Conference Celebrating Cedric J. Robinson & Elizabeth P. Robinson Archive at UCSB: May 30-June 2

text by Ted Coe

21 May, 2024

Archives Unbound: 50 Years of Hope, Resistance and Rebellion

Photo Credit: Jonathan Rissmeyer / UCSB Library

[Santa Barbara, Calif.] — The UCSB Division of Social Sciences hosts a major conference, “Archives Unbound: 50 Years of Hope, Resistance and Rebellion” to be held on May 30 to June 2, at UC Santa Barbara. The conference celebrates the gift of the Cedric J. Robinson and Elizabeth P. Robinson Archive to UCSB.

In 1968, a time of student driven awakenings around the globe, Black student agency at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) was manifested most dramatically by the takeover of a computer building on campus, which sparked the formation of the Department of Black Studies and the Center for Black Studies Research (CBSR). A decade later, Cedric J. Robinson, a professor and scholar of Black radicalism, racial capitalism, and political theory, joined the faculty at UCSB, becoming the Director of the CBSR and a faculty member in the Department of Political Science. As a result, he moved his young family to California’s Central Coast region, where Cedric J. Robinson and his wife Elizabeth Peters Robinson built on and contributed to the legacy of such transformative social-justice movements. The couple likewise devoted themselves to the cause of public-access media, both at the local level — around the Santa Barbara area — and worldwide, and to weekly community-access radio and television programming. 

Over four decades on faculty at UCSB, the late Cedric J. Robinson created a vast and revered body of work foregrounding the history of African diasporic ideas, Black epistemologies, and Black resistance to imperialism and racial capitalism, including five books (the best known being Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition). Elizabeth P. Robinson is an educator, retired social worker, former Assistant Director for Independent Media here at KCSB-FM / Associated Students, an activist, and community media producer. She was the long-time co-host of KCSB-FM’s No Alibis, a radical news program that provided commentary from community-based perspectives on local, national, and international politics, emphasizing stories often neglected in the mainstream media. The Robinsons’ panel show, Third World News Review, aired for many years on both TVSB public-access television and KCSB-FM.

In recognition of their pioneering work, the UCSB Library recently acquired the Cedric J. and Elizabeth P. Robinson archive, a collection of research and teaching papers, ephemera and digital material. The Division of Social Sciences at UCSB, guided by the vision of Dean Charles R. Hale, has established the Robinson Archival Project that fosters the development of a national and transnational network of scholars, archivists and activists engaged with the archives, the development of archive-embedded research and teaching, and post-custodial, non-extractive archiving models in collaboration with community organizations.

To commemorate the inauguration of the Cedric J. and Elizabeth P. Robinson archive, and the legacy and work of the Robinsons, the three-day conference brings to UCSB pre-eminent scholars such as Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Shana Redmond, Erica Edwards, Carole Boyce Davies, Fred Moten, Stefano Harney and more. The three-day event will feature keynotes and panels on racial capitalism, third world and Black internationalisms, race and media, and the Black Radical tradition. The closing session on June 1 will feature Elizabeth Robinson in conversation with Angela Davis and Gina Dent. “Cedric Robinson’s ideas have had an extraordinary impact on reframing racial thinking, Black studies, radical social movements, and nothing less than the history of world,” said Diane Fujino, UCSB professor of Asian American Studies and one of the conference’s organizers.  “This conference seeks to celebrate and extend the legacy of this work and explore its productive political potential for the generations of scholars inspired by it,” said Charmaine Chua, another conference organizer and assistant professor of Global Studies.  

“The bulk of our work was done in this community, though we lived and moved several times globally,” said Elizabeth P. Robinson. “Having our archives here reflects that. Both Santa Barbara and UCSB are often thought of as white middle class communities, when in fact, they are not. Too much of the work we do and others like us do is made invisible. We put our archives here so that this can be a place where people can find themselves. For me, this conference is a gathering of our far flung families. It will be like having many friends and children come home.”

The conference aims to honor, engage, and extend the Robinsons’ work, and to inaugurate the archive at UC Santa Barbara. The main conference proceedings will take place on Friday 5/31 in Embarcadero Hall in Isla Vista, and on Saturday 6/1 in the Interactive Learning Pavilion (ILP) Room 1203. The conference is free and open to the public, but space is limited. More information and a livestream to view the conference remotely can be found here. Additional information about the Cedric J. Robinson and Elizabeth P. Robinson Archive at UC Santa Barbara can be found here.

Archives Unbound: 50 Years of Hope, Resistance and Rebellion (Click on Image for More Detail)

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About the Cedric J. Robinson and Elizabeth Robinson Archive

Located at UC Santa Barbara, the Cedric J. and Elizabeth P. Robinson Archive is a collection of research and teaching papers, ephemera and digital materials related to the careers of the Robinsons, renowned for their seminal scholarship and activism that had wide-ranging influence at UC Santa Barbara, in academia, and across many public arenas. The archive was donated by Elizabeth P. Robinson and their daughter, Najda Ife Robinson-Mayer. Click here to read more. 

Additional Information:

Dates: May 30, 2024 – June 2, 2024

Locations: Friday: Embarcadero Hall: 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, CA 93117

Saturday: Interactive Learning Pavillion (ILP) Room 1203, UC Santa Barbara

5/30/24 Note:

Conference registration is already closed, but there will be a link to livestream the conference if you hope to catch any of the panels or other proceedings off site:

(The livestream link is not yet up, but will be later Thursday afternoon / early evening, May 30th.)

Please also feel free to share this link with any family / friends / colleagues who may wish to watch the conference from afar.



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