2014 UNCF/Mellon Domestic Faculty Seminar

In Search of Home: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Shared Experiences of Indigenous and Immigrant Populations in Colonized Spaces

Facilitator: Dr. Arica L. Coleman, Assistant Professor of Black American Studies at the University of Delaware & Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University

The 2014 UNCF/Mellon Programs Domestic Faculty Seminar, co-hosted by the University of New Mexico,  will center the experiences of indigenous and immigrant (forced and voluntary) populations  as we discuss how definitions of citizenship, belonging and cultural authenticity have been determined by dominant ideological frameworks.  The notion of being in a continuous "search for home" or the continuous “contestation of home” will be examined through multiple disciplinary lenses and philosophical points of view.   A socio-historical analysis of the shared experiences of indigenous and immigrant populations will provide the context for engaging scholarship that helps to support interdisciplinary conversations about indigenous and immigrant populations. An interrogation, for example, of how indigenous and enslaved Africans constructed identities under conditions of colonialism resulting in disenfranchisement, displacement and forced migration will inform the scholarly engagement of participants.  Discussions will focus on how these groups have struggled to maintain their own communities as independent, self-defining peoples, and the complexity of a shared history of intermarriage, alliance, conflict, and animosity. The effect of colonization on traditional notions of gender and sexuality within indigenous and immigrant communities will be explored. A focus on the commodification of indigenous and immigrant material cultures will interrogate how power/privilege are maintained through aesthetic production and cultural representation. 

While the focus of indigenous-immigrant intersections will be examined within a national context, New Mexico, a locale with a rich multi-cultural heritage, resulting from the commingling of American Indian, African American, Hispanic, European and Chicano/a peoples, will serve as a site to fully interrogate historical and contemporary constructions of race, class, gender, nation and culture identities.   As we think of indigenous populations and forced and voluntary immigrants to this country we know that there are shared experiences of marginalization- culturally, geographically, politically and socially.  The cultural and social products of these shared experiences will be addressed through scholarly texts, documentaries, specialized workshops and site visits to various New Mexico communities,

There are five core questions which will serve as signposts for seminar discussions:

1)       Should such terms as “home”, “indigenous” and “immigrant” be considered fixed or are they contested sites of meaning? 

2)       How do the politics of mainstream racial formation influence the ways in which populations are defined and categorized (i.e. blood quantum, one-drop rule) in the U. S.?  Who has benefited and how?

3)       Why is it important that we study historical and contemporary issues regarding race and identity beyond mainstream constructions of an exclusive white-black only racial hierarchy?

4)       How has the colonial imposition of Western patriarchy disrupted traditional notions of gender identity and sexuality within indigenous and immigrant populations? 

5)       Does the commodification of indigenous and immigrant cultures merely serve as “enthotainment” for mainstream society or does culture as commodity foster understanding and tolerance of cultural/ethnic difference? 

This is a faculty career enhancement opportunity. Faculty interested in formulating questions that are answered by studying indigenous and immigrant populations are encouraged to apply for this Seminar. It is anticipated that participation in this seminar will advance current scholarship of faculty and/or create new courses or modules for existing courses.


July 6-14, 2014


Photographs courtesy of Dr. Javier Escudero, Brazil Cultural; Dr. Marco Robinson, Rust College and the UNCF/Mellon Programs Office.



The 2013 UNCF/Mellon Faculty Seminar took place July 5-17, 2013. The Seminar was held in the city of Salvador, in Bahia, Brazil. Faculty representing Bennett College, Clark Atlanta University, Huston-Tillotson University, Johnson C. Smith University, Rust College, Spelman College and Tougaloo College were selected as participants in this Seminar. Faculty from the Instituto Cultural Steve Biko and Universidade Federal da Bahia also participated. The theme of the 2013 Seminar, facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Institute for the Study of Latin America & the Caribbean, University of South Florida, was “Afro-Aesthetics in Brazil…and Beyond: Exploring Transnational Blackness and Beauty”.

2013 UNCF/Mellon International Faculty Seminar Participants
  • Dr. Rosângela Costa de Araújo, Universidade Federal da Bahia
  • Dr. Georgene Bess Montgomery, Clark Atlanta University
  • Dr. Veta Goler, Spelman College
  • Dr. Kristie Lipford, Tougaloo College
  • Dr. Rosalee Martin, Huston-Tillotson University
  • Dr. Karla McLucas, Bennett College
  • Dr. Sharon Raynor, Johnson C. Smith University
  • Dr. Marco Robinson, Rust College
  • Professor Yara Conceição de Oliveira Santiago, Instituto Cultural Steve Biko
  • Dr. Al-Yasha Williams, Spelman College
  • Professor Blythe Winger, Spelman College



Six members of faculty from three UNCF institutions were selected to receive Faculty Residency grants for the 2014-2015 academic year. Five faculty will complete their residency during the 2014 summer and one will complete her residency during the 2014 fall semester.

Summer 2014 Residency Award Recipients
  • Dr. Monica Stephens Cooley, Spelman College
  • Dr. Amanda Masino, Huston Tillotson University
  • Dr. Janice Sumler-Edmond, Huston Tillotson University
  • Dr. Yvonne Welbon, Bennett College
  • Professor Blythe Winger, Spelman College
Fall 2014 Residency Award Recipient
  • Dr. Jacqueline Alvarez-Ogbesor, Spelman College



Two UNCF Institutions were awarded funding for Teaching and Learning Institutes which will occur in the 2014-2015 academic year.

Bethune Cookman University will host a Teaching and Learning Institute entitled, “Academic Integration: A High Impact Practice for Academic Excellence”.

Morehouse College will host a Teaching and Learning Institute entitled, “Mapping a New Future by Mining the Past: Using HBCU Repositories to Create Digital Humanities Projects”.