Reimagining Race, Migration, and Diaspora

The Black Pacific Project seeks to uncover and amplify under-told histories of Black folks’ relationships to water, land, and peoples in particular Pacific regions by examining early histories of oceanic movement and settlement by people of African descent along the Pacific Coast of what is now the United States (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawai'i).

In turning to the less explored oceanography of the Pacific, this projects maps a Black ontological geography that moves beyond the trans-Atlantic master narrative—troubling and revisiting cultural canons that continue to shape understandings of settlement, extraction, ‘exploration,’ and environmental histories of race in the American West.

Drawing upon public-facing scholarship as a political praxis, this developing project includes a traveling exhibit, a small vessel build (a 28' wooden whaleboat), a short documentary film, and hands-on storytelling events and nautical workshops in addition to scholarly writing. Taken together, these methods foster and rehabilitate ancestral relationships to the natural world through reviving a Black historical past in ways that remake the present.

Project partners include the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the California Institute for Rural Studies, and UC San Diego's Indigenous Futures Institute.

Project Organizer:

Dr. Caroline Collins

Dr. Caroline Collins is the Cathryn P. Gamble Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego where she earned her PhD. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside and a B.A. in American Literature and Culture from UCLA. Her research examines public remembrances of the American West through archival methods, ethnographic study, media production, and public history exhibition. Her public scholarship includes exhibits and media produced in collaboration with the California Institute for Rural Studies, the California Historical Society, the California African American Museum, Exhibit Envoy, and the First Nations Development Institute. Dr. Collins' research has been supported by the Bylo Chacon Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / U.S. Latino Digital Humanities (USLDH) Recovering the US Hispanic Heritage Grant, California Humanities, UCSD Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program, the UC Consortium for Black Studies in California Project, and the Herbert I. Schiller Communication Dissertation Fellowship.