UC Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

July 01, 2012

Professors Aptheker and Yamashita awarded a prestigious University of California Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.


Bettina Aptheker and Karen Yamashita received a highly prestigious University of California Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.  Professors Aptheker and Yamashita will co-hold the Chair for a three-year period beginning July 1, 2012 and ending in June 30, 2015.  The University awards Presidential Chairs to distinguished members of the University faculty.  The Chairs are intended to encourage new or interdisciplinary program development, or to enhance quality in existing academic programs in the University.  The Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies will do both.  

The honor of receiving the Chair entails a substantial annual fund to develop undergraduate and graduate curriculum, and to support research and intellectual life through seminars, colloquium and other events.  As co-holders of the Chair, Professors Aptheker and Yamashita will direct the program from their respective Departments of Feminist Studies and Literature.    

The field of feminist critical race and ethnic studies builds on scholarship and legal theory that refuses to separate out race from gender in determining the cause of discrimination and violence.  As an approach, feminist critical race and ethnic studies restores the categories of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity to their intersecting analytical and political place. Professors Aptheker and Yamashita want the programs funded by the Chair to create a productive site to generate dialogue across fields and departments. Their intention is to carve space “for new analysis and questions across disciplinary divides in an attempt to provoke socially relevant knowledge formations.”  

They are especially interested in the site being one in which the public and common good can be illuminated, argued, and redefined. In so doing, they count on one of the unique features of UC Santa Cruz.  A campus that is distinguished for its array of rigorous feminist scholarship, and for its many faculty whose scholarly work is in race and ethnic studies.   

The Presidential Chair will fund three years of intellectual events and curricular development.  The first year will be a period of scholarly investigation and preparation. Key and formative scholars in the field will be invited to campus to give a series of colloquia and impart guidance toward administrative trajectories.  The focus of this year is to galvanize students and faculty toward productive and creative curricular initiatives and scholarly research.   

During the second year of the program the directors will initiate and fund two courses: an Introduction to Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the lower division level, and an associated upper division lecture class. The curricular model is conceived of as collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature. Established faculty from UCSC and elsewhere will be involved in teaching these courses. The graduate student teaching assistants in both courses will receive sustained faculty mentorship in feminist and radical pedagogy specific to this curriculum.  Scholars who are public and/or creative intellectuals will be invited to take up residence at Santa Cruz for a period of time during the second year.  They will participate in the program and give a public lecture.   

In the final year a graduate seminar will be added to the new curriculum funded by the program.  The graduate seminar will be taught by a senior Visiting Scholar in Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies.  The elements of the program established in the first two years will continue during the third year.  

A research group in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies that is composed of graduate students and faculty will be active for all three years.  The research cluster will work in active association with the colloquia and lecture series.  Resident scholars will also participate in the cluster.       

By virtue of its transnational, comparative and interdisciplinary configuration and its alignment with community struggles, both close and far, Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies is crucial to understanding the intertwined nature of histories of inequality, discrimination, gender and racial violence.  It also provides a foundation for understanding social movements for justice, equality, and representation within local, national, and global contexts. Deeply structured into the program is an attentiveness to the study of globalization, colonialisms, diaspora, and immigration, as well as the study of new social movements.  

Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies draws upon the research strengths of the University’s nationally recognized faculty and the vibrant legacy of social justice scholarship and activism that has been cultivated at UCSC. Professors Aptheker and Yamashita hope that this program will reanimate the history of engaged and committed scholarship that has defined this campus.