Junior Scholars Workshop

Who We Are:

We are an interdisciplinary group of lecturers, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty members across campus engaged in “research related to Africa and to people of African descent in the Americas and beyond” (CAAAS).

What We Do:

We hold monthly workshops that center an individual member’s scholarship and provide structural, theoretical, and emotional support and feedback. In addition to our monthly convenings, we hold a yearly retreat where we re-evaluate the direction of the workshop, bi-yearly dinners, and optional weekly co-working sessions to support progress toward tenure and/or other professional development.

Each group member hosts the meeting following their own workshop. Hosting responsibilities will include: sending reminder emails of time and meeting location, starting and ending the meeting, and asking for individual care and access needs.

We read each other’s work with care. We participate consistently and promote flexibility.

What We Believe:

We believe in Black2 liberation, sovereignty, abolition, interdependence, and radical solidarity. We believe that while race is socially constructed, it is also a lived experience and material reality that is bolstered by structures and systems of white supremacy.

We esteem a university that prioritizes fat, queer, black, and disabled people and their/our epistemologies: lived experiences and knowledge systems.

We believe in the collectivity of writing and intellectual labor.

We value the interdisciplinarity of our group’s intellectual community. We champion an ongoing conversation about African, African Diasporic, and Black studies across fields and periods.

We affirm that Black studies (and its scholars) must, as Christina Sharpe advocates, “become undisciplined.” So it is that we endeavor to model “new modes and methods of research and teaching.”3

How We Do It:

We work to dismantle racism, colorism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, and fatphobia within our space and within the academy.

We actively look for interlocutors within the larger intellectual communities of Houston.

We actively center epistemologies that are overlooked, consistently marginalized, and erased within our communities.

We queer our relationship to the academy, queer our methodological approaches, and queer our writing process.

We politicize the futurity of blackness by situating disability at the center of our meeting frameworks. We do this by reviewing access needs weekly, prioritizing modes of convening that center everyone’s safety and accessibility rather than the safety and accessibility of a majority, and share literature and resources that are necessary or conducive to better community-building

We invest in the careful and radical support of junior scholars as we work towards transformative solidarity. We recognize that we have diverse relationships and experiences within the academy and work to foster a community across these differences.

We understand that not everyone identifies their gender within the binary of male/female.

We work to remove gender-based language from our conversations by replacing terms such as “ladies”, “gentlemen”, “guys,” “men,” and “women” with terms such as “everyone”, “people,” “human,” and “y’all.” This helps us to avoid gendering our workshop or misgendering members of our workshop.

We share responsibility for the space and the work that goes into running the group. Our critique and feedback stem from our investment in collectivity as a process and project.

As a group of multilingual thinkers working and writing in English within the academy, we are careful to keep our members from being isolated for their language use.

We value careful citational practices. We see collaboration and collectivity beyond the bounds of the group. We build on the work of scholars or thinkers engaged in creating caring and abundant intellectual environments.

We hold space for the different ways in which we all engage our scholarship, our relationship to the academy, and our contributions to the workshop.

We believe in cultivating different temporalities of care and production.4

We center participants' needs and listen to how they want to receive feedback. We aim to lovingly support and nourish each other and each other’s work.

We invest in the building of relationships and community.

CAAAS Junior Scholars Workshop
January 27, 2023

Amarilys Estrella
Helena Fietz
Laura Correa Ochoa
Margarita M. Castromán Soto
Olivia K. Young
Tamar Sella
Victoria M. Massie

1 This is a “living” document. We are open to and encourage its transformation.
2 We hold multiple views on the capitalizing of blackness and black. Useful resources on this ongoing
debate include: (1) P. Gabrielle Foreman’s Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth
Century (Champaign, IL: U of Illinois P, 2009), xv. Or (2) Bruce, La Marr Jurelle. How to Go Mad Without
Losing Your Mind: Madness and Black Radical Creativity. Black Outdoors. Durham: Duke University
Press, 2021.
3 Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, 13.
4 We are inspired by the following principles from adrienne marie brown’s Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (2017):

  • “We move at the speed of trust.”
  • “Less prep, more presence.”
  • “What you pay attention to grows.”
  • “Focus on critical connections more than critical mass–build the resilience by building the relationships”