RCA Theme: Mobilities and Belonging, Fall 2021-Spring 2023

June 25, 2021

 “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” Maya Angelou


The Research Center for the Americas (RCA) is proud to announce our thematic focus of
Mobilities and Belonging for the next two academic years starting in Fall 2021. Promoting meaningful conversations at UC Santa Cruz and beyond, the RCA invites you to join us for a series of programs and events that explore this theme.

An increasing number of global crises - from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis to white supremacy – underscore the urgency of the RCA’s mission to promote meaningful conversations for understanding the ways our lives and futures are collective. Mobilities and Belonging builds on the RCA’s framework that links issues and analysis across the hemisphere and beyond national borders is more urgent than ever. Crises that displace, move, and divide us also create new opportunities to re-think and re-imagine our collective trajectories and to spark discussions of what brings and holds us together.

“Mobilities” primarily refers to forms of movement throughout the world - be it forced or by choice or somewhere in-between -- which have corresponding social, cultural, emotional, and economic impacts. As people around the world experience unprecedented levels of displacement due to civil conflict, war, climate catastrophes, and violence, how we understand mobilities is deeply intertwined with “belonging.”

“Belonging” refers to a sense of “home” or stability that is as intensely personal and emotional as it is structural, cultural, and historical. For migrants, refugees, and their families, for example, belonging is a process of inclusion somewhere and longing to belong. Belonging is also social - it is about being fully recognized and being able to meaningfully contribute however one chooses to do so. 

The theme of Mobilities and Belonging requires engaging and learning from the social sciences, humanities, and the arts. Over the next two academic years, the RCA invites you to explore a series of provocative questions including: 

  • How can we interrogate what UK sociologist Nira Yuval-Davis has called “the dirty work” of maintaining both material and symbolic boundaries and borders between “us” and “them”? 
  • Can we conceive of a world or region in which everyone feels a sense of “home” and belonging wherever they find themselves, even if in transit? 
  • How should we understand mobilities and belonging alongside the rise of xenophobia and rightwing fascism in the region? 
  • Who belongs, who does not, and who gets to decide?  

Below is the first year of confirmed programming for the 2021-22 AY.

Fall 2021
November 9, 2021, 5pm PST: “Precarity and Belonging” (in-person on campus and live-streamed)

A book launch event with UC Santa Cruz co-editors (Drs. Catherine S. Ramírez, Sylvanna M. Falcón, Juan Poblete, Steven C. McKay, Felicity Amaya Schaeffer) of Precarity and Belonging: Labor, Migration, and Noncitizenship (Rutgers University Press, 2021).

Winter 2022
January 20, 2022, 12noon PST: “Archives in Plain Sight: Researching Latina/o/x History” (webinar)

A virtual lecture by Dr. Rosina Lozano, Associate Professor of History at Princeton University followed by a conversation with Dr. Kirsten Silva Gruesz, professor of Literature at UC Santa Cruz and RCA Steering Committee member.

February 24, 2022, 12noon PST: "Disruptive Archives: Feminist Memories of Resistance in Latin America's Dirty Wars" (webinar)

A virtual lecture Dr. Viviana MacManus, Assistant Professor of Spanish and French Studies at Occidental College followed by a conversation with RCA Director Sylvanna Falcón, Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

Spring 2022
May 12, 2022, 12noon PST: “Unsettled Borders: Militarized Border Technologies and Indigenous Sacred Science” (webinar)

A lecture by Dr. Felicity Amaya Schaeffer, Professor of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz and RCA Steering Committee member, on her new book about U.S.-Mexico border surveillance. 


Please check our website for more information closer to the event date, including advance event registration, and for new additional events corresponding to our theme that become confirmed later.