The C-LAB graduate and faculty fellowship aims to cultivate and support a cohort of scholars advancing social justice through their research questions, innovative methodologies, and/or diverse publication dissemination methods. Selected follows present their work-in-progress at monthly brown-bag seminars as they work toward completing their proposed projects.

Introducing the 2023-2024 C-LAB Fellowship Cohort

Samantha Canty
PhD Student in the Department of Anthropology

Sister Synergy: Uncovering the Dynamics of Black Women’s Political Participation

black and white graphic design of woman sitting cross-legged

To add a more acute understanding to the discussion surrounding Black women’s political participation, I develop the original concept, Sister Synergy. I bring together group consciousness literature, Maternal Consciousness, and Black feminist theory to explain how the themes embedded in Sister Synergy lead to stronger intersectional solidarity among Black women which should translate into higher political interest, political participation, and trust even after controlling for several other relevant factors. In addition to strong theoretical grounding, I also use existing and original data throughout the study. This piece is centered on how the intersection of social identities impact how Black women engage in politics. I expect results to demonstrate that many of the traditional factors associated with high levels of political participation matter less for Black women as a group and that Sister Synergy as analyzed through an intersectional lens plays a key role in encouraging political participation amongst Black women.


Temitope Famodu
PhD Student in the Department of Global and International Studies

New Methods in Global Black Geographies: Nigerian Educational Migration in Debrecen, Hungary

photo of side of building with yellow wall, white brick and street sign in Hungarian

This research project considers the present-day implications of Cold War Era education migration policy on black and African immigrants in Central Eastern Europe through collaboration with Nigerian students at the University of Debrecen, Hungary. The University of Debrecen, home to the largest number of Nigerian international students in the country is an important site to consider how concepts of race, place and identity co-constitute one another. This project asks 1) Where and why have Nigerian students chosen to live in Debrecen? 2) How are Nigerian students in Debrecen negotiating race, gender, sexuality, nationalism, and belonging in their quotidian experiences? 3) How are racial, gendered, sexual, and national identities articulated in post/socialist Hungary’s historic relationship with post/colonial Nigeria? And 4) How do conceptions of Hungarian indigeneity and whiteness impact present attitudes toward migration and blackness in Debrecen? Using methodologies of walking interviews, spatial analysis, and archival research, this project is situated within postcolonial and postsoviet intersections and contributes to present conversations of black geographies and critical migration studies.

Stephen Lee
Professor in the School of Law

The Slow Death of Family Separation

multi-colored fence posts

My project examines how the American legal system fosters and rationalizes family separation within migrant communities across legal settings. In many settings, including admissions, deportation, enforcement, and transnational remittances, the law frustrates the ability of migrants to reunite with or remain connected to their family members. I argue that these “ordinary” forms of family separation enable and inform the extraordinary acts of violence that are already so familiar. In other words, family separation is best understood as a type of harm that operates along a spectrum rather than belonging to a distinct category. It is both a harm and a process, which unfolds incrementally over a long period of time thereby obfuscating the law’s role in all of this.

María Montenegro
Assistant Professor of Global and International Studies
Co-Director of the California Mukurtu Hub

California Native Mukurtu Hub

screenshot of site plan for Mukurtu website hub

The California Native Mukurtu Hub provides basic support and training to tribal nations/communities and organizations interested in setting up their own digital archives using the Mukurtu content management system (CMS), by offering localized training and workshops as well as continued support for developing and maintaining their Mukurtu sites. The Hub also offers a testing or demo site, and by generating “user stories” based on the needs of the Hub’s community users (Spokes), it ensures that future development within Mukurtu is driven directly by community needs as they define and document them. The Hub’s priority is to help communities build digital archives that foster relationships of respect and trust, while enabling healthy collaborations around culturally responsive forms of sharing, accessing, and using information that foreground Indigenous knowledges and data sovereignty.

Jenniffer Cecilia Perez Lopez
PhD Student in the Department of Sociology

Transnational Space and Legal Realities: Identity Development Among Central American Children of Immigrants

collage of family photos

One’s racial, ethnic, or indigenous identity is an important site where social relationships are (re)imagined and (re)made. One’s identification can be a site of belonging, with consequences for individual well-being and structural integration as well as group recognition, collective memory, and power. My study examines how Central American children of immigrants construct their identity. Within this process, I pay particular attention to the role of transnational connections and the constrained mobility of undocumented immigrants who make up half of the Central American immigrants. Until recently, very little research has focused on Central Americans in the United States. My research seeks to bridge the emerging field of Central American studies with Sociology to better understand the identity development of this group. I will use a non-traditional qualitative approach by incorporating autoethnography and document 60 testimonios from Central American children of immigrants into my study; these methods humanize and advance social justice by building solidarity, recognizing once-silenced experiences, and calling for social change.




Christofer Rodelo
Assistant Professor of Chicano/Latino Studies

Latinx Racialization in the Performances of Maximo and Bartola, the Aztec Children

Dagguerreotype of "Aztec" children

This project focuses on the relational process of Latinx racialization as captured in the performance repertoire of the side show performers Maximo and Bartola. Also known as the “Aztec Children,” these Indigenous children from El Salvador toured the United States and Europe from the 1850s to the 1890s as fantastical representations of a lost race of humanity. I focus on their public exhibitions as examples of what I term spectacles of relation: performative moments of racialization that led to a nascent Latinx identity formation in the second half of the nineteenth century. In particular, I highlight how their performances as “Aztec” relied on their relational staging with Black performers in circuses and human zoos for White spectators in an increased period of American imperial expansion. As the public-facing component of the project, I will also develop and launch a digital humanities initiative titled Performing Latinx Histories. This will be an online resource that catalogues primary sources related to Maximo and Bartola and uses digital mapping tools such as ArcGIS StoryMaps to detail their history for broader audiences.

Camille Samuels
PhD Student in the Department of Anthropology

See That my Archive is Kept Clean: Distilling the Life and Work of Dr. Clyde Woods through Archival Ethnography

mixed media artwork of neighborhood street

This project is an experimental ethnographic exploration of the life and work of Dr. Clyde Woods through his archival collection at the Southern California Library for Social Science and Research (SCL). Dr. Clyde Woods was a prolific scholar of Black life, cultural production, and urban development across the US. His major published works, Development Arrested (1998) and Development Drowned and Reborn (2017), pay particular attention to what he calls the “blues epistemologies” emanating from working-class Black people in New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta more broadly. His work analyzes the ways in which Black cultural production, through music, shapes Black development agendas on the community scale. He was known for his detailed study, thorough political economic analysis, and steady pace of working on his scholarship. Through this project I will continue working through this collection to push beyond the standard and accepted forms of ethnographic research as a process conducted with sentient interlocutors, to one that traverses time and space as a conversation between the archivist and the departed. In considering these intergenerational academic genealogies, I seek to reflect and write about the experience of conducting an ethnography of the archive as a number of Black studies scholars have begun to explore (Okechukwu 2022; Reese 2023; Sojoyner 2021). As a result, I will be helping to produce the first digital finding aid for SCL that encapsulates the complexities of Dr. Woods' work and engagement with Black cultural production, the librarians are interested in creating a multimedia finding aid that can be used in the library as well as hosted on their website for external use.

Devin Shanthikumar
Associate Professor in the Paul Merage School of Business

Banks’ Diversity Policies and Mortgage Lending to Minorities

Co-Principal Investigators: Prof. Ivy Feng, Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Prof. Dayin Zhang, Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Madison

image of family plahing on a lawn

Mortgages play a critical role in Americans’ home purchases. As of 2022, residential mortgage debt in the U.S. totaled $11.92 trillion. However, there exist wide racial disparities in mortgage lending. Despite growing emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), recent studies show that minorities continue to face lower approval rates, and, if approved, higher interest rates. This mortgage lending disparity plays a significant role in the wealth gap and the challenges to building generational wealth in minority communities. This study examines if and how banks’ DEI policies affect racial disparities in mortgage lending, exploiting variation in the existence and strength of banks’ DEI policies, and using real-world lending data. This research addresses an issue of fundamental importance – the mortgage lending gap – and will lead to insights into what can be done to address it.