Faculty Work Group & Visiting Scholar Initiative

The Institute of American Cultures (IAC) announces a new program to support faculty work groups at UCLA that explore critical aspects of the “emerging America.”  The goal of this program is to facilitate one-quarter work groups focused on transformative interdisciplinary research with clearly defined outcomes.  In 2012 one grant will be awarded to support a single work-group, which will include one-quarter course release for a maximum of 5 faculty members and up to 3 campus visits by key scholars. This program is made possible through generous support from the Dream Fund.

What is the emerging America? Recent unparalleled population shifts have created an intriguing new environment, labeled “superdiversity” by one scholar (Vertovec, 2007, 2011), marked by a tremendous growth in ethnic representation, as well as a rapidly expanding heterogeneity of culture, religion, race, and language.  Given modern mobility opportunities, social formations, especially in global mega-cities, now display a complexity not previously observed. Some traditional boundaries have become less distinct, as the products of such connections become more evident (e.g., the children of interracial, interethnic, interfaith, and multi-lingual unions; multicultural and theologically mixed churches).

These phenomena have created new opportunities for intersectional exchanges and cultural fusion.  Most obvious are the impacts of these cultural transections on artistic production (as observed in new forms of music and art) and even culinary creations.  However, these intercultural/interethnic connections may signal a range of more fundamental transformations producing new ways of acting, being, and thinking. California and Los Angeles, in particular, are leading indicators of these movements; serving, in effect, as living laboratories for social arrangements, experiences, and creative pursuits and scholarship that are becoming characteristic of more places in the U.S. and around the world.

The IAC is pleased to announce the first IAC­ Dream Fund Faculty Work Group and Visiting Scholar Initiative award winners: a team led by Professor Maylei Blackwell of Chicana/a Studies and consisting of Professors Keith Camacho of Asian American Studies, Mishuana Goeman of Gender Studies and American Indian Studies, and Wendy Teeter of the Fowler Museum and American Indian Studies. Awarded for a single academic quarter, this grant program supports faculty work groups focused on transformative interdisciplinary research with clearly defined outcomes. The awardees' proposed project, titled "Indigenous Los Angeles at the Intersections" will examine the complexity of indigeneity in what is arguably the largest indigenous population of any city in the US. Indigenous LA spans multi-racial contexts of the city and its environs and reveals cultures often hidden or obscured within more visible cultures. This includes how the original peoples of the Los Angeles-basin and surrounding islands, the Gabrieleno/Tongva, Juaneiio/Acjachamen, and Fernandeiio/Tataviam, relate specifically to this land as well as how subsequent relocations and migrations of American Indians peoples, brought on by US policies of termination, relocation, and detribalization, have reworked space, place and meaning. In addition, the group will focus on new indigenous migrants to the city, as LA has become a "'transnat ional hub'...for an increasingly indigenous diaspora from Mexico and Guatemala." The project also includes a focus on Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles, which is home to the largest number of Chamorros, Hawaiians, Marshallese, Samoans, and Tongans outside of Oceania. The team will meet weekly and will work to build collaborative partnerships with members of the commun ities they plan to study. Employing oral history, storytelling, and social documentation, they plan to explore the shared themes of identity, land and city, and hope ultimately to create an interactive application for iOS devices that will allow users to navigate the multiple social geographies of indigenous communities in LA. With this grant, they plan to produce four oral histories that will serve as a pilot study for further investigation, write an essay on the process of building trust and collaboration among indigenous communities in LA, and prepare a grant proposal for the next phase of the indigenous LA project.