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UC Riverside Hosts Ethnic Studies Conference

UC Riverside Hosts Ethnic Studies Conference

The March 10-12 conference will feature more than 1,000 scholars from around the world.

(February 22, 2011)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – More than 1,000 scholars from around the world will attend the UC Riverside Critical Ethnic Studies Conference March 10-12, an event that campus organizers say is the first of its kind in the United States.

"We wanted to create a massive forum in which there could be a critical inventory of the work that has been done in ethnic studies and of what ethnic studies has done to influence the traditional academic disciplines," said Dylan Rodriguez, professor and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies.

Registration before March 1 is $50 for participants whose annual income falls below $50,000, and $100 for all others. After March 1 the registration fee will be $150. Parking is $8 per day. Shuttle buses will transport attendees who stay at conference hotels in or near downtown Riverside. To register, go to

The conference – whose theme is "Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide: Settler Colonialism/Heteropatriarchy/White Supremacy" – represents the form of ethnic studies that emerged from social movements of the 1960s and '70s and moved universities to create a space for deeply critical examination of issues such as slavery and Western modernity, Rodriguez said.

"Ethnic studies has become a complicated, scholarly project," he said. "This conference is important for assessing the multiple layers and contradictions of ethnic studies, contradictions within and among fields such as African American studies, Native American studies, queer studies, women's studies and American studies. The real-world impacts of ethnic studies will be reflected in the workshops and roundtables, from how people address parent-teacher relations in public school settings to the benefits and political limitations of prisoners' rights movements and the complex ways that Native Americans and indigenous peoples view sovereignty."

The conference is meant to be an inaugural event, Rodriguez said, one that will create momentum to form the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, establish a refereed academic journal in ethnic studies, and create momentum for future conferences.

Dean Saranillio, incoming assistant professor of ethnic studies, said the conference is garnering attention from scholars in numerous fields "that have social justice at the center of their pursuits. … Given the historical moment we find ourselves in, this conference promises to provide a space in which scholars and activists from a variety of places in the world can converse and push our field to develop new and exciting bodies of knowledge that address relevant topics such as queer theory, environmental studies, labor, war, settler colonialism, empire, and social movements. That the UCR Critical Ethnic Studies Conference has been able to draw so many cutting-edge, complex, and thoughtful scholars to address these issues speaks to the critical and urgent need for a major conference such as this one."

One of the distinguishing features of this conference is that those topics, along with others – such as immigration, racial capitalism, the criminalization of political dissent, and the changing role of the university – will be rigorously analyzed as complex relations rather than isolated formations, said Jodi Kim, assistant professor of ethnic studies and a co-organizer of the conference. "The contradictions and intersecting trajectories of ethnic studies will provide productive avenues for a collective vision of social justice that is robust in conception, global in scale, and therefore difficult yet all the more urgent in realization," she said.

Scholars who will kick off the conference in the opening plenary session are:

• Jack Halberstam, professor of English, American studies and ethnicity, and gender studies at the University of Southern California. He is the author of "Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters" (Duke University Press, 1995), "Female Masculinity" (Duke University Press, 1998), and "In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives" (New York University Press, 2005).

• Denise Ferreira da Silva, professor of ethics and director of the Center for Ethics and Politics at Queen Mary, University of London. She is the author of "Toward a Global Idea of Race" (University of Minnesota Press, 2007).

• Waziyatawin, Indigenous Peoples Research Chair in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. A Wahpetunwan Dakota from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota, she is the author or co-editor of five books. Her most recent book, "What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland" (St. Paul: Living Justice Press, 2008), won the 2009 Independent Publishers' Silver Book Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction in the Midwest.

• Sarita Echavez See, associate professor of Asian/Pacific Islander American studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of "The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance" (University of Minnesota Press, 2009) and is the co-editor with Angel Velasco Shaw of the group exhibition catalogue "Out of the Archive: Process and Progress" (Asian American Arts Center, 2009).

• Angela Davis, professor emeritus of history of consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex. Her numerous books include "Are Prisons Obsolete?" (Open Media, 2003), "Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture and Empire" (Seven Stories Press, 2005), and "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" (City Lights, 2010).

The Critical Ethnic Studies Conference is sponsored by: UCR Office of the Chancellor; Office of the Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; Center for Ideas and Society; Graduate Division; Sweeney Art Gallery and Culver Center of the Arts; Department of Ethnic Studies; Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research; UC Humanities Research Institute; The Centre for Ethics & Politics, School of Business and Management-Queen Mary, University of London; UC Center for New Racial Studies; Native American Studies at Syracuse University; and UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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