Spring 2024 Letter from the Director, In Solidarity

Image of blooming tree

May 28, 2023

Bianet Castellanos, director of the Institute for Advanced Study, closes the Spring 2024 semester and looks ahead to the 2024-25 academic year.

When I was a junior in high school, I participated in the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project (CLYP), a community-based leadership training program held at UC Davis that year. I learned about the power of community organizing, the origins of the Chicano movement, and the history of United Farm Workers movement. We met with state legislators in Sacramento and participated in a direct action in front of the capitol to call attention to the dismal educational outcomes for Chicano and Latino youth. CLYP taught me that protest and community organizing are essential to thriving democracies. This was a formative experience for a child of migrant farmworkers. It gave me the tools I needed to challenge unfair labor practices and harsh working conditions. It also reminded me that dissent and civil disobedience have historically been central to enacting a transformational politics.

Today we are witnessing the power of protest and community organizing across university campuses. These protests have sparked much-needed debates and conversations about the complex politics of war and conflict in the Middle East. At the IAS, we are actively engaged with these issues through our (In)Justice series and by supporting faculty and graduate student research on revolutionary movements, democratic governance, political disappointments, and the architectures of confinement. Creating space to hold robust and compassionate conversations with each other, invited guests, and the public is critically important.

Next year our (In)Justice series will be organized in coordination with the Sawyer Seminar on “Just Policing.” In conversation with community activists and leading scholars, we will critically examine policing and its global roots. We hope you will join us for these conversations in a place that has a troubled history of police violence. Please mark your calendars now. 

In August, I will step away to take a one-year sabbatical to focus on my research on settler colonialism and Mexican migration, and to help coordinate a Global Humanities Institute titled “Indigenous Mobilities, Tourism, and Racial Capitalism.” This institute will host a global gathering of scholars, community leaders, and partners that will explore how Indigenous communities creatively respond to the cascading effects of mega-development projects and mass tourism—such as neglect of local needs, dispossession and displacement, destruction of local ecosystems, and other consequences—at various sites around the world. The institute aligns with the IAS’s commitment to advance international collaborations that deepen our understanding of social justice and racial capitalism. 

In 2025, the IAS will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. As we celebrate this achievement, I am delighted to share that Susannah Smith, the IAS’s Managing Director of 19 years, has agreed to step in to serve as acting director while I am away. Susannah joined the IAS in 2005, just four weeks after the IAS opened its doors. Please join me in giving her a warm welcome as our acting director.

In the year to come, we look forward to commemorating the IAS’s achievements and continuing our work together to create a more just future.

In solidarity,



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