Why abuse and neglect of immigrants proliferate in ICE detention, by Prof. Jennifer Nájera

Why abuse and neglect of immigrants proliferate in ICE detention, by Prof. Jennifer Nájera

Publications

Ethnic Studies Prof. Jennifer Nájera published a Los Angeles Times op/ed entitled, “Why Abuse and Neglect of Immigrants Proliferate in Ice Detention.” Excerpt below:

The conditions of detention continue to worsen. In 2017, a nonprofit group filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security for sexual assault, abuse and harassment in ICE detention facilities. The Adelanto detention facility in San Bernardino County was listed among the top five facilities in the country with the most sexual assault complaints.

In 2018, people all over the country watched in horror as ICE agents forcibly removed migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Audio recordings of children crying for their parents and images of kids in cages caused a moral dilemma partially resolved by courts that ordered reunification. But many of these families, though reunited with their children, remain in detention. The cruelty of their condition was revealed in heartbreaking drawings by migrant children released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The recent whistleblower complaint has prompted a call for an immediate investigation by more than 170 members of Congress. It demonstrates yet again the shortcomings and failures of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. We need an agency that understands this country’s complex immigration history and the needs of our communities. Central to that mission should be treating migrants with basic human rights.

Read the full article here. Photo by the Associated Press.

Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests, by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales

Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests, by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales

Publications

Ethnic Studies Prof. Alfonso Gonzales published a Los Angeles Times op/ed entitled, “Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests.” Excerpt below:

Although the base of the Trumpian bloc is overwhelmingly white and male, 26% of Latinos support Trump over Biden. Many conservative Latinos identify with macho political posturing, pro-2nd Amendment rhetoric, simple law-and-order solutions to complex problems, demonization of the left and disdain for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This bloc, under the “Make America Great Again” banner, requires its supporters — particularly subordinate groups — to accept a degree of cognitive dissonance in submitting to the emotional appeal to a mythical moment of American greatness. For many of the white working class, that moment is before the rise of the civil rights movement, Latino immigration and multiculturalism, the idea that diverse people should have representation and rights in pluralist society.

For right-wing Latinos, this means ignoring both the historical and the contemporary injustices inflicted on their community, such as the lynching of Mexicans by the Texas Rangers in the 1920s, the deportation of at least 1 million Mexicans in the 1950s, the separation of children from their parents at the border or the alleged coerced hysterectomies of Latina migrant women in immigration detention centers now.

The point of the MAGA slogan is to bury history with its deep class and racial disparities and to conceal the crises of our time: savage inequality, climate change, pandemics and racial conflict.

Racism and xenophobia have historically provided the ideological glue that has kept the white working class supporting the most rabid sectors of the capitalist class and from seeing their fate linked with racial others and immigrants. Even during the current economic disaster, it is easier for many working-class whites to identify with the Trumpian bloc, led by a billionaire rooted in the transnational capital class, than to have a sense of solidarity with Latinos or Black people.

Historic blocs of the right emerge precisely at that moment when the left is strong and when the right decides to stop playing by the rules of liberal democracy, the system for resolving conflicts through representative government and respect for individual rights.

Read the full op/ed here. Photo by Oli Goldsmith via CC 2.0

Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, by Prof. Emily Hue

Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, by Prof. Emily Hue

Publications

Ethnic Studies Prof. Emily Hue published, Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, a review of the film, Nobel Nok Dah, for the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Excerpt below:

Transnational feminist ethnographic film collective, Ethnocine, comprising Emily Hong, Mariangela Mihai, Miasarah Lai, and others, creates a compelling time capsule that deftly weaves between feminist oral history, the ethno-fictive, and touches of the cinematic avant grade, in their short film, Nobel Nok Dah (2015). The film is succinctly named for three Karen women refugees from Myanmar and reflects these women’s stories after their encampment at the Myanmar–Thai border, and subsequent resettlement in the central upstate New York; journeys that also precede Myanmar’s first civilian government elected in 2015 after decades of military rule.1

During the initial years of this ongoing political transition, international aid for refugees and displaced ethnic minority communities in encampments on the Thai–Myanmar border was surreptitiously cut with the rationale that it would be safer for refugees to return to homes from which they fled military violence. However, as noted in the Asia Times, as of April 2019, many Karen refugees and internationally displaced people who returned in post-election years have struggled to re-establish livelihoods amid continued land grabs. In 2019, armed conflict in southeastern Myanmar has also increased, forcing thousands of those recently returned to flee their homes once more. Additionally, international ire around ongoing massacres of Rohingya peoples in Myanmar has cast further doubt on the country’s claims to political transition.

Amid these upheavals, the filmmakers have shed a distinct light onto the microcosmic ways in which cataclysmic world and regional events have shaped recent refugee migrations. Ethnocine necessarily intervenes into topics and approaches not often covered or integrated into films about Southeast Asian communities for U.S. audiences.

Full review here. Photo above by Emily Hong, Miasarah Lai, and Mariangela Mihai.

 

Oct 1: Teach-In on Antiblackness, the University and Policing

Oct 1: Teach-In on Antiblackness, the University and Policing

Events

October 1, 2020 ~ Day of Action/Strike/Teach-in for Police Abolition 
Faculty, instructors, students and staff, please consider striking and joining these teach-ins in solidarity with the larger statewide call to take action to protest antiblack police violence.

ABOLITION & THE UNIVERSITY: TEACH-IN SERIES
~ organized by the Abolitionist Educators Network of Critical Resistance

Antiblackness, the University and Policing — October 1, 2020 
1-2:30pm (PST) | 3-4:30pm (CST)  | 4-6:00pm (EST) 

  • Moderator: Dylan Rodriguez  (UC Riverside)
  • Lester Spence (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Cathy Cohen (University of Chicago)
  • João Costa Vargas (UC Riverside)
  • Savannah Shange (UC Santa Cruz)This first teach-in addresses how the university has historically functioned to reproduce and sanction antiblackness and policing. This panel of scholar-activists discusses how antiblackness has been foundational to the structure, organization and policies of the university and has operated to police bodies, disciplines, knowledges, movements and activism, often under the cover of rhetorics that promote liberal multicultural inclusion and diversity.

Eventbrite: ucrcopsoffcampus.eventbrite.com

About the Abolition & the University Teach-in Series 
The unprecedented protests and grassroots organizing against antiblack police and white vigilante violence has generated demands to end systemic racism endemic across US political, economic, legal, cultural and educational institutions. This series aims to expand an understanding of abolition and its ongoing practices and potential to radically transform college campuses and universities as sites of struggle. This three-part teach-in series aims to support, deepen and proliferate abolitionist organizing on post-secondary educational campuses. While we don’t have all the answers, we call on students, faculty, staff and organizers who are engaging abolition at the site of the university and beyond to join us in this discussion.

Campus after Cops: Building Abolitionist Communities
–October 15: 1-2:30pm (PST) | 3-4:30pm (CST)  | 4-6:00pm (EST)

The second teach-in addresses what we mean by genuine campus safety for all and why we demand cops off campus. Participants will elaborate how we can implement and build models of security and care that meet the basic needs of our communities and educate and organize to prevent harm and violence before it happens. This webinar will introduce transformative justice (TJ) practices and how we can invest the resources of the university to begin to repair past harms and build learning communities that hold people accountable rather than punish, penalize and disavow the root problems inherent to the hierarchical and colonial culture of the university.

Abolitionist University: Education for Liberation?
–November 12: 1-2:30pm (PST) | 3-4:30pm (CST)  | 4-6:00pm (EST)

The third teach-in elaborates our collective vision of an abolitionist university. In a settler-colonial society, how can we establish an abolitionist university and how would its purpose be radically different from how the neoliberal university functions to reproduce a carceral society, racial capitalism and US imperial hegemony? How can we take collective action to transform the university into a gathering place for decolonization and collective liberation?

Co-sponsored by Scholars for Social Justice, American Studies Association, Riverside Faculty Association and the UCFTP collective

We will have simultaneous ASL/captioning and the sessions will be recorded and captions fixed and uploaded to the ASA Freedom Course YouTube Channel
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UCR offers the first Cahuilla language course in UC system

Announcements

Native American Studies Ph.D. student, William Madrigal, is leading an historic initiative to offer Cahuilla language as an accredited language series, making UC Riverside the first UC campus to do so. Article from UCR News by Sandra Baltazar Martinez below:

The University of California, Riverside, is the first UC campus to offer Cahuilla language as an accredited language series.

Cahuilla, the language of Southern California Cahuilla Indian Nations, is offered by the Department of Comparative Literature & Languages at UCR. This four-class series includes three lower-division courses and one-upper division class, which satisfy undergraduate foreign language requirements for most of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences majors.

Doctoral student William Madrigal Jr., a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians, has been teaching three of the four classes since their inception in winter 2018. The courses are open to all UC students and Cahuilla tribal community members, thanks to concurrent enrollment.

“The interesting thing here is that Cahuilla is not a foreign language because it’s very much local and indigenous to Riverside County,” Madrigal Jr. said. “Students are learning more than just the mechanics of the language. They are learning about a rich and vibrant culture. They are introduced to the Cahuilla culture, philosophy, and worldview.”

Madrigal Jr., 38, who is working toward a doctorate in Native American Studies, is a member of one of the 10 existing Cahuilla sovereign nations. Growing up on the reservation, located in Anza, about 75 miles south of Riverside, he felt an obligation to attend college and help revive a language that had been suppressed — and almost eradicated — by federal government mandates.

Over 150 years ago, the United States federal government dispersed Native Americans into reservations, sending young children to boarding schools where they were forced into assimilation and only allowed to speak English. The practice of stripping Native Americans from their California lands started around 1850, and as early as 1830 in other parts of the country.

The Cahuilla currently reside on 10 different reservations, their total population ranging from 3,000-5,000 people. Before being separated, their population was more than double that amount, Madrigal Jr. said.

Cahuilla elders and leaders held onto their native language and continued to share oral histories, traditions, and culture with the rest of the families and community throughout this trying period.

“Knowing that our origins were special made me proud growing up,” Madrigal Jr. said. “I’m proud of who I am and where I come from.”

Raymond Huaute, a doctoral linguistics student from UC San Diego, teaches UCR’s upper-division Cahuilla literature course. Huaute is Cahuilla and Chumash California Indian.

Creating and funding these courses at UCR became a multiyear process supported by UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, as well as the university’s administration, faculty, graduate students, and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Madrigal Jr. said.

The campus itself sits on land where Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano people once lived and thrived next to the Santa Ana River.

Students in Madrigal Jr.’s three conversational language classes study stories that highlights the Cahuilla way of life, he said.

Madrigal Jr. said the Cahuilla language revitalization movement started roughly 50 years ago, when less than a dozen elders spoke the language daily. Now, because of their efforts, there are hundreds of Cahuilla learners who are working with linguistic and anthropological materials recorded long ago to bring Cahuilla back.

“We’re trying to save the essence of our identity inextricably linked to the Cahuilla culture,” Madrigal Jr. said.

 

Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar

Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar

Announcements

The Marguerite Casey Foundation launched a new $3 million initiative, the Freedom Scholars, to support social and economic justice scholarship. Ethnic Studies faculty member, Prof. Alisa Bierria, has been named as one of twelve members of the initiative’s inaugural class. Announcement excerpt below:

The nation’s boldest scholars stand at the forefront of movements for economic and social justice – they are creating the catalytic ideas for transformative change. Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are placing power in the hands of these changemakers through new Freedom Scholars Awards, $250,000 grants that give leaders greater freedom to build a truly representative economy that works for working families and people.

The $3 million Freedom Scholars program is a commitment to scholarship that is rooted in and supports movements led by Black and Indigenous people, migrants, queer and poor people, and People of Color. The awards support scholars who are shifting the balance of power to families and communities that have been historically excluded from the resources and benefits of society. With this award, Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are recognizing the role that scholars play in cultivating the intellectual infrastructure necessary to nurture movements toward freedom.

Today’s Freedom Scholars work at the forefront of abolitionist, Black, feminist, queer, radical, and anti-colonialist studies and critical fields of research that are often underfunded or ignored. Support for their research, organizing, and academic work is pivotal in this moment when there is a groundswell of support to hold our political and economic leaders accountable.

‘Vivitos y Coleando’: The Cultural Politics of the Paisa Periphery, by Prof. Adrián Félix

‘Vivitos y Coleando’: The Cultural Politics of the Paisa Periphery, by Prof. Adrián Félix

Publications

Prof. Adrián Félix published a review of Charros: How Mexican Cowboys are Remapping Race and American Identity, by Laura Barraclough. Excerpt below:

Octavio Paz once wrote about the zacatecano poet Ramón López Velarde that “irony is his rein and the adjective his spur.” Not so for Barraclough, who is more of a straight shooter; her writing is neither flowery nor poetic, careful not to over-stretch charro metaphors in her prose. However, my main critique of this book is not in its form but rather in its method. True to her formation as a geographer, Barraclough opens the conclusion by stating: “Hover over virtually any city in the U.S. West using the satellite view of a web mapping service, and you will almost certainly spot the distinctive keyhole shape of at least one lienzo charro” (196). Her argument about “place-making”, “vernacular spaces” and “ranchero landscapes” on the “metropolitan fringe” is an important one, as “lienzos offer an important space for cultural affirmation and transnational collectivity” (196) and an “invocation of a shared rural Mexican ranching past left behind” (197). As is the central argument that positions charros as the “original cowboys”: “Asserting the historic presence of ethnic Mexican ranchers and vaqueros as the ‘original cowboys’ in the region that became the U.S. Southwest, they have transformed core narratives of American identity centered on the cowboy, ranching, and the rodeo” (200). Yet for all her focus on “scalar dynamics” and “scaling up”, it would behoove Barraclough to descend from the bird’s eye view, and the historic “long view”, and scale down. It is the task of the ethnographer to, as charros put it, “entrarle al ruedo” (“enter the rodeo ring”), with all of the political ethics that implies, plunging into the depths of the paisano periphery. This, however, would require oral histories and deep ethnography, something Barraclough entirely avoids. Those who are up to the task will find charros not as long-gone historical figures but as living, breathing, flesh-and-bone denizens of the paisano periphery, with all of our contradictions, as the charro adage goes, vivitos y coleando. Alive and bull-tailing.

Read the full review here. Photo courtesy of Al Rendon.

Sep 24: Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching

Sep 24: Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching

Events

Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching: An Initial Discussion led by Prof. Wesley Leonard

Thursday, September 24 at 2:30pm to 4:00pm

More info

Please join the Reclamation and Native American Communities Faculty Commons for an informal discussion on implementing Native American and other Indigenous pedagogies in the current context of remote teaching. Through a series of informal presentations and discussion, we will consider how we can beneficially draw from Indigenous educational traditions in how we design and teach our courses. The final part of the session will turn to a discussion of ideas for a possible 2020-2021 series of events on this topic.

Indigenous pedagogies might be defined as those that emerge from and center the peoplehood, cultures, values, and intellectual traditions of Indigenous communities in relation to the particular places those communities come from. Though pedagogical methods vary across Native American and other Indigenous communities, common are approaches that focus on the whole individual in relational contexts and on the related idea that knowledge is produced and interpreted in the context of relationships. Specific examples of Indigenous pedagogies include teaching through storytelling and through engagement with land.

Registration required:  https://ucr.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUocO2hrjsiG9SJepFFuHMRAH3OhKte_

Ethnic Studies Accomplishments, 2019-20

Ethnic Studies Accomplishments, 2019-20

Announcements

Download Newsletter!

The UCR Ethnic Studies department has faced a number of challenges this year in addressing COVID-19, meeting student needs in the midst of instability and financial precarity, and the impact of racism on our students brought to light by the mass movement in support of Black Lives. We have issued a statement in support of Graduate Students organizing for a living wage and a statement supporting UCR Undergraduate Students Demands to the UCR Administration. We have also begun our community engagement programs which bring together faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and community members to address the pressing issues of our time.

Despite these challenging times, UCR Ethnic Studies faculty have found creative ways to teach during the campus shut-down. They have also produced path-breaking scholarship while engaged in diverse community organizing projects. Graduate students have won numerous awards this year. They have taken part in a variety of social justice initiatives while pursuing innovative scholarship. UCR Ethnic studies undergraduates have organized a number of successful projects to improve the well-being of the Riverside community and campus life.

Major accomplishments are below. Read the newsletter for our full report!

Image above from the cover of Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism, featuring art by Kimberly Robertson and Jenell Navarro, “Postcard from an Otherwise World”


Faculty News

Wesley Leonard and Adrián Félix were promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.

Andrea Smith published Unreconciled: From Racial Reconciliation to Racial Justice in Christian Evangelicalism (Duke) and Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism (co-edited with Tiffany Lethabo King and Jenell Navarro, Duke). Otherwise Worlds emerged from the Otherwise Worlds Conference at UCR Riverside.

Jennifer Najera published an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times this Fall, “My Grandpa Was a Dreamer Who Crossed the Rio Grande.” This Spring she was selected as an “Outstanding Faculty Mentor” for the University Honors Program.

Edward Chang was awarded the Order of Civil Merit, Magnolia Medal by the Republic of Korea.

Alisa Bierria published “Battering Court System: A Structural Critique of ‘Failure to Protect'” in The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses (co-authored with Colby Lenz, NYU Press).

Emily Hue published “Fifteen Years after Buddha Is Hiding: Gesturing Toward the Future in Critical Refugee Studies” in Women’s Studies Quarterly

Wesley Leonard was awarded a $1 million Mellon Grant to support Indigenous Studies at UC Riverside.

More faculty updates here.

Graduate Student News:

Jennifer Martinez won the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award for AY 2019-2020.

Frank Perez and Lawrence Lan were the inaugural recipients of the department’s Edna Bonacich Award for their community engaged research.

Cinthya Martinez was selected for the GRMP next year to further develop her project, “Freedom is a Place: Abolitionist Possibilities in Migrant Women’s Refusals.”

Beth Kopacz won a dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women to complete her dissertation, “Molecular Longing: Adopted Koreans and the Navigation of Absence through DNA.”

Jalondra Davis (Ph.D. ’17) was awarded a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC San Diego.

Iris Blake’s publication “The Echo as Decolonial Gesture” will be published in Sound Acts, a special issue of the journal Performance Matters. She will be a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA starting in September.

Ray Pineda’s “Authoritative Voice and Mujerista Mentorship of Dissonant DJs Queering Cumbia Sonidera” will appear in Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social.

MT Vallarta’s “Toward a Filipinx Method: Queer of Color Critique and QTGNC Mobilization in Mark Aguhar’s Poetics” will be published with The Velvet Light Trap.

Brian Stephens, “Prissy’s Quittin’ Time: The Black Camp Aesthetics of Kara Walker” appears in Open Cultural Studies.

Undergraduate Student Announcements:

Vivienne Lu won the Wilmer and Velma Johnson Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Award. She also won the Sumi Harada Award for graduating joint major with highest GPA.

Violetta Price and Alana Pitman won the Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Award for the Junior major with the best GPA.

Christina Canales won the Maurice Jackson award for the graduating major with the highest GPA.

Jazmin Jefferson Faten won the Ernesto Galarza Award in recognition of community service.

Joaquin Malta won the Katherine Saubel award for promotion of cultural awareness.

Kyra Byers and Vivienne Lu won the Barnett Grier Award for promoting ethnic awareness.

Maribel Cruz and Sofia Rivas won the Sister Rosa Marta Zarate Award for community service.

More student updates here.

Ethnic Studies Statement in Solidarity with the UCR Student Demands to Administration Call to Action

Ethnic Studies Statement in Solidarity with the UCR Student Demands to Administration Call to Action

Announcements

Ethnic Studies, as a field and as a department, was born of struggles against racial violence, settler colonialism and imperialism. It was only institutionalized because of Third-World student-led organizing efforts to hold universities accountable for their histories of exclusion, discrimination, neglect and intellectual erasure. Drawing on generations of radical thinkers, we are committed to centering racial justice in our teaching, research and community engagement. We stand in solidarity with UCR Demands to Administration-Call to Action as well as the international Movement for Black Lives. While the current crisis exposes the violent realities of systemic anti-Black racism in the United States, we recognize that institutions of higher learning have reproduced and legitimized laws, policies and practices of anti-Blackness in society.

We therefore call on UCR administration to not only address the Demands’ specific concerns regarding the current crisis, but also critically confront anti-Black racism in institutional policies, programs, practices, and all aspects of university life. The UCR Ethnic Studies Department has expanded its community engagement focus and is actively working to support existing and new-found grassroots organizations that seek to end anti-Black racism and racist systems of policing, criminalization, and detention. We call on the UCR administration to institute substantive policy changes coupled with sustainable commitments to academic resources to proactively combat systemic racism and support ongoing struggles for a better future for all peoples. This would include defunding UCPD and establishing community-led safety programs.

The Ethnic Studies Department welcomes continued engagement with the student organizations that have created the UCR Demands to Administration in order to build strong collaborative relationships towards eradicating anti-Blackness within our department, university, communities, and in the world, as we amplify Black voices and Black scholarship in all programming. We call on the UCR administration to affirmatively commit greater institutional resources and funds toward these efforts under the guidance of Black students, staff, faculty, and community members. We further call on the UCR administration to adequately fund and support Black Studies by dramatically increasing the number of Ethnic Studies hires in Black Studies with the goal of educating our students and producing knowledge for the world to contribute towards the eradication of anti-Black racism.

*Photo from homepage is a “Black Lives Matter” mural in Palo Alto, CA. Courtesy Benny Villarreal Photography.