On May 4, Provost John Aber responded favorably to our requests for support for the 3 Minors.  Thanks to everyone who signed our letter and met with administrators!  The Provost is offering a full year of support, effective in July, for both an administrative assistant and an external review.  The goal of the external review is to "assess the current Minors program and offer recommendations for elevating the programs to an Ethnic Studies Center."  By July 2013, we are to have prepared a 10-year strategic plan, including "a proposed budget, curricula offerings, the feasibility of hiring a tenured faculty/coordinator, and a timeline for establishing a University-funded and supported comprehensive Ethnic Studies Center at the University of New Hampshire."

It seems that, all despondency about university budgets and corporatization aside, this could be an exciting time to reorganize and reconceptualize what we are about.  As someone who teaches and writes about Native American Studies with a heavily regional focus, even I have been feeling the limitations of the old nation- and U.S.-centered identitarian models: increasingly, it seems, global indigenous movements help me understand local indigenous histories and practices, and vice versa. And I know I have much to learn from my colleagues who are thinking about all of these issues--colonialism, conquest, migrations, diaspora, white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, labor movements, environmental depletion--in such purportedly disparate contexts as Chican@ studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Queer Studies.

What do you all think?  How could we create a larger tent that could, as an eminently practical matter, SUSTAIN the teaching and scholarship we have been trying to do (and that too many of us feel we have done in relative isolation), while still creating, say, coherent pathways within that tent for students and professional scholars who want in-depth exploration of, say, African-American literary traditions?  These questions won't be easy, but I am excited to see a brand-new Critical Ethnic Studies Association forming, which seems to be wrestling with many of these same questions.

We have lots of work to do next year, but I for one would be happy to see some of this stuff start percolating over the summer, in a lower-key, friendly way, via blogging and iced coffee! 

Siobhan Senier

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