Questions that Matter

In what ways is reading and writing poetry a political act? What are the politics of our reading practices today?



Poetry and Politics

Research Cluster

How does re-reading a novel (by Dickens or any author) differ from reading it the first time, and what do those differences tell us about ourselves and the process of literary interpretation?

What do the novels of Dickens reveal about 19th-century attitudes toward the natural world, and to what extent do they anticipate some of today’s pressing concerns with energy depletion, environmental degradation, and ecological disaster?

The Dickens Project

Research Center

If you write a story or make a film about the past or the future, who tells the story?  And why can you as the author speak for your narrator?  In our world, that question is about:  ethnic studies.

If you study computers, where does the material to make them come from?  Who is producing this technology?

If you study business or economics, how is the money flowing around the world? And who benefits?  Who loses?

If you study the environment, what about resources dug out from underneath lands lived on by indigenous people?

If you study plants, what about food supplies, who harvests what and who gets to eat?

If you study climate change, what parts of the earth and its people and living species are you willing to give up?

UC Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

Research Project

How does the Sikh diaspora and its experience provide a global prism for exploring issues of identity, power and justice?

What is the current and future role of the Sikh “homeland” of Punjab in shaping the global Sikh experience?

Sikh and Punjabi Studies

Research Project

How do linguistic changes spread through a community?

Grant McGuire

IHR Faculty Fellow

What is “immigrant work”? How does WHO does the work affect the conceptions of work itself? What’s work like across the food system – from farm to fork?

Center for Labor Studies

Research Center

Was cosmopolitanism European? How did the political elites in various early modern Eurasian Empires maintain a vision of political unity over a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual population?

Cosmopolitanism in China, 1600-1950

Research Project

What do crises feel like? Where does the sense of possibility, or impossibility, come from in confronting such crises? What do we all do to stay afloat, and what new ways of thinking, feeling, and doing emerge in a time of social, political and economic crisis?

Affect Working Group

Research Cluster

In what ways was Modernity shaped by the conjunction of Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures in the medieval Mediterranean?

What made the medieval Mediterranean a place where merchants, scholars, warriors, pilgrims, and others (not to mentions goods, texts, languages, and ideas) could fairly readily cross the “divide” between Christian and Muslim lands?

UC Multi-Campus Research Project in Mediterranean Studies

Research Center

What changes occur when we read Marco Polo’s work not as “The Travels” but as “The Description of the World,” the title given it in the earliest manuscripts of his text?
What new perspectives on Marco Polo’s world emerge when we read his book alongside contemporary texts like a multilingual Genoese glossary in Latin, Persian, and Qipchaq Turkish or a Yemeni sultan’s treatise on the astrolabe?
What resonances of Marco Polo’s account of Mongol-era China can be found in the life and works of his exact contemporary, the famous painter, calligrapher, and administrator Zhao Mengu (1254-1322)?

Sharon Kinoshita

Faculty Fellow, UC Society of Fellows

What possibilities for innovative interdisciplinary, cross-divisional, and collaborative town-and-gown research, projects, and initiatives are enabled by the formation of a Critical Race and Ethnic Studies program on the UC Santa Cruz campus?
“In what ways do rapidly changing social relations in the United States and across the globe require new approaches to studying race and ethnicity?”

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

Research Cluster

What is the human rights legacy of the Pacific Theater of World War II?

Christine Hong

IHR Faculty Fellow

What is the connection between the structure of words and sentences in human language and their sound patterning? Are there constraints on this connection that hold for all languages?

Crosslinguistic Investigations in Syntax-Phonology

Research Cluster

How can we envision, evaluate, and support deeply interdisciplinary work connecting digital humanities, digital arts, and media-focused computer science?

Media Systems

Research Project

Is there a biological basis for human ethnicities?

Are there genetic (or: genomic) differences between human ethnic groups (or: human races)?

How does contemporary genomic work change our understanding of human nature and the group boundaries within Homo sapiens and across species?

How does contemporary genomic work affect how we think about variation in IQ, diseases, and (stereotypical) behaviors across human ethnicities?

Philosophy in a Multicultural Context

Research Cluster

How could luxury, play, and consumption be reconciled with the demands of total war?


Noriko Aso

IHR Faculty Fellow

What do we mean by green? What is to be sustained?

Urban Studies

Research Cluster

How can we account for the central role that Jewish creativity has played in helping to shape human civilization for over three thousand years?

How can we account for the breadth and depth of Jewish contributions to scholarship, the arts, and the sciences during the modern period of Jewish and world history, i.e., since the era of the Enlightenment?

Center for Jewish Studies

Research Center

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