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SURVEILLANCE MELLON RESEARCH INITIATIVES IN THE HUMANITIES


Since its launch in the fall of 2011, the institute has been the home of the Mellon Research Initiatives in the Humanities. A Mellon Research Initiative is an intense and focused exploration, over a three-year period, of a particular topic of great institutional importance at UC Davis. Each initiative receives funding for three years of programming, a two-year Mellon visiting assistant professor, director’s compen- sation and support for graduate recruitment and research. Proof of the program’s success is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s renewal of its commitment in 2014 with an additional $1.725 million to support another four interdisciplinary collaborations through 2021.


These initiatives have allowed us to work toward these simultaneous goals: 1) we have brought talented recent Ph.D. graduates to UC Davis through highly competitive searches, benefited from their energy and intellectual contributions to our community, mentored them during those critical post- graduate years and sent them off to tenure-track jobs; 2) we have increased funding for graduate students, which has allowed us to recruit well and to provide summer funding— it is particularly gratifying that the dean of Graduate Studies at UC Davis matched the Mellon award designated for graduate students, thus increasing its impact; 3) we have enabled senior scholars to create intellectual communities, both on campus and through invitations for conferences, colloquia and seminars. The bonds established through these initiatives will have an enduring impact.


The Digital Cultures Mellon has been especially able to leverage their Mellon Foundation support to build a new community. They have new space, four new faculty coming on board in 2015-2016 and new graduate recruits. Indeed, according to its directors, the Mellon funding is already helping to lay the groundwork for a Designated Emphasis (D.E.) in Digital Culture at UC Davis.


Rather than build an entirely new community, the Mellon Research Initiative in Social Justice, Culture and (In)Security spent the last academic year breathing new life into the long-standing and renowned Native American Studies program, the only one in the country to offer an undergraduate major and minor, a master’s, Ph.D., and D.E., all from a hemispheric perspective. The Social Justice Initiative was intended to build bridges across ethnic and gender studies programs, all co-located in Hart Hall at UC Davis. In year one, women and gender studies took the lead and designed programming around social justice in a feminist, global context. In 2014-2015, Native American Studies shifted the dialogue to encompass the theme of “Global Indigeneities” to address issues of indigenous identities, performance as a means of social action, and indigenous knowledge as a form of healing and revitalization.


Among the highlights of the Social Justice group’s thematic events and workshops was the keynote address of Native rights activist and author Walter Echo-Hawk who dis- cussed the U.N.’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the group’s launch event in fall 2014 as well as a workshop on #Activism with speakers who provided tips and best practices about using social media to promote issues of social justice. Attendance at all of the Social Justice events remained impressive in year two as they continued to draw large audiences of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates and the general public.


For the Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures, the topics of programming for 2014-2015 may have looked familiar to previous years, but the methods were more interac- tive. They spent the year discussing many of the same broad subjects, including drone theory, Internet politics, art and activism, police surveillance and cameras, the changing landscape of encryption and currency, among others.


DRONE THEORYENCRYPTION


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