By Dr. Celia Lacayo, Associate Director of Community Engagement, Division of Social Sciences

Commander Robert Hill is the Vice Chair of the UCLA Naval Science Department and a student in the Executive MBA Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is a double Bruin as he received his undergraduate degree from UCLA in Biology (’96) where he participated in the Naval ROTC and earned his commission as an Officer in the Navy.

Commander Hill has an impressive record of military service, particularly with the Navy’s Submarine Force. He is out at sea for three months at a time. He served on the USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) for his first assignment for three years, then earned a graduate degree in the applied physics of Sonar at the Naval Postgraduate School. He has conducted various tours in Hawaii and San Diego where he oversaw ship planning and intel operations. He rose up the ranks to Executive Officer, second-in-command, on the USS Columbus (SSN 762). Afterwards, he specifically led submarine tactical development in the Pacific for six years where he tested new technology in the area of weapon and sensor deployment.

Currently in his second year in the UCLA EMBA program, Commander Hill says the biggest strength of the program is the quality of the students who contribute so much to the discussions, because they come from all backgrounds and walks of life. One of the current projects he is working on is part of his culmination thesis where a group of five students are partnered with a community organization and are given a real-life problem to solve. His group is specifically working with the Chief Information Officer for the City of Santa Monica on a business exploratory project. Commander Hill has used his prior military experience to make huge advances in the project and solidify strong relationships with city agents.

Commander Hill has also made an impact in higher education as a Commander in the NROTC and a lecturer of courses at USC and UCLA. He expresses that it is very important for him to give back and does so by mentoring other military college students. His time at UCLA has been special in part because, as he states, “UCLA emphasizes and supports veterans very strongly.”

Commander Hill has made a wonderful life here in Los Angeles where he resides with his wife and fellow Bruin, Darlene Hill, a fifth-grade teacher with LAUSD.

 

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As summer 2020 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

The UCLA Department of African American Studies has exciting courses planned for the summer. Professor Scot Brown is offering a course on Funk Music. Professor Terence Keel is offering a Session C course that will have the class “think about how our bodies are deeply impacted by/shaped by the society around us.”

For more information on these courses, see the videos below, and enroll HERE. For additional course previews, click HERE.

Dr. Scot Brown’s Funk Music and Urban History Course:

 

Dr. Terence Keel’s Race, Science, and Society Summer 2020 Course:

As summer 2020 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

The UCLA Department of African American Studies will be offering C191 – Variable Topics Research Seminars: “Reproducing While Black” (Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00pm-3:05pm) with Professor Ugo Edu. The course will “investigate the stakes of Black reproduction globally, strategies of resistance, and strategies for securing healthy and sustainable reproduction.”

For more information about this course, see the video below, and enroll HERE.

As summer 2020 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA Gender Studies will be offering the courses listed below. Visit www.summer.ucla.edu to enroll or email shogan@gender.ucla.edu.

Session A (June 22nd – July 31st)

185: Special Topics: Feminisms Online!

Instructor: Taryn Marcelino – TR 8:30-10:35

Course Description: Through a framework of keywords such as access, analog/digital, celebrity, censorship, data, fan, posthuman and more, the course will explore issues of authorship, spectatorship, and the ways in which digital content (film, television, blogs, video, advertising) enables, facilitates, and challenges marginalizing social constructions in society. Through feminist critique, students will research and analyze how the internet creates and contests stereotypes and ideas of difference, including exclusionary representations of the human, with a particular focus on how digital technologies are transforming popular culture. A variety of UCLA Gender Studies Department faculty will participate in this class, contributing lectures and other course materials.

M111 Womxn and Film: Lesbian, Butch, Trans, and Queer Media Narratives

Instructor: Candace Hansen – TR 10:45-12:50

Course Description: Cinema and television helps us make sense of our place in the world. Often it is through this artform we are able to come to realizations about lives and identities, and even imagine realities beyond our own. Why is it then that mainstream narratives surrounding queer women and trans people are monolithic, tragic, and lack nuance? In this course we will explore the relationship between sexuality, gender, and cinema, interrogating issues surrounding agency, authorship, and the consequences of tropes for lesbians, bisexual women, butches, trans women, trans men, non-binary individuals, and gender non-conforming people. Focusing primarily on American cultural production, we will consider the ways that race, class, and other elements of identity intersect with and influence cinematic depictions of queerness. We will look at independent as well as mainstream cinema, tv shows, documentaries, art films, and other sources to attempt to track queer narratives through the lens of gender studies, and imagine what the future of representation and film making might hold.

Other Session A offerings include (Gender Studies Core Courses fulfill Diversity Requirement):

  • Gender 10 Intro to Gender Studies (GE) – Instructor: Dee Mauricio
  • Gender 102 Power- Instructor: Shawndeez Jadali
  • 101W Writing Gender: Indigeneity, History & Culture (Satisfies Writing II Req) – Instructor: Laura Terrance

Session C (August 3rd-September 11th)

M133C History of Prostitution

Instructor: Elizabeth Dayton – TR 1:00pm-3:05pm

Course Description: From a global historical perspective, this course will spotlight historical moments and figures within “the world’s oldest profession” to investigate how ideologies of race, class, gender, sexuality, empire, and globalization influence the dominant frameworks of prostitution policy. Beginning in antiquity and ending in the present day, we will trace changing attitudes towards prostitution from the vantage point of sex workers, moralists, medical authorities, and police officials. Course Topics will include: critical analysis of historical policies and attitudes towards prostitution (tolerance, regulation, criminalization, decriminalization); prostitution and the construction of empire(s) and borders (“white slavery” panic, trafficking policies, militarized prostitution & red-light districts); impact of pandemics/disease outbreaks on the sex industry (including syphilis, AIDS, COVID-19); and contemporary sex workers’ rights movements. The diverse contexts in which we will study prostitution may include but are not limited to: ancient Greece, medieval Europe, seventeenth-century Japan, London in period of Jack the Ripper, colonial India, and twentieth-century United States.

M107B. Studies in Gender and Sexuality. (5) Literatures of Resistance: Queer Punk As Method

(Same as English M107B and LGBT Studies M107B)

Instructor: Candace Hansen – TR 10:45am-12:50pm

Course Description: What does it mean when artistic work is world making? In Hansen’s M107B we will be thinking through queer punk as a method by looking at resistant literatures, things that are not just gay but queer, critical, and artful. In the true spirit of queer praxis, literature will not just be understood as written word alone in this course. Music, video, art, dance, performance, ritual, and collective experiences are all works of artistic merit and meaning, and contribute to a body of knowledge that shape queer and punk epistemologies and identities. We will read and analyze work from classic and contemporary creators, writers, musicians, skateboarders, zinesters, dancers, astrologers, and more to think about what it means to make queer art that is oppositional AND affirming AND community building. Work that is creating, critiquing, and negotiating power. Work that is responding to gaps. Students will write a paper and create an original work as part of their final grade.

Diana Van Patten, a UCLA Economics Department doctoral student, has been selected to participate in the 7th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, which will now take place in 2021. Ms. Van Patten was nominated to be part of this prestigious group by the UCLA Economics Department, then selected as the nominee by UCLA and the University of California system, and finally by the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Held every few years, this next meeting will bring together Nobel Laureates along with 373 young economists from around the world to exchange knowledge, ideas, and experience. To learn more, click HERE.

LA Social Science would like to congratulate Diana Van Patten on this honor.

 

Dominique Rocker is finishing a Master of Arts in the Department of African American Studies at UCLA. Examining the writing and narrative resistance of Black Panther women in the 1970s, her work seeks to disrupt the prison industrial complex through the nexus of education, artistic outlets, and divingly feminine erotic healing. She will be continuing graduate work in the Department of History at Rutgers University, Newark in the Fall of 2020.

Read the following essay to learn more about her fascinating research and thesis:

The erotic, as described by Audre Lorde, is “a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.” It is a “deeply female and spiritual plane.” In a society historically and contemporarily constituted by the socio-political suppression of and control over Black women’s desire, agency, and feeling, the radical and often covert, intangible space between the self and the “chaos” of emotion is a “well of replenishing and provocative force” that holds the potential for radical change, perhaps outside the realm of legibility of the state. My scholarly endeavor is to uncover moments of agency in which Black women of the Black Power Era rooted their activism, whether consciously or not, in Lorde’s articulation of the erotic.[1]

As their partners and brothers were assassinated and jailed, as they themselves faced death penalty sentences, Black women in the late 1960s and 1970s engaged in political action, and used writing and storytelling that centered a divinely feminine power to create momentary visions and versions of freedom.

Activists such as Ericka Huggins used the erotic to discover “how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing.”[2] At the heart of my work is a curiosity not only about the hidden stories and resistance strategies of radical Black women in male-dominated spaces, but a desire to center emotion, sensuality, and joy as tools of survival for activists as well. This project this requires multidisciplinary training as well as mixed methodologies, specifically archival data, oral history, and Black feminist theories of kinship and the erotic.

As an interdisciplinary scholar trained in historical methods and cultural analysis, my work is rooted in counter-hegemonic orientations of history, the archive, resistance, and pleasure. My Master’s Paper explores the political murder & conspiracy trial of former Black Panther leader Ericka Huggins through an intersectional lens and takes into consideration both the narrative put upon her and the one she constructed for herself, a framework generally missing from work on this case. This research project centers the social, legal, and personal experience of Ericka Huggins as documented in newspaper archives, trial transcripts, and interviews to examine the ways in which oral history and personal storytelling through poetry written during incarceration can be pathways for personal and ideological abolitionist struggle. Huggins’ narrative resistance on the witness stand during her trial and in her poetry from prison offer meaningful insights into alternative modes of resistance and freedom-making. Considering the erotic as a powerful and “deeply female and spiritual plane,” my work renders politically engaged Black women visible and centers their survival and resistance through feeling.[3]

This work asks us to shift our understanding of historical moments, of police state violence and surveillance, and most intimately, of the meaning of freedom itself. Most importantly, for me, that has meant a centering of the divinely feminine erotic power that flows through the resistance work and the writings of some of the Panther Party’s less visible but most valuable: its women. When we begin to complicate the lens through which we understand the Black Power Era and the Black Panther Party, we can begin to uncover the nuances of not just revolution itself, but of the human experience of being Black and woman and poet and revolutionary.

[1] Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic,” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde, (Berkeley: Crossing Press, 2007), 53-59.

[2] Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic.”

[3] Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic,” 53.

As the Director of the UCLA Race, Ethnicity, Politics and Society (REPS) Lab, Dr. Efrén Pérez is facilitating cutting-edge research that examines how racial diversity impacts politics. One of his lab’s current projects is an examination of how the identity of People of Color informs political attitudes and what the specific identity means to those who identify as Latinx. The REPS Lab acts as an incubator for rigorous social science research that also provides graduate students and affiliated faculty with a quality data collection platform that is publicly accessible. Overall, the REPS Lab trains and prepares graduate students for a career as a social scientist. Dr. Pérez states that the purpose of the lab is to “facilitate research that can have an impact not only on the person’s own career, but on the world outside the confines of UCLA.”

 

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The UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy (LCHP) has released their latest research report, titled Pandemics Past and Present: One Hundred Years of California History. Particularly timely in light of Los Angeles Times coverage on this topic, this report features original research about the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, the AIDS/HIV crisis of the 1980s, and subsequent Influenza outbreaks. To read the report, click HERE, and for key takeaways, click HERE.

True to LCHP’s mission, this report uses an examination of the past to help guide us in our present moment of crisis. As governments and communities across the world are grappling with the COVID-19 crisis, researchers Dr. Kirsten Moore-Sheeley, Jessica Richards, and Talla Khelghati uncover instructive lessons about government responses, public reactions, and economic consequences of past pandemics.

LCHP has also released an accompanying episode on their new podcast, “Then & Now,” featuring a conversation with the report’s authors. Listen to the podcast HERE.

Through their report and accompanying podcast episode, LCHP seeks to provide useful context and guidance during this crisis.

 

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By Bryanna Ruiz and Amado Castillo, Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) Public Policy Fellows

The UCLA Center for the Study of Women held its 30th Annual Graduate Student Thinking Gender Conference in early March, in order to honor Women’s History Month. The annual conference was co-sponsored by various research centers and organizations, including the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI). The conference focused on feminist, queer, trans, identities and anti-carceral, transnational, and intersectional approaches to sexual violence. In light of the #MeToo movement and other movements aiming to combat sexual violence, this conference proved necessary in order to discuss approaches to justice and restoration that center the needs of communities of color.

The conference, “Thinking Gender: Sexual Violence as Structural Violence Feminist Visions of Transformative Justice,” centered on the work of graduate students who studied sexual abuse cases in different contexts, including within communities in Uganda and Latinx communities. One of the first panels to open up the conference was “Extractive Economies and Sexual Violence,” moderated by LPPI faculty expert Dr. Leisy Abrego, who offered critical insight into the research papers presented by asking more on the application of the theory towards the subjects that were studied.

The conference diverged from the traditional interpretation of justice. Rather, the conference created a space for discourse that advocates for a transformative and restorative interpretation of justice that acknowledges the different identities that are most vulnerable to sexual violence. This radical perspective works to center survivors and questions forms of justice that perpetuate existing inequalities among different communities – an important point of reflection to carry past this year’s Women’s History Month.

Laura Lievano-Karim, a UCLA graduate student from the department of Social Welfare, presented her paper which was co-written with LPPI faculty expert Dr. Amy Ritterbusch entitled, “On Street Survival, Autonomous Bodies and Structures of Oppression: The Messiness of Naming and Framing Violence Against Street-Connected Girls in Uganda.” The project was led by researchers who had previously lived in Uganda and came from similar backgrounds as the test subjects. The researchers had autonomy over many of the variables involved in the project and utilized their insight and experience in order to enhance the research Lievano-Karim’s paper focused on what, patterns could be observed from girls involved in the sex industry in Uganda by studying their lived-in experiences through interviews. Lievano-Karim invited the audience to think beyond the two categories of sex work and sex exploitation when listening to the narratives of the girls from Uganda. Lievano-Karim said, “We identified three discursive patterns and each pattern followed a trend in the ways that sexual violence is discussed by the participants. This category should not be understood as isolated or ecstatic, they overlap one with the other. This highlights the complexities found in the lived experiences of these girls”.

Another graduate student from UCLA, Magally Miranda from the Chicana/o Studies department, focused on finding alternative ways to tackle sexual abuse among communities of color, specifically within the Latinx community. Miranda presented her paper titled, “Illegal Aliens” | Latina Feminists: Structural Vulnerability and the Battle Against Workplace Sexual Violence at Koch Poultry in Mississippi.” Miranda began her presentation by displaying a picture of two Latinas who witnessed many family members, friends, and coworkers being detained by ICE at Koch Poultry in Mississippi. The image depicted the fear and emotion among the Latinx community after Koch Poultry, which predominantly employed Latinxs, was raided by ICE agents. This became the largest known workplace raid by ICE in modern U.S. history and was a form of retaliatory violence and structural sexual violence, in that it was initiated by the state due to continuous workplace violation lawsuits made by female employees.

“As of the time that this paper was written, factory owners had received no more than a slap on the wrist for their involvement in hiring undocumented workers. Instead…workers were the ones who wore the brunt of the attacks and were systematically demonized, apprehended, and inflicted with trauma,” said Miranda as she opened up her presentation. Miranda went on to discuss the work abuse suffered by many of the workers who were forced to perform the same task hundreds of times during the day. The analysis of the testimonies conducted showed that many women employed by the factory, particularly Latinas, suffered sexual abuse during their shifts. One worker, who identified as Latina, admitted that she was groped during her shift and that when her husband, who also worked for the company, attempted to intervene, he was beaten by his employers. Latinxs, in particular, were the workers that suffered physical and emotional abuse by their employers at the factory. Miranda noted that the large scale ICE raid occurred after a Mississippi judge ruled that the company owed immigrant Latina women 3.7 million dollars in damages.

The Thinking Gender Conference created an interdisciplinary discourse surrounding structural sexual violence. The conference put researchers from around the world in conversation, which allowed them to share the diversity of thought embedded within their research. Although their research varied depending on their community of focus and their own lived experiences, they all shared the same goal in utilizing their research to address the different ways that structural violence projects itself in our world.

Now that this year’s Women’s History Month has ended, we are asked to continue reflecting, beyond the month of March, on how to tackle structural violence and approach justice in ways that acknowledge communities of color and those most vulnerable.

By Bryanna Ruiz and Amado Castillo, UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) Fellows

There are very few opportunities for scholars, academics, and students to congregate and hold events centering such issues as Central American Migration, which is what made the conference held last month at the Luskin School of Public Affairs so special. The conference titled “Central American Migration to Mexico and the United States Conference,” was multilingual, interdisciplinary, and intersectional, which created space for critical conversations and the exploration of compelling research that is inspiring further collaborations among scholars and students.

The experiences of Central American migrants are often conflated with the experiences of other immigrants coming to the United States. While all migrants are subject to dangerous situations, it is important to understand the unique challenges faced by individuals that travel through several different nation states to come to the United States. The conference was created with this very purpose in mind and highlighted different communities and experiences including those of indigenous Mayan migrants and even some of the personal experiences of panelists. It also utilized historical evidence to contextualize contemporary issues. The event highlighted the work of several faculty experts from the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) including Dr. Leisy Abrego, Dr. Juan Herrera, and Dr. Cecilia Menjivar who heralded the event and shared how their own personal narratives enhance their research on Central American migration.

Dr. Abrego spoke about the impact of US immigration policies stating that, “what is happening right now, I guarantee you, will have effects for generations to come as people have to heal from the type of legal violence we are seeing.”

Professor Leisy Abrego centered her presentation on the negative rhetoric that has become increasingly common towards Central Americans and its impact on United States immigration policy. To highlight the shift in federal responses toward Central American migrants, Dr. Abrego  offered comparisons of the Obama and Trump Administrations’ policies on immigration and how they built upon the border industrial complex. According to Dr. Abrego, the Obama Administration used deterrence rhetoric as a shield to protect from any critiques that migrants were being treated unjustly. The Obama Administration continuously stated that the only reason they created detention centers was to prevent any more Central Americans from wanting to migrate and attempted to humanize their struggles for funding support. Under the Trump administration, the number of deportations decreased but the rhetoric surrounding immigrants, specifically Central Americans, became more aggressive. Dr. Abrego acknowledged that the negative rhetoric used by the Trump Administration led to the further dehumanization of Central American immigrants in order to build up a xenophobic political base.

One of the key factors that Dr. Leisy Abrego centered on during her presentation was the erasure of the U.S.’s role in immigration. Many Central American immigrants looking for shelter in the U.S. are turned away, or asked to wait in a perpetual state of limbo in Mexico, before they are granted asylum in the U.S. Many critics of immigration reform wonder why the U.S. should take responsibility to shelter asylum seekers. Dr. Abrego addresses these critics with the effects of erasure of the U.S.’s role in immigration. The U.S. is responsible for much of the gang violence that is now inherent in several Central American countries, specifically El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Abrego concluded by stating, “in the representation of Central Americans…always as a crisis either as criminals…or as helpless victims, we always erase, at least in the main discourse, the role of the United States in creating all of this.”

LPPI Faculty Expert, Dr. Juan Herrera shared his experience as a dark-skinned Latino in a community with prevalent anti-indigenous sentiment and how they fueled his studies.

Dr. Juan Herrera also called upon his lived experiences to provide context to the circumstances of Central American migrants. By leveraging his personal anecdotes, Dr. Herrera brought a human face to the economic, political and social difficulties faced by Central American migrants  in Mexico and the United States. During his talk he shared his experience as a dark-skinned Latino in a community with prevalent anti-indigenous sentiment and how they fueled his studies. During his talk he stated, “I think that fundamentally…. integration is a spatial process.” He described how interactions are vital to socialization and that they provide the basis of identity formation.  Dr. Herrera also spoke about how some of his past research showed that many Central American migrants to the US come to work as day laborers. “Literature was treating day laborers as transient despacialized laborers…(in) our current neoliberal economy, migrants are valued solely for their cheap labor without adequately perceiving them as human beings who construct social relationships that produce space.” Dr. Herrera coined the term racialized illegality to conceptualize this hardship faced by Central American migrants, how illegality affects people depending on how they were racialized in their own country and how that ultimately affects their migration and settlement processes.

Cecilia Menjivar, in her opening speech, described the growing number of Central-American scholars and what it means for the future of the discipline.

Members from UNICA and CAIGA took part in a panel that centered their work for Central American migrants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Central American immigrants continue to face increasingly negative rhetoric and horrific conditions meant to drive them away from coming to the United States, it is important that conferences such as the “Central American Migration to Mexico and the United States Conference” continue the conversations that bring critical context to these issues. Spaces, such as the one created last month, are necessary to facilitate the transfer of knowledge among academics that can be utilized to create more holistic and human portrayals of the Central American refugees that continue to be featured across all forms of media.

Every speaker agreed that educating others about the issues Central American migrant communities are facing and bringing a human face to those issues through personal narratives, is vital to finding effective solutions that recognize the humanity and dignity of immigrants. They also agreed upon the toll that is being exacted in the current immigration environment that will haunt communities for decades to come, with Dr. Abrego putting a fine point on the matter saying, “What is happening right now, I guarantee you, will have effects for generations to come as people have to heal from the type of legal violence we are seeing.”

Dr. Leisy Abrego, Dr. Cecilia Menjivar and Dr. Ruben Hernandez-Leon heralded the event.

The event was created in conjunction between the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI), the UCLA Center for the Study of International Migration, and the UCLA Center for Mexican Studies and co-sponsored by student-run organizations CAIGA (Central American Isthmus Graduate Association) and UNICA (Union Centroamericana de UCLA).

Contributors: Kacey Bonner and Diana Garcia

For more reporting on the conference, go HERE.