The Black Studies Collaboratory aims to bring together artists, activists, locals, and scholars to amplify the interdisciplinary, political, and world-building work of Black Studies. Black Studies broadly, and the African American intellectual tradition specifically, have always been grounded in community and geared toward improving the conditions of black life under structures of injustice. This principle was central to the establishment of archives like the Schomburg Collection, SNCC’s Freedom Schools that taught direct democracy alongside theater, music and photography; and the Combahee River Collective and other black feminist groups who organized consciousness-raising sessions. These examples also remind us that knowledge is produced, circulated, and put into use in a range of locations, from the kitchen table to the seminar room, from the street corner to the concert stage, from the prison cell to the lecture podium. Artists, scholars and activists have dreamt up and thought critically about what the future might look like if the affirmation of black lives were the foundation of U.S. society.
Diagram of How She Hold it All Together.
The World-Building Potential of Black Studies
In colleges and universities where African American or Black Studies programs exist, they are often interdisciplinary—integrating academic disciplines ranging from history and anthropology to the arts, and more. As a field unto itself, Black Studies is both nascent and revelatory: What Black Studies teaches us about Black life and liberation reveals deep insights into the American story writ large.
How the Black Studies Collaboratory is reimagining Black Studies through community engagement
When UC Berkeley’s African American Studies professors Leigh Raiford and Tianna Paschel launched the Black Studies Collaboratory (BSC) in 2021(link is external), their vision centered on creating a space for critical, joyful and generative engagement that would expand beyond the institution and into the surrounding community. “This is an opportunity to experiment with new forms of collaboration, engage in new conversations around freedom, justice, and joy, and to deepen our roots in the Bay Area,” said Paschel. Chancellor Carol Christ added, “The project will take this critical moment in our history as an invitation to reimagine African American Studies’ relationship to the institution of the university and in turn reimagine the institution’s relationship to its surrounding Black communities.” Now halfway into its three-year journey, the Black Studies Collaboratory has constructed creative and inclusive means to gather and mobilize artists, activists and scholars in service to the interdisciplinary, political, and world-building work of Black Studies.
The Black Studies Collaboratory Welcomes Second Cohort of Abolition Democracy Fellows
The Black Studies Collaboratory at UC Berkeley announces Abolition Democracy Fellows for the 2022-2023 academic year. Postdoctoral Fellows Dr. Peace And Love El Henson and Dr. Victoria Grubbs, and Elder in Residence Ms. Daphne Muse, continuing their positions from last year, will be joined by Dissertation Writing Fellows Caleb Dawson and Rashad Timmons; Activist in Residence Cat Brooks; Artist Fellows Antoine Hunter and Bryant Terry; and Archivist in Residence Lisbet Tellefsen.