Welcome to the web-home for the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies undergraduate program at the University of California, Merced, located on the original territories of the Yokut and Miwok peoples. I am humbled and honored to be taking on the leadership of CRES from the founding chair of the program, Dr. Ma Vang who along with Dr. Kit Myers and many dedicated allies in History and throughout the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts created a vibrant and nurturing home for social justice learning, research, and change-making.
Critical race and ethnic studies has undoubtedly been relevant and necessary since the dawn of colonization over 500 years ago, as those who have battled for a more just education since the 1960s have long argued. However, recent events have brought the deeply unjust social, economic, cultural, and political systems of the US and the globe into sharp relief. Most notably COVID-19 has intersected with other long-standing “pandemics within the pandemic”—including white supremacy, imperialism, settler colonialism, anti-blackness, global capitalism, environmental devastation, and hetero-patriarchy—with deadly results. Now more than ever we need the critical interdisciplinary tools of race, indigeneity, and ethnic studies to understand and transform our world.
Guided by our students, the heart and soul of our program, we at CRES are motivated to support the momentum for social and racial justice knowledge production. In 2020, we expanded our core faculty by 150% by hiring three new faculty: myself, Dr. Nicosia Shakes, and Dr. Christina Baker. We are excited to be able to offer additional core courses for the major and new elective offerings in the area of Black and Women of Color feminisms, film and performance studies, global racial capitalism, and embodiment. Our curriculum maintains a transnational approach that offers analytical tools for understanding ethno-racial dynamics in the U.S. in relation to other world regions and global processes. We plan to continue expanding the undergraduate program over the next year by establishing a CRES minor and implementing new ways for students and faculty to connect and build community under current conditions.
We look forward to learning and co-creating with you.
Associate Professor and Chair of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) at UC Merced is a dynamic intersection of research and activism. We are situated in California’s Central Valley, where narratives about the rich agricultural landscape mask the politico-economic geographies of prisons, food deserts, indigenous dispossession, and im/migrant displacements. From this context, our CRES program centralizes the histories, experiences, and resistance of marginalized communities. It offers an interdisciplinary, intersectional, and comparative/relational study of race, indigeneity, gender, sexuality, and class that connect our local/regional dynamics with global formations of race and power.
Drawing upon and building on the long tradition of ethnic studies along with cutting-edge curricula from CRES programs at other research institutions and emergent high school programs, our CRES program centers knowledge, community, and social justice in our approach to research, teaching, and collaborations. CRES is devoted to creative, conceptual, and empirical research; critical pedagogy; collaborations with a broad group of associated/affiliated faculty; and social justice projects developed with and for marginalized communities for institutional and social change (borrowed from UC San Diego’s Ethnic Studies Department). We work to dismantle white supremacist, settler colonial, anti-Black, capitalist, and heteropatriarchal logics and structures in order to reimagine a society that can provide justice and care for all.