Event Highlights

Every semester ISSI and the affiliated Centers host a variety of relevant, social justice oriented events for staff, faculty, students and community members. Many of our events are video-recorded, and we have included a few highlights below. Visit our YouTube channel to see all the videos.

UC Land Grab: A Legacy of Profit from Indigenous Land

September 25th & October 23rd, 2020

Wide-scale U.S. higher education began in 1862 when the Morrill Act provided each state with “public” lands to sell for the establishment of university endowments. The public land-grant university movement is lauded as the first major federal funding for higher education and for making liberal and practical education accessible to Americans of average means. However hidden beneath the oft-told land-grant narrative is the land itself: the nearly 11 million acres of land sold through the Morrill Act was expropriated from tribal nations. This two-part forum examines the 150,000 acres of Indigenous land that funded the University of California, how this expropriation is intricately tied to California’s unique history of Native dispossession and genocide, and how UC continues to benefit from this wealth accumulation today. Part 2 explores current university initiatives with tribes and includes a community dialogue on actions the University of California can take to address their responsibility to California Indigenous communities.

Read more about the two-part series here, including a complete list of speakers and other resources.

"As someone who does work in Hate Studies and works with the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies, I want to say that I find the work of ISSI and CRWS [Center for Right Wing Studies, one of the ISSI centers] essential. The recent joint conference between CRWS and the Institute for Male Supremacism was pathbreaking."

- Joan Braune, Lecturer, Philosophy, Gonzaga University

Confederate Monuments Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg: Plantation Museums in Southern Heritage Tourism

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Stephen Small, Interim Director, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, and Professor, African American Studies, UC Berkeley

Some of the most prominent public debates on slavery in the United States at the present time revolve around Confederate monuments, related iconography and the legacies of the Civil War. But these are just one component of a far more extensive infrastructure of sites dedicated to a distorted and mythological memory of slavery, the Confederacy and Southern history. This involves a vast heritage tourism industry across the US South, comprising plantation mansions, work structures and a wide range of other buildings, including slave quarters and slave cabins. What are these sites, where are they located, how do they function and what messages do they convey? In this presentation I describe and evaluate these sites and their proponents in Louisiana and articulate how they form a continuum with racist, right-wing and extremist groups that promote white supremacy. I also identify less prominent structures and groups that fundamentally challenge these “heritage” sites and groups.

Sponsored by Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

"I got my Ph.D. in Sociology from Berkeley in 1977, and I am honored to be a Life Member of the Alumni Association. My career has been as a 'public' sociologist, in the nonprofit, governmental and foundation worlds. For the past decade, my emphasis has been on the social impacts of climate change. Though my work has been published at conferences, and in newspapers and business journals, the topic lacks a community of social scientists to critique and improve the field as a whole.

I have been fortunate to attend ISSI events, in which the vibrancy of intellectual rigor and cumulative learning stands in stark contrast to my field. Such rigor and learning can come only from the shared commitment and communication an Institute can provide. As an outsider looking in, the value of ISSI is apparent and crucial. It must continue."

- Edward Church, Consulting Sociologist

Crossroads and Cyborgs: The Speculative Design of John Jennings

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

John Jennings, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside

For over a decade John Jennings has been a key figure in the archiving, creating, and cultivating of black popular culture in graphic novels, illustrated fiction, and graphic design. Jennings has contributed to creating a foundation of theory, community, and mentorship that has led to what some call the Black Speculative Arts Movement; his work has helped give a visual aesthetic to what some call Afrofuturism. This presentation will be a short retrospective of Jennings' work and current research and critical making projects.

Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of Societal Issues Graduate Fellows Program (GFP)

Co-sponsored by: Center for Research on Social Change, Othering and Belonging Institute, Department of English, Townsend Center for the Humanities

"As a community college professional working to advance access to higher education for traditionally marginalized populations, I value ISSI as a resource to keep me up to date on the issues and research concerning the minoritized and marginalized communities that I serve."

- Monique Nakagawa, Institutional Researcher, College of San Mateo; UCB alum, 1988-1993

Racism, Plutocracy, and the 2020 Election

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ian Haney López, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law, UC Berkeley

Over the last half-century, the Republican Party has exploited social divisions—and racism in particular—to win power, and then has ruled primarily on behalf of the ultra-wealthy. No one better symbolizes the conjoined dynamics of racism and plutocracy than Donald Trump. In this lecture, Prof. Haney López lays out the history of dog whistle politics and Trump’s place within it. Then he suggests a clear way forward. Haney López recently co-led a national research project focused on developing the most effective political rejoinder to strategic racism as a class weapon. The research demonstrates dog whistle politics can be defeated. Drawing on his recent book, Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America (2019), Professor Haney López explains how the political manipulation of coded racism has evolved in the Trump era and lays out an evidence-based approach to neutralizing political racism and building cross-racial solidarity., this lecture assesses the looming 2020 presidential election.

Center for Research on Social Change Colloquia Series

Co-sponsored by: Townsend Center for the Humanities

"The webinars and talks at ISSI are an integral part of my professional development and have allowed me to stay intellectually stimulated and connected to colleagues doing important work around health, illness, healing, and social justice."

- Dvera I. Saxton, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Fresno State; audience member at webinars

Kelly Lytle Hernandez : City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Associate Professor, History and African American Studies and Interim Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, UCLA

Los Angeles incarcerates more people than any other city in the United States, which imprisons more people than any other nation on Earth. In this talk based on her new book, historian Kelly Lytle Hernández explains how the City of Angels became the capital city of the world’s leading incarcerator. Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, she unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. In this telling, which spans from the Spanish colonial era to the outbreak of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Hernández documents the persistent historical bond between the racial fantasies of conquest, namely its settler colonial form, and the eliminatory capacities of incarceration.

But City of Inmates is also a chronicle of resilience and rebellion, documenting how targeted peoples and communities have always fought back. They busted out of jail, forced Supreme Court rulings, advanced revolution across bars and borders, and, as in the summer of 1965, set fire to the belly of the city. With these acts those who fought the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles altered the course of history in the city, the borderlands, and beyond. This book recounts how the dynamics of conquest met deep reservoirs of rebellion as Los Angeles became the City of Inmates, the nation’s carceral core.

Sponsored by Center for Research on Social Change, UC Berkeley

Co-sponsored by Department of History, Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, Division of Equity and Inclusion, and the Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley

"Attendance at ISSI conferences has been critical for my scholarship on education policy. The interdisciplinary contacts and dialogue cannot happen anywhere else."

- Kelley King, Associate Professor, Education, Univ. of North Texas; Berkeley alum; Conference presenter 2019, webinar attendee 2020

Michael Burawoy: Marxism Engages Bourdieu

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Michael Burawoy, Professor, Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley

The influence of Pierre Bourdieu's thought has spread across disciplines and over the world. Like all the great sociologists before him, his theory emerges from a critique of Marx. In Bourdieu’s case the critique revolves around Marx’s failure to develop a theory of cultural domination. But, like his predecessor sociologists, Bourdieu reduces Marxism to Marx and, thus, never engages such figures as Georg Lukács, members of the Frankfurt School, Simon de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci, all of whom address the question of cultural domination. In this talk, Professor Burawoy develops the comparison of Bourdieu and Gramsci, starting out from the difference between symbolic domination and hegemony that entails further contrasts: field of power vs. civil society; classification struggle vs. class struggle; academic vs. subaltern theories of knowledge; and traditional vs. organic intellectuals. These divergent perspectives on cultural domination have implications for the critique of society and what is to be done.

Sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

On Indian Ground: California. A Return to Indigenous Knowledge

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Joely Proudfit, Chair and Professor of American Indian Studies; Director of California Indian Culture & Sovereignty Center, CSU San Marcos

Nicole Lim, Executive Director, California Indian Museum and Cultural Center

Joely Proudfit and Nicole Myers-Lim, authors and editors of On Indian Ground: California discuss issues related to Native American education reform, addressing the impacts of genocide, colonization, racism and historical bias upon curriculum and student achievement. Additionally, they present holistic indigenous perspectives that can be integrated into systems of education to foster equity, success and social justice.

Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues Colloquia Series

Co-sponsored by: American Indian Graduate Program, Native American Student Development, American Indian Graduate Student Association, Native American Studies, Indigenous Language Revitalization DE, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education.

"I attended graduate school in ESPM at UCB from 2002-2008. During that time, I attended numerous programs at ISSI concerned with social justice research, and I also presented my own work at ISSI. ISSI cultivates a critical space for socially engaged research on diverse topics. I recently watched an ISSI-hosted talk and screened it for my class of graduate students at UCD. ISSI holds an essential space in UC!"

- Beth Rose Middleton, Prof. and Dept. Chair, UC Davis

Sharika Thiranagama: Who is Your Neighbor? Caste, Dignity, and Dalit Lives in Central Kerala

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Sharika Thiranagama, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University

The talk asks how does one live, or rather imagine, a life with others that meaningfully recognizes one’s worth? Based on fieldwork with Dalit (formerly known as Untouchable castes) and non-Dalit agricultural laborers, and their landlords in communist party strongholds in Kerala, I explore the transformations of rural localities from workplaces to neighborhoods. I will discuss the rural neighborhood as a historically emergent site and project: a “public/private” residential life emerging from work relations where caste continues to permeate interactions. I ask how does one manage neighbourly relations within continuing histories of deep caste inequities? What does this mean in an Indian state which has a long history of communist messages of emancipation, liberation and freedom from inequity? I suggest that the transformation of localities of workers and landlords into neighborhoods under conditions of formal equality but deep structural caste inequality provides for new forms of sociality as well as a continuing reflexive conversation about those forms. How is one a neighbor in these circumstances? Based on this fieldwork in India, I hope to discuss how people live with and negotiate long histories of subordination, inequity and humiliation.

Sponsored by: Center for Ethnographic Research

Co-sponsored by Institute for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley

Structural Competency: Undoing Inequity and Discrimination in Health and Welfare

November 4th, 2016

Helena Hansen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology, New York University. “Structural Competency: Medicine for the Inequalities that Make Us Sick.

Structural competency is a new framework for understanding and responding to the inequalities that make individuals and populations sick. This framework analyzes institutional and structural hierarchies and discrimination in order to confront the ways these lead to sickness and disease. This conference, the first focused on structural competency in the contexts of public health and social welfare, brought together national experts and local community organizations to imagine paths toward a more equal and healthy future.

Sponsored by Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, School of Public Health, and Samuel Merritt University

Co-sponsored by DICE; Rad Med; Students for Racial justice, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (STRIDE); UCSF Global Health Sciences; School of Social Welfare; Health Equity and Diversity Cluster of the Haas institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

"As a PhD student at UC Berkeley, I attended several illuminating and engaging events and talks at ISSI. I also had several friends who served as ISSI fellows and benefited enormously from the program. Its closure would be a loss for the UC Berkeley campus."

- Brittany Meché, Postdoctoral Fellow, Williams College

Theda Skocpol: "The Koch Effect: "The Impact of a Cadre-Led Network on American Politics"

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University

In Washington, DC and the states, Republicans push unpopular policies - and sometimes also oppose legislation favored by prominent business groups. Why is that? New research highlights resource shifts on the U.S. right and the growing influence of the Koch network, a coordinated set of big donors, lobbying groups, and constituency organizations that now rivals America's political parties. At this talk, Professor Skocpol will present early results from a collaborative study of "The Shifting U.S. Political Terrain" under way at Harvard University and grassroots mobilizations orchestrated by the Koch Network.

Sponsored by Center for Right-Wing Studies, UC Berkeley

Co-sponsored by the Scholars Strategy Network and Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley

Moments of Refusal: Thinking through Antiblackness and Black Futurity in Research on Urban Communities and Schooling

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Michael Dumas, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education and African American Studies, UC Berkeley

Hegemonic notions of race, multiculturalism and diversity proffer an understanding of social progress that is generally linear, gradual, steady and earnest. The story we tell ourselves is that we are becoming ever more democratic and tolerant, that we are more sophisticated in our ability to synthesize and analyze information about race and racism, and that we are more committed to racial equity, justice and opportunity than ever before. However, in this historical moment, we also witness increasing economic inequality along racial lines, nearly weekly stories of anti-Black violence and death, massive urban deterritorialization and dispersal, erasing Black homeplaces and priming these spaces for white accumulation. Through it all, the discourse in the public sphere suggests an increasing sense of justification of economic and social inequality, a sense of corporate and white entitlement to (dis)possession of land, and a seething disgust and disregard for the lives of Black people. In this talk, Professor Dumas wants to briefly explore what it means to research and document contradictory historical moment(s) of official anti-racist progress and white innocence, on the one hand, and on the other hand, enduring white defensiveness and racial fragility in the face of material and psychic Black suffering. Most importantly, how do we refuse hegemonic constructions of historical racial memory in our own work, and how do we acknowledge and honor attempts by insurgent Black subjects to refuse antiblackness and put forward alternative notions of Black historicity and futurity?

Sponsored by UC Berkeley's Center for Research on Social Change