The Center for Cultural Studies at UC Santa Cruz was founded in 1988 as part of the University of California President’s Humanities Initiative. Since then, it has built a reputation as a bastion of cutting-edge interdisciplinary thinking on pressing social, political, and environmental issues. Through colloquia, invited lectures, workshops, conferences, and other forums, the Center continues to facilitate a broad range of research in the international field of cultural studies, and to contribute to an atmosphere of rigorous scholarly engagement across the boundaries of conventional fields and disciplines. It remains a major incubator for multidisciplinary and cross-divisional activity on campus and beyond.
The evolving field of cultural studies emerged from the challenges posed to traditional humanistic and social scientific agendas by new research and analytical approaches in visual studies; anthropology and ethnography; feminist studies; comparative sociology and politics; semiotics; social, cultural, literary, and political theory; science studies; colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial studies; ethnic studies; and histories of sexualities and queer theory. The activities of the Center reflect the legacy of these challenges and continued engagement with these areas of study, even as it contributes to emerging approaches and new fields, such as indigenous studies, multispecies studies, feminist science studies, critical race theory, digital humanities, performance and theatre studies, and new representational theory. Thus, while the Center remains anchored in the humanities, it also draws in faculty and graduate students who work in the interpretive and historical social sciences, as well as in theoretically informed work in the arts.
The Center is sponsored by the Humanities Division and Social Sciences Division, and housed within The Humanities Institute.