By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications
See the working schedule for the webinar series here
UCLA International Institute, September 28, 2020 — Over the past six months, life in the United States has been transformed by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement for racial justice.
The two phenomena have become deeply intertwined in the U.S., with the pandemic providing tragic empirical evidence of the systemic racism that is the focus of BLM protests and demands. Not only have BLM protests over the past six months generated widespread participation, they have greatly broadened recognition of systemic racism in U.S. policing, as well as in health care, education, housing and employment.
Protest in Minneapolis on May 26, 2020, the day after Floyd George was killed by police.
(Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr, 2020.) CC BY 2.0.
Around the world, people on multiple continents have expressed their solidarity with BLM demands in numerous protests, many of which have addressed police violence, racial discrimination and systemic racism in their own countries.
In order to draw connections among unique, but interlinked, anti-racist struggles in the context of the global histories of colonialism, imperialism and internationalism, International Institute faculty have created the “Black Lives Matter: Global Perspectives ” webinar series for the 2020–21 academic year.
A new website of the same name will showcase the webinars —roughly two are planned per quarter — together with Institute articles and links to campus resources and events on racial justice. (A separate Institute website tracks webinars and campus resources on the global impact of Covid-19.)
“The goal of the BLM: Global Perspectives webinars is to have cross-cutting conversations across Institute centers, geographic regions and the Institute’s academic programs about the urgency of our political moment and its connections to past and ongoing uprisings against racial injustice and state violence around the world,” says Jennifer Jihye Chun, chair of the faculty coordinating committee for the webinars and a sociologist with a joint appointment in the International Institute and the Asian American studies department.
Among the questions the series will explore are: How are racial justice movements around the world similar and distinct, and how are they connected to one another and to other struggles for social justice? How have struggles over trauma, memory and representation played out in different countries? And how do we build locally and globally on the momentum of recent Black Lives Matter protests to bring about a more just and equal world?
June 1, 2020. Amsterdam. Siolidarity protest against anti-black violence in the US and EU.
(Photo: Karen Eliot via Wikimedia Commons, 2020; cropped.) CC BY-SA 2.0.
Bridging the classroom and contemporary events
Each webinar in the “BLM: Global Perspectives” series will relate international perspectives on struggles for racial justice to the theoretical frameworks and courses taught in the International Institute’s global studies, international development studies, international and area studies, global health and international migration programs.
“Through this series, we want to raise critical questions and foster meaningful conversations about the stakes of anti-racist struggles taking place here in Los Angeles, as well as across Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and Europe,” comments Chun.
“The webinars will encourage students to make connections between what they are reading, what they are hearing on the news and the political activism in which they themselves might be engaging.”
Adds anthropologist Laurie Hart, a coordinating committee member and director of the Center for European and Russian Studies, “Another pedagogical goal is to train students to think comparatively and generate questions from a cross-cultural, historically informed global perspective.”
Intended to facilitate dynamic conversations between scholars who might not otherwise meet, each webinar will feature leading experts on different regions and aspects of global anti-racism movements. Most will be moderated by an Institute faculty member and videos from the discussions are expected to be made available for future use in Institute and non-Institute courses.
“The series is bringing faculty, students and centers together in a way I haven’t experienced before at the International Institute,” comments Hart.
Faculty for three core Institute courses being taught this fall — in global studies, international development studies, and international and area studies, respectively — are working to include content relevant to the webinars and will help frame the discussions for students and canvass them in advance for speaker questions.
June 9, 2020. Protest on Brooklyn Bridge, New York City. (Photo: Stan Wiechers via Wikimedia Commons, 2020; cropped.) CC BY-SA 2.0.
The first webinar, “Contextualizing BLM in the History of Slavery and Segregation,” is scheduled for October 23 at 4:00 p.m. and will feature UCLA historian Brenda Stevenson and University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Deborah Thomas in a discussion of the topic from the respective perspectives of the U.S. and Jamaica.
The second, "Global Movements Against Racial Capitalism," is scheduled for November 19 at 4:00 p.m. and will host literary and critical race scholars Christine Hong and Anne Garland Mahler in talks that internationalize the fight against racism in the context of Cold War militarism across the Asia Pacific and Latin America.
In addition to faculty-organized webinars, the BLM series will support major campus events on racial justice this fall. “Students will also have the opportunity to learn from leading public intellectuals about the movement for Black lives and its connections to struggles against land dispossession, gendered violence and capitalist injustice,” comments Chun.
“Abolition on Stolen Land,” a Sawyer Seminar on Sanctuary Spaces of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA , will be held October 9. The panel discussion will feature well-known scholars and public intellectuals, including prison abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore and American Indigenous scholar-activist Nick Estes, in a conversation about the histories and futures of uprisings for Black freedom and Indigenous sovereignty in the United States.
“The Power and the Purpose of Power: Building Movements in a Time of Pandemic,” hosted by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) on October 16, will feature Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza in a speech commemorating her CSW 2020 Distinguished Leader in Feminism Award.
BLM webinars in the winter 2021 quarter will complement Institute courses offered by the Institute’s global health and international development studies programs.
Speakers scheduled for that quarter include environmental scholar-activist and Democratic Marxism editor Vishwas Satgar and environmental justice and global antiracism expert Malini Ranganathan, speaking on abolitionist and emancipatory futures in the context of the climate crisis (January 22); the celebrated French medical anthropologist Didier Fassin (January 29), a specialist on the AIDS epidemic in Africa and urban policing in France; and Adia Benton, a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on the factors shaping healthcare delivery in West Africa, both during and apart from public health challenges (February 12).
Webinars planned for spring quarter will complement a range of international development studies and global studies courses and include a discussion of European efforts to address the legacies of colonialism and racism in the public space with UCLA historian Debora Silverman.
The details of many webinars in the series are still be confirmed, with full listings posted on the BLM: Global Perspectives website as they are finalized.
See the International Institute’s course listings for the 2020–21 academic year here.
See a message from UCLA Chancellor Block and EVC Emily Clark, "How We are Rising to the Challenge," on the work being undertaken to address structural and other forms of racism at UCLA.
This article was published on Sep. 28, 2020. It was updated on Sep. 29 and Nov. 2 to reflect confirmed dates.