the American public, and which produced the displacement of Hmong, Lao, and other refugees.The second source is a community-led project in California’s Central Valley to commemorate 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War/”secret war” by documenting and telling Hmong stories of life in Laos, during the war, migration, and life in the United States. The stories, photographs, and artifacts are presented in an exhibit that first opened in Fresno, will open in Merced in May 2016, and will conclude in Sacramento in fall 2016. This project and its exhibit exemplifies my research about how Hmong publicly engage with this part of their history and U.S. history that has been kept secret.

Categories: Blog |

In Memoriam: Cedric Robinson (1940-2016)

Published on June 7, 2016

Dr. Cedric Robinson, Professor Emeritus of Black Studies and Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed away this week. According to UCHRI Director David Theo Goldberg, “Cedric Robinson was a member of UCHRI’s residential research group on ‘Minority Discourses’ in 1991-2. His engagement with the group touched all, and marked their work and well beyond then and since in ways large, small, and enduring. A beacon to us all, we miss him deeply.”

Below is a photograph of UCHRI’s Minority Discourses Residential Research Group (Dr. Robinson is standing, fourth from the right): 

new doc 5_1

Categories: Blog |

Critical Refugee Studies Interdisciplinary Bibliography (Part I)

Published on June 3, 2016

Residential Research Groups (RRGs) are the longest-standing grant program at UCHRI, and these groups remain the cornerstone of our grantmaking activities. RRGs are in essence teams of researchers—often unknown to one another before residency—who convene at UCHRI for one quarter to accomplish a commonly-defined research agenda. In Spring 2016, UCHRI hosted a residential research group that focused on the emergent scholarship surrounding critical refugee studies. Composed of faculty, graduate students, and scholars from throughout the UC system, this RRG sought to chart the space as “an interdisciplinary field that re-conceptualizes the refugee not as an object of rescue but as a site of social and political critiques, whose emergence when traced, would make visible the processes of colonization, war, and displacement.” Traditionally, collaboration in RRGs may take many forms. Cooperation across disciplines elicits challenges of language, terminology, and methodology for all RRGs. The organizing premise of the residential research program is that when those challenges are surmounted, breakthroughs in knowledge are possible. To represent this interdisciplinary knowledge sharing, we have asked the RRG to craft an interdisciplinary bibliography that represents each individual member’s research and perspective on critical refugee studies. Taken separately, these materials represent key materials selected by scholars of an emerging field of study; when combined, the sources highlight the rich landscape of critical refugee studies and its potential to transform scholarship.

 Lan_Duong_SQUARE_web Lan Duong (Co-Convener)
Media and Cultural Stuies | UC Riverside

Lan Duong is Associate Professor in the Media and Cultural Studies Department at UC Riverside.She is the author of Treacherous Subjects: Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism (Temple University Press, 2012). Dr. Duong’s second book project, Transnational Vietnamese Cinemas: Imagining Nationhood in a Globalized Era, examines Vietnamese cinema from its inception to the present day. She is also a poet and has been published in Watermark, Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Poetry, Tilting the Continent, and Crab Orchard Review.

Shire, Warsan. “Home.” SeekersHub, September 2, 2015. Accessed on May 26, 2016.

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet hot blood in your belly

My work animates the little known historical and political relations between Viet Nam, France, and Syria to place in relief the conditions that drive refugees to leave their homes and homelands. At heart, the project seeks to articulate how, in the words of Kenyan-born Somali poet, Warsan Shire, “home is the mouth of a shark.” In my writing, I examine the legacies of colonialism, wages of war, and systems of oppression that have compelled many to “run for the border” with “fire under feet.” In so doing, my work critiques dominant media, which often portray refugees as desperate asylum seekers needing humanitarian assistance. As a way to counter such imagery, the project asks, what does the art and literature of refugees look like?


Yen Le Espiritu (Co-Convener)
Ethnic Studies | UC San Diego

Originally from Vietnam, Yen Le Espiritu is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. An award winning author, she has published widely on Asian American panethnicity, gender and migration, and U.S. colonialism and wars in Asia. Her most recent book is Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es) (University of California Press, 2014). Her current project examines the Vietnamese refugees’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis for what it might tell us about the (im)possibilities of solidarity among refugees from the global South.

Setsu Shigematsu and Keith L. Camacho, editors. Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

This edited collection analyzes militarization as an extension of colonialism from the late twentieth century to the twenty-first century in Asia and the Pacific. Two arguments from the collection have influenced my writing on the Vietnam War and Vietnamese refugees: 1) how colonial histories constitute the conditions of possibility for ongoing forms of militarization; and 2) how U.S. wars in Asia and the Pacific have been key in structuring the displacements, dispersions and migrations of refugees to the United States and elsewhere. I thus situate my discussion of Vietnamese refuge(es) within the long, long duree of U.S. colonial expansion and war making in Asia.


Mohamed Abumaye
Ethnic Studies | UC San Diego

Mohamed Abumaye is a PhD Candidate in the department of Ethnic Studies at UCSD. His work centers on the intersections between military and police violence. He investigates the San Diego police department’s unit of counter-terrorism and U.S. military drone attacks in Somalia as the transnational circuits of violence that shape somali refugee flight. What distinguishes his project from other works on police is that he focuses on the militarized aspects of policing, and does so with an emphasis on the refugee.

Hall, Stuart. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. London: Macmillan, 1978.

This book details how the British state utilizes discourses of anti-blackness to buttress police power and police violence against black communities. This work has been influential in providing me a lens to analyze how the San Diego police department deploys anti-blackness and islamophobia as a way to target Somalis refugees and legitimize violence against Somalis.


Victor Bascara
Asian American Studies | UC Los Angeles

Victor Bascara is associate professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at UCLA. He is the author of Model Minority Imperialism, and he recently co-edited two journal issues: (with Lisa Nakamura) a special issue of Amerasia Journal (2014) on “Asian American Cultural Politics Across Platforms,” and (with Keith Camacho and Elizabeth DeLoughrey) a special issue of Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (2015) on “Gender and Sexual Politics of Pacific Island Militarisation.” His writings have recently appeared in such journals as the Asian American Law Journal (2014), American Literary History (2015), and GLQ (2015), and such collections as The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent (2014, ed. P. Chatterjee and S. Maira), Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media (2015, ed. G. Huang, G. Niu, and D. Roh), and Filipino Studies: Palimpsests of Nation and Diaspora (2016, ed. M. Manalansan and A. Espiritu). He is currently completing a book on the relationship between Asian American cultural politics and the dismantling of formal U.S. empire from World War I to World War II.

The documentary series on Southeast Asian youth by filmmaker Spencer Nakasako:
a.k.a. Don Bonus. Directed and produced by Spencer Nakasako. San Francisco, CA: Center for Asian American Media, 1995.

Kelly Loves Tony. Directed and produced by Spencer Nakasako. San Francisco, CA: Independent Television Service, 1998.

Refugee. Directed and produced by Spencer Nakasako. San Francisco, CA: Independent Television Service, 2004.

This groundbreaking series of documentaries critically and unprecedentedly expresses the experiences and perspectives of Southeast Asian refugee youth (from Laos and Cambodia) living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s and early 2000s. Each video is shot and narrated by the subjects themselves as they provide footage and reflections on everything from education and family to war and its aftermath. Both skillfully edited and compellingly raw, these documentaries are shot as video journals and are truly riveting viewing, as audiences follow the subjects recounting their remarkable everyday lives. The results are complex and edifying portraits of refugee experiences that might otherwise have been lost and/or entrusted to others for their representation.

Click here for Part II of this post.

Categories: Blog |

UCHRI Awards approximately $750,000 in Grant Funding to Faculty and Graduate Students

Published on May 3, 2016

The University of California Humanities Research Institute recently announced grant awards totaling approximately $750,000 for interdisciplinary humanities projects, including conferences, working groups, research residencies, junior faculty manuscript workshops, and digital and public humanities work. The awards, to be administered in the 2016-2017 academic year, were determined in conjunction with UCHRI’s 10-member Advisory Committee, which comprises faculty from all 10 University of California campuses. A separate advisory committee selected the eight faculty recipients of the UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship, a grant that supports compelling humanities research throughout the UC system.

According to UCHRI Director David Theo Goldberg, “Since its founding, UCHRI has served as the primary facilitator of multi-campus, interdisciplinary humanities research for the University of California. The diverse projects we have chosen to fund this cycle have the potential to expand humanistic research on a variety of contemporary issues.” Funded research topics range from the present-day legacy of Moroccan feminist Fatema Mernissi to the history of madness in early twentieth-century Beijing to the implications of globalized popular culture. The Advisory Committee also selected members for the first of two quarter-long queer studies residential research groups—one focused on the Americas and one on Europe—for the upcoming year. “Residential research groups are a cornerstone of our grantmaking activities,” Goldberg maintains, adding, “Next year, we are excited to host two research groups that will focus on expanding regional queer studies across a variety of disciplines.”

Increased Opportunities for Graduate Students

Particularly notable about this year’s awards is the increase in opportunities for graduate students to participate in interdisciplinary research. “UCHRI has long had a commitment to supporting graduate student research, but the most recent Office of the President funding has allowed us to support additional research projects for graduate students,” states UCHRI Assistant Director Kelly Brown. Brown, who also oversees UCHRI’s Humanists@Work initiative, notes that UCHRI’s graduate student intern was integral to expanding funding for graduate student working groups. As she describes, “Our summer intern argued that, like faculty, graduate students need support to connect their work in innovative and collaborative ways. So far, our Advisory Committee has been awed by the quality and scope of graduate student working group applications.”

Next year, UCHRI will fund a variety of graduate student working groups, including those engaging with the question “What are the keywords of Black Studies?,” evaluating the role of translation and exchange in Middle Eastern and South Asian Literary Culture, and working to build an inclusive pedagogy within the field of philosophy. UCHRI has also offered supplemental graduate student funding for substantive, research-oriented graduate student participation in faculty-curated projects such as conferences and faculty working groups. As Goldberg explains, “Many of the questions that are facing humanities today, particularly with relation to the future and role of humanities within the university, can only be properly addressed with significant input from our newest scholars. UCHRI will continue to support graduate students as an integral part of our mission to foster innovative humanities research throughout the UC system.”


The Philippines and the Filipinos: Convergences and Divergences of Filipino/a Studies Scholarship
John Blanco, Literature, UC San Diego
Sarita Echavez See, Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside

Critical Conversations in Critical Cultural Heritage
Jon Daehnke, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
Amy Lonetree, History, UC Santa Cruz

You May Add or Subtract from the Work
Simon Leung, Art, UC Irvine
Rei Terada, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine

Fatema Mernissi for Our Times
Minoo Moallem, Gender and Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley
Paola Bacchetta, Gender and Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley

Easter 1916: Revolution in Ireland and its Afterlives
Laura O’Connor, English, UC Irvine
David C. Lloyd, English, UC Riverside

The Global-Popular
Bhaskar Sarkar, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Bishnupriya Ghosh, English, UC Santa Barbara


Ethnographic Fictions: Immigration, Adoption and Sociolegal Knowledge
Susan Carole Bibler, Criminology, Law & Society, UC Irvine
Barbara Yngvesson, Social Sciences, Hampshire College


The Maghrib Workshop: Law and Movement: Historical Roots and Contexts, Contemporary Questions
Juan Gomez-Rivas, Literature, UC Santa Cruz

The Crisis of Diversity Within the Multiversity: Rethinking African and Africana Studies at the University of California
Rachel Jean-Baptiste, History, UC Davis
Anneeth Kaur Hundle, Anthropology, UC Merced

Indigenous Dance and the Academy
Jacqueline Shea Murphy, Dance, UC Riverside
Julie Burelle, Theater and Dance, UC San Diego

Imperfect Machines: Mind, Body, and Simulation Audiovisual Multi-Campus Working Group
Irene Lusztig, Film + Digital Media Department, UC Santa Cruz
Emily Cohen, Science and Justice Research Center, UC Santa Cruz


Working Groups on Philosophy and Inclusive Pedagogy
Jonathan Caravello, Philosophy, UC Santa Barbara
Sherri Conklin, Philosophy, UC Santa Barbara
Faculty PI: Matthew Hanser, Philosophy, UC Santa Barbara

Translation and Exchange in Middle Eastern/South Asian Literary Culture
Alexander Jabbari, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine
Faculty PI: Jane O. Newman, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine

Theorizing Human and Microbial Relations
Stephanie Maroney, Cultural Studies, UC Davis
Faculty PI: Charlotte Biltekoff, American Studies and Food, Science, and Technology, UC Davis

Black Studies: Vocabularies and Genealogies
SA Smythe, History of Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz
Maisam Alomar, Ethnic Studies, San Diego
Faculty PI: Sara Clarke Kaplan, Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego

Women of Color in Collaboration and Conflict
Claudia Lopez, Sociology, UC Santa Cruz
Faculty PI: Marcia Ochoa, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz


  • Kirstie A. Dorr, Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego
  • Deborah R. Vargas, Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside
  • Marcia Ochoa, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz
  • Shelley Streeby, Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego
  • Jennifer Tyburczy, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara
  • Christina Leon, Literature and Film, Oregon State University
  • Justin Perez , Anthropology, UC Riverside
  • Ivan Ramos, Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside


Boyle Heights: Past, Present, and Future
Todd Presner, UCLA, Jewish Studies

No Place Like Home: Voices and Visions of the Housing Crisis in Santa Cruz County
Miriam Greenberg, Sociology, UCSC
Karen Tei Yamashita, Literature, UCSC

Latin American Studies in Motion
Catherine Benamou, Film and Media Studies, UC Irvine
Adriana M. Johnson, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine

Language in Latino Lives on California’s Central Coast
Mary Bucholtz, UCSB, Linguistics


Digital Obata
ShiPu Wang, Global Arts Studies Program, UC Merced
Bruce Robertson, History of Art and Architecture, UC Santa Barbara

The 1795 Louisiana Slave Conspiracy: A Digital Edition
Bryan Wagner, English, UC Berkeley

Play the Knave, a Video Game about Shakespeare Performance
Gina Bloom, English, UC Davis (TBC)

Archiving the Interdisciplinary
Liz Kotz, Art History, UC Riverside


Vagrant Figures: Imaging Police Power in the early Atlantic World
Sarah Nicolazzo, Literature, UCSD

A New Nile: The 1902 Aswan dam and the remaking of the Nile River
Jennifer Derr, History, UCSC

The Invention of Madness: A Social history of Insanity in Beijing, 1900-1937
Emily Baum, History, UC Irvine

Sound Relations: A History of Music, Media, and Indigenous Self-Determination in Alaska
Jessica Perea, UCD, Native American Studies

Beyond the Vanguard: Grassroots Movements and the Making of Revolutionary Chile
Marian Schlotterbeck, UCD, History


Downwardly Global: Women and Work in the Pakistani Diaspora
Lalaie Ameeriar, Asian American Studies, UCSB

Playing in the Shadows: Fictions of Race and Blackness in Postwar Japanese Literature
William Bridges, East Asian Languages and Literatures, UCI

Vagrant Figures: Imagining Police Power in the Early Atlantic World
Sarah Nicolazzo, Literature, UCSD

Sound Relations: A History of Music, Media, and Indigenous Self-Determination in Alaska
Jessica Perea, Native American Studies, UCD

Abundance: Sexuality, Historiography, South Asia
Anjali Arondekar, Feminist Studies, UCSC

The Virus Touch: Living with Epidemics
Bishnupriya Ghosh, English, UCSB

Flight of the Metropolis: Rethinking the San Francisco Bay Area Through SFO
Eric Porter, History/History of Consciousness, UCSC

Immaterial Archives: Lost Pasts, Salvaged Futures
Jenny Sharpe, English, UCLA

Categories: Blog |

A Symposium: Towards a Critical Refugee Studies

Published on April 27, 2016

Symposium_PostBannerLin + Lam, Tomorrow I Leave, 2010

Date and Time: May 25, 2016 | 8:30 AM–5:30 AM

Location: UC Riverside | INTS 1111, INTS1113, and INTS1128


Through panel discussions, the conference seeks to further the emergent field of Critical Refugee Studies. It will serve as a platform for the inquiry into globally displaced populations and their histories, bringing together panelists who will explore refugees originating from Central America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. With a focus on refugees and their agency, the symposium decenters scholarship that portrays refugees as “problems” to be solved and absorbed by the host country.

Drawing from the fields of literary studies, feminist studies, cultural studies, and ethnic studies, the conference pivots on a critique of the braiding of militarism and imperialism that underlies forced migrations on a global scale. To this end, the conference will feature academics, artists and activists who have examined refugees through a critical lens, often in conjunction with a critique of empire and an emphasis on the creative expressions of refugeehood.


8:30–9:30 AM Breakfast INTS1111
9:30–11:00 AM Keywords I: Critical Refugee Studies
Mohamed Abumaye (UCSD), Yen Le Espiritu (UCSD), Lila Sharif (UIUC), Khatharya Um (UCB)
11:00 AM–12:30 PM Refugee Nation Workshop
Ova Saopeng
12:30–1:30 PM Lunch INTS1111
1:30–3:00 PM Keywords II: Critical Refugee Studies
Victor Bascara (UCLA), Lan Duong (UCR), Ma Vang (UCM)
INTS 1113
3:00–3:30 PM Poetry Reading
Mai Der Vang
INTS 1128
3:30–4:00 PM Rap Performance
 INTS 1128
4:00–4:30 PM A Conversation with Artists, Q &A
Mai Der Vang, praCh, Viet Thanh Nguyen
 INTS 1128
5:00–5:15 PM Close of Conference  INTS 1128

Categories: Blog |

UCHRI Welcomes Beth Greene

Published on March 9, 2016

UCHRI would like to welcome Beth Greene, our new Research Communications and Projects Manager! Beth holds a PhD in history from UCLA and comes to us from Washington, DC, where she worked in higher education market research.

As UCHRI’s new communications manager, my primary goal is to communicate a unified message about who we are and what we do. I’m eager to promote innovative, interdisciplinary research and learn more about the incredible work and unique perspectives of the UCHRI community.

Although I never really considered a career in the professoriate, I’m deeply invested in humanities research. My career path has been unconventional, but it also reveals a lot about how I see the world and approach my work. While the following introduction takes a literal approach to showing my path to UCHRI, I hope that it also provides insight into how I have prepared for my current position.

This job is truly a dream come true for me, and the welcome I’ve received from UCHRI has been amazing. I look forward to continuing my work with UCHRI stakeholders as I move forward in this role!

Categories: Blog |