With 200 faculty affiliates, UCSB’s Area Global Initiative supports scholarly connections across world regions. AGI serves as a hub within the university for area and global studies, providing facilities and resources that enable collaborative research, while coordinating public facing programs that make that research available to broader publics. Our faculty and students engage in innovative and consequential research on such topics as environmental justice and public health; conditional citizenship, migration and refugees; race and racism, indigenous rights, and resistance; securitization, abolition movements, and carceral states; feminism, transgender studies, queer theory, and intersectionality; creativity and activism in the global south and its diasporas.

Research Briefs
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A Dam for Africa, by Stephan Miescher (Africa Initiative)

In A Dam for Africa (2022), Stephan Miescher explores four intersecting narratives: Ghanaian debates and aspirations about modernization in the context of decolonization and Cold War; international efforts of the US aluminum industry to benefit from Akosombo through cheap electricity for their VALCO smelter; local stories of upheaval and devastation in resettlement towns; and a nation-wide quest toward electrification and energy justice during times of economic crises, droughts, and climate change.

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Arabic Glitch: Technoculture, Data Bodies, and Archives, by Laila Shereen Sakr (CMES)

Arabic Glitch (2023) explores an alternative origin story of twenty-first century technological innovation in digital politics—one centered on the Middle East and the 2011 Arab uprisings. Developed from an archive of social media data collected over the decades following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, this book interrogates how the logic of programming technology influences and shapes social movements. Engaging revolutionary politics, Arab media, and digital practice in form, method, and content, Laila Shereen Sakr formulates a media theory that advances the concept of the glitch as a disruptive media affordance.

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Cairo Securitized, edited by Paul Amar (Orfalea Center & CMES)

Eschewing the traditional focus on top-down regime and state security, the contributors to the volume, Cairo Securitized, who represent a wide array of academics, activists, artists, and journalists, explore how repressive policies affect the everyday lives of citizens. They show the ways in which urban security crises are politically fashioned and do not emanate from the urban social fabric on their own: city crime, violence, and fear are created by specific means of extraction, production, and control.

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Current Perspectives in Spanish Lexical Development, co-edited by Laura Marqués-Pascual (LAIS)

Current Perspectives in Spanish Lexical Development (2023), co-edited by Laura Marqués-Pascual, offers an overview of what is currently being done in the field of Spanish lexical acquisition through a myriad of approaches and topics. 

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Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong's Rendezvous with American History, by Yunte Huang (East Asia Center)

Born into the steam and starch of a Chinese laundry, Anna May Wong (1905–1961) emerged from turn-of-the-century Los Angeles to become Old Hollywood’s most famous Chinese American actress, a screen siren who captivated global audiences and signed her publicity photos―with a touch of defiance―“Orientally yours.” Now, more than a century after her birth, Yunte Huang (UCSB English) narrates Wong’s tragic life story in his book, Daughter of the Dragon (2023), retracing her journey from Chinatown to silent-era Hollywood, and from Weimar Berlin to decadent, prewar Shanghai, and capturing American television in its infancy.

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Ecofagias, by André Corrêa De Sá (Latin American & Iberian Studies Program)

Ecofagias (2023) by André Corrêa De Sá, examines some of the narratives through which societies in Portugal and Portuguese-speaking Africa and Brazil use cultural metaphors that describe their relationship with the geographic spaces they occupy. Published in Portuguese, the book reflects on collective memory, contemporary life and the global future of Afro-Portuguese-Brazilian cultures through literary and cultural studies.

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Empire of Refugees: North Caucasian Muslims and the Late Ottoman Empire, by Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky (Center for Middle East Studies)

Empire of Refugees (2024) reframes late Ottoman history through mass displacement and reveals the origins of refugee resettlement in the modern Middle East. Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky offers a historiographical corrective: the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire created a refugee regime, predating refugee systems set up by the League of Nations and the United Nations. Grounded in archival research in over twenty public and private archives across ten countries, this book contests the boundaries typically assumed between forced and voluntary migration, and refugees and immigrants, rewriting the history of Muslim migration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Energy and Environmental Justice, by Tristan Partridge (Burdick Fellow)

In Energy and Environmental Justice (2022), Tristan Partridge reconnects energy research with the radical, reflexive, and transformative approaches of Environmental Justice. Global patterns of energy production and use are disrupting the ecosystems that sustain all life, disproportionately affecting marginalized groups. Addressing such injustices, this book examines how energy relates to structural issues of exploitation, racism, colonialism, extractivism, the commodification of work, and the systemic devaluing of diverse ‘others.’ The result is a new agenda for critical energy research that builds on a growing global movement of environmental justice activism and scholarship. Throughout the book the author reframes ‘transitions’ as collaborative projects of justice that demand structural change and societal shifts to more equitable and reciprocal ways of living. 

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Gender and Sexuality in Modern Japan, by Sabine Frühstück (East Asia Center)

Gender and Sexuality in Modern Japan (2022) describes the ever-changing manifestations of sexes, genders, and sexualities in Japanese society from the 1860s to the present day. Analysing a wide range of texts, images and data, Sabine Frühstück considers the experiences of females, males and the evolving spectrum of boundary-crossing individuals and identities in Japan. These include the intersexed conscript in the 1880s, the first 'out' lesbian war reporter in the 1930s, and pregnancy-vest-wearing male governors in the present day. She interweaves macro views of history with stories about individual actors, highlighting how sexual and gender expression has been negotiated in both the private and the public spheres and continues to wield the power to critique and change society. This lively and accessible survey introduces Japanese ideas about modern manhood, modern womenhood, reproduction, violence and sex during war, the sex trade, LGBTQ identities and activism, women's liberation, feminisms and visual culture.

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Intermarriage and the Friendship of People: Ethnic Mixing in Soviet Central Asia, by Adrienne Edgar (CMES)

Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples: Ethnic Mixing in Soviet Central Asia, a recent book by historian Adrienne Edgar, is the first book to examine ethnic and racial mixing in the Soviet Union. In marked contrast to its Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union celebrated mixed marriages among its diverse ethnic groups as a sign of the unbreakable friendship of peoples and the imminent emergence of a supra-ethnic “Soviet people.”  Yet the official view of ethnic nationality became increasingly primordial and even racialized in the final Soviet decades. In this context, mixed families and individuals found it impossible to transcend ethnicity, fully embrace their complex identities, and become simply “Soviet.” Prof. Edgar's book is the co-winner of the 2023 Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies. 

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Introduction to Translation and Interpreting Studies, co-edited by Aline Ferreira (LAIS)

Introduction to Translation and Interpreting Studies (2022), co-edited by Aline Ferreira (Department of Spanish and Portuguese), brings together a detailed and comprehensive introductory-level textbook covering the essential aspects of translation and interpreting studies. 

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Is Grad School for Me? Demystifying the Application Process for First-Gen BIPOC Students, co-authored by Miroslava Chávez-García (LAIS)

Miroslava Chávez-García (History) has co-authored, Is Grad School for Me? Demystifying the Application Process for First-Gen BIPOC Students (UC Press, 2024), the first book to provide first-generation, low-income, and nontraditional students of color with insider knowledge on how to consider and navigate graduate school. 

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Memorias de Libros, by Antonio Cortijo Ocaña (LAIS)

In Memorias de Libros: Censura y comercio de libros en Nueva España (2023), Antonio Cortijo Ocaña (Department of Spanish and Portuguese), maps the book culture of 17th century New Spain with a focus on Mexico City. Between 1680 and 1683, the Mexican Inquisition demanded all booksellers in Mexico compile lists of the books they offered for sale. Unearthing several of these lists containing hundreds of titles in the El Archivo General de la Nación, Cortijo Ocaña offers a rare glimpse of the reading public in New Spain and the intellectual underpinnings of the ruling elites.

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Modernidad y Sociedad Civil, by Antonio Cortijo Ocaña (LAIS)

In the 12th and 13th centuries, epistolography, or the art of writing letters, developed as a discipline in the nascent universities. This mode of literary production, which transcends purely administrative modalities, can help trace relationships and changes during this era, with the growth of cities with an active bourgeoisie. In Modernidad y Sociedad Civil (2022), Antonio Cortijo Ocaña presents 12 works by Boncompagno da Signa, a Florentine writer and professor in Bologna, an exemplar of this new rhetorical and literary model. These works, published here in Latin and Spanish translation, are placed in historical and literary context.

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Pandemic Histories: Meditations and Migrations, special issue of History of the Present, co-edited by Sherene Seikaly (CMES)

From the introductory essay by Sherene Seikaly and Anjali Arondekar: "The pandemic mandates new histories of the global. Even as racial capitalism and the attendant erosion of social provision escalates global ecological doom, the meteoric rise of authoritarianism as explicit statecraft shapes universalized conditions of catastrophe."

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Politics and the Pink Tide: A Comparative Analysis of Protest in Latin America, by Kathleen Bruhn (LAIS)

Politics and the Pink Tide: A Comparative Analysis of Protest in Latin America (University of Notre Dame Press, 2024) investigates the ways in which protest varied across five Latin American countries that elected leftist presidents during the Pink Tide. Kathleen Bruhn compares the differences in protest that occurred under the new leftist governments to their conservative, neoliberal predecessors, offering a wide-angle view into the complex relationships between neoliberalism, political party structures, and protest.

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Taiwan New Cinema at Film Festivals, by Beth Tsai (East Asia Center)

Taiwan New Cinema at Film Festivals (2023) by Beth Tsai offers accounts of the film festival’s role in both commissioning and exhibiting films, examining film aesthetics influenced by directors’ diasporic identities, moving across different regions and nations, such as Malaysia, France, Japan, Myanmar, and Taiwan, to complement the scope of transnational cinema. 

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The Musical Heritage of Al-Andalus, by Dwight Reynolds (CMES)

Dwight Reynolds (UCSB Religious Studies) has won two major awards for his book, The Musical Heritage of Al-Andalus (Routledge, 2020), a well earned recognition of a major contribution to the fields of Middle East Studies, Spanish history, and ethnomusicology. The American Historian Association awarded Reynolds the Premio del Rey for a distinguished book in English in the field of early Spanish history, and the American Musicological Society awarded Reynolds the Early Music Award.

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The Routledge Handbook of Translation, Interpreting and Bilingualism, co-edited by Aline Ferreira (LAIS)

Co-edited by Aline Ferreira (Department of Spanish and Portuguese), The Routledge Handbook of Translation, Interpreting and Bilingualism (2023) is the first handbook to bring together the related, yet disconnected, fields of bilingualism and translation and interpreting studies. 

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The Tropical Silk Road, co-edited by Paul Amar (Orfalea Center & CMES)

With thirty short essays, The Tropical Silk Road: The Future of China in South America (2022), captures an epochal juncture of two of the world's most transformative processes: the People's Republic of China's rapidly expanding sphere of influence across the global south and the disintegration of the Amazonian, Cerrado, and Andean biomes. The intersection of these two processes took another step in April 2020, when Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a "New Health Silk Road" agenda of aid and investment that would wind through South America, extending the Eurasian-African "Belt and Road Initiative" to a series of mine, port, energy, infrastructure, and agrobusiness megaprojects in the Latin American tropics.