UC Riverside Conference Focuses on Issues and Benefits of Diversity

May 6-7 event is open to the community and concludes a two-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference May 6-7 will examine issues and benefits of diversity.

The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference May 6-7 will examine issues and benefits of diversity.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A two-year research project exploring issues and benefits of diversity at the University of California, Riverside and in Southern California will conclude with a conference May 6-7 in downtown Riverside that is open to the public.

The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference, sponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society, will present research conducted by nearly 50 UCR faculty and graduate and undergraduate students. The public is invited to join the discussion, which will focus on these topics: “Beyond Diversity: Are We There Yet?”; “The Public Practice of Immigrant and Minority Religions in Southern California”; “Civic and Political Engagement”; and “Migration, Displacement & Movement.”

Activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May, 6, and conclude at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. The event will be held in the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, located in UCR ARTSblock, 3824 Main St., Riverside. The conference is free and open to the public. Attendees may RSVP by emailing cisevents@ucr.edu with the subject line AIS Conference.

The research project, Advancing Intercultural Studies, was funded by a $208,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a two-year series of seminars that examined changing perceptions of ethnic, cultural and cosmopolitan identities, the practices of immigrant religions, and developments in civic and political engagement at UCR and in Southern California.

“This culminating conference of the Advancing Intercultural Studies project will, we hope, be of interest to educators, religious and political leaders, and all members of the Southern California community,” said Georgia Warnke, director of the Center for Ideas and Society and professor of political science. “Questions we will be addressing include: Does diversity in education mean simply accessibility or a rethinking of traditional forms of knowledge? How far does religious tolerance extend? What new forms is civic participation taking? How do immigration and migration feel to immigrants or migrants themselves? We hope both to engage and learn from the public in considering these issues.”

Keynote speakers will be John L. Jackson Jr., a filmmaker and dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and Gaye Theresa Johnson, who teaches at UCLA and is a housing and civil rights advocate for residents of L.A.’s Skid Row.

John L. Jackson Jr.

John L. Jackson Jr.

Jackson will discuss “Dissertations, Digitality, and Diversity: What Multi-Modal Scholarship Means for Academic Inclusivity” at 4 p.m. on May 6. He is the Richard Perry University Professor at Penn, and has produced a feature film, documentaries and short films that have screened at film festivals around the world. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas in 2012, is “Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens,” which examines the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its Rastafarian community. Among his books are “Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem” (2013); “Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness” (2008); and “Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity” (2005). His work also explores how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be most effectively used in scholarly research projects.

Gaye Johnson

Gaye Johnson

Johnson will discuss “From Shared Pasts to Radical Futures: The Perils and the Promise of Coalitional Politics” at 11 a.m. on May 7. She is associate professor of African American Studies and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, and is an activist with the Los Angeles Community Action Network , which presented her with its Freedom Now Award in 2013.  She is the board president of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, and an advisory board member for the Goldin Institute and the Rosenberg Fund for Children. Johnson is the author of “Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles” (2013). She has two forthcoming books, “The Futures of Black Radicalism” (co-edited with Alex Lubin) and “Let’s Get Free:  Musicians on Activism in the 21st Century.” She is also working on a book titled “These Walls Will Fall: Protest at the Intersection of Immigrant Detention and Mass Incarceration.”

Each of the four Advancing Intercultural Studies project groups will make presentations resulting from their research. They are:

  • “Beyond Diversity,” May 6 at 10:30 a.m., V.P. Franklin, distinguished professor of history and education emeritus, with panelists Jeffrey Sacks, associate professor of comparative literature and languages; Jennifer Hughes, associate professor of history; and Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of political science and associate dean of the School of Public Policy.
  • “Sounding Otherwise,” May 6, 2 p.m. Ashon Crawley, assistant professor of ethnic studies, with panelists Stephen James, a Ph.D. student in anthropology; and Erica Edwards, associate professor of English.
  • “Where do We Go from Here,” May 7 at 9 a.m., a reading from a play written by Lisa Umhoefer, who is completing her MFA in creative writing and writing for the performing arts, with panelists Juliette Levy, associate professor of history; Amanda Lucia, associate professor of religious studies; Mariam Lam, associate professor of comparative literature and languages; and Yolanda Moses, professor of anthropology. The play is set on Mars, where human settlers discover they will not be allowed to return to Earth because they might contaminate the planet.
  • “Remembering Manzanar,” May 7 at 1:45 p.m., Megan Asaka, assistant professor of history, with panelists Matthew King, assistant professor of religious studies; and Susan Ossman, professor of anthropology and director of the Global Studies program.

Students who participated in the Advancing Intercultural Studies project will be available to discuss their individual research on May 6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Those research projects address such diverse topics as the importance of religious icons in Southern California such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Latino and Asian American political engagement, voter ID laws as barriers to civic engagement, transgender Jewish innovation, the Chicano experience at the University of California, and surveillance criminalization of Mexican religious practices.

The full conference schedule is available online.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Georgia Warnke
Tel: (951) 827-1554
E-mail: georgia.warnke@ucr.edu

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