The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first ethnic studies programs, inspired by Civil Rights movements and first implemented at San Francisco State University and U.C. Berkeley. Initially aimed to increase access and representation of racial minorities within higher education, ethnic studies has since evolved into an interdisciplinary field contributing significant theoretical, conceptual, and methodological advances in understanding the processes and impacts of racism, colonization, militarism, imperialism, and other systems of oppression on societies in the U.S. and internationally. Although the fields of social work and ethnic studies share common social justice aims, there have been few opportunities to explore how these fields can inform one another.
In this roundtable session, presenters will begin with a discussion on how they engage key concepts, epistemologies, and analytic frameworks of ethnic studies in their research to address and contextualize inequalities facing communities of color. The first set of presenters will describe how they engage critical race theories (CRT) in research with Latinx, Asian American, and Native Hawaiian communities, with an emphasis on extensions of CRT, including LatCrit, Asian American Crit, Kanaka 'Ōiwi Crit, and institutional-level decolonization practices. The second set of presenters will discuss their use of Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies in understanding ongoing justice struggles in the context of settler colonialism, indigeneity, sovereignty, and relationality for American Indians. The third presenter will critically contextualize the experiences of diasporas and waves of immigrants through the concepts of (neo)colonization and globalization, highlighting the exploitation of low-wage Filipino American care workers in the context of the Philippine-American War and U.S. and Philippine policies. The fourth presenter will draw on research examining the effects of racial and cultural traumas in immigrant and refugee communities, drawing links between contemporary patterns of racialized violence and histories of collective and intergenerational trauma. Throughout the session, presenters will engage participants in an exploration of ethnic studies as a platform and set of tools for transformation within their own education, teaching, and research, as well as the potential for incorporating ethnic studies concepts and analytic frameworks to build a more inclusive social work knowledge base.