Humanities and Social Sciences Lecture Series

The 2020-2021 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Lecture Series will focus on the theme of “Interdisciplinary Conversations on Anti-Blackness."

Inspired and provoked by current events as well as by powerful historical and global contexts, the proposed lecture series provides an opportunity for faculty and students to consider anti-blackness through the lens of various disciplinary perspectives, methodological and epistemological frames, and literary genres.

Events will take place during the midday class period on selected days throughout the academic year.

Register in advance for this meeting with links below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Spring 2021


February 4th, 11:30-12:30pm

Register in advance for February 4th webinar

Latoya Lee, Women and Gender Studies and Kristin Rowe, American Studies, Reclaiming Our Time: Centering Black Women and Femmes in Systemic Anti-Black Racism

Our nation has been grappling with the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, as well as the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. These deaths have reignited long standing conversations around anti-Black racism and state sanctioned violence. Within this context, Black women like Breonna Taylor and queer people like Tony McDade occupy a specific relationship to power at the intersections of racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia. Our conversation will explore the specific circumstances of Black women and queer people as victims of various types of state sanctioned violence – police brutality, police sexual assault, and the prison industrial complex. Dr. Rowe will be discussing gender, sexuality, art, and resistance. Dr. Lee will be discussing activism and resistance in digital media. Ultimately, we aim to create a space that centers and honors Black women, girls, and queer folx in relationship to systems of oppression, while thinking of ways to create a new world order.


March 10th, 11:30-12:30pm

Register in advance for March 10th webinar

Aitana Guia, History, Why Blackface and Moordressing are still acceptable in Europe

Minstrel shows are shameful reminders of a past when White audiences found it amusing to put on blackface to make fun of Black Americans. Today, not only are minstrel shows no longer performed, but it is unacceptable for public figures to put on blackface. The Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the Virginia Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam, were criticized for it. In Europe, however, blackface is still used and normalized in the Netherlands and Spain. Blackface and Moordressing are acceptable in Europe today because ethnic Europeans deny that their traditions embody symbolic violence towards Blacks and Muslims, normalize these traditions by claiming they are merely an excuse for a good time devoid of racial and religious prejudice, and justify the continuation of these traditions as an integral part of European culture and heritage. It’s time, however, for Europeans to reject their colonial cultural archives to embrace inclusive traditions and narratives.

Brian Lovato, Department of Politics, Administration, and Justice, Anti - Blackness and the Logic of Solidarity

There are those who claim that concepts such as imperialism, colonialism, or white supremacy are sufficient for building solidarity across various lines of oppression. Instead, I claim that the concept of anti-blackness, rather than being unnecessarily divisive, provides a better framework for both understanding and struggling against racial oppression. In line with other theorists of anti-blackness (both within and without the so-called afro-pessimist school of thought), I argue that anti-black violence is uniquely gratuitous and therefore not analogous with forms of oppression that might be undone by pursuing a causal logic (via anti-colonialism, anti-patriarchy, anti-xenophobia, etc.); rather, this particular form of violence must be named and confronted in its singularity, if actual solidarity work is to be possible. 


April 15th, 11:30-12:30pm

Register in advance for April 15th webinar

Allison Varzally, History, Brotherhood is Not Easy—Anti-Blackness within California’s Multiracial Political Coalitions of the 1940s and 1950s

African Americans resisted and negotiated anti-blackness as they joined other California minorities in challenging legal discriminations in housing, education, and marriage immediately after World War II. Black interests and strategies for confronting structural racism did not perfectly complement those of Asian-American, Mexican American, and Jewish American with whom they collaborated. For example, Black Californians cared more about school segregation and racial biases in the workplace than bilingual education programs and restrictive immigration laws. Yet, informed by experiences growing up in multiracial neighborhoods, military service, as well as having recently witnessed police disinterest/abuse and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, Black activists accepted the credo that discrimination against one ultimately hurt them all, adding their voices and organization to broad, anti-racist, and sometimes successful political campaigns.

Edwin Lopez, Sociology, The 1968 Computer Takeover: A Working Analysis of Black Student Power at UC Santa Barbara

In 1968, twelve Black students occupied the computer center at UC Santa Barbara. With the computer center containing some of the university’s most critical data, members of the Black Student Union demanded the establishment of Black Studies, increase hires of “minority persons,” and the university’s condemnation of all forms of harassment. With a working analysis of Black student power, this presentation examines the direct and structural factors that contributed to the takeover and how opponents racially framed the action and the Black Student Union. As the takeover marked a shift in university relations with Black and Chicana/o student interests, the university’s ensuing support is considered to explain why it withered in a matter of years, leading to a second computer takeover in 1975.


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