Watch It Here - Humanities Center Unveils its 2021-22 Project Theme, "To Form a More Perfect Union?"

Department: Humanities Center

Post Date: October 8, 2021

News Details

The Humanities Center hosted a lively kick-off event. We unveiled our 2021-22 project theme, "To Form a More Perfect Union," and collectively celebrated the various ways in which we as a community unify.

This event featured speakers and performers.

This virtual event was held on Thursday, October 7, from 12PM-1PM PST



Touraj Daryaee, Maseeh Chair in Persian Studies & Culture Director of the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture

Daryaee’s research and expertise includes Iranian history, civilization, languages and literature; Zoroastrianism; numismatics; and world history. He has authored over ten highly acclaimed books on the subjects. His book Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (I. B. Tauris, 2009) won the BRISMES Award with the judges calling it “a masterpiece" and remarking that it "offers a timely counterpart to Eurocentricity which has distorted the study of antiquity.” He also edited The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History (Oxford University Press, 2012), which was chosen as one of the top 25 academic books of the year by Choice magazine and described as “the best single volume on the history of the Iranian world.” He is the editor of the electronic journals DABIR: Digital Archives of Brief Notes and Iran Review and Sasanika: Late Antique Near East Project. His articles have appeared both in English and Persian in Iranian Studies, Iran, Iranistik, Studia Iranica, Res Orientalis, Historia, Electrum, Indo- Iranian Journal, Journal of Indo-European Studies, Iranshenasi, Iran Nameh, Name-ye Baharestan, and Name-ye Iran-e Bastan.

Margaret Goldman, Doctoral Student, UCI Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Margaret Goldman is a doctoral student in the department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her research focuses on the nexus between schooling and systems of confinement, and the strategies of alternative education that system-impacted youth and their communities employ in an effort to transform education. This research aims to explore the potential of alternative schools as unique but often forgotten spaces of meaning-making, vital to abolitionist responses to compulsory schooling. She currently teaches English at a continuation high school, where she also researches and studies with young people who have been pushed or have escaped into alternative education, their teachers and community members.

Bambi Haggins, Associate Professor, Film & Media Studies

Bambi Haggins is Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at UC Irvine. Her work explores race, class, gender, and sexuality in American comedy across media and television history. Her first book, Laughing Mad, was awarded the Katherine Singer Kovács Book Award. Her work has been published in Cinema Journal, Framework, Ms., and The New York Times as well as several edited collections. Haggins wrote Showtime's Why We Laugh: Funny Women and was historical consultant/onscreen talent for HBO’s Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (both 2013). Haggins is currently editing “TV Memories: Letters to Our Televisual Past,” in which scholars reflect upon their personal viewer experiences. Her book project, “Still Laughing, Still Black” examines how Black comedy, culture and reception in the new millennium reflect, refract, and reveal the necessity and the power of Black comic discourse and survival laughter. Her most recent article represents a new direction in her scholarship: “Step 1: Check Yourself” discusses how necessary it is to recognize your own biases in the process of developing antiracist pedagogies.

Héctor Tobar, Associate Professor of Chicano/Latino Studies, English, and Literary Journalism, Undergraduate Director Chicano/Latino Studies

Héctor Tobar is the Los Angeles-born author of five books, including the novels The Tattooed Soldier, The Barbarian Nurseries, and, most recently, The Last Great Road Bum. His books have been translated into fifteen languages, including French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and Mandarin. He is the son of Guatemalan immigrants. His non-fiction Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of Thirty-Three Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize: it was also a New York Times bestseller and adapted into the film The 33, starring Antonio Banderas. The Barbarian Nurseries was a New York Times Notable Book and won the California Book Award Gold Medal for fiction. Tobar’s fiction has also appeared in Best American Short Stories. He earned his MFA in Fiction from the University of California, Irvine, and has taught writing at Pomona College, the University of Oregon, and is currently an associate professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and Literary Journalism at UC Irvine. His other books include the nonfiction Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States. As a journalist, he was the Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and a part of the reporting team that earned a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Tobar has also been an op-ed writer for the New York Times and a contributor to The New Yorker, Harper’s, Smithsonian and National Geographic. In 2020, he received a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University.


Rachid Belmourida, Moroccan-American artist and musician

Rachid Belmourida is a Moroccan-American artist and musician. Born and raised in Casablanca, he has performed internationally as a violinist for over 25 years. Rachid specializes in traditional Moroccan music, such as rai and Andalusian music, as well as contemporary pan-Arabic/Mediterranean music and Persian pop. Rachid has played at major concerts, international music festivals, weddings and cultural events around the world.

Kelly Caballero, Tongva singer- songwriter, performer, poet, and jeweler

Kelly Caballero is a Tongva singer- songwriter, performer, poet, and jeweler. Her body of work focuses primarily on highlighting the multifaceted and complex lives of Indigenous peoples born and raised in urban settings.

The Wagaku Collective, an ensemble of musicians classically trained in traditional Japanese musical instruments

The Wagaku Collective (TWC) is an ensemble of musicians who are classically trained on traditional Japanese musical instruments: sanshin, shakuhachi, shamisen, shinobue, and taiko. TWC's mission is to share Japanese tradition and culture through public performances and educational activities centered on Japanese minyo (folk) music. Since 2015, TWC has been dedicated to sharing our music throughout Southern California. Recent event appearances include: Asian American Expo, NBC Universal Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Japan Day.

Semassa Kpatinvo Boko, Ph.D. Student, Sociology

Semassa Boko is a cultural worker, freelance writer, and current PhD student at the University of California, Irvine. He is driven by the need to pose rigorous and generative questions regarding social change, violence, war, black music, and aesthetics. In addition to his academic research, he uses various forms of scholarly engagement including music reviews, poetry, speeches, and creative writing. Black study is his way of life and black liberation defines his dreams.