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Small Grants Program

Applications are now open for our Summer 2022 grants for students program:

Small Grants Program Awardees Spring 2022

reelaviolette botts-ward

Project: the “mourning my inner[blackgirl]child healing” project

blackwomxnehaling’s “mourning my inner[blackgirl]child” healing project is inspired by “mourning my inner[blackgirl]child” (Nomadic Press, 2021), a book of poetic autotheory that explores embodied remembering, ancestral grieving, interiority and healing. The project consists of three interconnected parts: the album, the virtual experience, and the #bookclubhealingcircle. Each offers pedagogical scaffolding of the text and provides practical healing modalities for Black womxn readers.

Collaborators: Heather Archer of Thriving with Heather and Brittany Tanner of The Song Remedy and The ATMO Vibe

More info:,,,

John Mundell

Project: Negotiating the African Diaspora: Race, Modernity, and Cultural Resistance in the Luso-Atlantic

As a part of a larger book-length project, I will analyze how white and black cultural producers in Brazil and Lusophone Africa have disputed Africanity since decolonization of Portugal’s African territories. Despite white cultural producers’ proclamations of a shared African heritage and aesthetics through discourses of racial democracy and Lusotropicalism, this desire for an immaterial African patrimony, laden with sexual imperialist overtones, has become more explicitly challenged since the late 1990s by black women and black queer and trans writers, musicians, and artists from Brazil, Lusophone Africa, and Portugal. This project aims to show how these artists sidestep white colonial nostalgia for African folklore by centering queer and feminist practices in the South Atlantic, thus forcing a renegotiation of Luso-Atlantic identities and diaspora more broadly.

Rashad Timmons

Project: Constructing Race and Rail: Blackness, Geography, and Modern Infrastructure in Early Ferguson

This project seeks to situate the 2014 Ferguson Rebellion in a broader genealogy of racial and spatial relations by interrogating the historical entanglements between slavery, railway development, and urban planning in nineteenth and twentieth century St. Louis County, MO. It engages the archive of railroad construction in the region to uncover how the railroad functioned as a locus of modern social relations that concretized into dialectical racial subjectivities and uneven geographies. Ultimately, it considers how the rail naturalized hierarchies of racial, gendered, and spatial power that continue to underwrite Ferguson’s present geographic order.

Alexander Ullman

Project: Hearing Black and Jew Anew: Conversations across the Diasporas

“Are conversations pathways to the exchange of understandings?” asks Claudia Rankine in her most recent book Just Us: An American Conversation (2020), or “are conversations accommodations?” My dissertation picks up these questions by returning to a crucial nexus within American Studies — Black and Jewish-American dialogue —and asking what we gain from actively listening to the voices at play in that dialogue. By centering actual relationships and recorded conversations between artists instead of broad historical generalizations, my project explores both the “pathways” and “accommodations” of performed conversation at the same time that it seeks to expand the binarism, essentialism, and teleology of any received “Black/Jewish” narrative into new—often queer, transhistorical, and sonic—territories.

Additional info:

Nicole Viglini

Project: “‘A Depot for the Country’: Enslaved and Free Black Women’s Property Claims and Entrepreneurship in the U.S. Antebellum and Civil War South”

My dissertation examines enslaved and free Black women’s property claims and entrepreneurship in the antebellum and Civil War South. Living in a society in which they themselves were deemed property, faced constant threats of sale, or were forced to prove their freedom to any white person who confronted them, a significant number of enslaved and free women of color along the eastern seaboard and in the Deep South conducted diverse financial arrangements, operated their own businesses, and used their property to establish social, economic, and legal ties within their communities. Emphasizing these women’s roles as entrepreneurs, I draw attention to the stories of individual actors in the history of capitalism and connect this history to the broader Black Atlantic world.

Morgan P. Vickers

Project: (Re)mapping Pre-Santee Cooper Deluge Communities

In 1939, the state of South Carolina drowned 901 (mostly Black) family homes and thousands of acres of land through the creation of lakes Marion and Moultrie. Efforts to occlude or reframe the drowning of Black towns contribute to forced forgetting and myths of universal support for state interests. Using mapping technologies and critical fabulation I will cartographically and socially undrown and (re)map the communities and ecologies of these disappeared spaces in an effort to demonstrate the scale and consequences of material and social deluges.

Additional info:

Lindsey Villareal

Project: Hella Fresh: Conversations in the Kitchen

We plan on meeting with Black farmers and Black chefs in the Bay Area to discuss food, health and the environment. A special emphasis will be on family, oral history and self-care as we re-integrate back to working in person and adjusting to changes from the pandemic.

Collaborators: Rashad Timmons and Ameer Loggins

april l. graham-jackson and Roderick E. Jackson

Project: developing Black visuethics: the Black eye, subjective intimacies, and the geographies of ocularization in chicagoland

Our project is a multi-sensory “coffee table” book and album that engages Black livingness through curated photographs, sonic recordings, music, and inner musings from Black chicagoans about Black chicagoland. we draw from our Black chicagoness, which travels through our veins like the “L” train that routes our city to critique the ocularization of Blackness and the ways “objectivity” and the white gaze disparages the relationships Black chicagoans have to each other and space, place, time, and scale. we utilize visual ethnography and Black “soundwalking” to explore the “Black eye,” what dr. kimberly juanita brown calls “Black visuethics,” and how the racialization of music, sound, and hearing/listening (re)directs where one focuses while transforming the geographies in which the livingness, music, and sounding occurs.

Kavena Hambira

Project: Nuh·mi·bee·uh

A short film by filmmaker Kavena Hambira that explores the erasure of history and reframes broader narratives about marginalized African communities, both on the continent and across the diaspora.

Additional info:

Jarre Hamilton

Project: Race, Place, and Other Things for the Taking: The Buffalo Soldiers and Allensworth, California

My dissertation project centers the daily lives of the pioneers of the Freedmen’s town, Allensworth, California—their lived experiences, their hardships, their joy, and their legacy. This dissertation project and its collaborative endeavors seek to address several themes: 1) How do we collectively remember, memorialize, and preserve the African American past? 2) How do we understand how a Black community navigates a racialized landscape and constructs their identity through the material culture left behind; and 3) Through community-engaged work, I am showing how a widespread descendant community exercises their own forms of community- and individual- agency and healing. And hypothesizing what archaeology can bring to the table to help facilitate this effort? I have partnered with Friends of Allensworth non-profit to create and provide educational programming and other related deliverables designed for the public to enjoy and learn from.

Collaborators: Friends of Allensworth

Maya Sapienza

Project: Designed Erasure: Mapping Infrastructure and Black Urban Life in West Oakland

The focus of this research project is to explore how race and racialization contribute to the various cycles of development, destruction, and redevelopment in West Oakland. The questions that animate this research are: what does it mean for Black people in Oakland to live through constant cycles of movement, containment, dispossession, and erasure? How can we imagine various forms of displacement and emplacement alongside the mechanisms that attempt to keep Black people in place?

Aya de Leon

Project: Black Literature vs. The Climate Emergency

Black Literature vs. The Climate Emergency is a one-day, virtual conference to celebrate the power of Afro-Diasporic fiction, non-fiction and poetry/spoken word at the forefront of addressing the climate emergency and inviting an escalation of literary efforts to document, imagine, and encourage the engagement Black communities in the movement for climate justice.

Caleb Dawson

Project title: Black Lives at Cal (BLAC)

Black Lives at Cal (BLAC) is a new and multi-year initiative to celebrate, defend, and advance the legacy of Black life-making at the University of California Berkeley. BLAC uses qualitative methods to investigate the lived experiences, struggles, and accomplishments of UC Black campus members (i.e., Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni) with a balanced attention to individuals, informal collectives, organizations, and campus units. More than a research endeavor, BLAC is dedicated to developing novel ways to preserve and publicize these legacies such as a website and interactive visuals (e.g. timeline, maps, exhibits) so that prospective, current, and former Black campus members can identify themselves with and build upon the these legacies.

Project collaborators: Takiyah Jackson, Stephen Small, Gia White, Laura McCreery, Daniella Lake, Elle Henry, and Amari Turner

Melissa Charles

Project: Afrikan/Black Liberation Movement: A Praxis-Based Course

this project will engage student in praxis-based coursework in and around their communities. alongside a historical analysis on various afrikan/black movements for liberation (both domestic and international), students will be engaged in revolutionary practice with local pan-afrikan organizations as volunteers. while engaging in study alongside practice, students will be provided with the opportunity create real life connections between the liberatory ideologies of black/afrikan revolutionaries and their personal capacity/role as change makers within their spheres of influence.

Additional info:

Toni R. Juncosa

Project: Phenomenology of the Virus: A Queer Black Approach to HIV in 21st-Century US Poetry

An analysis of poetry written by queer, Black HIV+ poets, focusing on the contemporary experience of the virus in the United States. This research project pays attention to specific literary devices deployed to convey what being seropositive feels like in the “post-crisis” era of effective antiretroviral treatment.

Find out more:,

Sadie Barnette: Power
Powdered graphite on paper
Image courtesy the artist and Jessica Silverman