The Arts & Humanities initiative emerged out of the creative production rooted in the Undocumented Student Research and Action Initiative, which organized two impactful cultural projects: 1) a creative writing workshop that resulted in the student anthology, It Was All A Dream: Writings by Undocumented Youth at UC Berkeley (2014), and 2) UndocuNation, a 2013 daylong symposium where scholars, activists, and artists explored insurgent citizenships and immigration justice at UC Berkeley, the Bay Area, and beyond, and an evening of culture jamming, visual art, and performances, hosted by Bay Area artist Favianna Rodríguez, that explored the consequences of violence against immigrant communities and liberatory visions for interventions based on creativity and art practice.
With the leadership of Marco Flores, a former CRG research scholar who led the organizing of the above cultural projects, CRG also co-organized Imaginary Activism, a 2015 performance and theater workshop by Guillermo Gómez Peña, and produced the 2016 forum, Lingering Latinidad, a collaborative event between queer Latina/o scholars Joshua Guzmán, Christina León, and local performance artist Xandra Ibarra.
After being officially established in 2016-2017, the Arts & Humanities Initiative organized a book roundtable for the anthology, Migrating the Black Body: The African Diaspora and Visual Culture, edited by Prof. Leigh Raiford, African American Studies, and Prof. Heiki Raphael-Hernandez, University of Maryland, as well as a campus screening and discussion of Forgetting Vietnam, a lyrical film essay by Prof. Trinh T. Minh-ha, Gender & Women’s Studies.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan established the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities as a means to utilize “the power of the arts and humanities to contribute to the vibrancy of our society, the education of our children, the creativity of our citizens, and the strength of our democracy” (PCHA online). On August 18, 2017, 16 members of the committee resigned to protest Trump’s presidency, which has been theorized as one that necessitates the controlled image of racialized, gendered, and foreign-born communities as “dangerous,” “terrorist,” etc. The resignation brings to light the power of cultural production in politics and makes us ask: What is art?; Can art alone change culture?; And, why have art pedagogies been marginal in the critical humanities and critical social sciences?
To address these three questions, AHI is organizing Poetics of Resistance, a poetry series in which poets of various races, genders, ages, migration status, and occupations are invited to be in conversation with one another. This series will be curated and thematized in a way that brings a new critical lens to humanities scholarship.
The culmination of a long-term research and arts project, It Was All A Dream: Writings by Undocumented Youth at UC Berkeley includes essays, poetry, visual art, and findings from a research report on the campus climate for undocumented students. The writing workshop that catalyzed this anthology was co-organized the Multicultural Community Center.
Visit the UndocuNation! conference archive page for the full gallery of photos from the 2013 symposium and arts festival.
CRG Research Scholar, Alan Pelaez Lopez is an adornment artist and a writer from the southern coast of Oaxaca, México. At Berkeley, Alan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies, where he examines the ways in which undocumented Black immigrants create art spaces as a form of political protest that resist notions of Black citizenship and illegality. Alan’s poetry and non-fiction essays are influenced by growing up undocumented in the hoods of Boston and New York City. His work can be found in Everyday Feminism; TeleSur; The Feminist Wire; Black Girl Dangerous; Fusion Magazine; A Quiet Courage, and more.
Former CRG Research Scholar, Marco Antonio Flores, was a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. His research interests include contemporary queer and trans Chicana/o and U.S. Latina/o arts in visual culture, performance art, and experimental film. Through his interdisciplinary training, he hopes to contribute to understandings of the spiritual, the political, and the aesthetic in Chicana/o Art theories and practices.
He was an active member of numerous campus initiatives and is affiliated with the Center for Race and Gender; the Center for Latino Policy Research; the Performance in the Americas Working Group. In 2015 he participated in the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Latino Museum Studies Program and currently a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow. Flores completed his B.A. from the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and M.A. in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.