Cultural Studies and the Strike

This message was sent to the Cultural Studies community on February 28, 2020

Dear Cultural Studies community,

The last few weeks have been difficult for all of us, most of all for our community of graduate students who are striking in order to find an equitable way to live and work in Santa Cruz. As you know, I have cancelled the past few Cultural Studies colloquia since the strike began on February 10th, and this week’s March 4th colloquium with Joseph Blankholm is also cancelled (though we are planning a special event on March 4th on housing and the strike – see below).

I wanted to reach out to you as a community and explain my reasoning for cancelling colloquia. In some instances, speakers did not want to cross a picket line. But perhaps more fundamentally, I did not, and do not, feel comfortable carrying on with business as usual when the future is so uncertain for so many in our Cultural Studies community. Graduate students are integral to the life of our university, to the teaching and research we do as faculty, certainly, but also to the intellectual community we create. They are integral to Cultural Studies. I cannot imagine a colloquium without them, and I cannot imagine putting them in a position to choose between their commitment to that intellectual community and their commitment to the labor movement they have organized. I also recognize that many striking graduate students are stretched extremely thin and simply do not have time for much else. Yet, a colloquium without their presence would not be the colloquium we know and treasure, and, frankly, I would feel as if I were leaving kin outside.

I know many of you miss our weekly gatherings, the pleasure of thinking together, the pleasure of simply coming together every week. I do as well. So I am organizing a few events in the next two weeks that are specific to the strike – not colloquia per se, but a chance to gather together, even if it’s just faculty, to think about the strike and the future to come. In that spirit, CCS is hosting a special session by Miriam Greenberg and Steve McKay on the housing crisis in Santa Cruz, on Wednesday March 4th, 1:30-3pm  – details to follow today or Monday. Stay tuned.

For the moment, I simply wanted to reach out to all of you and to underscore – if only virtually for the moment – the sense of community we have created together.


Mayanthi Fernando
Director, Center for Cultural Studies