Since 1969, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies has advanced research on the history, lifestyles, and socio-cultural systems of people of African descent. Scholarship seeded by the Bunche Center has also investigated problems of distinct bearing on the psychological, social, and economic well-being of persons of African descent. And Bunche Center-affiliated faculty have consistently demonstrated how knowledge produced by and about people of African descent enriches diverse fields of study, ranging from micro-biology to musicology.
As a historian, my own scholarship has focused on race, immigration, and the carceral state (police and prison systems) in the United States. My first book, Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (University of California Press, 2010) explained how race fueled the rise of the U.S. Border Patrol in the U.S.-Mexico border region. My most recent book, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in the United States (University of North Carolina Press, 2017) chronicles how Los Angeles built the largest jail system on Earth. And my current research, Million Dollar Hoods, is a digital mapping project that documents the staggering cost of incarceration in Los Angeles. It is currently being used by local advocates and policy-makers to shift public funding away from policing and incarceration and toward employment, education, and health care.
For 2019/20, the Bunche Center will also advance African American Studies at UCLA by supporting a wide range of faculty and student research that aims to improve the conditions of Black life-past, present, and future. The Bunche Fellows Program is designed to advance faculty research while creating new opportunities for students (both undergraduate and graduate) to conduct research in the field of Black Studies. The program also supports the three postdoctoral scholars in the areas of Public Health and Education.
In the summer of 2019, the Bunche Center launched its inaugural Big Data for Justice Summer Institute. This program provided students and community members an opportunity to learn how to critique, analyze, and visualize, and map big data using digital technologies such as Tableau and GIS methods. The course emphasized project-based learning and consists of a series of skill-building workshops and educational seminars as well as fieldwork and lab/studio time focused on issues around criminal justice in Los Angeles. The Bunche Center is pleased to be offering this program for the next two summers.
Together, we will build upon the Bunche Center’s rich history of developing and deploying Black Studies as a field of study that transforms the world in which we live. And, as always, the Bunche Center will continue to host a wide range of events and speakers. Stay tuned for announcements about events and more to come.