UDARI Undergraduate Research Assistants announced for Spring 2021

Posted on March 8, 2021 at: 4:17 pm

Gelina Dames and Elisa Davila have been selected as the UD Antiracism Undergraduate Research Assistants for Spring 2021.

Gelina Dames, UDARI Research Assistant. I am a junior majoring in International Relations and minoring in Journalism and Africana Studies. I have interests in examining race and culture in the American society as well as ethnographic research in Africa that deals with post-colonial theory. I have hopes of utilizing my passion for storytelling and innovation and crafting a digital editorial platform in the near future where my personal and professional work can live.

The research I am conducting is focused on institutional anti-racism initiatives with special regards to the arts. Since the objective of this research is to provide references for the University of Delaware for its anti-racism initiative, most of my research examines institutions of higher education in the East Coast, Mid-West, West, and South. In search of useful information, I look in the departments of arts and sciences, art history, African and African American studies, et cetera. Additionally, I include information found on recent or notable events sponsored at the colleges and universities such as the Vision and Justice two-day seminar at Harvard University directed by Dr. Sarah Lewis, a professor of art history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

So far, my findings show that many of the initiatives work in collaboration with foundations to provide grants to students and faculty to conduct their own research projects on arts based cultural analysis. An example of this is the “SAS Social Justice Grant” at the University of Pennsylvania which further stimulates research and teaching on topics of anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, and social justice, and to promote additional opportunities for community engagement.

Some colleges and universities included in my research findings have a dedicated anti-racism initiative website. However, these websites lack inclusion of the arts. I find that the arts-based anti-racism events, messaging, images are featured on the arts and sciences department websites.

In addition to colleges and universities, I research arts-based anti-racism initiatives at museums such as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in NY, books and scholarly journals such as “The Black Arts Movement” by Larry Neal, libraries such as Library of Congress, and organizations such as the Center for Advanced Studies in Visual Arts (CASVA).

The research is organized in a google document in a subheading format that I share with my supervising professor, Dr. Overby.

Elisa Davila, UDARI Research Assistant. My name is Elisa Davila and I am a Junior Criminal Justice and Political Science major with a minor in Women and Gender studies and I use she/her pronouns.

I am currently working as the research assistant for the Antiracism Initiative here on campus! I am conducting research on other Universities that have antiracism initiatives or institutes so that we can see what our options are moving forward. I am also collecting lists of resources, such as antiracism readings, podcasts, etc., that we can put on our new website.

A big part of my work thus far has been collecting the real estate records from the University Archives. I am organizing my research in a spreadsheet. In conjunction with the President’s Task Forcing on Historic Buildings and with UDARI’s subcommittee on the Legacies of Enslavement and Dispossession, we are hoping identify which properties on campus have ties to slavery, and the families that were involved in this. It has been a very rewarding experience, and I have truly learned so much! Being able to dive into these records is not something I would have been able to do if it weren’t for this position. I am hopeful that we can do something with these records to think about naming and renaming buildings and spaces on campus, as well as commemorating Black and other underrepresented graduates of UD. This research should also contribute to educating leadership, faculty, and students on the University of Delaware’s past.