Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative2024-05-29T08:52:00-07:00

Left Image (public domain, Wikimedia Commons:
Dakota Access Pipeline protest at the Sacred Stone Camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. 25 August 2016 Credit: Tony Webster. Right Image (courtesy of Dylan Rodríguez) Sign from mass demonstration in Downtown Riverside, CA. 1 June 2020

Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative

PI: Dylan Rodríguez

Decolonizing Humanism(?) encourages inter-/trans-/anti-disciplinary collaborations that address the categories of ‘human’ and ‘humanism’ as formations of colonial power/violence.

This stream of activity and programming centers knowledge, archival, and aesthetic practices that challenge the presumptive coherence of the ‘humanities’ as such, including canonical and hegemonic institutionalizations. This collaborative labor aspires to cultivate conversations and connection across intellectual sites, within and beyond university and academic spaces.

“The Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative has collaborated or will collaborate with organizations that include:”

UCR as a center of gravity

Jamal Batts: “‘I Cruise a Black Maze’: Black Visuality, Queer Disorientation, and the Siting of Risk”
Virtual Event on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 1:00pm to 2:00pm

In queer studies, spaces for public sex often serves as architectures of liberation—bastions against the onslaught of deadly homophobic antagonisms. This talk considers the ways in which black lesbian film and black gay poetry navigate and imagine these spaces—considered dangerous vectors of HIV transmission by the state and some liberal LGBTQ political actors. By considering artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s short experimental video The Labyrinth 1.0 (2017), the semi-autobiographical poetry of Essex Hemphill, and the photography of London-based South Asian photographer Sunil Gupta, I claim the disorientations produced by inhabiting blackness in white space and gendered difference in gay male space as productive models for the engagement and critique of queer pleasure. These works argue for a potentially agential navigation of queer space and racialized forms of sexual risk-taking.

Jamal Batts, PhD is a scholar, writer, and curator. He completed his doctoral work in the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. His dissertation, Immoral Panics: Black Queer Aesthetics and the Construction of Risk, reflects on the relation between black queer contemporary art and the intricacies of sexual risk. He is a 2020 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow, a ONE National Lesbian and Gay Archives LGBTQ Research Fellow, and a 2020 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Scholar-in-Residence. With the curatorial collective The Black Aesthetic, he organized four seasons of black experimental film screenings and produced three edited volumes. He is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Irvine and the first Curator-in-Residence in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. His writing appears in numerous publications.


Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu: “Weaving Tongan Futurities Through Refusing the March of Surrender and Honoring Our Commitment to Protect the Sacred ”
Virtual Event on Thursday, January 27 at 3:00pm to 4:00pm


“This presentation examines Tongan race, gender, and sexualities produced through a colonial phenomenon that I term as “March of Surrender.” The March of Surrender highlights the quintessential objective of “white terror” in the Pacific Island nation of Tonga and here in California–the desecration of the Sacred. I redefine “white terror” as a racialized violence aimed to produce colonial systems of kinships and social relationalities by surveilling colonial institutions of gender, sexualities, and families. This new status quo is produced as well as maintained through the normalization of violence against the bodies of Tongan women and girls. Correspondingly, I argue, the scope of white terror is inextricably tied to the expropriation of the Tongan natural world, the fonua (land and mother earth) to the Moana (spatialities of ocean). These cosmologies are often delineated as Feminine and located at the core of what we defined as the Sacred.

Considering what Ohlone/ Costanoan, writer Deborah Miranda terms as the “genealogy of violence,” I trace two contemporary renditions of March of Surrender and consider how they stem from early nineteenth century and extend to the present. I begin by looking at the Marches of Surrender that took place in May 2015 in Tonga to protest women’s rights led by the Christian Churches’ Forum. Additionally, I turn to the diaspora, as in 2009, Tongans were performing Marches of Surrender throughout California and standing with the Mormon Church to protect the institution of heteropatriarchy by supporting Proposition 8. In my final section, I turn to Tongan futurities in the East Bay, California, to highlight the decolonial marches produced by Tongan and Pacific Islander “arrivants.” I conclude with examples of “regenerative refusal” to the March of Surrender, specifically our commitment to stand as “allies and accomplices” with the Lisjan Ohlone Tribe, the Indigenous stewards of this land, in their work to protect their Indigenous Sacred sites from desecration.”

Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu is a Tongan (Pacific Islander) scholar, storyteller and community organizer and her work centers: climate and environmental justice, ending violence against women and building radical solidarities with California American Indian tribes to protect Indigenous Sacred Sites in the Pacific and here in California. She graduated with her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow and Facilitator of the Oceania: Pacific Islands Studies Research Working Group in the Department of Native American Studies at University of California, Davis. Fui is a part of the Sogorea Te Land Trust, an Urban Indigenous women-led organization, that rematriates Indigenous lands back to Indigenous peoples and she hosts the popular “Sogorea Te Seeding Hope Speaker Series.”


Yatta Kiazolu,”Determining Diaspora Solidarity: The National Council of Negro Women in West Africa and African American Women’s Fight for Full Citizenship, 1960
Virtual Event on  Wednesday, February 16 at 1:00pm


1960, African decolonization on the world stage presented greater opportunity to actualize new political terrain in the interest of people of African descent. Committed to this cause, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) under the tenure of then-president Dorothy Height, emphasized building relationships with African women nationalists for both its leaders and members, many of whom traveled to the continent for the first time. Through solidarity with African women nationalists preparing for new roles in emerging societies, Council women’s on-the-ground interactions helped advance their case for Black women’s inclusion in public life at home, and more broadly, for full citizenship. This research explores the gendered Black global imaginary produced by contradictory investments in uplift, nation-state inclusion co-existing alongside deep commitments to African decolonization, and the ways the politics of diasporic solidarity respond to the needs and pressures of citizenship. These experiences offer an entry point into Black women’s global struggle for self-emancipation in the age of decolonization, civil, and human rights.

Yatta Kiazolu is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego with community engagement and research interests at the intersection of the contemporary African diaspora, African American history, and Women and Gender studies. She received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA.

Black Study in Times of Antiblackness: In Conversation with the Black Study Initiative Committee: A Roundtable Discussion
Virtual Event hosted Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 11:00am to 12:00pm

Members of the UC Riverside BSI Committee in a roundtable discussion about the Department of Black Study proposal and Fall 2021 programming.


Department of Black Study: Open Forum
Virtual event: May 19, 2022 at 11:00 am


At this online, open forum, Black Study Initiative (BSI) members will discuss the origins, foundational concepts, and imagined futures of the proposed UCR Department of Black Study. This is an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and community members to acquire information, ask questions and raise concerns. BSI committee members will share the proposed department’s focus, details, curriculum, goals, and investments that we, and hundreds of others, believe affirm Black life and Black futures.

Black Horror Salon: A Literary Conversation
Virtual Event hosted Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 4:00pm


The conventional horror tropes of the return of the repressed and of the monster do not adhere to black life which has been characterized by ever present terror and the misnaming of the monster. Through this convocation of dynamic writers, theorists, and artists, the conversation will touch upon issues of craft as well as of how to live blackly, attuned to the unique yet common experience of what John Jennings has called “the Black gothic.”

Hosted and organized by Courtney Baker

Image Credit: Art by John Jennings

Kiese Makeba Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon is the author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon’s bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year. Laymon is the recipient of 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard.

Dr. Lisa B. Thompson is professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is author of Beyond The Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class, Single Black Female, and Underground, Monroe, and The Mamalogues: Three Plays. Thompson’s plays have been produced throughout the US and internationally. Her accolades include LA Weekly Theatre Award for Best Comedy nominee, Irma P. Hall Black Theatre Award Best Play winner, Austin Critics Circle David Mark Cohen New Play Award winner, and Broadway World Regional Awards Best Writing of an Original Work winner.

Dr. Therí A. Pickens is Professor of English at Bates College, specializing in African American, Arab American and disability literatures and theories. Her monograph, Black Madness :: Mad Blackness, explores the connection between Blackness and madness. Her first book New Body Politics: Narrating Arab and Black Identity in the Contemporary United States. She guest edited the 50th anniversary issue of African American Review and the College Language Association Journal special issue on Blackness and Disability. Her poetry has appeared in Squaw Valley Journal, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, and Disability Studies Quarterly. Her drama has been performed at the NJ State Theater.

andré carrington is Associate Professor of English at UC Riverside. His book, Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction analyzes the role of blackness in science fiction and fantasy works across popular media. He has published in Present Tense, Sounding Out!, African & Black Diaspora, the Blackwell Companion to the Harlem Renaissance, The Blacker the Ink, and Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call. He is a past fellow of the Penn Humanities Forum (now the Wolf Humanities Center) and the Hutchins Center at Harvard, and is the recipient of a New York Council for the Humanities grant.

Dr. Courtney R. Baker is an Associate Professor in the department of English at University of California, Riverside. She was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University. She co-founded and served as the inaugural chair of the Black Studies program at Occidental College where she was also an Associate Professor of American Studies. She is author of HUMANE INSIGHT: Looking at Images of African-American Suffering and Death. She has written academic and popular essays on African-American film, the history of the image in African-American activism, and the ethics of narratives about death.

Event on November 30, 2022 5:30pm to 7:30pm
The Barn 

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Panel discussion & Gathering

An opportunity for faculty and staff to share the mission and importance of the new Department of Black Study.

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism initiative at the Center for Ideas & Society

A Roundtable Conversation with Sekou Odinga

Event on February 27, 2023 at 12pm at CHASS INTS 1128


Sekou Odinga is a globally recognized Black liberation activist, member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity, founding member of both the New York City chapter and the International Section of the Black Panther Party, and former US political prisoner who survived 33 years of state captivity before his release in 2014.

Prosecuted as one of the “Panther 21” in New York City, Odinga is a prominent historical figure, having been featured on Democracy Now! and numerous documentaries, albums, mass public events, and major news outlets. A survivor of state torture and the FBI’s notorious Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), Sekou Odinga is both celebrated and admired by freedom and justice movements worldwide, exemplifying persistence, courage, and principled adherence to freedom struggle under the most repressive circumstances imaginable.

Join us for this highly anticipated conversation with Sekou Odinga on the meaning, context, and possibilities of Black liberation and revolutionary struggle over a long half-century (and beyond) of normalized antiblack state violence, intensifying freedom movements, and emerging abolitionist mobilizations.

Featured Roundtable Participants:

  • Vonya Quarles (Starting Over, All Of Us Or None)
  • Terrance Stewart (UCR graduate student, Underground Scholars, All Of Us Or None)
  • Amanda Soto (UCR undergraduate student, Underground Scholars)
  • Alejandra Olvera (UCR undergraduate student, Cops Off Campus)
  • Steph Jones (UCR/UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • (emcee/host) Dylan Rodríguez (UCR faculty, Cops Off Campus, Co-Director of Center for Ideas and Society)

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society, Blackness Unbound Faculty Commons Working Group, ASUCR, ASUCR External Affairs Office, and the Departments of English, History, and Black Study.

Virtual Event on May 10, 2023 at 1pm
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Join us for a conversation with Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Michael Simmons and Dan Berger to help launch their new book: Stayed on Freedom: The Long History of Black Power Through One Family’s Journey.

Special promotion: Three copies of the book will be given out as door prizes to participants of the webinar.

Black Power has many connotations in its multitudes as a philosophy, an orientation, and a social movement that, since its inception, has been met with violent opposition, fear, and hatred. But perhaps the single quality that fuels it is the one most often overlooked: Black Power is a global expression of love.

Through the story of two little-known organizers—Zoharah and Michael Simmons—we access a window to the endurance and experimentation of Black Power across space and time in Dan Berger’s STAYED ON FREEDOM: The Long History of Black Power through One Family’s Journey (Basic Books; January 24, 2023). After meeting in 1965 in Atlanta as members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Memphis-born Zoharah—then Gwen—and the Philadelphia-born Michael traveled the country and the world to carry the fight for freedom and equality, and to build their familial and personal connections among political lives. From hours of interviews—with friends, family, and activists—and years of knowing the once-married couple, Berger relates a living and loving history of what has become an emblematic symbol for the pursuit of justice, and to see it as “a potent way to understand the long-haul commitments of those who join, and sustain, the fight for freedom.”


Dan Berger is Professor of comparative ethnic studies at the University of Washington Bothell. He is the author or editor of several books and curates the Washington Prison History Project. His most recent book is Stayed on Freedom: The Long History of Black Power Through One Family’s Journey, published by Basic Books.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons Ph.D. is Professor Emerita from the University of Florida, where she taught African American, Religious and Women Studies. She is a veteran of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and of the Black Power, Women & Anti-War Movements from the 1960s onward. She is a founding member of the National Council of Elders and a board member of the SNCC Legacy Project.

Michael Simmons has been a domestic and international human rights activist for 60 years. Beginning as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later as Director of European programs for the American Friends Service Committee, Michael’s work has taken him to Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. For 18 years, he co-founded and ran the Ráday Salon, an independent human rights learning and discussion program in Budapest, Hungary. He also taught courses on African American History and US Elections at the Budapest campus of McDaniel College.

October 30, 2023 6pm to 7:30pm
In Person | CHASS INTS 1111 ‘Round Room’

Notice:  Issues of sexual violence will be addressed during this event

The performance “UTOPIA of US” is based on a tales book by Ana Flauzina. It talks about black women challenges in regards to the ongoing genocide in Brazil.

Issues related to slavery legacy, sexual assault, among others are the core of Ana Flauzina’s work.

The performance is about an experience that articulates reading of some short book excerpts combined with speeches based on violence reports, and it will count on the special participation of the House Band from the World Stage in LA.

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society

October 31, 2023 1pm to 3:30pm
Hybrid | Zoom / Humanities 1500

Notice:  Issues of sexual violence will be addressed during this event

“Raping my body, violating my soul” is the result of the research project Facets of Anti-Black Genocide: Towards a Theory of Rape as the Condition of Terror developed by Ana Flauzina as a Chancellors Postdoctoral Fellow in the Media and Cultural Studies Department.

The research attempts to contribute to the critical interdisciplinary fields of diasporic Black Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies by examining how sexual violence forms a complex matrix of assault targeting Black communities in the Diaspora.

It considers that rape, in addition to being a historically durable method for brutalizing Black women’s bodies, also constitutes a weapon in disarticulating Black communities en masse. In other words, rape is materially responsible for the massacre of Black women’s bodies and is also a primary ideological-discursive weapon of anti-Black genocide.

The research methodology takes into account the formulations of Black feminist scholars as well as the primary testimonies of Black women survivors of sexual violence and terror.

Therefore, Raping my body, violating my soul responds to a broad, diasporic demand for scholarship on anti-Black genocide that directly reflects Black women’s complex reflections on their bodily and spiritual exposure to gendered and sexualized terror.

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society

Abolition Praxis

Abolitionist Thought and Praxis: the Black Organizing Project (Oakland USD) and Black Minds Matter (Peralta Community College District) in Dialog with Cops Off Campus
Virtual event  Friday, November 19, 2021 at 4:00pm


Conversation with Jessica Black of the Black Organizing Project and Prof. Kimberly King (Laney Community College) of Black Minds Matter (Peralta Community College District) and the Laney Chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign to discuss Oakland’s long and eventually successful struggle to get police out of public schools and community colleges. The conversation was facilitated by cultural historian, political theorist, and Cops Off Campus member Prof. Erin Gray (Assistant Professor, English, UC Davis) and included Prof. Dylan Rodríguez, Co-Director of the Center for Ideas and Society and a founding Cops Off Campus collaborator/organizer.

Co-sponsored by the Decolonizing(?) Humanism Initiative and UCR African Student Programs

Jessica Black is a Minnesota native with a passion for social justice and cultural interpretation. A mother of two, Jessica came to California in 2013 in order to reconnect with family. For 10 years, as the Education Systems Navigator at the Cultural Wellness Center in Minnesota, Jessica worked to further enhance her skills of strategic planning, collective communication, shared authority and motivational speaking. Jessica has worked to dismantle unequal systematic approaches in housing, employment, education and criminal justice institutions for many years. Jessica embraces and is guided by the elders within her community. These relationships aid her in recruiting and organizing Black parents, to encourage their involvement in schools, and influencing policy, procedures, and paradigm shifts. Ultimately, Jessica’s passion to help Black people recognize the power and potential they possess led her to BOP. Through BOP Jessica hopes to continue her journey of achieving equitable access for Black people.

Kimberly King earned her BA in Psychology from Yale University and her MA and PhD in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a community organizer and committed advocate for social justice leading numerous workshops and teach-ins both on and off campus. Currently, she is the Chairperson of the Peralta Federation of Teachers Diversity Committee, as well as the Faculty Co-Coordinator of the Umoja-Ubaka Project. She is a Professor at Laney Community College in Psychology and Ethnic Studies, a founding member of Black Minds Matter (Peralta), and a member of the Laney Chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Erin Gray is a post-disciplinary cultural historian and political theorist focusing on the relationship between politics, aesthetics, and critical theory. Her research interests include political violence and left counter-histories of genocide; visual and performance studies; aesthetics and experimental poetics; gender studies and feminist epistemology; critical race studies; the black radical tradition and critiques of racial capitalism; historiography and history from below; affect, sentiment, sensation, and biopolitics. Erin’s research is presently focused on gendered racial formations within the photographic history of global white supremacy. Her current book project, The Moving Image of Lynching: Law-Founding Violence and Liberal Terror in the United States, engages the circulation of lynching across such media forms as the postcard, pamphlet, photography exhibition, magazine spread, newsreel, sound installation, and live and recorded reenactment to theorize an altered history of white supremacist violence in the U.S. Focusing on the co-emergence of legal lynching and racial liberalism, the manuscript theorizes the image of lynching as a dialectical object that illuminates the constitutive relationship of extra-legal terror to racial capitalism and U.S empire. Prior to her appointment at UC Davis, Erin taught in the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University as a Provost postdoctoral fellow. From 2017-2018, Erin was a University of California President’s postdoctoral fellow in African American Studies at UC Irvine. She has twice been awarded fellowships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Dylan Rodríguez is an abolitionist teacher, scholar, and collaborator. He was an inaugural Freedom Scholar awardee in 2020 and was elected by his peers to serve as the 2020-2021 President of the American Studies Association. He has worked as a Professor at the University of California, Riverside since 2001 and became Co-Director of the Center for Ideas and Society in 2021. He served two elected terms as Chair of the UCR Division of the Academic Senate (2016-2020) and chaired the Department of Ethnic Studies between 2009-2016. Dylan is the author of three books, most recently White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logic of Racial Genocide (Fordham University Press, 2021).

Virtual Event on Friday, January 28 at 12:00pm


What does it mean to center abolition in teaching, research and art rather than “mass incarceration?” Whether you’re abolition-curious or have been doing abolitionist work for a long time, join the Critical Resistance Abolitionist Educators for a conversation about the stakes of abolitionist study, the dangers of criminal justice and police reformism, and why they created the Critical Resistance Resource Guide for Teaching and Learning Abolition.

Melissa Burch is Assistant Professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and a longtime member and former staffer of Critical Resistance. Her research and community work focuses on the experiences of people with criminal records in the United States. She is currently writing her first book on the discriminatory use of criminal records in the job market.

Writer, educator and organizer, Erica R. Meiners’ current books include a co-edited anthology The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences, Working Towards Freedom (Haymarket Press 2018) and the co-authored Feminist and the Sex Offender: Confronting Sexual Harm, Ending State Violence (Verso 2020). At Northeastern Illinois University, Erica is a member of her labor union, University Professionals of Illinois, and she teaches classes in education, gender and sexuality studies, and justice studies. Most importantly, Erica has collaboratively started and works alongside others a range of ongoing mobilizations for liberation, particularly movements that involve access to free public education for all, including people during and after incarceration, and other queer abolitionist struggles.

Dylan Rodríguez is an abolitionist teacher, scholar, and collaborator. He was an inaugural Freedom Scholar awardee in 2020 and was elected by his peers to serve as the 2020-2021 President of the American Studies Association. He has worked as a Professor at the University of California, Riverside since 2001 and became Co-Director of the Center for Ideas and Society in 2021. He served two elected terms as Chair of the UCR Division of the Academic Senate (2016-2020) and chaired the Department of Ethnic Studies between 2009-2016. Dylan is the author of three books, most recently White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logic of Racial Genocide (Fordham University Press, 2021).

Priya Kandaswamy is a scholar and educator who works at the intersections of Ethnic Studies, Feminist Studies, and Queer Studies. She is the author of Domestic Contradictions: Race and Gendered Citizenship from Reconstruction to Welfare (Duke University Press, 2021), and her scholarship has appeared in American Quarterly, Sexualities, Radical Teacher, and numerous other journals and anthologies. Priya is currently the Academic Program Director at Mt. Tamalpais College, a community college program that serves incarcerated students at San Quentin state prison.

Shana Agid is an artist/designer, teacher, and activist whose work focuses on relationships of power and difference in visual, social, and political cultures. She is an Associate Professor of Arts, Media, and Communication at Parsons School of Design and a co-developer of Working with People (, a keyword-based curriculum and website for developing critical pedagogical frameworks for collaborative practices. His design work focuses on exploring possibilities for making self-determined services and campaigns through teaching and design research. She is also a book artist and letterpress printer, and a long-time member of Critical Resistance.

Setsu Shigematsu is an Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies. Xe is the Director of Re-Visions of Abolition: From Critical Resistance to a New Way of Life (2011/ 2021) and is co-producing a new documentary #Abolish ICE: Abolish Adelanto and All Border-Prisons. Xe authors eco-feminist childrens books, co-creates political art, and a co-founder of the Decolonial Feminist Art and Research Collective. Setsu is also the author of Scream from the Shadows: The Women’s Liberation Movement in Japan.

Virtual Event on April 24, 2023 at 6pm
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Bringing together leaders from the anti-caste movement in the U.S., this panel will highlight the efforts made to further caste protections in higher education institutions across the country, discuss the limitations of merely adding caste as a protected category without institutional commitment, and share visions of caste abolition.


Jasmine (they/she), Vidya (she/they), Shahira Bangar (she/her), Manu Kaur (they/them), and Jamila (she/her)

Moderator: Anusha Kedhar (she/her), Associate Professor of Dance (UCR).

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society, UCR Dance, UCR Religious Studies and Holstein Family and Community Endowed Chair, UCLA Center for India and South Asia, and UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.

Virtual Event on May 9, 2023 at 6pm 
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In this talk, Riri will share their experiences as a Dalit gender nonbinary/nonconforming and gender queer person from a poor family and a village in India. Today they are a PhD scholar and the only member of the Dalit-Trans community in their region who has been able to attain this level of academic success, all of which has come with its share of resisting homophobia and casteism. Through discussing their journey as a painter, student and community organizer, alongside being a scientist, they will highlight what it means to be a member of the LGBTQ community while being Dalit, especially because Dalit queer people and women are targets of state and intimate violence, making this is an issue that demands immediate visibility and action. Riri will also discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic shaped access to housing, public health support, and so on, by furthering existing inequities. Having led to the creation of their collective, The Outcaste LGBTQIA+, we will learn about the work that they have been able to accomplish in supporting their community in a society that is inherently brahmanical, homophobic and transphobic. This talk is also accompanied with an art fundraiser with pieces that speak volumes on Queer and Trans Dalit Futurisms, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, and more!

Sponsored by:

Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society, UCR Dance, UCR Religious Studies and Holstein Family and Community Endowed Chair, UCR Performing Difference Working Group, UCLA Center for India and South Asia, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture

Virtual Event on May 22, 2023 1:30pm
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Abolition can be a spiritual practice, a spiritual journey, and a spiritual commitment. What does abolition entail and how can we get there as a collective and improvisational project?

To posit the spirituality of abolition is to consider the ways historical and contemporary movements against slavery; prisons; the wage system; animal and earth exploitation; racialized, gendered, and sexualized violence; and the death penalty necessitate epistemologies that have been foreclosed through violent force by Western philosophical and theological thought. It is also to claim that the material conditions that will produce abolition are necessarily Black, Indigenous, queer and trans, feminist, and also about disabled and other non-conforming bodies in force and verve.

Spirituality and Abolition asks: what can prison abolition teach us about spiritual practice, spiritual journey, spiritual commitment? And, what can these things underscore about the struggle for abolition as a desired manifestation of material change in the worlds we currently inhabit? Collecting writings, poetry, and art from thinkers, organizers, and incarcerated people, the editors trace the importance of faith and spirit in our ongoing struggle towards abolitionist horizons.

Book launch panel discussion with

Ashon Crawley (Editor) is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He is author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press), an investigation of aesthetics and performance as modes of collective, social imagination and The Lonely Letters, an exploration of the interrelation of Blackness, mysticism, quantum mechanics and love, to be published with Duke University Press in 2020. He is currently working on a third book, tentatively titled “Made Instrument,” about the role of the Hammond Organ in the institutional and historic Black Church, in Black sacred practice and in Black social life more broadly. All his work is about otherwise possibility

Peter Kline (Contributor) is the Academic Dean and Lecturer in Systematic Theology at St Francis College, University of Divinity. He is the author of Passion for Nothing: Kierkegaard’s Apophatic Theology (Fortress Press, 2017)

Andrew Krinks (Contributor) Andrew Krinks is an educator, writer, scholar, and movement builder working at the intersections of racial justice, religion, criminalization, and abolition in Nashville, Tennessee. He teaches college and seminary courses on theology, ministry, social justice, carcerality, and abolition, and conducts participatory action research on the impacts of prisons and policing. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow with the Initiative for Race Research and Justice at Vanderbilt University. His book White Property, Black Trespass: The Religion of Mass Criminalization will be published by New York University Press in 2024. He organizes with the Nashville People’s Budget Coalition for a world of abundance and safety beyond cops, courts, and cages.

Jasmine Syedullah (Contributor) is a black feminist theorist of abolitionist movement scholarship as well as coauthor of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation (North Atlantic Books, 2016). She joined the faculty of Vassar College in 2019 and holds Africana Studies’ first Assistant Professor line there. In addition to teaching, she advises the development of Prison Studies curriculum and programming. Her current book project centers the truant emancipation and timecraft of Harriet Jacobs’s 1861 abolitionist narrative as a protofeminist foundation for critical carceral race and gender studies.

Jared Ware (Contributor) is a cohost and producer of the podcast Millennials Are Killing Capitalism, which covers revolutionary history, social movements, and political theory. He was a member of the media relations team for the 2018 National Prison Strike. He is also a freelance journalist covering prisoner movements and abolitionist struggles.

Moderated by Dylan Rodriguez and Malav Kanuga (Common Notions Press)

**Copies of the book available as door prizes for attendees!

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society

Virtual Event on May 24, 2023 at 10am 
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Join us, on Wednesday May 24th at 10 AM PST, for a virtual screening of the documentary film, Caste on the Menu Card, which delves into the idea of food as a site of exclusion by focusing on beef-eating practices in Mumbai and portrays concerns related to livelihood, brahmanical social inclusion and human rights. Apart from tracing the mythological and historical roots of the meat-eating culture in India, the film also discusses the political economy of the leather and meat industries. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Atul Anand, one of the filmmakers, and Rajyashri Goody, moderated by Dr. Shaista Aziz Patel.

Atul Anand is a documentary filmmaker, photographer, and writer, working on issues of caste, migration, labour, civil rights, and anti-caste culture. They hold an MA in Media and Cultural Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Their film Caste on the Menu Card has been showcased at numerous locations, both domestically and abroad. Atul will speak about their personal experience of creating the film, as well as stories about caste and food that emerged after the film’s screenings. They will also share their ambitious proposal on how to dismantle the caste hierarchy.

Rajyashri Goody, a scholar and artist from Pune, India, currently based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, holds a BA in Sociology and an MA in Visual Anthropology. Her artistic practice is informed by her academic background and her Ambedkarite roots. She is interested in creating space and time for thinking through everyday instances of Dalit resistance, and incorporates reading, writing, ceramics, photography, printmaking, and installation in the hope that these mediums enable further conversations about caste and hierarchies.

Sponsored by Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society, UCR Dance, UCR Religious Studies and Holstein Family and Community Endowed Chair, UCR Performing Difference Working Group, UCLA Center for India and South Asia, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, UCSD Department of Ethnic Studies, UCSD Department of History

Join us for a sequence of conversations with authors of key texts addressing violence, empire, liberation, solidarity, abolition, and the problem of “Man”/human. These short (60-75 minute) sessions will be led by students of MCS 201 (Racial-Colonial [State] Violence) at UC Riverside, taught by Prof. Dylan Rodríguez. Online participants will have opportunities to engage with authors during the sessions, to whatever extent time permits. This is an experiment. We hope you will read the authors’ work prior to each study meeting, but as importantly, we aspire to cultivate a sense of intellectual collaboration, curiosity, and activated thought.

Sponsors: UCR’s Health Humanities and Disability Justice (HHDJ) Initiative & the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society.


October 11, 2023 | Liat Ben-Moshe, On Decarcerating Disability | Watch Video

October 31, 2023 | Harsha Walia – Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism

November 8, 2023 | Nicole Nguyen – Terrorism on Trial: Political Violence and Abolitionist Futures

November 15, 2023 | Benjamin Weber – American Purgatory: Prison Imperialism and the Rise of Mass Incarceration | Watch Video

November 22, 2023 | Joshua Bennett – Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man | Watch Video

November 29, 2023 | Dean Spade – Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During this Crisis (and the next) | Watch Video

December 8, 2023 | William C. Anderson – The Nation on No Map: Black Anarchism and Abolition

Virtual Event on December 15, 2023 at 12pm 
View Event

What is the significance of the section of the California Constitution that states, “Involuntary servitude is prohibited except to punish crime?” This roundtable with formerly incarcerated organizers, lobbyists, teachers, and students will discuss and debate the notion of “prison slavery,” with specific attention to a mounting campaign to abolish the “exception clause” from the California Constitution. What are the possibilities and pitfalls of an organizing project that focuses on involuntary and/or virtually uncompensated prison labor? What lessons can be learned from nominally successful efforts to eliminate prison slave labor in other states? Does the struggle to pass ACA 8 (a proposed Constitutional amendment) help or hinder efforts to decarcerate and/or abolish the California carceral regime?

Join activists from All Of Us Or None, Starting Over, Legal Services For Prisoners With Children, and other organizations for this urgent discussion.

Free, online, no registration required

Join Stream

Roundtable participants:

Jeronimo Cuauhtemoc Aguilar (Legal Services For Prisoners With Children)

Bobbie Butts (All Of Us Or None)

Fidel Chagolla (Starting Over, All Of Us Or None)

Shaun Leflore (All Of Us Or None)

Laine May (Starting Over)

Henry Ortiz (Legal Services For Prisoners With Children)

Facilitated by Dylan Rodriguez, Professor (Departments of Black Study and Media & Cultural Studies), Co-Director of Center for Ideas and Society

Co-Sponsored by UCR Underground Scholars, the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Programming Stream at the UCR Center for Ideas and Society, and the UCR Health Humanities and Disability Justice Initiative

April 30, 2024 12pm | Virtual Event

Book talk with Dr. Pinky Hota

Informed by critical caste and race, and gender and sexuality approaches, Pinky Hota’s research examines right wing politics in conversation with contemporary capitalism. Her first book entitled The Violence of Recognition: Adivasi Indigeneity and Anti-Dalitness in India (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023) speaks to the global rise of right-wing ethnonationalist politics in response to gains made by minorities amidst widespread economic uncertainty. The book locates violence between two minority groups—one classified as indigenous (adivasi) and the other as a marginalized caste category, Dalit—in the long durée of caste capitalism by showing how adivasi indigeneity operates as a fulcrum of caste capitalism that facilitates the legal, political and ultimately, economic exclusion, of Dalits in India. Doing so, it shows how emergent forms of right wing politics must be understood with recourse to long standing relationships between religion and political economy, caste and race, and hierarchies of racial capitalism.

Sponsored by the UC Collective for Caste Abolition. Cosponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society and the Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative.

May 14, 2024 at 3pm | HMNSS 1500

Watch Video

This roundtable features teacher, writer, organizer, and longtime U.S. political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim, a founder of the Jericho Movement and veteran member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. Jalil will discuss the Peoples’ Senate, a project of revolutionary self-determination intended to create alternative systems of socio-economic and political order. Roundtable discussants will include author, activist, and longtime KPFK (Los Angeles) radio host Thandi Chimurenga, All of Us or None organizer Shaun Leflore, and UCR Professor Dylan Rodríguez, with introductory remarks by Dr. Arón Montenegro, UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow.

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society, UCR Health Humanities and Disability Justice (HHDJ) Initiative, and the Blackness Unbound Faculty Commons Group.

Collaborations and Community Engagement Beyond UCR

Genocide Management: Carceral Reformism, Policing, Sexual Violence and the Role of Law
Virtual Event on  Friday, December 3, 2021 at 1:00pm


5th Annual Racial Violence Hub Workshop: Feminist Approaches to Theorizing Genocidal Violence, Wars and Occupations, a series of The Racial Violence Hub and Penny Kanner Endowed Chair in Gender Studies.

Dr. Dylan Rodríguez is an abolitionist teacher,scholar, collaborator, Professor at UC Riverside,and the Co-Director of the Center for Ideas and Society. His most recent book is White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logic of Racial Genocide (Fordham University Press,2021).

Dr. Sherene H. Razack is a Distinguished Professor and the Penny Kanner Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies in the Department of Gender Studies,UCLA. She is the founder of the virtual research and teaching network the Racial Violence Hub.


Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva is a Professor at the University of British Columbia and a practicing artist. She is the author of Toward a Global Idea of Race (2007), A Dívida Impagavel (2019), and Unpayable Debt (forthcoming).

Dr. Leslie Thielen-Wilson is an Assistant Professor and Faculty of Arts and Science in the Gender Equality and Social Justice at Nipissing University.

“Genocide, Antiblackness, + the Pornographic: The Urgency of Black Autonomy and Abolitionist Activism”
Virtual Event on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 @ 1:00 pm

The Decolonizing Humanism(?) Stream at the Center for Ideas and Society (CIS, UC Riverside) and The Black Studies Collaboratory (BSC, UC Berkeley) invite you to join us to discuss black communities’ experiences across public schools, professional pornography, and everyday spaces. These sites will be placed within the context of U.S. antiblack policing, captivity, and ultimate genocide to prompt an apt discussion about the libidinal, political, and pornographic economies of these disciplinary structures in slavery’s afterlife. This critical meditation will also explore the urgency of black autonomy and abolitionist activism as strategies aimed to rattle and raze these economies, structures, and settler/slaver/colonial/civil society in its totality. Tending to black pleasure, joy, and life as well as black pain, suffering, and death, this dynamic conversation sketches the im/possibilities of a post-apocalyptic social world revolving around the affirmation of blackness.

This event is co-sponsored by UC Riverside’s Decolonizing(?) Humanism Initiative and part of UC Berkeley’s BSC Abolition Democracy Spring Speaker Series. Joining us for conversation will be: Savannah Shange, author of Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Antiblackness, and Schooling in San Francisco (2019); Connie Wun, author of “Against Captivity: Black Girls and School Discipline Policies in the Afterlife of Slavery” (2015); Damien M. Sojoyner, author of First Strike: Educational Enclosures of Black Los Angeles (2016); Dylan Rodríguez, author of most recently published book, White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logics of Genocide (2020); and BSC Abolition Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow, Peace And Love El Henson, author of dissertation, “Race, Power, and the Pornographic: Naughty Black Femme Schoolgirls in Interracial Pornography, Publics Schools, and Policing Encounters” (2021).

Savannah Shange is assistant professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz and also serves as principal faculty in Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. Her research interests include gentrification, multiracial coalition, ethnographic ethics, Black femme gender, and abolition. She earned a PhD in Africana Studies and Education from the University of Pennsylvania, a MAT from Tufts University, and a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Her first book, Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Anti-Blackness and Schooling in San Francisco (Duke 2019) is an ethnography of the afterlife of slavery as lived in the Bay Area.

Connie Wun, PhD is a co-founder of AAPI Women Lead. She also leads national research projects on race, gender and violence. Connie is a 2020 Soros Justice Fellow and has received numerous awards including National Science Foundation fellowship. Her research has been published in academic journals, anthologies and online platforms. She is also a former high school teacher, college educator, and sexual assault counselor.

Damien M. Sojoyner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. He researches the relationship among the public education system, prisons, and the construction of Black masculinity in Southern California. He teaches several courses including Black Political Theory in the United States, Prisons and Public Education, and Black Public Culture. His upcoming book, Joy and Pain: A Story of Black Life and Liberation in Five Albums will be published by the University of California Press in the Fall of 2022.

Dylan Rodríguez is an abolitionist teacher, scholar, and collaborator. He was named a Freedom Scholar in 2020 and recently served as President of the American Studies Association (2020-2021). He has worked as a Professor at the University of California, Riverside since 2001. Prior to being elected by the faculty to two terms as Chair of the UCR Academic Senate (2016-2020), Dylan served as Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies (2009-2016). Dylan is the author of three books, most recently White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logic of Racial Genocide (Fordham University Press, 2021).

Peace And Love El Henson, Ph.D. is a black feminist urban ethnographer and critical porn studies analyst. She does research and teaching as a Black Studies Collaboratory Abolition Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley. Broadly, Peace And Love primarily focuses on black queer femmes, genocide, abolition, autonomy, urban/ethnography, and pornography. Her in-progress book manuscript is tentatively titled, On Erotic Mastery: Black Femmes, Pornography, and U.S. State Encounters. Fun fact: Amidst all fray, Peace And Love finds joy in mastering herself as an intergalactic thinker, writer, and creative.

Learn more

April 11 @ 12pm PST
Virtual Event


Interested in convivial research methods? Or how (un)disciplining study shapes the potential for knowledge-making and learning within the neoliberal university? Come join us for this event as panelists draw on decolonial thinking, black feminisms, and abolition scholarship to underscore the irony in conviviality and its abuse as a colonizing tool. The panelists will share their ideas about conviviality in doing inquiry and interventions in critical anti-violence research. They will also offer examples of insurgent opportunities against coded formations of diversity and intersections of violence at the university and beyond. In pushing possibilities for method-making and counter-expressions are ways toward an otherwise praxis

Dylan Rodríguez (Center for Ideas & Society, UCR) is an abolitionist teacher, scholar, and collaborator. He was named a Freedom Scholar in 2020 and recently served as President of the American Studies Association (2020-2021). He has worked as a Professor at the University of California, Riverside since 2001. Prior to being elected by the faculty to two terms as Chair of the UCR Academic Senate (2016-2020), Dylan served as Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies (2009-2016). Dylan is the author of three books, most recently White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logic of Racial Genocide (Fordham University Press, 2021).

Korina Jocson (Education, UMass Amherst) is an associate professor of education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she teaches courses on critical methodologies, youth studies, and pedagogy. Her scholarship draws on the humanistic social sciences to illuminate youth’s cultural practices and how global flows of information, people, and ideas have the potential to shape pedagogical possibilities. Korina is the author of two monographs, including Youth Media Matters: Participatory Cultures and Literacies in Education, and a forthcoming book on race, gender, and technology at the school-work nexus.


Collaborative for Global Studies and Transformative Education UnderCommons Constellation (UC2)
Cee Carter (Education, UMass Amherst) is a newly minted PhD in education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Applying the theoretical lessons of Black Feminist Thought, Cee rethinks the limits of educational mandates. Cee’s scholarship reconceptualizes approaches to educational equity to guide shifts in teaching and research practices. Most recently, Cee’s work traces how educational justice for youth of color is regulated through raciality, economy, and policy.

Mariam Rashid (Education, UMass Amherst) is a PhD Candidate in education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research interests are in refugee resettlement policies and practices in the United States. In her current work, she explores how colonial, gendered, and racialized resettlement policies facilitate the dispossession of African refugees resettled in the U.S. from East and Central Africa. Her inquiry draws on Black Studies, feminist thought and diasporic feminisms.

Benjamin Scherrer (Education, UMass Amherst) is a PhD Candidate in education and W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His work draws from Black Studies, river and wetland ecology, and critical cartographic practices. Through archival study, his current project disrupts disciplined climate change education by retelling flooding and catastrophe in the American South.

Critical Anti-Violence Research and Action Working Group (CARA)
Sneha George (Ethnic Studies, UCR) is a PhD Candidate in ethnic studies at the University of California Riverside. She received an M.A. in international relations at The New School, New York, and a B.A. in women’s studies and world history at the State University of New York in Albany. Sneha is currently a feminist and queer of color theorist whose dissertation work is on South Asian Studies critique, and other worldly possibilities through communal and relational self-reflexivity as praxis and being.

Romina Garcia (Ethnic Studies, UCR) is a PhD candidate in the department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. As a doctoral student, Romina’s research focuses on examining the structural and administrative antiblack violence that encompasses women of color, in particular, Black women within anti-violence work. She is a founding member of CARA – Critical Anti-Violence Research and Action which is a UC based collective that converges thought and action to end racialized gendered violence through an abolitionist and decolonial feminist approach. She is the author of All Canned Foods are Expired but Still Edible: A Critique of Anti-Violence Advocacy and the Perpetuation of AntiBlackness which unpacks the carceral treatment experienced by Black women victim/survivors navigating domestic violence non-profit advocacy services in her hometown of Chicago

Cinthya Martinez (Ethnic Studies, UCR) is a first-generation PhD candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her dissertation titled, “Freedom is a Place: Abolitionist Possibilities in Migrant Women’s Refusals,” draws from border/immigration studies, critical carceral studies, and feminist theory to examine how migrant women refuse and resist the historical, discursive, and epistemic erasure of gendered violence in ICE immigrant detention centers. Her dissertation is focused on Adelanto ICE Detention Center, where she also organizes and volunteers to support migrants fighting their asylum cases. Cinthya employs an archival and ethnographic analysis to resituate detained migrant women’s writings as anti-carceral and feminist abolitionist praxes that counter the state’s diligent efforts to conceal gendered violence from the historical record. Through a critical reading of migrant women’s hunger strike demands and personal correspondences, she locates migrant women as authors of abolitionist praxis.

Sponsored by Decolonizing Humanism(?), Center for Ideas and Society, CARA Working Group and the Department of Media and Cultural Studies

Invited focus group of CIS Faculty Commons participants in conversation with Prof. Erica Kohl-Arenas, Director of Imagining America.

Virtual event on April 14 at 6:00pm


This panel examines the role of the American Empire in the Philippines including the Philippine American War, the role of education in colonization, the institutionalization of white supremacy, and how American imperialism continues to shape the lived experiences of Filipinos in the Philippines and the United States today. Panelists will engage these issues through an intersectional perspective and with various disciplinary approaches.


Neferti X. M. Tadiar is Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of the books, Things Fall Away: Philippine Historical Experience and the Makings of Globalization (2009) and Fantasy-Production: Sexual Economies and Other Philippine Consequences for the New World Order (2004). Her new book, Remaindered Life (Duke University Press, 2022), is an extended meditation on the disposability and surplus of life-making under contemporary conditions of global empire. Professor Tadiar is the Director of the Alfredo F. Tadiar Library in San Fernando, La Union, Philippines.

Ricky Punzalan is an associate professor in the University of Michigan School of Information. His research and teaching focus on archives and digital curation. He conducts community-based, participatory research to understand access to digitized anthropological archives and ethnographic legacy data by academic and community users. He currently co-directs ReConnect/ReCollect: Reparative Connections to Philippine Collections at the University of Michigan, a project that develops the framework for, and the practice of, reparative work for Philippine collections acquired by the University during the U.S. colonial period. His work has been published in American Archivist, Archival Science, Archivaria, International Journal of Digital Curation, and Library Quarterly.

Nerissa S. Balce is a cultural studies scholar. She is an Associate professor of Asian American studies at SUNY Stony Brook. Balce is the author of the book, Body Parts of Empire: Visual Abjection, Filipino Images and the American Archive (University of Michigan Press 2016 and Ateneo de Manila University Press 2017). Her current research focuses on visual culture, fiction, and the afterlives of empire and authoritarianism.

Dylan Rodríguez is a teacher, scholar, and collaborator who works with and within abolitionist and other radical communities and movements. Since 2001, he has maintained a day job as a Professor at the University of California, Riverside, where he also serves as Co-Director of the Center for Ideas and Society. His peers elected him President of the American Studies Association for 2020-2021, and in 2020 he was named to the inaugural class of Freedom Scholars. Dylan is the author of three books, including White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logic of Racial Genocide (Fordham University Press, 2021) and Suspended Apocalypse: White Supremacy, Genocide, and the Filipino Condition (University of Minnesota Press, 2009).

Sponsored by UC Berkeley APASD, AARC, E&I, Cal Alumni Association, Pilipinx American Alumni Chapter; UC Riverside Center for Ideas and Society’s Decolonizing Humanism(?) Stream

May 6 at 3:00pm
Hybrid Event

CHASS Interdisciplinary South 1113 or Zoom


A Panel on Zionism and Higher Education: Academic Freedom and Dissent

What is Zionism and what are its implications for university education and academic freedom? How does Zionism impact university policies, administrators and curriculum? How does Zionism as a modern ideology relate to racism, religion, Judaism and anti-Semitism? How do Palestinians experience Zionism on campuses and beyond? This panel brings together Jewish and Palestinian scholars and activists to address these questions to advance dialog and understanding.


Tallie Ben-Daniel, Jewish Voice for Peace, Managing Director
Taher Herzallah (American Muslims for Palestine)
Jennifer Mogganam (UC Davis)
Jeff Sacks (UC Riverside), Comparative Literature
Keith Camacho (UCLA)
Moderated by Setsu Shigematsu


UCR Center for Ideas and Society, Decolonizing Humanism(?) Stream
UCLA Asian American Studies
UCR Comparative Literature
UCR Media & Cultural Studies
UCR English Department

Virtual Event on March 9 at 12:00pm 


How do Russia’s current and ongoing attacks on Ukrainian sovereignty create/exacerbate disparate and even incomparable suffering for different communities and people in the region and beyond? What does the contemporary global history of border militarism, criminalization, xenophobia, sanctions and policing teach us about the complex, differential casualties created by this metastasizing crisis? How can we attend to the experiences of Black/African, Roma, nonwhite European, migrant/refugee and other populations experiencing conditions of war, displacement and gendered state violence within and beyond the Ukraine-Russia border and Eastern Europe writ large?

This event will speak to Eastern Europe’s role in the formation of global ethnoracial regimes and discuss how this compels an analysis of the complex, pervasive impact of gendered white supremacy in Europe and globally in relation to the current moment of crisis in Ukraine.

Roundtable conversation with

Chelsi West Ohueri (Slavic and Eurasian Studies, Univ. of Texas-Austin)

Sunnie Rucker-Chang (Slavic and East European Studies Program Director, University of Cincinnati)

SA Smythe (African American Studies, UCLA)

Suzy Kim (Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Rutgers University)

Harsha Walia (Activist, Organizer, author of Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism)

Vanessa E. Thompson (Gender Studies, Queen’s University)

Kenan Emini (Roma Antidiscrimination Network)

Moderated by Crystal Baik (Gender & Sexuality Studies, UCR) and Dylan Rodríguez (Media & Cultural Studies, UCR).

2021-2022 Department of Creative Writing Closing Event
Virtual Event on June 2 10:30am 

In celebration of the new UCR Department of Black Study

Register FREE:

Award-winning poet Quincy Troupe wrote the definitive biography of Miles Davis, Miles: the Autobiography; The Pursuit of Happyness, and a memoir, miles & me, soon to be a major motion picture. Author of 20 books, he also conducted the last interview with James Baldwin republished most recently in English as James Baldwin: The Last Interview & Other Conversations (Melville House, 2014). Troupe’s work has been translated into 30 languages. His most recent book of poetry is Duende: Poems, 1966 – Now (Seven Stories Press, January 2022).

Margaret Porter Troupe is a writer and editor. She is the founding director of the Harlem Arts Salon and The Gloster Arts Project, bringing the arts to children in rural Mississippi or wherever they may be.

Will Calhoun is a two time Grammy winner with the genre bending iconic Rock band LIVING COLOUR. He’s Produced Herb Alpert (Colors CD), Mos Def (Black Jack Johnson Project). Toured and recorded with Harry Belafonte, Caiphus Semenya, Letta M’bulu,

Mick Jagger, B.B. King, McCoy Tyner, Mahmoud Ginea, Marcus Miller, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter (Highlife CD), Oumou Sangare, Ron Carter, Phillip Glass, Lauryn Hill, Stanley Jordan, Ritchie Sambora, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, Public Enemy, Mike Stern, Mustapha Bakbou, Jaco Pastorius, Steve Via, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, and many others.

Tyehimba Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, is the author of two books of poetry

Leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”

Keith Gilyard has written and lectured extensively on language and literacy for over 30 years. Two-time recipient of an American Book Award, Keith Gilyard has passionately embraced African American expressive culture over the course of his career as a poet, scholar, and educator.

Gilyard has authored, edited, or co-edited twenty books, including the education memoir Voices of the Self: A Study of Language Competence (1991), the poetry collections American Forty (1993) and Poemographies (2001), as well as the novella The Next Great Old-School Conspiracy (2016).

Sponsored by the UCR Department of Creative Writing. Co-sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) stream at the Center for Ideas and Society.

With Aline Serzedello Vilaça
Event on October 11, 2022 at 7pm

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7:00 pm – Lecture Performance
8:00 pm – Discussion

About the event

The lecture performance “Menino 111” reminds us about the Rio de Janeiro police shooting and murdering of five young black males with a hundred and eleven gun shots in 2015. Through Jazz Dance and contemporary black performance aesthetics, the goal is to discuss antiblackness, its concept, the impact on every day life and question how arts can create an anti-antiblackness epistemology, aesthetic, theory and practice – or at least discuss it.

Speaker Bio

Aline Serzedello Vilaça is a 33 year old Black Brazilian jazzwoman. Mother, Dancer, choreographer, researcher and teacher with a BA and Licenciature in Dance from the Federal University of Viçosa/MG/Brazil, an MA in Ethnical and racial relationships from CEFET/RJ/Brazil, and another MA in Popular Culture from Federal University of Sergipe/SE/Brazil. Now, Aline is finishing her PhD dissertation in Performance Arts from University of São Paulo/SP/Brazil and also doing part of her research at UCR. Her interests are Jazz, Black history, afro diaspora studies, social justice, racism, antiblackness and slavery studies.

This event is a part of the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiatitive 

Cosponsored by UCR Center for Ideas and Society, Decolonizing Humanism(?), Asian Pacific Student Programs, Chicano Student Programs, Department of Black Study, and Latino and Latin American Studies Research Center.


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A talk with Jerome Morgan and Robert Jones
Event on October 18, 2022 at 2pm

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Jerome Morgan and Robert Jones will make a powerful presentation about mass incarceration in New Orleans and their efforts to rescue young people from its grasp through mentoring and community development projects.

Morgan and Jones spent more than forty years combined in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola before they were exonerated and released. While in prison, at a time when it appeared they had no real chance to be free, they made a pact to one day reunite in New Orleans to set up a cooperative business and mentoring program that would serve young people in danger of being swept into jails and prisons. They enrolled in prison education programs, studied law, and learned trades. With the help of allies outside prison walls they won their freedom. Today Morgan and Jones run the Free-Dem Foundations, a non-profit community-based youth organization in New Orleans that fulfills the vision they created while incarcerated. Morgan works as the Dean of School Culture at Rooted School in New Orleans while Jones serves as Director of Community Outreach and Lead Client Advocate at Orleans Public Defenders.

Their presentation will cover their own personal experiences with incarceration that they have delineated in their co-authored book (with Daniel Rideau) Unbreakable Resolve as well as a report on the curriculum, mentoring, business start-up, and apprenticeship programs they are implementing in the work of the Free-Dem Foundations. Morgan will speak about his participation in the collectively written book Go To Jail, an archive of twenty years of writing by public school students and teachers, people incarcerated in prisons, academics, attorneys, and their community allies.

Sponsored by Decolonizing Humanism(?) and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program at the Center for Ideas and Society, the UCR Graduate Division, and Department of Black Study.

Virtual Event on April 6, 2023 at 3pm


Please join us for this panel discussion with Joy James (Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Humanities, Williams College, author of In Pursuit of Revolutionary Love (IPORL) and “Maternal (In)Coherence“) and Kalonji Changa (Co-Founder of Black Power Media, Co-Chair of the Urban Survival and Preparedness Institute, Co-Founder of FTP Movement)

In conversation with:

  • Othandwayo Mgqoboka (Ph.D. student, Dept. of Anthropology, UC Riverside)
  • Brianna Simmons (Ph.D. student, Dept. of Anthropology, UC Riverside)
  • Laysi Zacarias (Ph.D. student, Dept. of Anthropology, UC Riverside)

Facilitated by:

Dylan Rodríguez (Professor, Dept. of Black Study and Dept. of Media and Cultural Studies, Co-Director of Center for Ideas and Society, UC Riverside)

Links to recent writing and conversations with Joy James and Kalonji Changa:

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society, Departments of History, English and Black Study

Event on May 1, 2023 at 10am
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As a global capitalism allowed our world to be more connected, it also caused spaces to be compressed and collapsed. Race and geography as a canon as much room to grow in understanding “sites of contention,” or spaces and places where geographic contestations are fought.

This event is open to students, faculty, and activists who center post-colonialism, prison abolotion, housing justice, and food justice, and environmental justice.

Speakers include:

Janelle Levy, Semassa Boko, Chaz Briscoe, Isabel Gonzales, Deogratius Mshigeni, Rod Martinez, Camille Samuels, and Rojelio Muñoz

A Conversation with Shayda Kafai, Alison Kafer, and Monika Mitra
Virtual Event on May 23, 2023 at 3:30pm

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Join us for a thought-provoking conversation about current challenges and opportunities in the struggle for reproductive justice and sexual agency for disabled people in the US.

ASL interpretation will be provided

Featured Panelists:

Shayda Kafai (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is the author of Crip Kinship: The Disability Justice and Art Activism of Sins Invalid (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2021).

Alison Kafer is the Embrey Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and English at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also directs the LGBTQ Studies program. She co-edited Crip Genealogies (Duke, 2023) with Mel Y. Chen, Julie Avril Minich, and Eunjung Kim, and she is the author of Feminist, Queer, Crip (Indiana, 2013).

Monika Mitra is the Nancy Lurie Marks Associate Professor of Disability Policy and Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University. Her research examines the health care experiences and health outcomes of people with disabilities, with a focus on the sexual and reproductive health of people with disabilities. She is currently co-leading the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities, the National Center for Disability and Pregnancy Research, the Community Living Policy Center, and the Community Living Equity Center.

Moderator: Katja M. Guenther

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society and the UCR Gender and Sexuality Studies Depertment

January 16, 2024 | 5pm | Virtual Event

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meital yaniv, author of bloodlines

meital yaniv (b. 1984, Tel-Aviv, israel) is learning how to be in a human form. they do things with words, with moving n still images, with threads, with bodies in front of bodies, with the Earth. they are a death laborer tending to a prayer for the liberation of the land of Palestine and the lands of our bodies. they are learning to listen to the Waters, birdsongs, caretakers, and ancestors as they walk as a guest on the home and gathering place of the Cahuilla-ʔívil̃uwenetem Meytémak, Tongva-Kizh Nation, Luiseño-Payómkawichum, and Serrano-Yuhaaviatam/Maarenga’yam.

Hadar Cohen 

Hadar is an Arab Jewish scholar, mystic and artist. She is the founder of Malchut, a spiritual skill building school teaching Jewish mysticism and direct experience of God. She cultivated her own curriculum on the cosmology of creation and teaches it through her training God Fellowship. Malchut is also home for her Jewish Mystical School that includes a library of her classes and a community platform for connection. She is a 10th-generation Jerusalemite with lineage roots also in Syria, Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran. Hadar consults and teaches on Judaism, multi-faith solidarity, spiritual and political activism and more. Her podcast, Hadar’s Web, features community conversations on spirituality, healing, justice, and art. Hadar coaches and mentors people 1:1 as well as leads and facilitates groups and community gatherings. Hadar weaves the spiritual with the political through performance art, writing, music and ritual. or  // @hadarcohen32

Sasha Perry 

Sasha is a white trans/queer working-class ashkenazi jew who organizes in earth/animal liberation and Pro-Palestinian spaces. They are an award-winning documentary editor whose films range from Palestinian freedom of movement, abortion access, Transgender rights, and the government targeting of radical movements. Sasha is a Rabbinical student with ALEPH, the Jewish Renewal movement in the lineage of Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi and graduate of their first Earth-Based Judaism cohort. Sasha is part of Rabbis for Ceasfire, Jewish Voice for Peace, and If Not Now. Their work as a Rabbinic Intern for a spiritual community in Los Angeles focuses organize around issues of incarceration, immigration, climate, housing and racial justice.

Asaf Calderon

Israeli social worker based in New York and one of the founders of Shoresh

Shoresh is a movement of anti-Zionist Israelis based in the U.S. who work towards freedom, democracy and justice for all who live between the river and the sea. In addition to striving for justice, Shoresh members are motivated by our love for our families, our communities and histories and our own material stakes in a free and just future in Palestine/Israel.

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Programming Stream at the UCR Center for Ideas and Society and Memory and Resistance Laboratory

bloodlines is an epic and intimate dive into the israeli apartheid regime from the perspective of an ex-israeli/ex-zionist soldier. Born into a sephardic and ashkenazi lineage of in/famous war heroes and pillars for the state of israel, meital yaniv traces their paternal family narrative from surviving the Holocaust of the second world war to migrating to Palestine and their subsequent indoctrination as zionist colonizers and defenders of the state of israel. yaniv directs our attention to the cycles of history and how genocide not only repeats but grows monstrously in the crevices of state belonging. Through a bold and radical poetics that unsettles language and definition, they foreground vulnerability while traversing the nuance of voice and inner forms of address. yaniv unravels the coordinates of belonging to write in the fissures of israeli identity. bloodlines is an invitation to contemporary israelis to unstitch the military uniform from their bodies and to reckon with their atrocities against generations of Palestinian lives and livelihoods. It is also a demand that the ongoing catastrophes in Palestine end now. With uncompromising courage and in lucid manifestation, yaniv urges israelis to join them in drowning in the wounds of their ancestors as well as the wounds they’ve inflicted, and in so doing, bring the state of israel and israeli identity to “a loving and caring death.”

meital yaniv (b. 1984, Tel-Aviv, israel) is learning how to be in a human form. they do things with words, with moving and still images, with threads, with bodies in front of bodies, with the Earth. they are a death laborer tending to a prayer for the liberation of the land of Palestine and the lands of our bodies. they keep Fires and submerge themselves in Ocean and Sea Water often. yaniv is learning to listen to the Waters, birdsongs, caretakers, and ancestors as they walk as a guest on the home and gathering place of the Cahuilla-ʔívil̃uwenetem Meytémak, Tongva-Kizh Nation, Luiseño-Payómkawichum, and Serrano-Yuhaaviatam/Maarenga’yam

January 10, 2024 | 12pm | Virtual Event
Bloodlines, Disillusionment and Return: Can They Meet?
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February 7, 2024 | 8am | Virtual Event
In Conversation: Bayo Akomolafe and meital yaniv

January 25, 2024 | 4:30pm | Hybrid Event 

Gaza Fights for Freedom covers the height of the Great March of Return protests that were inspired and led by the poet, journalist and non-violent resistance activist, Ahmed Abu Artema. The March was intended to last only from March 30, 2018 (Land Day) to 15 May (Nakba Day) but continued for almost 18 months. This film features stunning exclusive footage and tells the story of Gaza past and present.


Taher Herzallah served as the Director of Outreach and Community Organizing for American Muslims for Palestine. While a UCR student, Taher was the President of the Muslim Student Association West and Students for Justice in Palestine. He is currently in the Ph.D. program in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. His family is rooted in Shujaiya, Gaza.

Shaheen Nassar is a Community Organizer with the Council for American Islamic Relations, Los Angeles Chapter. A graduate of UC Riverside, Shaheen is an advocate for human rights. His family is from Shujaiya central Gaza. He has authored articles published by Aljazeera.

Co-Sponsored by: The Decolonizing Humanism(?) Stream and Performing Difference Faculty Commons Group at the Center for Ideas and Society, Departments of MCS, English, Comparative Literature, SJP

January 31, 2024 | 4pm | Virtual Event

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Book talk with Charisse Burden-Stelly

About the Book 

Black Scare / Red Scare illuminates the anticommunist nature of the US and its governance, but also shines a light on a misunderstood tradition of struggle for Black liberation. Burden-Stelly highlights the Black anticapitalist organizers working within and alongside the international communist movement and analyzes the ways the Black Scare/Red Scare reverberates through ongoing suppression of Black radical activism today. Drawing on a range of administrative, legal, and archival sources, Burden-Stelly incorporates emancipatory ideas from several disciplines to uncover novel insights into Black political minorities and their legacy.

Speaker Bio
“I am a critical Black Studies scholar of political theory, political economy, and intellectual history. My research pursues two complementary lines of inquiry. The first interrogates the transnational entanglements of U.S. capitalist racism, anticommunism, and antiblack racial oppression. My second area of focus examines twentieth-century Black anticapitalist intellectual thought, theory, and praxis. I am the co-author, with Dr. Gerald Horne, of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Life in American History, and my single-authored book titled Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism in the United States is forthcoming in November 2023. I am also the co-editor, with Dr. Jodi Dean, of Organize, Fight, Win: Black Communist Women’s Political Writings (Verso, 2022) and the co-editor, with Dr. Aaron Kamugisha and Dr. Percy Hintzen, of the latter’s writings titled Reproducing Domination: On the Caribbean and the Postcolonial State. Additionally, I guest edited the “Claudia Jones: Foremother of World Revolution” special issue of The Journal of Intersectionality. My published work appears in journals including Small Axe, Monthly Review, Souls, Du Bois Review, Socialism & Democracy, International Journal of Africana StudiesCLR James Journal, and American Communist History and in popular venues including Monthly Review, Boston Review, Essence magazine, and Black Agenda Report. I have been interviewed on podcasts, radio shows, and news show including The Real News Network, Breakthrough News, Millennials Are Killing Capitalism podcast, The Red Nation podcast, AJ+, By Any Means Necessary news show, Bad Faith podcast, and The Katie Halper show.

Co-sponsored by Marxist Institute for Research and the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Programming Stream at the UCR Center for Ideas and Society

February 20, 2024 | 2pm | Virtual Event 

Detours Palestine: Genocide in Gaza Teach-In with Professors Jennifer Lynn Kelly (UCSC) and Lila Sharif (ASU)

Co-sponsored by the UCR Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies (GSST) and Decolonizing Humanism (?) Program Stream at the UCR Center for Ideas & Society

In this virtual teach-in, Professors Jennifer Lynn Kelly and Lila Sharif will draw from their published work and their forthcoming co-edited volume Detours Palestine ( to contextualize the unfolding genocide on Gaza. Centering the work and everyday lives of Palestinians documenting and writing about the everyday horrors in Gaza, Professors Kelly and Sharif will amplify the pedagogy of those teaching life in between bombs, and those risking– and losing— their lives to document their displacement and death. In doing so, Professors Kelly and Sharif reckon with what it means to be a “witness” to the destructive consequences of ongoing settler dispossession in Palestine, and to consider the ways that Gaza emerges to consolidate global humanity in the face of overwhelming dehumanization and genocide.


Jennifer Lynn Kelly is an Associate Professor of Feminist Studies and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research broadly engages questions of settler colonialism, U.S. empire, and the fraught politics of both tourism and solidarity. Her first book, Invited to Witness: Solidarity Tourism Across Occupied Palestine (Duke University Press, 2023), is a multi-sited interdisciplinary study of solidarity tourism in Palestine that shows how solidarity tourism has emerged in Palestine as an organizing strategy that is both embedded in and working against histories of sustained displacement. Her next project, co-edited with Somdeep Sen (Rothskilde University) and Lila Sharif (Arizona State University), is Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Palestine, the next volume in the Detours Series at Duke University Press after the inaugural Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai’i. She is also a Founding Collective member of the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism and a Steering Committee Member for UCSC’s Faculty for Justice in Palestine.

Dr. Lila Sharif is a creative writer, researcher, and assistant professor at the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She is currently writing a book about the ways in which fair trade economies, settler colonialism, environmental destruction, and storytelling converge at Palestine’s historic olive tree, which has been harvested by Palestinians for over 6,000 years. Through a Palestinian Indigenous methodology that integrates food, land, and culture, and people, Sharif develops the concept of Vanishment to critique economies based in third world “recognition” and ongoing Israeli settler colonialism. Sharif researches and publishes on environmental justice, Indigenous epistemologies, and ethnic and racial studies, and is also a published poet. Recently Sharif co-authored Departures (UC Press, 2022), with the Critical Refugee Studies Collective and is currently co-editing The Sage Encyclopedia of Refugee Studies and a sequel to Departures. She is also currently co-editing A Decolonial Guidebook to Historic Palestine Dr. Jenny Kelley and Dr. Somdeep Sen. Dr. Sharif is a co-founding member of the Critical Refugee Studies Collective as well as the Palestinian Feminist Collective. She is the first Palestinian to earn a Ph.D. in ethnic studies, and holds a dual PhD in Sociology and Ethnic Studies.

Please join us for the first of a 3-part series on Understanding Palestine.

Panel I: Tuesday, Feb 6, 2024, 12.00 – 2.00 pm
Palestine: Occupation, Settler Colonialism, and Apartheid

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What has been the impact on the Palestinian people of Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem of Israel’s latest war on Gaza? How should we understand the overall context and history behind this war and its horrific toll of civilian lives? Israel has over the years variously been characterized as maintaining an occupation of Palestine, as being a settler colony, and as practicing a regime of apartheid. Its current assault on Gaza has been charged with genocide, though the draconian siege or blockade of Gaza since 2007 has also been described as a slow or creeping genocide. What is the definition of each description of the state of Israel and its actions? On what grounds are each of these descriptors based? How are they related to one another historically and in practice? What difference does it make to the practice of the supporters of Palestinian rights what paradigm is foregrounded?


Eman Ghanayem (Washington University in St Louis); Jess Ghannam (UCSF); Jennifer Mogannam (UCSC)

Hosted and moderated by David Lloyd (UCR, English)


Panel 2: Thursday, March 7, 2024, 12.00 – 2.00 pm
Palestine and the Law

The colonization of Palestine has raised many questions that involve international law, the laws of war and occupation, legal definitions of apartheid or crimes against humanity, the rights of refugees, the nature and rights of sovereignty, statehood and statelessness, and, domestically, concerning the legality of boycott, legal definitions of antisemitism, and the right to protest, as well as the legality of censorship and bans on speech and other forms of expression. Do Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza and the West Bank, its deliberate denial of basic infrastructure—water, power, access to food—and its long-term siege of the Gaza Strip constitute crimes against humanity and/or war crimes? Do they amount, as many have claimed, to the crime of genocide? Given the continuing denial of statehood to Palestine, what rights does its people have and what may be the limits of a rights-based approach to Palestinian liberation? How has Israel succeeded in changing international law through its actions and claims to legitimacy? What are the rights of refugees to return to their original places of residence? How do military

rule and discriminatory laws affect Palestinians both on the West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem and in Israel itself? In the US, how is the right to boycott protected? What rights do Palestine solidarity activists enjoy? What is the “IHRA definition of antisemitism” and what is its legal force? What is lawfare?

Speakers to be announced.


Panel 3: Wednesday, April 25, 2024, 12.00 – 2.00 pm
Indigenous Resistance, Settler Decolonization, and Palestine

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There has been much discussion of possible paths to the liberation of Palestine, including the two-state solution that would ensure a sovereign state for both Israel and Palestine on the divided territory of historic Palestine; the one-state solution, which has become the de facto reality given Israel’s virtual annexation of most of the West Bank, but which could also be transformed into a post-apartheid state of all its people with equal rights for all; and even a “post-state” solution that would seek other modes of polity than the nation-state. Would the decolonization of Palestine entail the expulsion of Jewish settlers from the West Bank or Jewish Israelis from all of historic Palestine? What forms of cohabitation can be imagined? How far would external pressure on Israel or the Palestinian Authority be required to enable decolonization to take place, and what kinds of pressure would be effective? Is there a viable nonviolent path to decolonization? What can be learnt from Indigenous models of decolonization from settler colonialism or from the post-apartheid successes and failures of South Africa

Speakers to be announced.

For further information, please contact David Lloyd,

Cosponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society

May 15, 2024 at 3:30pm | Virtual Event

This paper revisits Martin Bernal’s 1987 Black Athena: The Afroasiatic roots of Classical Civilization in order to put critical pressure on its notion of ‘Semitism’. I start from the premise that the ensuing debate was a missed opportunity to reckon with the colonial epistemology of the field, as I have described elsewhere (Umachandran and Ward 2024). Instead, attention was diverted into a bitter entrenchment of race-based identity politics, wherein the arguments of the book about the classical as justification for civilizational supremacy were diluted and deflected.

In this paper, then, I attempt to critique Bernal from a position that does not attempt to undermine his deflation of Eurocentric chauvinism (what could be called a post-Bernal position, indicating that the critique he inaugurated is by no means completed or behind us, roughly analogously with the ‘post’ of post-colonialism). Rather I insist that Bernal was no champion of Black emancipation via the re-narration of global history. I take seriously the distance he took care to re-iterate from Afrocentrist historians to give closer critical scrutiny to the ‘-asiatic’ half of the root-story that Bernal would tell. In tracing how Bernal constructs ‘Semitism’ in volume 1 of Black Athena, I argue that his historiography of so-called classical civilization is nonetheless dependent on the exclusion of the Muslim subject.

Therefore, I query the extent to which critiques of the Eurocentrism of Classical Studies can refer to Bernal to launch projects of ‘decolonisation’ or adjacently, projects of racial justice. WHat would embracing an ancient history of the world that embraced Muslim subjectivities look like, especially when oriented towards justice? What kinds of knowledge-production would go on in a historical discipline that undertook such a project, and how would these engender a politics in common with other critical disciplines such as Critical Muslim Studies?  In conclusion, I suggest how Critical Ancient World Studies can work past the reductive epistemological terms of analysis that have kept Classical studies turning in ever smaller circles since Black Athena failed to ignite a revolution it might have promised.


Mathura Umachandran (she/they) is a lecturer in the Department of Classics, Ancient History, Religious Studies and Theology at the University of Exeter (U.K.). They took their PhD from the Department of Classics at Princeton University in 2018, followed by a post-doctoral research position at Oxford University and the Andrew W. Mellon post-doctoral fellowship at the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University. They co-steward the Critical Ancient World Studies collective with Marchella Ward, from which collaboration the co-edited volume, Critical Ancient World Studies: The Case for Forgetting Classics (Routledge 2024), emerges. They have expertise across a broad range of classical reception studies with an emphasis on thinking with critical theory of all stripes but specifically queer, decolonial and post-colonial theories.

Cosponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) initiative at the Center for Ideas and Society, the Department of English, and the Department of Comparative Literature and Languages

 April 30, 2024 3pm  | Virtual Event

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with Shellyne Rodriguez (New York City based artist, organizer, professor) and Orisanmi Burton (professor at American University, author of Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt)

led by UCR professors Elyse Ambrose (Department of Black Study and the Department for the Study of Religion) and Dylan Rodríguez (Department of Black Study and Media and Cultural Studies, Co-Director of Center for Ideas and Society)

Registration required
Free to the public

Sponsored by the Decolonizing Humanism(?) Programming Stream at the Center for Ideas and Society

May 20, 2024 12pm | Virtual Event

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Sponsored by the University of California Riverside’s Center for Ideas and Society’s “Decolonizing Humanities (?)” initiative and UCR Faculty for Justice in Palestine

A roundtable with Angela Y. Davis, Jess Ghannam, and Robin D.G. Kelley.

Through the 1980s, campuses throughout the United States and internationally were the sites of a student-led movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid regime, a campaign called for by South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC). In many cases, anti-apartheid campaigns conjoined with demands for an end to “apartheid on campus” as students contested racial and gender discrimination and the rollback of affirmative action in their own institutions. Administration buildings were occupied, shanty-towns constructed on campus, and the meetings of Regents or Trustees disrupted. This was a campus movement that also coordinated with trades unions, religious communities, and a broad spectrum of social movements. And over the course of several years or organizing and protests, and despite obdurate administrative resistance, it succeeded in bringing many universities to divest and contributed greatly to the mainstreaming of the anti-apartheid movement as a moral and political cause for civil society as a whole. Notably, this campaign succeeded despite the Reagan and Bush administration’s deep support for the apartheid regime as a significant Cold War ally and source of raw materials.

Now the campaign for divestment from Israeli and from corporations that support its genocidal war and apartheid regime is spreading across US campuses in response to Palestinian civil society’s call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). This round table is intended to offer insights for the present from the history of the previous anti-apartheid movement. How was it organized? What were its overall strategies? What varieties of practice were used to advance the campaign? What tactics succeeded most effectively? How did campus organizations succeed in growing and drawing support? How were coalitions built with other civil society movements? In what ways did university administrations and police seek to repress or contain the divestment movement? And how does the present conjuncture differ from the 1980s in ways that demand new thinking and strategies? What has changed since the Reagan era, both in terms of the experience of social movement activism in neoliberal America and in terms of the strengthening of the state’s forces of repression? How specifically must the campaign against Israeli apartheid differ in its language, analysis, and strategies from the campaign against South Africa?

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Director’s Blog

Director’s update: October 2023

By Dylan Rodríguez Dear UCR colleagues, students, and staff, It is an honor to begin my third year as Co-Director of the Center for Ideas and Society. I am excited about the Fall 2023 schedule of events for the Decolonizing Humanism(?) programming stream, including a lecture and performance by globally renowned scholar, lawyer, and activist Dr. Ana Flauzina (UCR Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, 2021-2023) on October 30-31 (in person) and “On Violence: Fall 2023 Experimental Study Sequence” (online). Clickable link to participate in the “On Violence” sequence is here. I invite you and anyone who may be interested to join the “On Violence” study sequence over the course of the Fall quarter. Below this note is a list of the online study sessions for “On Violence,” featuring some of the most significant emerging and established scholars in their fields of study. I have taken great pleasure in collaborating with faculty and students from across the UCR campus and UC system over the last couple [...]

October 23, 2023|Categories: Director's Corner, Dylan Rodríguez, News|Tags: |

Director’s update: February 2023

By Dylan Rodríguez It continues to be a privilege and pleasure to participate in shaping the work of the Center for Ideas and Society. I trust that this brief correspondence will help encourage you to attend, participate in, and organize activities that reflect the experimental, inter/trans/counter/anti-disciplinary, creative character of the Center. As always, please feel free to reach out to me if you have ideas or questions: Success! AFD Grant update I'm happy to report that the Faculty Commons Project will continue to be supported through 2023-2024 as a result of our successful application for renewal of the UC Advancing Faculty Diversity (AFD) grant. I especially wish to acknowledge the Center’s Executive Katharine Henshaw and Grants and Finance Analyst Kathy Ann Hitchens for collaborating with me on this successful grant renewal. Crucially, the AFD grant will enable the expansion of the Faculty Commons Project to include two new and vital components: the creation of a Queer and Trans Studies Faculty Commons Group, [...]

February 6, 2023|Categories: Director's Corner, Dylan Rodríguez, News|Tags: |

For more information or to propose a project/event/collaboration, contact Dylan Rodríguez.

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