CURRENT RESEARCH WORKING GROUPS
Academic Year 2022 - 2023
The Black Geosonicologies Working Group explores the racialization of sound and how it is mediated, contextualized, and experienced through place-based orientation. We draw from Black geographies, sound studies, and ethnomusicology to examine what it means to be a racialized “listening subject” and how Blackness as sound is managed through auditory governance and sociosonic processes that structure our worlds. Methodologically, we draw attention to the ways Western epistemologies privilege the act of seeing that ignores how sonic methodologies and deep audible engagement informs new modes for understanding the confluence of race, sound, music, and geography. Through Black acoustemologies—how Black people know and order their environments through sound—we emphasize the sonic fluidity of a “Black sense of place” across multiple scales. We also diagram the “sonics of intersectionality” to examine how audible experiences and positioning is interlaced with overlapping identities within the self and its multiple geographies.
Our central questions, include:
What is Black sound?
What is geosonicology?
What are the sociosonics of a Black sense of place?
What are the sonics of intersectionality?
In what ways do Black people produce auditory ways of knowing?
How do various forms of institutional power produce racialized “listening subjects” through auditory governance and sociogeographic processes?
The Critical University Studies (CUS) working group contends with issues of power, race, class, and gender in higher education. We draw inspiration from the Black radical tradition and Black feminism in particular, Indigenous studies, and decolonial theory. In this working group we seek to 1) deepen our theoretical inquiry and empirical links with existing scholarship, and 2) strengthen our methodological approaches on how to conduct ethical and rigorous research in university and community settings, and 3) cultivate community that supports graduate students through milestones, and creates networks beyond degree completion. Our group’s interests include: Neoliberalism and academic free speech; Politics of redemption, carcerality, and the pipeline from prisons to postsecondary education; Political economy of student debt, surveillance, and athletic exploitation; Youth and student movements, democratization of higher education; Decolonization and “globalization” of higher education; The gendered labor involved in including Black people in white institutions. By focusing on power, violence, and the experiences, needs, and agency of historically marginalized groups, we also hope to demonstrate a pathway for departments and centers to deepen their respective engagement with critical university studies.
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The Disorienting Diasporic Hegemonies working group seeks to create a community that reads, writes about, thinks critically toward, and acts in solidarity with Black social movements outside of the United States, with a particular focus on Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean. While the impact of U.S. imperialism on these geographies is central to any analysis of globalized power, we seek to center the histories and voices of Global South geographies. By focusing on a material analysis of these geographies, we aim to reorient and rescale widely held ideas about Blackness, Black histories, and Black struggle. While open to all graduate students, this group primarily invites advanced graduate students working on milestone-related projects. We seek to engage distinct yet interrelated topics ranging from decolonial Black feminisms and collectives, leftist and sovereignty movements and insurgencies, state violence and neocolonial ownership of lands, and cultural/visual productions.
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The Ecologies of Difference working group is a collaboration of place-based thinkers dedicated to employing the many lessons learned from critical black feminist ecology, political ecology, queer ecology, postcolonial theory, and indigenous criticism in order to develop fieldwork methods and modes of writing in line with these ruptures of Enlightenment epistemology. We approach various sites and landscapes as archives whose fragments and ruins tell of their violent production.
We find that landscape itself has been transformed into ecocidal infrastructure: for capital, for empire, for whiteness, for heteropatriarchy. This infrastructure gets mistaken for “Nature.” While we acknowledge the effort of recent scholarship to name it–the Anthropocene–this concept risks heightening forgetting by insisting that the recognition of global catastrophe obviates the need to redress particular instances of its violence. We seek to unearth the fragments that belie the production and forgetting of this infrastructure in order to highlight how ecologies become appropriated for the task of domination through their being gendered and racialized.
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The Indigenous Sound Studies working group aims to highlight Indigenous politics in music and sound. Our members come from various backgrounds to create an Indigenous-centered dialogue on issues of anti-colonial practices, sovereignty, identity, and knowledge production in sound. Our discussion spaces are intended to be collaborative and constructive for understanding the multiple frictions of intersecting racialized and gendered histories of coloniality. In our conversations, we seek to find possibilities for Indigenous self-determination outside definitions confined to borders, nation-states, or authenticity, which often fail to engage differences within Indigenous experiences.
Central to our group, is the interrogation of colonial and Western-oriented investigations of Indigenous sound and music in fields such as anthropology, ethnomusicology, and sound studies. We consider how a cross-discipline approach is generative for projects in Critical Indigenous Studies and our related field of Indigenous Sound Studies. Our foundational questions seek to examine how notions of sound and music are transformed through the incorporations of: 1) Indigenous linguistics and voice; 2) aesthetics; 3) cultural practices; and 4) different conceptions of space and time.
The “Racialized-Gendered Organizations” working group aims to investigate the intersection of race, gender, and organizations. We ask how organizations are both products and generators of unequal power structures in society. Topics of focus include: how racialized and/or gendered norms are created, enforced, and mobilized; roles of identity and power relations within/across organizations as they (re)produce, co-mediate, and enact social networks, practices, interactions, opportunities, and relations; the relationship across organizations (i.e., meso-level social structures) and across leveled context (e.g. the macro- and micro-level social structures) for the reproduction and contestation of oppression; how organizations provide affordances and constraints for individuals and groups; and the processes, potential, and tensions of structural change.
Relational Latinx and Asian American Studies is a multi-disciplinary graduate student-led working group that will explore the aesthetic, political, and social practices of Latinx and Asian American communities as mutually entangled, a matter of linked fates. In anticipation of incipient demographic realities in the state of California and on campus, which has committed to achieving Hispanic-Serving Institution (HIS) status by 2026, but also in the wake of COVID-related anti-Asian violence—this group centers methodologies of relational racialization within the humanities and humanistic social sciences to probe some of the pressing research topics and issues of the moment.
Potential areas of focus include: the disclosure of the brown commons, feminist theories of the flesh, minor transnationalisms, solidarities with Afro-descent and Indigenous peoples, racialized intimacy, the racing of place, and the political recuperation of aesthetic categories such as the beautiful, among other topics. We welcome undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines, as well as tenure-track and contingent faculty to join us for regular reading discussions, manuscript workshops, guest talks, and collaborative projects.
Transecological Imaginations is conceptualized as a working group that bridges spatial theory and transformative practices to imagine equitable futures. Transecological ethics is an embodied relation to place which is attuned to histories of difference in all its forms, especially the ones that challenge binaries such as nature/culture, female/male, etc. This framework aims to resist a planetary future centered on anthropic exceptionalism that hierarchizises life according to colonial, racial, and gendered forms of violence and perpetuates precarious life. We attempt to conjure a postanthropic vision to build a future where justice dwells.
We will focus on a building at the intersection of Turk and Taylor streets, in the Tenderloin neighborhood, San Francisco. This crossroads was the site of a queer grassroots uprising against police brutality, the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot of 1966. The riot at Compton’s was spearheaded by street youth and gender-nonconforming people three years before the Stonewall Riot in New York. Today, the three-story building is operated as a “halfway house” by GEO Group, a for-profit prison company. Our goal is to research the material necessary to collaboratively envision a speculative design proposal that decarcerates the historic building and resurfaces its legacy of resistance.