BLM Series Description

We are in a moment of intersecting crises. Overt racial discrimination, police brutality and structural racism – all longstanding features of the global landscape – have been given renewed license by the resurgence of nationalism, xenophobia, and white supremacism, and further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. At the same time, the brutal murder of George Floyd in May sparked the largest and longest lasting protests for racial justice in the United States since the 1960s. These protests have not only demonstrated the courage and commitment of Black people and allies in the US, but have been joined by anti-racist protests all over the world, from Mexico, to South Korea, to Australia, to Pakistan. In all these places, people have not only lent their support to Black Lives Matter protests in solidarity with Black Americans, but have drawn global attention to their deeply rooted struggles against racism in their own societies and across transnational coalitions. These movements for the dignity and freedom of all people show us what it means to build a world that is abolitionist at heart.

The International Institute stands with Black Lives Matter and aims to promote research, education and service that contributes to building a more equitable, just, and sustainable world at all levels, from the university, to the city, the nation, and beyond. As an institute that brings together scholars and students from across the university to promote truly global perspectives, we seek to foster creative interconnections across disciplines and with and among people from around the world.

In this spirit, the Institute has organized the 2020-21 speaker series “Black Lives Matter: Global Perspectives.” The series aims to provide a platform for scholars, students and activists to deepen our collective understanding of the structure and experience of racial oppression and the long struggle for racial justice, as well as to draw connections among unique, but interlinked anti-racist struggles in the context of global histories of colonialism, imperialism and internationalism. Our talks will be held virtually, and are free and open to all in the US and internationally.

Some questions motivating these events are: How do we contextualize Black Lives Matter in the long US national and global history of slavery, segregation, and dispossession? How are racial justice movements around the world similar and distinct, and how are they connected to one another and to other struggles for social justice? How have the pandemic and the broader global health crisis shaped and been compounded by racial inequalities and political violence, and by predatory ecologies? How have struggles over trauma, memory, and representation played out in different countries? And how do we build locally and globally on the momentum of recent Black Lives Matter protests to bring about a more just and equal world?

The distinguished speakers in the series will include, among others, UCLA’s own Brenda Stevenson, Professor and Nickoll Family Endowed Chair in History, and Debora Silverman, Distinguished Professor & UC Presidential Chair in Modern European History, Art and Culture. Distinguished speakers also include Adia Benton, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University; Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University; Christine Hong, Associate Professor of Literature and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Anne Garland Mahler, Associate Professor of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Virginia; Malini Ranganathan, Associate Professor at the School of International Service at American University; Deborah Thomas, R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania; Carmen Ramos, Curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian; and Vishwas Satgar, Associate Professor of International Relations at Wits University.

The quarterly events in the series will also serve as classroom/teaching resources for the International Institute's hundreds of undergraduate students in conjunction with the Institute’s Interdepartmental Programs (IDPs) in Global Studies, International Development Studies and Global Health to highlight these key cross-cutting themes, as well as individual Center-led and -organized events on related topics. The International Institute’s Program on Caribbean Studies, Center for European and Russian Studies, Center for Korean Studies are lead organizers of the series. The series will also feature events in collaboration with our UCLA co-sponsors and partners, including the Asian American Studies Center, Center for African Studies, Center for the Study of Women, Department of Asian American Studies, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Luskin Institute on Democracy and Inequality’s Sawyer Seminar, “Sanctuary Spaces: Reworlding Humanism,” the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, and the Semel Institute Center for Social Medicine and the Humanities 

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