“Latinx Futures:The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities”

PI Alfonso Gonzales, Co-PI Claudia Holguín Mendoza
University of California, Riverside
November 2020
Description of Grant

Representing a powerful collaboration of diverse, accomplished scholars across the humanities, Ethnic Studies, and relevant social sciences, with deeply rooted community partnerships, Latinx Futures will yield significant, demonstrable and scalable impacts for Latinx communities across Southern California and the U.S. Led by Alfonso Gonzales, longtime community activist and Director of UCR’s new Latino and Latin American Studies Research Center (the Center) with Claudia Holguín Mendoza, veteran Critical Pedagogy educator, along with several academic and community collaborators, this multidisciplinary project asserts the necessity of the humanities to broadly engage and empower Latinx communities.

Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities is an anti-racist project in the context of an Inland Southern California social climate that refuses to cede power to its Latinx majority. The project builds on established partnerships with community organizations, including: Mayavision (a local grassroots organization by and for Indigenous Guatemalans), the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc., and the Mira Loma / IE Oral History Project, among other groups. The project will also include collaborative opportunities with researchers from universities across the United States, Mexico, and England.  

Multidisciplinary research projects will be organized into two teams, with support and coordination by the Center. “Latinx Civil Society” will be led by Alfonso Gonzales, who is the Center’s Director. The project focuses on countering racial authoritarianism in the Inland Empire through building humanistic and civil society structures with community partners.  It includes national collaborators at UT Austin, UC Merced, USC, and UCLA, with participation from scholars at UNAM and UAM in Mexico as well as the London School of Economics. “Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy” led by Claudia Holguín Mendoza, harnesses the power of the research university to counter the systematic racism directed against Latinx language and knowledge. Aiming to dismantle testing and curricula policies that discredit Latinx speech, this research group works to challenge institutions to inclusively reflect the vibrant bilingualism of borderlands Latinx communities. The team includes collaborators at CSU East Bay, University of Wisconsin, University of Oregon, and Western Illinois University. 

Funding Opportunities under Latinx Futures Grant

Latinx Futures will include oral histories, workshops with indigenous Guatemalan migrants, community documentary of boxing gyms in the Inland Empire, and the development of popular education Ethnic Studies curriculums that incorporate insight from some of the leading humanities-based scholars from across the United States and Mexico in partnership with community partners. Project activities will also include inclusive language and literature workshops with area educators, conferences, visiting scholars, artists and activists, research publications aimed at shifting policy, and robust opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration, student involvement, and community partnerships. Activities related to the grant create funding opportunities for scholars and students at UCR and it provides the Center resources to bring visiting scholars and to create residencies for activists, artists, and community scholars. 

Below is a description of some of the funding opportunities for interested parties.

Postdoctoral Fellows: The project includes two Postdoctoral fellows, one assigned to and embedded in the activities of each research team. Selection of postdocs by the Center’s Advisory Board will follow the established procedures used for Mellon awards and will comply with University of California protocols. Call for applications will go out in the Spring of 2021.

Student Researchers: Student positions will be selected by the Advisory Board. Each position will last the duration of one academic year. Each student will be assigned a faculty mentor from the Advisory Committee who will be responsible for overseeing the student’s instruction and research participation. Please note: student positions will be selected in accordance with university hiring policies and will be available to students of all backgrounds. The selection criteria will be based on demonstrated experience with and knowledge of the research projects and Latinx Futures themes. Call for applications will go out in the Spring of 2021.

Community Scholar in Residence:  Four Community Scholar in Residencies, two each in years two and three will liaise between community organizations, researchers, and student participants. 

Activist and Artists Scholar in Residence:  Four Activist and Artists Scholar in Residencies, two each in years two and three will work with the Center to develop artistic and community projects that support the Center’s mission and grant goals. A call for applications will be made in the spring of 2022.

The Community Research Space: The community space will be located in the city of Jurupa Valley and will service as a field research site and provide a welcoming venue for hosting community talks, events, oral histories, and the like with partner organizations.

Working Group Meetings: There is funding for 6 working group meetings per year, in years two and three of the grant. Three working groups per year will be opened to faculty at UCR to support their research projects. Applicants are encouraged to apply for working group funds to support projects on indigenous communities, Central American Studies, LGBT studies, afro-Latino/Latin American studies, decolonial and critical theory, South American politics, among other topics. A call for working applications will be made in March of 2021.

Scholarly Events: A speaker series, events, workshops, symposia, and presentations by visiting artists will amplify the impact of this project on campus. The Scholarly Events series will include local, regional, and national presenters. Faculty affiliated with the Center are encouraged to propose scholarly events to be organized with Center funds. Proposals for scholarly events should be sent to the Director.

Conferences: In year two, the project will include a UCR campus wide conference on the themes of this Mellon grant. A call for conference funds will be made in the spring of 2021.  In year three, an international conference will be hosted on Latinx Communities, Racial Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy.