Latest News

UCR’s Culver Center to Host Sweeping ‘Neo Native’ Contemporary Arts Symposium

An unprecedented four-day symposium hosted by the University of California, Riverside will spotlight Native American artists whose work explores aspects of the contemporary Native American experience.

Held Nov. 1-4, “Neo Native: Toward New Mythologies” further brings to life the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts’ 40-work exhibition of the same name, which opened in June at the Alta Loma-based gallery.

The exhibition, curated by Navajo painter Tony Abeyta, includes pieces from 11 contemporary artists with Native American tribal affiliations, including ceramicists, painters, photographers, printmakers, and sculptors.

Source: UCR’s Culver Center to Host Sweeping ‘Neo Native’ Contemporary Arts Symposium

October 30, 2017|

The 2018 MIGC Call for Papers

The Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference (MIGC) is an annual event held at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee that supports the sharing and collaboration of national and international graduate student research across disciplines.

Urban development. Access to information technologies. Voting districts. Drone warfare. The asymmetrical identifies a lack of equivalence that is increasingly characteristic of contemporary economic, material, political, and visual relations. Asymmetry is often at the surface of history: where sustained and repeated practices of inequality manifest as image. The asymmetrical is also an aesthetic that registers imbalance and refuses a call to order.  The 2018 Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference (MIGC) asks how asymmetry and the asymmetrical can be used to interpret sites of conflict and complicate traditional ideas of equivalence, balance, and organization.

Emerging scholars in the humanities, arts, and humanistic sciences are invited to present work that broadens our current understanding of asymmetry and how it engages with culture, theory, and society. What are critical examples of asymmetrical development? How does the asymmetrical work in literature, the visual arts, and performance? What theoretical frameworks inform our understandings of the asymmetrical? How does asymmetry draw attention to patterns of inequality? When should we strive for asymmetry?

Deadline to apply is December 1, 2017

Lear more

Source: Call for Papers/Submit — The MIGC

October 27, 2017|

Research group explores social issues in the Mediterranean through the arts

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, UCR’s Center for Ideas and Society-sponsored research group Migration and Conflict Across the Mediterranean kickstarted their year-long project of examining Mediterranean topics on religious conflict and toleration and migration through the arts and exile.

Organized by three UC Riverside professors — Professor of Literature & Performance and Chairman of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production Erith Jaffe-Berg; Professor of History Michele Salzman and Associate Professor of History Fariba Zarinebaf — the group met at the Center of Ideas and Society, where other professors, graduate students and undergraduate students discussed how the Mediterranean, a region known for its cultural contact and exchange, has handled issues specifically on religious conflict and negotiation.

The three professors organizing this research group have extensive works related to the Mediterranean region. Jaffe-Berg has examined the development of commedia dell’arte, an early Italian form of professional theatrical performance, and has researched how underrepresented cultural and religious groups of this same time period made theatre in Europe. Salzman researches how communities negotiate for social status and power though performance, and is currently writing a book on the third to seventh century crisis faced in the city of Rome titled, “The ‘Falls’ of Rome: The Transformations of Rome in Late Antiquity.”  Lastly, Zarinebaf studies how the Mediterranean world is connected to the history of Istanbul and how the legal system of societies and empires developed to accommodate the diverse community in the pre-modern period.

Read full article at The Highlander

October 24, 2017|

UCR Celebrates Launch of Bilingualism Matters

The ability to speak two languages is considered a coveted social and professional advantage in an increasingly globalized society. Less frequently discussed, however, are the cognitive benefits that bilingualism offers to speakers.

According to the University of California, Riverside’s Judith Kroll, distinguished professor of psychology and director of UCR’s Bilingualism, Mind, and Brain Lab, bilingualism’s consequences are evident over the entire life span. People who can speak more than one language develop “mental flexibility” that increases openness to new learning, while code-switching, the practice of alternating between multiple languages in a single conversation, becomes an act of cognitive athleticism.

“Some of the most dramatic consequences are seen in older adults,” Kroll said. “Studies show that while bilingualism doesn’t protect people against dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it does seem to protect them against the onset of the symptoms. On average, the age at which bilingual people present symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is roughly four to five years later than monolinguals.”

Read Full Article

September 25, 2017|

Jonathan Walton Arrested at DACA Protest

Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies speaker and former UC Riverside Professor, Jonathan Walton, was one of the thirty-one professors arrested on Thursday at the DACA protest in Harvard Square.

Reverend Jonathan L. Walton was arrested at a protest against the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Timothy R. O’Meara

Before the arrests, several professors, one undocumented student, Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie C. Decker, and Memorial Church Minister Jonathan L. Walton spoke of the need to take action against the policy outside Massachusetts Hall to a crowd of roughly 300 students, faculty, and affiliates from five different universities. Khurana was also at the protest. Walton, who was later arrested, denounced the Trump administration in his remarks.

“We are here to say to the U.S. President, to his Attorney General, and to all the insecure leaders of this nation, that no human being is illegal,” Walton said.

Source: Professors Arrested at DACA Protest | News | The Harvard Crimson

September 8, 2017|

Daisy Vargas, History Ph.D. Candidate, Wins Prestigious Fellowship

Center for Ideas & Society affiliate, Daisy Vargas, is one of the six Ph.D. candidates in the Department of History who have won prestigious fellowships and grants totaling more than $200,000 this year. Daisy has worked on several projects at the Center including Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs (RIDAGA) and Articul@s Autonm@s.

Daisy Vargas has been awarded $25,000 as one of 21 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows for 2017 at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values.

The grant will support completion of her dissertation, “Mexican Religion on Trial: Race, Religion and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.” The dissertation traces the history of Mexican religion, race and the law from the 19th century into contemporary times, positioning current legal debates about Mexican religion within a larger history of anti-Mexican and anti-Catholic attitudes in the United States.

Her research has taken her from immigrant religious festivals in California and Utah to archives in Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas. She also is conducting ongoing research on botanicas in Southern California and curanderismo (traditional Mexican healing and practices) in the 20th century. The latter has taken her to archives in Chicago and oral histories in South Texas.

Vargas recently was chosen to participate in the Young Scholars’ Symposium at the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame, where she was chosen from a nationally competitive pool of late-stage doctoral students and junior faculty to present a chapter of her dissertation.

“Ms. Vargas is one of the top young scholars in the academic study of Latino religions in the United States, an important emerging field within the discipline of religious studies,” said Jennifer Scheper Hughes, associate professor of history and Vargas’ dissertation advisor. “Her dissertation examines the ways in which the law has engaged, framed, contested, and constrained Latino religions since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo through the present. Her work is profoundly interdisciplinary, both archival and ethnographic.”

Source: History Ph.D. Candidates Win Prestigious Fellowships

August 8, 2017|

UCR’s First Student Cohort of MMUF to Graduate

In a few short weeks, the University of California, Riverside will graduate its first cohort of students awarded the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF). UC Riverside was awarded a $500,000 grant in 2014 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the MMUF program on campus. The purpose of MMUF is to help diversify college and university faculty by mentoring and preparing undergraduate students for graduate school and academic positions.

“UCR’s participation in the MMUF program is a testament to the strength of our student body as a whole,” said Georgia Warnke, program coordinator for MMUF at UCR, and the director of Center for Ideas and Society. “We are especially proud of our graduating fellows, however. As individuals, they are extraordinarily accomplished; as our first cohort they have collectively established a legacy of great success for the fellows who follow them.”

The three students graduating this year are Jazmine Exford, Maria Liliana Ramirez, and Cynthia Romero. A fourth student, Ariana Elizalde, may finish her undergraduate work over the summer and will then take a gap year before applying to graduate school.

Source: UC Riverside’s First Student Cohort of Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship to Graduate

June 12, 2017|

When Anthropologists Act as Artifacts #MMTW – Allegra

This post is the third installment of our thread on the Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW), a project that explores migration and mobility by developing artwork, exhibitions, performances and public interventions. In the first installment, anthropologist and writer Helen Faller talked to Susan Ossman, Artistic Director of MMTW and in part two, performance artist Priya Srinivasan reflected on movement.

The Harpin & the Golden Horse

The Hairpin (AB): Do you think that only legs can take you this far? And only four of them for that matter? Look at me, I have none, but I’ve been carried around by two-legged people and I crossed so many borders, and sometimes borders crossed me. If you stay long enough in one place, the borders will surely change. Nobody remembers this and acts as if they are eternal. Sometimes humans build enormous walls to mark the borders too, and make them real. Tell me, how did you get to this museum, to Amsterdam?The Golden Horse (OS): ‘Why’ is not a question to ask. Sometimes life seems like a chain of events you have no control over. There are decisions made elsewhere and you can be stuck in one place or rushed to another, and when asked afterwards if you had a plan, not to look a fool you just make up an answer.

My four legs may come handy when one needs to gallop. But that was never my story. I was born in the mind of a goldsmith and wrought in the flames of his workshop in Alexandria. I was made to accompany my master to his grave. But these origins did not define my destiny. Like you, I crossed several borders, but the first one to traverse was between life and death. From what I see you must know a thing or two about death. What’s that tarnish that spoils your shine? Gold does not rust…

The Hairpin (AB): Blood does. And I have seen more than my share. I have been used as deadly weapon more than once. A disenchanted princess slipped me from her silky hair, straight across the throat of her unsuspecting brother. She then had free reign to expand the territory of the kingdom and rename cities in her family’s honor. Humans love drawing lines with blood. I could tell you so many more stories about how I was caught up in battles about border lines before I was judged so precious that I had to give up an active life and become a part of this collection.

Source: When Anthropologists Act as Artifacts #MMTW – Allegra

June 9, 2017|

Some Thoughts on Movement and the #MMTW – Allegra

It was the moment that the sociologist from University of Amsterdam Olga Sezneva announced “I will be a talking artifact” while striking a pose in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam that I knew our collaboration would work and that I was in the right place. The whole group burst into laughter and we continued our work of live performance in the museum engaging with the objects in the museum and also inserting our own objects into the exhibits. I had recently joined the Moving Matters  group and was excited to bring my movement practices to the group at Susan Ossman’s invitation. Although Susan had invited me to join the group in 2013 after reading my book Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor, I could not do so because I was actually “serially migrating” from California to Shanghai and then to Rotterdam. But in 2014 I joined the Motley Crue group of visual artists, scholars, writers, and performers from different parts of the world in Amsterdam at the Allard Peirson Museum of Mediterranean Antiquities.

Source: Some Thoughts on Movement and the #MMTW – Allegra

June 9, 2017|

“Daughters of the Dust” Kicks Off Free Film Series

The award-winning film “Daughters of the Dust” will kick off a free summer film series at the University of California, Riverside May 12-13.

The series, “Film for Thought,” is part of the Center for Ideas and Society’s Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies project. This two-year project will investigate issues surrounding economic inequality, access to higher education, religious identity and intolerance, and omitted or erased histories.

As the debut film in the series, “Daughters of the Dust” is co-sponsored by the UCR Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science program. The screening will be hosted at the Culver Center of the Arts, 3824 Main St., on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 13, at 3 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the May 12 screening and will include: Jayna Brown, UCR associate professor of ethnic studies; Paulette Brown-Hinds, editor-in-chief of IE Voice; and moderator Derek Burrill, associate professor of media and cultural studies.

Source: UCR TODAY – “Daughters of the Dust” Kicks Off Free Film Series

May 12, 2017|

Three Scholars Win Fulbright Grants

Three Scholars, all associated with the Center for Ideas & Society, win Fulbright Grants.

April 24, 2017: Fellowships will support research on women in French architecture, conservation-resource rights tensions in South Africa, and the state of religiosity in India.

Heidi Brevik-Zender will hold the 2017-18 visiting professorship at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where she will do research for a book project exposing the role of women in 19th century French architecture.

Anthropologist Derick Fay will return to South Africa, where he has conducted extensive field studies since 1998, to investigate the relationships between conservation, law, and resource rights represented in the 2012 trial of three fishermen arrested in Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve.

Political scientist Ajay Verghese will spend a year in India to determine if increasing socioeconomic development is causing a decline in religious belief but an increase in religious practice, a form of secularization that is distinct from the Western world.

Source: Three Scholars Win Fulbright Grants

May 12, 2017|



Excerpt from an interview with Susan Ossman, Artistic Director of the Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, by Allegra Laboratory:

Helen: What is the Moving Matters Traveling Workshop?

Susan: The MMTW is a collective of artists and scholars who develop art together based on their shared experience of living in several countries. The project started in 2013 at a seminar where anthropologists and artists developed “creative responses” to my book Moving Matters, Paths of Serial Migration. Since then we have met in changing locations to address topics related to migration and mobility from our perspectives as “serial migrants” in art, exhibitions and performances. The MMTW grows through a process of progressive “inhabitations.” Just like a serial migrant, it settles into one country after another. We have traveled to California, France, the Netherlands and Romania. Berlin is coming up in June.

View the full article here


April 20, 2017|

Heidi Brevik-Zender receives Fulbright US Scholar Award

Heidi Brevik-Zender (Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature) has been selected for a 2017-18 Fulbright US Scholar Award.  She will hold the Fulbright-Scotland Visiting Professorship at University of Aberdeen, where she will be working on a book-length research project on women, architecture, and the built environment in France in the 19th century.

Learn more about Professor Brevik-Zender and her work at

April 5, 2017|

The Critical Studies Collective

The Critical Studies Collective, a UC faculty and graduate student research initiative, received a substantial UCOP award to collaborate across five UCs to develop curricula, symposia, and a website, all devoted to Critical Refugee Studies. UCR’s Lan Duong (Media and Cultural Studies), founding member and co-organizer of the collective, hosted theTowards a Critical Refugee Studies Symposium with support from the Center for Ideas and Society in 2016. Members of the collective are also currently organizing an anthology of key papers.

March 6, 2017|

Ajay Verghese receives Fulbright-Nehru Award

Ajay Verghese, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and current Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at UC Riverside, has received a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award to fund nine months of research in India. Dr. Verghese will be studying how globalization and modernization are impacting religious communities and identity in contemporary India.

Learn more about Professor Verghese and his work at

February 6, 2017|

2nd annual Digital Humanities Infrastructure Symposium

Plan to attend the second annual Digital Humanities Infrastructure Symposium, February 23-24! The digital humanities represent the cutting edge of humanities research and instruction, but they also represent a fundamental shift in the paradigm of humanities, from the model of the lone scholar to that of the interconnected team; and from the model of the durable paper publication to that of the digital, ephemeral product. Since the infrastructure (including staff, resources, and services) necessary to support these new models are very different from those required by the old models, academic partners are being challenged to evolve rapidly to support those scholars, in ways that are efficient and sustainable.


February 6, 2017|

Anthea Kraut will receive the Emory Elliott Book Award

UCR Today article by Mojgan Sherkat on this year’s Emory Elliott Book Award winner, Professor Anthea Kraut

“It is truly an honor to be recognized in this way by my own colleagues at UCR,” Kraut said. “I’m also very fortunate in that I got to benefit from Emory’s mentorship while he was still with us, and I’m so moved to play a role in carrying on his formidable legacy.”
About the book

“Choreographing Copyright” is a new historical and cultural analysis of U.S. dance-makers’ investment in intellectual property rights. The book reconstructs efforts to win copyright protection for choreography and shows how dancers have embraced intellectual property rights as a means to both consolidate and contest racial and gender power.

Drawing on legal studies, critical race studies, gender studies, American dance history, and cultural studies of copyright, and through a series of case studies, Kraut offers fresh insight into the power dynamics of authorship and ownership in dance in the United States from the late 19th century to the early 21st century.

Read full article

December 15, 2016|

CHASS College Award Recipients

Conrad Rudolph, winner of the 2015 Emory Elliott Award, has received the 2015-16 CHASS Distinguished Research Lecturer Award.

“Dr. Rudolph is an art historian whose research focuses on the art of Medieval Europe, with special attention to the role of visual expression in the articulation of intellectual and theological concepts, and their dissemination into the broader culture. As a medievalist, Rudolph’s work is lauded not only for its historical rigor, but also for its conceptual daring and theoretical sophistication. Rudolph is known to be a scholar who fearlessly asks the big questions. He also possesses the rare gift of being able to make complex and historically distant imagery clear and compelling to a twenty-first century audiences.”


October 6, 2016|

The 26th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards

UCR’s Rickerby Hinds has been nominated for a NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director on his play “Dreamscape.”

Dreamscape”, a riveting race-related, hip-hop production depicting the death of a 19-year-old young lady killed by a local police department and examined by a dispassionate County Coroner leads in Local nominations with six – Best Choreographer, Best Director, Best Female Lead, Best Male Lead, Best Playwright and Best Producer. Keena Ferguson’s exceptional one person show “Unbranded” follows with five nominations – Best Director, Best Lighting, Best Playwright, Best Sound, and Best One Person Show. Also with five nominations is Patricia Cuffie Jones’ “Love So Deep” for Best Lead Male and Best Lead Female plus a first-time ever in the history of the NAACP Theatre in which there is a 3-way tie for Best Supporting Female in the same production. Rounding out the local category with four nominations is the lively production of “Recorded in Hollywood”, performed at the Lillian Theatre – Best Musical Director, Best Ensemble and Best Director for Denise Dowse, a previous NAACP Theatre Award winner.

September 30, 2016|

The Maya Music Project


Jared Katz (UCR Anthropology PhD candidate) developed the Maya Music Project to help engage and educate summer school students in archaeology and ancient Mayan culture. The project was funded by the Center for Ideas and Society and the UC Public Scholars Program, a collaborate grant designed to support & develop community internships.

July 26, 2016|

Filmmaker, Scholars to Discuss Ethnic Futurisms

Sawyer Seminar logo

A yearlong study of ethnic futurisms concludes with a conference on June 9. Art work by John Jennings

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A yearlong exploration of ethnic futurisms at the University of California, Riverside concludes with a conference on Thursday, June 9, that will feature scholars of science fiction and fantasy literature and a SF filmmaker.

The all-day conference, “Narrating the Future,” will begin at 9:15 a.m. at the Center for Ideas and Society, located in College Building South. It is free and open to the public. Parking permits for Lot 6  may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

The event wraps up the yearlong Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms, a program of scholarly discussions, graduate-level courses, and public lectures, panels, readings, and performances funded by a prestigious $175,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It built on the success of a Latino science fiction conference UCR’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program presented in April 2014, an event believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

“The Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms has hosted an extremely fruitful year of conversations about speculative fiction and diversity, highlighting the dynamic and innovative work in the field by authors and other artists of color and holding a number of panel discussions among scholars of these fields,” said Sherryl Vint, professor of English and a co-principal investigator on the project. “Our events have explored how speculative fiction is a tool that can illuminate the ways that distinct experiences of colonialism, transnational flows of labor, and minority experiences of diaspora are shaped by a multitude of technosocial configurations.”

Artists, authors and scholars who visited UCR in the last year represent the cutting-edge of contemporary work in speculative fiction, she added.

“They bring new perspectives to well-known narratives of technological ‘progress’ and offer new stories to tell about how technology shapes our lives from the points of view that haven’t been sufficiently heard before. These events have seeded new conversations in the field, built bridges across various sites of study, and have achieved our goal of reorienting how one might approach the study of speculative fiction. We have begun to discover new futures might emerge through scholarship organized in new ways and look forward to continuing these conversations across the field of speculative fiction studies.”

Read full article

June 2, 2016|

UC Riverside Presents ‘Toward a Critical Refugee Studies: A Symposium’

Tomorrow I Leave, 2010. Image courtesy of Lin and Lam

Tomorrow I Leave, 2010. Image courtesy of Lin and Lam

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – What would you do when your, as Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire phrases it, “home is the mouth of a shark?” Artists, activists, and academics will gather to tackle that topic at the University of California, Riverside with a symposium on global displacement. The conference is called, “Toward a Critical Refugee Studies,” and will be held on Wednesday, May 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It will be held in Interdisciplinary 1113 and 1128. The event is free and open to the public.

Through panel discussions and performances, the conference seeks to further the emergence of Critical Refugee Studies as an academic discipline. The symposium will serve as a platform for discussing refugee populations and their histories, bringing together experts who will discuss and explore refugees originating from Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

“Existing literature on refugees often emphasizes a narrative arc that connects trauma and survival to economic and cultural assimilation,” said Lan Duong, associate professor in the media and cultural studies department at UCR, and the conference organizer. “Countering this narrative, the symposium will conceptualize the refugee not as an object of rescue, but as a site of social and political critique, whose emergence when traced would make visible the processes of colonization, war, and displacement.”

A portion of the conference will be moderated by author and critic Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose book “The Sympathizer” recently won a Pulitzer Prize. Nguyen is also the author of “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War.”

Read full article

May 16, 2016|

UC Riverside Conference Focuses on Issues and Benefits of Diversity

May 6-7 event is open to the community and concludes a two-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
By on April 27, 2016


The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference May 6-7 will examine issues and benefits of diversity.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A two-year research project exploring issues and benefits of diversity at the University of California, Riverside and in Southern California will conclude with a conference May 6-7 in downtown Riverside that is open to the public.

The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference, sponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society, will present research conducted by nearly 50 UCR faculty and graduate and undergraduate students. The public is invited to join the discussion, which will focus on these topics: “Beyond Diversity: Are We There Yet?”; “The Public Practice of Immigrant and Minority Religions in Southern California”; “Civic and Political Engagement”; and “Migration, Displacement & Movement.”

Activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May, 6, and conclude at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. The event will be held in the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, located in UCR ARTSblock, 3824 Main St., Riverside. The conference is free and open to the public. Attendees may RSVP by emailing with the subject line AIS Conference.

The research project, Advancing Intercultural Studies, was funded by a $208,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a two-year series of seminars that examined changing perceptions of ethnic, cultural and cosmopolitan identities, the practices of immigrant religions, and developments in civic and political engagement at UCR and in Southern California.

“This culminating conference of the Advancing Intercultural Studies project will, we hope, be of interest to educators, religious and political leaders, and all members of the Southern California community,” said Georgia Warnke, director of the Center for Ideas and Society and professor of political science. “Questions we will be addressing include: Does diversity in education mean simply accessibility or a rethinking of traditional forms of knowledge? How far does religious tolerance extend? What new forms is civic participation taking? How do immigration and migration feel to immigrants or migrants themselves? We hope both to engage and learn from the public in considering these issues.”

Keynote speakers will be John L. Jackson Jr., a filmmaker and dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and Gaye Theresa Johnson, who teaches at UCLA and is a housing and civil rights advocate for residents of L.A.’s Skid Row.

John L. Jackson Jr.

John L. Jackson Jr.

Jackson will discuss “Dissertations, Digitality, and Diversity: What Multi-Modal Scholarship Means for Academic Inclusivity” at 4 p.m. on May 6. He is the Richard Perry University Professor at Penn, and has produced a feature film, documentaries and short films that have screened at film festivals around the world. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas in 2012, is “Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens,” which examines the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its Rastafarian community. Among his books are “Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem” (2013); “Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness” (2008); and “Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity” (2005). His work also explores how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be most effectively used in scholarly research projects.

Gaye Johnson

Gaye Johnson

Johnson will discuss “From Shared Pasts to Radical Futures: The Perils and the Promise of Coalitional Politics” at 11 a.m. on May 7. She is associate professor of African American Studies and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, and is an activist with the Los Angeles Community Action Network , which presented her with its Freedom Now Award in 2013.  She is the board president of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, and an advisory board member for the Goldin Institute and the Rosenberg Fund for Children. Johnson is the author of “Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles” (2013). She has two forthcoming books, “The Futures of Black Radicalism” (co-edited with Alex Lubin) and “Let’s Get Free:  Musicians on Activism in the 21st Century.” She is also working on a book titled “These Walls Will Fall: Protest at the Intersection of Immigrant Detention and Mass Incarceration.”

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April 27, 2016|

Show and Prove: Tensions, Contradictions, and Possibilities of Hip Hop Studies

Conference coming to UC Riverside, set for April 8-10
By on March 22, 2016

Dance performance during the 2012 Show and Prove Hip Hop conference. Photo Courtesy: Amanda 'Lafotographeuse' Adams-Louis

Dance performance during the 2012 Show and Prove Hip Hop conference. Photo Courtesy: Amanda ‘Lafotographeuse’ Adams-Louis

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – The University of California, Riverside is hosting the Show and Prove Hip Hop Studies conference, scheduled for Friday, April 8 to Sunday, April 10. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Complimentary parking permits are available at the kiosk near the University Avenue entrance to campus. The themes for this year’s conference are “spirit” and “performance;” and are focused on cultivating the necessary and critical dialogues for the development of hip hop studies.

This is the first year Imani Kai Johnson, assistant professor of critical dance studies at UC Riverside, has coordinated the conference at UCR. She has organized the conference twice, in 2012 and 2014, during her time at New York University.

“As universities have adopted classes about hip hop, and an increasing amount of scholarship gets published, this series was created for those with a vested interest in the culture – including artists and practitioners, students, scholars, and community activists – to interrogate, complicate, and critically negotiate what it means to bring Hip Hop into the academy,” said Johnson.

Show and Prove Hip Hop conference, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Amanda 'Lafotographeuse' Adams-Louis

Show and Prove Hip Hop conference, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Amanda ‘Lafotographeuse’ Adams-Louis

Founded by Johnson, the conference is co-sponsored by the UCR dance department, Center for Ideas and Society, African Student Programs, UC Humanities Research Institute, and UCR’s history, gender and sexuality studies, ethnic studies and theater, film & digital production departments.

Conference events will be held at the ARTS and INTS buildings on the UCR campus, with evening performances at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts at 3834 Main Street, Riverside, CA.

For the full schedule, and detailed information, please go to the Show and Prove conference website.

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March 22, 2016|

“Sea Seed”: An Entertaining Education

Highlander/ Jeffrey Chang

Highlander/ Jeffrey Chang

There are very few places that get as dark and empty as downtown Riverside on a Tuesday night at 8 p.m. When I arrived at the Culver Center to watch “Sea Seed,” a staged reading composed by the Sons of Semele Ensemble, a small trickle of visitors to the evening’s play occasionally went from the darkness outside to the white brightness of the Culver Center.

The third reading in a series, this was the final reading of the play — which has been edited after each audience reading to make it more relatable “based on audience feedback, the company fine-tuned and polished the text.” This reading was the culmination of a two-year creative process on behalf of Dr. Erith Jaffe-Berg and the Sons of Semele Ensemble. Jaffe-Berg, who is the head of Theatre, Film and Digital Production at UCR, was inspired by the themes set forth by fellow faculty member Dr. Susan Ossman, in her book “Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration.”  All the characters — as well as symbols and ideas from the play — embody what it is like to be a serial migrant (a term coined by Ossman to define a person who “travels between three or more countries, living in different languages and experiencing repeated patterns of movement and migration”).

When the lights faded and the cast stood in a line and started to remark on the strange things people bring to the airport: a change of underwear in the carry-on, an emergency skirt, I started immediately to connect those things with my own experiences of traveling. However I feel as if someone who has little experience with international travel may lack a certain connection with the play. It is majorly concerned with a sort of cosmopolitan migratory experience which most university students see little of.

It was a staged reading of the play, which means that the cast carried their scripts around and had a strange lack of props, which was only obvious to me at two points: when the cast members used a Kleenex box to symbolize a piece of art, and when they were allegedly proposing a toast with invisible glasses. Most of the time, the use of folding plastic chairs was not much of a distraction, as sooner or later I found myself more immersed in what the characters were saying and doing than the esoteric props.

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February 22, 2016|