‘Illuminating and Liberating’

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As a scholarly discipline, Black studies emerged out of protest.In 1968, responding to student activism rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, UC Santa Barbara was among the first universities in the nation to establish a Black studies department. Students and scholars advocated for African Americans to be included in the academic record.
A half-century later, social justice, resistance and inclusion are still hallmarks of Black studies, but the field’s depth and diversity has expanded considerably.  
“In the Black Radical Tradition,” a research symposium slated for April 18-20 at UCSB’s MultiCultural Center, seeks to explore that complexity while also commemorating 50 years of Black studies on the campus.
“The expansion of Black studies includes thinking about race as well as gender, sexuality, class, freedom and different cultural formations — like music, art and literature — as places where various kinds of ideas about knowledge, experience and being get worked out, and not just ideas of protest,” said Stephanie Batiste, UCSB associate professor of Black studies and of English, who is organizing the symposium.
“The Black radical tradition is not solely about protest and that binary narrative of empowerment vs. disempowerment, whiteness vs. blackness,” Batiste said. “The story is much more complicated. The research we see at the symposium demonstrates that.”
According to Batiste, the Black radical tradition is “a philosophy, a consciousness and a practice of resistance and survival necessitated by the inexplicable and outrageous onslaught of oppressive practices and phobic behavior with which European traditions of colonialism and imperialism assaulted African people as far back as the Roman Empire.”
The term “Black Radical Tradition” was coined by Cedric Robinson in his 1983 book “Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition.” Robinson, who died in 2016, was a UCSB professor and director of the school’s Center for Black Studies Research (CBSR).
“The Black radical tradition argues for a rethinking of U. …

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