Photos of Damien Sojoyner and Yousuf Al-Bulushi, co-directors of "Black Reconstruction as a Portal."
Damien Sojoyner, associate professor of anthropology, and Yousuf Al-Bulushi, assistant professor of global & international studies, will co-direct the yearlong series, “Black Reconstruction as a Portal.” The series is funded by a $225,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. UCI

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded UCI a $225,000 grant to examine today’s complex structural and social issues, with the role Black Americans played in reconstructing American society following the Civil War as the framework. The yearlong series, titled “Black Reconstruction as a Portal,” will draw on cross-disciplinary expertise from humanities, law, social ecology and social sciences to critically assess how education, crisis and land remain relevant lenses through which to view ongoing global racial, economic and social issues.

“This project will build upon the collective efforts of faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students from across UCI who have sought to develop nuanced analyses and incisive inquiries pertaining to issues of dispossession, crisis, violence, organizing efforts and communal strategies levied against and developed by Black people around the globe,” said Damien Sojoyner, associate professor of anthropology. Sojoyner and Yousuf Al-Bulushi, assistant professor of global & international studies, will serve as co-directors of the project.

The UCI Humanities Center and newly launched UCI Center for Global Black Studies will facilitate the development and deployment of the project. “We are thrilled that the Mellon Foundation has awarded the UCI Humanities Center with its third Sawyer Seminar grant for this important project,” said center director Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, UCI Chancellor’s Fellow and Asian American studies professor. “‘Black Reconstruction as a Portal’ is an integral part of our ongoing effort to bridge disciplines across campus around vital research questions like race.”

A Mellon Sawyer Seminar is akin to a temporary research center, in which faculty participants from different disciplines engage in comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. Awarded in October, the grant runs through September 2023. The series will launch during the 2022-23 academic year. Event information and multimedia materials will be made available via the UCI Humanities Center website.

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