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Black Alliance Launches Africana Studies Conference

February 21, 2023

UC Merced’s first Global Africana Studies Research Conference, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25, grew out of a course taught at the university. The subject was Black consciousness and African freedom; it asked questions about what it means to be Black in different contexts.

Professor Maria Martin, who taught the graduate-level course, said for some students it was their first academic investigation into Black experiences. They wanted more. So, when the university’s Academic Senate made available small grants to develop anti-racism programs, Martin and the graduate students applied.

The result is this weekend’s conference, which is titled “Being and Becoming: Blackness in Multiple Contexts,” co-sponsored by the Academic Senate and the UC Merced Black Alliance. The conference will be held in multiple rooms at Granite Pass and the Administration Building, and at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St.

It will be a hybrid event with presentations and discussions in person and online. International presenters hail from China, Switzerland, Canada, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. Represented institutions include Harvard and Stanford universities and several UC and CSU campuses.

“With all the recent initiatives to address anti-Blackness and bring in more diverse cohorts of students to UC Merced, we thought this conference can support those initiatives and create visibility for the university among scholars in this field,” said Martin, a member of the Department of History & Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.

UC Merced Sociology Professor Whitney Pirtle will give the keynote address, titled “I’m Rooting for Everyone Black: Reframing Blackness as a Win When the World Says It is the Problem.” There are two roundtable discussions; the subjects are “Black Agency in the U.S. Legal System” and “Being and Becoming Black.”

There will be a conference reception Friday night and a dinner Saturday night, both at the Multicultural Arts Center. Attendance is limited to 15 per event. Prospective participants can RSVP here .


Global Africana Studies Research Conference

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 24-25

Reception: 4-6 p.m. Friday, Merced Multicultural Arts Center ( RSVP )

Main conference: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Granite Pass and Administration Building (schedule/locations, Zoom links)

Dinner: 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Merced Multicultural Arts Center ( RSVP )