Past Research Working Groups

Past CRG Working Groups

Afro Asian Alliance, 2010-2011

Bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and cultural workers, we engage the topic of Afro Asian alliance from a variety of perspectives, including: Afro Asian/Third World political history; theories of joint racialization; Buddhism and the African American community; Black/Asian portrayals in popular culture; musical and artistic exchanges; Black and Asian/American community interaction; interracial adoption; martial arts; and mixed raced identity.  By including members already involved with Afro Asian projects in San Francisco and Oakland, we seek to bring our scholarship into conversation with community activism and artistic projects by attending local performances and collaborating with community workshops (such as youth meditation projects in Oakland).  In examining these varied sites we are acutely aware of how race and gender intersect in their formations; for example in constructions of "Black" or "Asian" masculinity in martial arts, or in the feminized nature of "spirituality" or meditation (often constructed as a "passive act").  We also examine the constructions of class, sexuality, nation, and other identities within these alliances. 

Bases, Militarization, and Spaces of Containment, 2010-2011

This working group seeks to think through specific techniques of knowledge production at work around US military bases/facilities, especially those that enable "spaces of containment" and "spaces of exception" to be maintained and sustained through the discourse of liberalism.  The members of this group will read a list of texts and articles (see below) influenced by the works of Giorgio Agamben (1998) and those who have expanded on his concept of the "the camp" in order to extrapolate a better feminist model which addresses the inextricable links between race and gender that all too easily erased in thinking through official rhetoric and polices around "national security" and bases.  We are a group of seasoned activists, scholars, and students who hope to ultimately rethink discursive theoretical models that are used by scholars and policy makers which sometimes tends to reify the silencing of certain racialized and gendered bodies in and around military facilities.  We hope that our own grounded experiences as activists will be put into tension with the readings and that we can explore and offer a stronger cartography to explore this subject. 

Blackness and Indigeneity and the Beginnings of the Modern World:

This working group explored the links, differences and mutual implications of indigeneity and blackness in the emerging symbolic order of the modern world-system, with a particular focus on the role of scopic regimes in their respective constructions. We payed particular attention to the emergence of America, Africa, and Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Professor Nelson Maldonado-Torres.

Borderland Practice: Citizenship, Race, Gender, and Critical Praxis, 2014-2016:

This working group aims to a) examine the intersections of race, class, gender, and citizenship within health, social service, and practice settings and b) foster opportunities for meaningful collaboration and participatory research with grassroots groups and community-based organizations engaged in supporting immigrant and migrant communities.  More here:

Criminal Justice Working Group, 2009-2013

The Criminal Justice Working Group is a community of graduate students across academic disciplines interested in or actively engaged in researching issues related to the criminal justice system in California and in the United States.  We serve as a networking site, connecting our members and others to criminal justice resources on campus and within our community, and as a research sounding board, hosting workshops for members' research in whichy they present working ideas or papers and get feedback. Read more about the Criminal Justice Working Group in the Fall 2010 issue of the FaultLines.  For further information, contact Nicole Lindahl at and Tobias Smith at

Critical Methodologies in Educational Research (2013-2015)
This working group begins from an understanding of the hierarchies within social science research methods which delegitimize the qualitative methods that address equity and social justice, and speak from “epistemologies of the wound” as Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez explains. Meetings will offer participants opportunities to collaboratively gather a knowledge-base of race, class, gender, and queer-based epistemological issues, particularly in the field of educational research.

While quantitative methods serve an uncontested value in research, critical qualitative methodologies bring a complexity and nuanced understanding of the formations of power that define the material reality of marginalized communities.  The aim of this group is to contribute to the epistemological diversity on-campus by supporting efforts to engage emerging qualitative research methods, and stimulate future research collaborations.  We welcome students and community members at any stage of their research projects.  Throughout the semester, our meetings will workshop participants’ written work and include dialogue on participant-selected readings pertaining to critical methodologies in qualitative research including, but not limited to, critical race methods, decolonizing methodology, counter storytelling, participatory action research, auto ethnography, and oral histories/herstories.  If you would like more information, please contact

Decolonial Feminisms Working Group, 2010-2013

The Decolonial Feminisms Working Group meets this semester with a focus on decolonial projects happening here at Berkeley. We would like to create a workshop-style forum where graduate students and other scholars can present their works-in-progress to share how they engage the decolonial in their thinking. Given that there are many decolonial conversations, some of them epistemology-centered, or feminism-centered, or queer-centered, happening along with other feminist and critical approaches, the sense of the decolonial may not always be legible across theoretical or disciplinary borders. Therefore, one goal for us would be to practice both reading and posing our research problems and questions from/within a decolonial feminist stance. That is, through a rigorous engagement with decolonial feminist texts and each other's research, we aim to develop an attentiveness to the following: How is the research aligned with decolonial feminist thinking? What genealogies of decolonial feminist thought are being invoked? How is the methodology informed by decolonial feminist theories? What is the decolonial "turn" or intervention being offered? What is there to be gained and/or lost as our scholarship engages the possibility of decolonial feminisms?  Read more about Decolonial Feminisms Working Group in the Fall 2011 issue of FaultLines.  For more info, please see our website:

Discipline and Restorative Justice in Schools Working Group, 2009-2011

This working group brings together faculty and students from U.C. Berkeley and a local high school to research the impact of school disciplinary practices on racial/ethnic minority students.   We explore whether alternative forms of discipline, founded on restorative justice principles, are a viable and healthy alternative to traditional paradigms.  In the Fall of 2009, 13 students from a local high school participated in a seminar designed and facilitated by members of the working group.  Students in the seminar became familiar with the history of discipline within education at the same time they are trained in qualitative methods and documentary film production.  During the Spring of 2010, the group began video documenting student encounters with the school's disciplinary apparatus, one that includes a restorative justice oriented youth court class.  The students have identified movements of people, resources and power on the campus as a central concern as such flows seem to privilege certain communities while disadvantaging others with respect to educational opportunities and disciplinary practices.  With the continued support of the Center for Race and Gender, faculty and students will analyze this data during the 2010-2011 academic year and produce a written report that discusses any observed differences in outcomes between traditional disciplinary practices and those rooted in restorative justice principles.  In addition, the students will produce a documentary that explores the ways in which racial/ethnic minority students understand, experience and navigate school discipline. 

Feminist of Color Geographies, 2015-2016

Women of color feminists, who have much to say about power, domination, and violence, are rarely read for their insights into space and spatiality. This working group seeks to “decolonize the spatial turn” by recasting woman and queer of color scholar-activists as spatial theorists. We will read Black, Indigenous, and transnational feminist scholars for how they approach the interlaced logics of race, gender, and sexuality as spatial phenomena.  Learn more about the group here.

Health and Healing Beyond the Bio-Medical Industrial Complex, 2012-2013

Working from the notion that healing is a place of balance and wholeness, this working group examines the various ways that the medical industrial complex perpetuates colonial legacies in relation to the mind, body, and spirit. As such, we centralize subjects who are multiply located in interlocking systems of oppression. Moreover, this group will confront the fact that discursive notions of race and gender are historically tied to scientific and medicalized discourses of superiority and inferiority, which are consequently used to control bodies through genocidal acts (i.e. forced sterilization of women of color, medical testing of racialized bodies in the U.S.). This group considers the idea that health and healing are multi-dimensional states of being and therefore require multiple modes of inquiry and reference: the individual and communal as affected by social, political, economic and cultural structures. By exploring historical foundations of medicalized racism and sexism and the medical industrial complex this group will bring together multiple western and “alternative” (particularly those indigenous to different parts of the world) knowledge about wellness practices and practitioners.

immigration / (im)migrant (il)legality, 2012

A group of graduate students met through the Summer 2012 to write and discuss critical scholarship on the politics of (im)migration.

Indigeneity Working Group:

Political recognition (primarily by the West) of indigenous groups has been and continues to be a primary stuggle as we begin the 21st century. However, indigenous peopls have made a critique of these terms of recognition a critical part of the political struggle. Legal and racial identities are primarily legacies of Imperialism, and indigenous groups are re-imagining, challenging, and inventing new modes of political activism that challenge the contours of this political recognition. The Indigeneity working group organized an international conference to adress these and other issues. Contact Steve Crum for more information.

ism, 2010-2011

Based in Berkeley, ism is a student-run and student-authored publication that aims to encourage downright messy discussions about race, gender, sex, and disability. We hope, through translating these critical dialogues into a print media project, to bridge the gap between words and material, academic discourse and the lived experience. Don’t worry. We’ll be gentle.

We’re currently looking for student articles, artwork, photography, and delicious candy. Want to help us out? Shoot us an e-mail at  Learn more about ism at the website,, join ism on Facebook, or follow ism on twitter.

The Listening Group, 2012-2013

Whether teaching in a classroom or discussing research around a seminar table, faculty and graduate students are presented with situations grounded in their own emotional and lived experiences of sensitive and, at times, difficult subject matter. For scholars working with, teaching on, and researching complex issues such as identity, creative expression, socio-political conflicts, etc., there lacks a space in which one can safely discuss personal responses to these issues without feeling the pressure of intellectual critique.

The Listening Group seeks to create such a space, inviting its members to talk through these issues on a personal level as well as practice listening with an openness and equanimity that fosters clear communication. We feel that by supplementing our rigorous intellectual pursuits with less formal conversations on how we respond to these issues, we can respond more appropriately in class when our students express opinions or ask questions on sensitive subjects, as well as think more clearly about our own research.

Migration at the Intersections, 2015-2016

The Migration at the Intersections working group will be an inclusive interdisciplinary space for graduate students and faculty from Berkeley and other academic institutions whose research addresses the intersection of at least two of the following axes of identity: race, gender, sexuality, and immigration status. Because the law school is often isolated from the broader Berkeley community, the goals of the working group will include creating an intellectual exchange between legal and other scholars and bringing immigration, and more specifically, immigration law into conversation with scholarship in other disciplines. 

Moving beyond the Margins: Locating Architectures of Resistance and Survival, 2015-2016

(within discourses of feminism and womanism juxtaposed with experiential knowledge)
The purpose of this working group is to move beyond the obvious legibility of women of color and look between the margins in an attempt to acknowledge and remember the women who are often forgotten in theoretical discourse: everyday women whose own lives are quiet soliloquies of resilience. We are seeking to ground womanisms and feminisms as an everyday praxis.  More info:

Pacific Island Studies Research Working Group, 2008-2009

The Pacific Island Studies Research Working Group offered a forum for scholars working on, or interested in, Pacific Island histories and cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. It was designed to bring together scholars and graduate students to meet, share, and discuss work on the Pacific. This group met weekly to read and discuss work on the Pacific in a congenial Pacific environment. This group organized a Pacific Island Studies Speaker Series that will collaborate with and support the objectives and interests of the Pacific Island Studies Research Working Group. For more information, please contact Fuifuilupie Niumeitolu

Gender and Visual Culture:

This working group explored how race and gender are produced through visual culture. The specific technology of photography will served as a springboard for conversations. We were also concerned with how race and gender formations have impacted visual representational practices including painting and sculpture, film, television, advertising, and new digital technologies. Our aim was to make sense of the long, entangled and inextricable relationships among race, gender and visuality. If you are interested in joining or would like more information, please contact Leigh Raiford ( or Elizabeth Abel (

Popular Music in Chicana/o Cultural Studies, 2012-2013

The Popular Music in Chicana/o Cultural Studies Working Group invites participants to join in a conversation dedicated to exploring Chicana/o scholarly engagement with popular music and sound.  Our approach is inherently multi-sited and transdisciplinary yet may be unified, preliminarily, under several related questions:  What is Chicana/o music?  Where do we "hear" it?  What is the relationship between Chicana/o cultural studies, popular music, and the so-called "emerging" field of sound studies?  What are their respective methods and concerns?  Recent publications such as: Transnational Encounters: Music and Performance at the U.S. -Mexico Border (2011) by Alejandro Madrid, Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda (2012)  by Deborah Vargas, and the recent wins by the band Quetzal and musician Lila Downs at the Grammy Awards tell us that Chicana/o music is alive and well in the public arena and in the academy. Yet, we suggest that there is a significant sonic dimension that remains underexplored in Chicana/o cultural studies.  At heart, this group is an invitation to consider a constellation of questions stemming from imagining: What does Aztlán sound like? 

Racial Reparations:

Those interested in working on racial reparations were invited to contact Professor Charles Henry. The group placed reparations in a global context dealing with apology and truth and reconciliation. It will investigated local, state and national efforts on reparations including grassroots organizations. Finally, it discussed solutions ranging from monetary to cultural.

Transnational Cultures:

This was a closed-membership group organized by Professors Percy Hintzen (African American Studies) and Jocelyne Guilbault (Music). Members read articles had discussions related to the theme of "Placing Popular Culture: Nation, Diaspora, and Governmentality."

Transnational Mixed Asians In-Between Spaces, 2010-2013

In traditional Ethnic Studies categories, mixed race has been marginalized, misappropriated, tokenized or simply left out.  In order to allow for a collaborative environment given the use of essentialized racial categories and lack of scholarship on the experiences of mixed race people, the purposes of the working group are as follows: to create an interdisciplinary space for mixed race studies dialogue and to provide a safe space for scholars to discuss issues of mixed race identity.  This working group will also serve as a space for scholars doing work on this topic to present work on current projects and to discuss collaboration on future research projects.  We also plan to compose panels for conferences such as the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference in November and the Association for Asian American Studies Conference next spring.  Some of the group members' research interests include mixed race identity and the US Census, mixed race youth in political activism, Amerasian studies (Okinawan, Vietnamese, and other sites of US military involvement in Asia), transnational discourse, the Asian diaspora in Latin America and the effects of conquest and colonization on indigenous Asian peoples.  A few of the theories the group is interested in exploring are Grounded Theory, Critical Race Theory, Racial Formation Theory, Mestizaje/Borderlands theory (Anzaldua) and theories of hybridity and the third space (Bhabaha).  Overall, as a result of the discussions in the working group, we hope to encourage and promote research on this topic, to solidify a legitimate space in academia for the study of mixed race/bi-cultural/transnational peoples and to bring together scholars from multiple disciplines and research areas to collaborate on future research in this area. Read more about our Spring 2012 conference, Crossing Lines: Praxis in Mixed Race/Space Studies, in the Spring 2012 issue of FaultLines.

The Visual/Visible in the Marking of Blackness, Asianness, and Mixedness, 2014-2015
Based on our individual areas of research and interests, themes related to questions of race and gender include reproductive and sexual health programs, family planning and access to contraceptives, the notion of genocide and its embrace as descriptive of the black experience, the performance of hip hop dance by black and Asian bodies and the performance of "surrogation" and "passing" in Trans-Pacific Context.  This group is important to fostering interdisciplinary discussions, often difficult to sincerely have within our respective disciplines.  A running theme is the role of what is visible -- skin color, hair texture, eye shape, etc. -- and the audible.

Undocumented Students Research & Action Initiative, 2010-2016

A collaboration of UC Berkeley partners launched a research initiative to explore the topic of improving the campus climate for undocumented students at Berkeley.  The initiative includes community building efforts among undocumented students to decrease isolation, an engaged research project that collects critical data about the experiences and insights of undocumented students at Berkeley, a narrative writing course to collect qualitative data, and sharing the results of research findings.  Fall 2013 will see a release of the findings from our research, a launch of an anthology produced by students who participated in the writing course, support for queer undocumented student organizing initiatives, and a symposium on the politics of (im)migration.

War, Women and Dislocation:

Women and children constitute the majority of forcibly displaced people in the world. Yet, they remain virtually invisible in the formulation of policies and intervention programs and are rarely understood as independent entities with their own issues and concerns. A working group convened in Spring 2004 to explore the impacts of conflict on women and the ways that gender features centrally in thinking about and analyzing war, socio-economic, political and cultural dislocations, and migration. Graduate students and faculty interested in these issues were invited to contact Professor Khatharya Um.