The Center for Multiethnic and Transnational
The Center for Multiethnic and
Transnational Studies (CMTS), located in the College of Letters, Arts and
Sciences, is designed to conduct research and stimulate teaching that is
interdisciplinary in orientation; examine differences and similarities
across various ethnic and racial groups; take gender differences into account;
examine how language, culture, and religious indentities both subsume and
transcend nation-states and territorial boundaries.
Through patterns of interaction-both
local and global- the Center's tasks are to inquire, for example:
how changes in today's society are breaking down older social and political
patterns, but at the same time helping to create new modes of organization
how different "megacities" with large multiethnic and multiracial populations
share respond to each other's problems
how ethnicity and new transnational interactions filter an individual's
view of the world
how new emergent identities are evolving out of the plural social and economic
conditions of today
The Center pursues these understandings
through research and instruction in varied fields and, more widely, through
involvement and dialogue with the local community and the larger world.
In particular, it encourages reflection on the realities of present day
Los Angeles-as a protoypical multiethnic city, and as an important node
in the transnational network of communications and commerce.
Bringing this multiethnic and transnational
analysis into focus -in contrast and coexistence with- the interests and
values of the traditional nation-state, the Center seeks to respond tothe
challenges of a complex, interdependent world, by forming new conceptual
paradigms and resources for effective policy analysis,discussion,
and planning. The Center has as its expressed goal to promote comprehension
of the connection between the forces of transnationalism and multiethnicity.
The close of the 20th century is
a time of unique change and unprecedented problems and challenges. This
is also a period where the technical and economic, social and political
relations among people in different countries are increasingly transnational.
Professional networks, non-governmental organizations, and industrial alliances
ignore the boundaries of traditional "nation-states" and challenge their
claims to independence and soverignty.
In today's global society we are
faced with the need in the United States to give our students a better
understanding of transnational networks and organizations so that they
will have a competitive advantage and their effectiveness will be enhanced
by better understanding the language and cultures of the people with whom
they interact. The Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies (CMTS)
is designed to help meet that need by analyzing and explaining how local
events frequently have global consequences. The Center, located in Los
Angeles, one of the most diverse regions in the world, is in an excellent
position to prepare students for life in the emerging global society. Scholars
and laypersons can also benefit from a better understanding of the concepts
used to describe and discuss the new realities of a changing world.
It has also become increasingly
apparent, for example, that ethnic immigrant groups have become "transnational"
actors and ethnic issues have become "transnational issues". Ethnic conflicts
spread throught the world as "transnational" concerns. Ethnicity remains
the single most important reality in the lifeline of any ethnic community
anywhere in the world. Transnationalism is not limited to political and
economic issues; it is reflected in mustic, art, cinema, and literature.
While on the one hand, "transnationalism" deals with those phenomena which
transcend the national or even grouping of nations, "multiethnicity", on
the other hand, deals with the variety of new ethnic groups that now reside
in this country and beyond.
At the Center, we place the emphasis
on the multi in multiethnic studies; that is, on the dynamics of the interaction
among ethnicities and cultures in the United States and particularly in
Southern California, the impact which they have on each other, the conflicts
and synergy which result, and those dimensions, such as gender, which transcend
and bridge ethnic groups. Orientations like ours puts Los Angeles and its
diverse communities directly in the center of the world context. Indeed,
we open the awareness of exploration into world cultures through our own
communities. And by exploring these cultures in an interdisciplinary manner,
we can provide a better understanding of them than one discipline can alone.T
he intellectual challenge for CMTS, then, is to synthesize the contributions
from diverse disciplines and to act as a catalyst for new scholarly approaches
as we move into the 21st century.
To implement its broad mandate,
the center has:
Sponsored numerous colloquia and workshops for scholars, students, and
practicioners on such topics as: pluralism and diversity; multiethnic conflictand
resolution; comparative domestic violence against women; racism andanti-Semitism,
and a dialogue series on race.
Launched a series of high-caliber international conferences to focus scholarly
attention on issues ranging from, for example," Central Americans in California:
Transnational Communities, Economics, and Culture" to "Contemporary Diaspora:
A Comparative and Trans-Pacific Focus."
Initiated joint-interdisciplinary research projects and funding focusing
on multiethnicity and transnationalism.
Hosted a succession of policy-related seminars invloving the diplomatic
consulate corps, scholars, journalists, and policy makers. One highly successful
events grought together leading figures from Canada, Scandinavia, Russia
and the United States to study the fate of indigenous people's right toself-governance
in parlimentary and democratic systems.
Instituted a CMTS Occasional Paper Series and the production of academic
books/treatises dedicated to producing cutting edge scholarship.
The Center starts with a rich and
ambitious agenda- in research, education, and community outreach alike.
The practical topics calling for scholarly research cover a varied spectrum.
To pick a few examples:
The transformation of urban centers under the impact of globalization
Development of more representative methods of serving the needs of minority
groups for neighborhood justice
Changes in the flow patterns of activity in a world economy that operates
on an increaingly multinational basis
Development of transnational institutions for monitoring and improving
the humanitarian records tional governments
The influence of the experience on personality development and self esteem
in multiethnic environments
The contrasted roles of gender and class in traditional and plural societies
The impact of non-governmental organizations in a world of multiethnicity
The effects of international communication and exchange in fine art, music,and
literature on the growth of world culture
The systematic creation of demographic, economic, and other data bases
to support the analysis of multiethnic and transnational research
Critical reflections on the causes and consequences of global restructuring
The Center's community outreach
involves a broad range of practical activities- developing constructive
ways to help resolve outstanding practical problems, and to draw in, as
partners in its program, leaders from the local, national, or international
scene in Los Angeles and beyond.
In education, the Center acts as
a catalyst, in helping the different disciplines at USC to refashion their
courses to take account of these multiethnic and transnational perspectives,
and implement the University's new diversity requirement, and strategic
plan. In this way, it influences the educational experience of USC students
on both graduate and undergraduate levels.
Established in 1992 after the civil
unrest in Los Angeles, the Center has provided an intellectual beacon for
scholarly research, commumity outreach, educational curricula reform, workshops,
publications, and congferences. In its short history, it has gained global
recognition. Headquartered on the main campus of the University of Southern
California, the Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies meets
its ambitious agenda in the assemblage of its core administrative staff
working with a community of activist scholars and students from varied
disciplines. The Center's program is guided by a Steering Committee composedof
faculty from across the university who suggest policy directions and conduct
original team research. In addition, the Center is developing and External
Advisiory Committee composed of influential leaders in Los Angeles and
Southern California. The Center has also initiated an Affiliated Scholars
Program for postdoctoral fellows and faculty, graduate and senior undergraduate
students, and colleagues from the neighboring community who are interested
in helping to advance the Center's agenda through scholarship, research,
or practical projects. Professor Stephen Toulmin, the Center's first Scholar-In-Residence
brought here in January 1993 by a generous grant from the Henry R. Luce
Foundation, has been the "intellectual catalyst" through his teachings,lectures,
and writings to move the Center's mission forward. Finally, the Center's
organization is enriched through its Visiting Scholars Program, which has
enabled researchers from a myriad of foreign and domestic institutions
to spend time at CMTS.