California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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BOOM: A Journal of California publishes first issue

The University of California Press has announced publication of the first issue, dated March 2011, of Boom: A Journal of California. Subscriptions are available through, and a selection of articles is available on, the new journal’s website.

The Table of Contents of the first issue is the following:

Listening to Art Laboe | Susan Straight
Together in the airwaves

Talking with Tenants Together | Sasha Abramsky
When renters get kicked to the curb

Undocumented and Unafraid: Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix | Kent Wong and Matias Ramos
Remembering two DREAM activists

Religion by Lottery | Wade Clark Roof
At the crossroads in Mission Viejo

Interview with Randall Grahm | Carolyn de la Peña
Why we need risky wine; learning to let go

How to Fix a Broken State | Joe Mathews and Mark Paul
Remaking California government

Race and the Mythology of California’s Lost Paradise | Daniel HoSang
Initiating failure

Country Music’s California Heart | Jesse Drew
The surprising politics of a familiar sound

California Sueños | Josh Kun
Dreaming the other California

Backs to the Well | Michael Ziser
Water writes

Images from the Central Valley | Tracy Perkins and Julie Sze
Seeking environmental justice

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Laura Cunningham to Speak at Environment Now on her book, “A State of Change”, Feb. 23 in Santa Monica

The advocacy group Environment Now has announced that author and environmental activist Laura Cunningham will give a talk Feb. 23, 2011, in the group’s speaker series on February 23, 2011 5:30pm-7:30pm, at the Environment Now offices in Santa Monica.

From the announcement:

Ms. Cunningham will be giving a presentation about her new book, A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California. Based on over twenty years of research, travels and sketching throughout the state, “A State of Change” provides an unforgettable view of the abundance and diversity of life that was once found in California’s landscapes, and offers inspiration for the current efforts to restore these ecosystems. This beautiful book was just released in November and it is already appearing on lists of the best books of 2010, and was recently highlighted as a recommended holiday gift book by the San Francisco Chronicle.


February 23, 2011, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Environment Now
2515 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403

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From Martin Bennett, Calif. Federation of Teachers: State Employees not to Blame for California’s Budget Crisis

In a piece on the California Labor Federation’s website, Martin J. Bennett of the California Federation of Teachers argues that California’s budget crisis cannot be blamed on the compensation and benefits, including retirement benefits, paid to state employees. Mr. Bennett addresses himself to a recent article in the  Economist magazine titled “Tough Times for Everyone – Except Public Sector Workers,” which stated that taxpayers are now learning about “the banquet public sector workers have been having at the expense of everyone else” and that many public employees could “retire in their mid-50s on close to full pay.”

Against the arguments of the Economist article, Mr. Bennett points out, among other things, that state employees are not responsible for the economic crisis that has reduced tax revenues, that California ranks near the bottom of all states in the number of state employees per capita; that according to independent research state employees are not overpaid and nor do they receive excessively generous pensions; and that in fact only 14% of pension payments come from taxes (the rest being employee contributions and investment returns).

Mr. Bennett argues that California does not have a spending crisis, but a revenue crisis, caused by ill-advised tax cuts in better times.  From the article:

Tax reform and boosting taxes for those most able to pay would make it possible to restore cuts to public services, adequately fund public education, safety, and health care, and fairly compensate public employees. Such a progressive tax policy includes: 1) increasing by a modest 1% the corporate tax rate (returning to the 1981 level); 2) closing corporate tax loopholes such as the failure to reassess commercial real estate at market rates (now protected by Proposition 13); 3) enacting a severance tax on oil extracted and produced in California; 4) restoring the top personal tax rate for the upper 1 percent from 9.3 to 11%; 5) reconsidering and repealing some of the $12 billion in tax cuts by the legislature for individuals and corporations over the last fifteen years.

A healthy and vital public sector is essential for the private sector to flourish.
Corporations and the wealthiest Californians greatly benefit from public investment in infrastructure such as mass transit and affordable workforce housing, high quality education accessible to all, and comprehensive social services, particularly for low-income Californians.

To read the whole article, click here.


Frank Gruber to give talk at Santa Monica History Museum on the history and fate of the Belmar Triangle, Feb. 20

On Sunday, Feb. 20, at 2:00 p.m., the Santa Monica History Museum will host a free public lecture by columnist Frank Gruber on the history and fate of the Belmar Triangle, an African-American neighborhood that was destroyed in the 1950s by the City of Santa Monica to allow the building of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

From the museum’s press release:

Frank Gruber to Give Public Lecture

on the History and Fate of the Belmar Triangle,

an African-American Neighborhood

Razed to Build the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

Santa Monica, CA – Tuesday, February 9, 2011 – In celebration of Black History Month, the Santa Monica History Museum will host a talk by local columnist Frank Gruber about the Belmar Triangle, an African-American neighborhood that was razed in the 1950s to build the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Gruber writes a weekly column for The Santa Monica Lookout News website and is the author of the book, Urban Worrier: Making Politics Personal.

Gruber’s talk will trace the history of the African-American commercial and residential district that arose on both sides of Pico Boulevard, around Third and Fourth Streets, beginning early in the 20th century. Though not wealthy, and historically “on the other side of the tracks” in Santa Monica, this community was a vibrant district with many black-owned businesses. The location was only a few blocks up Pico from the “Inkwell,” the area of the beach African-Americans most often frequented, and many of the businesses catered to black visitors from the rest of Los Angeles.

In the 1950s, however, the area north of Pico, between Main and Fourth Streets, known as the “Belmar Triangle” from a street, Belmar, that crossed it, became a target of the City of Santa Monica, which wanted to improve its tourist facilities by building a new Civic Auditorium. What was home and a vibrant community to those who lived and owned businesses there was categorized as “blight” by a City that desired a centrally-located site large enough for its new facility.

Using eminent domain, the City condemned the black-owned properties, leveled the homes and businesses, and built the Civic Auditorium and its parking lot. Ironically, within a decade the auditorium was labeled a white elephant. Currently, as Gruber will discuss, the City has plans to turn the parking lot into a park. Gruber will propose that the park be named after the Belmar Triangle neighborhood and include features commemorating what once was there.

Following the lecture will be a presentation by Carolyne Edwards on the Quinn Research Center (QRC). Carolyne and her husband Bill founded QRC as a tribute to the legacy of Dr. Alfred T. Quinn, a prominent Black educator, community leader and icon of the Santa Monica Bay area.  As his niece, Carolyne wants to preserve and share the contributions and achievements of a man dedicated to education and the advancement of every individual. The ongoing project of the QRC is “The Black Family Oral History Project”. It is designed to collect, record and preserve the oral histories of African Americans who have lived in the Santa Monica-Venice Bay Area.

The lecture will take place Sunday, February 20, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The event is free and will be held at the Santa Monica History Museum at 1350 7th Street in Santa Monica. RSVP is strongly recommended due to limited seating. The museum is located adjacent to the Santa Monica Main Public Library. To RSVP or for more information, please call the museum at (310) 395-2290.

The Santa Monica History Museum has been collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of Santa Monica since 1975. It has an extensive collection of historic photographs, archives, and artifacts. The museum’s permanent exhibit, “Santa Monica: A Journey Into An Extraordinary Past,” showcases a diverse collection of original photographs and artifacts ranging from the Native Tongva Indians to the Santa Monica Pier. This exhibit also includes fun and engaging hands-on interactive exhibits that bring Santa Monica’s history to life. The museum’s research library is free and offers specialized research and photo reproduction services. The museum is open on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Tuesday & Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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For the Day of Remembrance commemorating the forced removal during World War II of 110,000 Japanese Americans from their West Coast homes to detention centers, Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi, authors of Wherever There’s a Fight; How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, will give four presentations this weekend, Feb. 19 and 20, 2011, at the site of the Manzanar internment camp.

For more details, here is the press release from the National Park Service:





Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi’s book, Wherever There’s a Fight; How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, won a Gold Medal in the 2010 California Book Awards. The authors give special focus to the World War II internment of Japanese Americans, foreshadowed by a century of civil liberties violations. They also explore contemporary issues including: dissent, racism, immigration, and the role of national security.

The annual Day of Remembrance observance commemorates the impact of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which on February 19, 1942 authorized the forced removal of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast.

Elinson and Yogi will take the audience on a 40-minute illustrated virtual tour of civil liberties battles in California, from the Gold Rush to the present day, highlighting courageous individuals such as Fred Korematsu, who stood up for their rights and changed history.

Elaine Elinson was the communications director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and editor of the ACLU News for more than twenty years. Stan Yogi has managed development programs for the ACLU of Northern California since 1997. Stan’s mother, Tokiko Kuniyoshi, was in the Manzanar High School Class of 1944.

The presentations, at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, will include ample time for audience questions and book signing. The Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center also features extensive exhibits, audio-visual programs, and a bookstore. Winter hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. Programs are free and open to the public. For further information, please call (760) 878-2194 or visit our website at

This event is made possible through cooperation with the Manzanar History Association (MHA). Elinson and Yogi’s book, Wherever There’s a Fight, as well as numerous other titles relevant to Manzanar’s history, are available for purchase from the MHA online store: .


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Beyond Borders: Migration and the Next California: Symposium at UC-Davis, March 10

Boom: A Journal of California, UC Davis School of Law, the Gifford Center for Population Studies, the Center for Regional Change, the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas, the Institute of Governmental Affairs, the Consortium for Women and Research, and the UC Davis Department of History, are co-sponsoring a symposium on March 10, 2011, about immigration and its impact on California. From the announcement:

For all the political upheaval concerning illegal immigration and border fences, international migration is likely to be a lasting feature of California society and politics. With this in mind, Beyond Borders: Migration and the Next California brings scholars, writers, and community organizers into a conversation about borders, the communities they divide, and the people who cross them. What has the U.S-Mexico border been in the past? And what might it become in the future? Can we find new ways of thinking about border futures in borders past? Kelly Lytle Hernández, author of Migra! The History of the U.S. Border Patrol, will deliver the keynote address: “Amnesty or Abolition? Race, Freedom, and the Future of the Illegal Alien in America.” Responses from Kevin R. Johnson, Dean of the UC Davis School of Law, Rubén Martínez, award-winning journalist, author, and performer, and José Padilla, Executive Director of California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., will follow. The symposium will also include a roundtable discussion moderated by Louis S. Warren and Carolyn de la Peña, co-editors of Boom: A Journal of California.

This conference is open to scholars, journalists, policy makers, activists, and members of the general public.


March 10, 2011
University of California, Davis
Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

For more information, click here.

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Historical Society of Southern Calif. announces funeral services for Doyce Nunis

Historian Doyce B. Nunis has died. The Historical Society of Southern California released this statement regarding Prof. Nunis and funeral services:

Historian Doyce Blackman Nunis, Jr., distinguished teacher, author, editor and beloved dean of the southern California community of scholars has died. He was 86 years of age. He had been in failing health for the past year and died January 22 of complications following abdominal surgery.

In a recent interview Professor Nunis said, “I have found historical research to be an unending chain of questions with one link drawing you on to the next. It is a grand pursuit.”

A memorial service will be held at the Chapel of Saint Vibiana in the Cathedral of Our Lady Of Los Angeles on Friday, February 18, 2011. Rosary at 1:00. The mass will begin at 1:30. All are welcome.

For more information about Prof. Nunis, the society has set up a webpage “in memoriam.”


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Jeff Lustig to give book talk on “Remaking California” at Doug Adams Gallery, Berkeley, Feb. 10

Jeff Lustig will give a book talk on his new book, Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, at the Doug Adams Gallery at the Bade Museum in Berkeley on Feb. 10.

From the announcement:

February 10, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Location: Doug Adams Gallery in the Bade Museum, 1798 Scenic Ave, Berkeley, CA
“Remaking California” author talk with Heyday Books author Jeff Lustig and reception.

In Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, leading writers and scholars probe the roots of this crisis, trace its effects on people’s lives and the environment, and propose reforms to remedy problems and restore the state’s democratic promise. They conclude that only a systemic overhaul will shake California out of its paralysis, and they debate the promise and pitfalls of a new constitutional convention for remaking the Golden State. Contributors include Dan Walters, Lenny Goldberg, Kevin Starr, Mark Paul, former Senator Barry Keene, and many more.

Jeff Lustig is a professor of government at California State University, Sacramento. He is the author of Corporate Liberalism: The Origins of Modern American Political Theory, 1890–1920, and he has written numerous articles on American and Californian politics and political theory, the corporatization of the modern university, and on immigration, race, and class. He was director of the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento, and founding chair of the California Studies Association. He has been a trustee of the California Historical Society and a founder and chair of Northcoast Labor History Project

For more info:

Christina Vander Vos
Gallery Associate
Doug Adams Gallery (CARE)
1798 Scenic Avenue
Berkeley, CA-94709

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Gray Brechin on the Living New Deal

Last fall, in remarks at the FDR Library on the 75th anniversary of the WPA, Gray Brechin gave a speech focusing on the multifaceted impact of the New Deal, in which he highlighted the California Living New Deal project at UC-Berkeley’s Geography Department (of which Prof. Brechin a the founder) and efforts to expand it nationwide. From the speech:

The people responsible for building this invisible New Deal archipelago had a big idea: they believed they were building a civilization worthy of the name, a democratic civilization that would endure and be a beacon to the world then darkening with the fundamentalist ideologies of those times. They had no idea that we would let it fall into ruin because we were persuaded that we should not have to pay taxes, as, for example, the governor and university administrators are now doing at the University of California because (as they say) they have no alternative. The example of the New Deal shows that there is an alternative — it’s a matter of priorities.The people responsible for building this invisible New Deal archipelago had a big idea: they believed they were building a civilization worthy of the name, a democratic civilization that would endure and be a beacon to the world then darkening with the fundamentalist ideologies of those times. They had no idea that we would let it fall into ruin because we were persuaded that we should not have to pay taxes, as, for example, the governor and university administrators are now doing at the University of California because (as they say) they have no alternative. The example of the New Deal shows that there is an alternative — it’s a matter of priorities.

To read the whole speech, click here.

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Richard Walker on “The Golden State Adrift”

Prof. Richard Walker of the Geography Department at UC-Berkeley (and member of the CSA Steering Committee), has a new article in the New Left Review (#66, Nov.-Dec. 2010) about the crisis in California. In it he discusses how the mortgage meltdown and the housing crash are both symptomatic of problems created by a generation of neo-liberal policies and causes of further manifestations of those problems. A PDF of the article can be downloaded by clicking on this link.



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Patricia McBroom reports on the build-up to the soon-to-be-released Delta water plan

In her blog, “California Spigot,” Patricia McBroom (a member of the CSA’s Steering Committee) has an extensive current post on the build-up to the release, expected in mid-February, of the State of California’s new plan for the Sacramento Delta. McBroom reports on the actions by a coalition of environmental groups to influence the report by means of a joint list of recommendations.  From the blog:

Thanks to new cooperation by the environmental community, the Council now has strong support for several very important goals. Among the most important of these is a call to restore adequate flow to the Delta estuary and reduce the State’s reliance on Delta water for human uses.

In the past decade, high levels of upstream and downstream use of this water have crashed the ecosystem, caused the near extinction of several species of fish, reduced salmon runs to near zero, sent pollution levels soaring and caused all manner of scary ecological changes.  But the extent to which restricted flows in the Delta caused the collapse or can lead to its recovery is a source of intense disagreement. Water contractors and growers have pushed to retain the same high levels of use they had before the drought of the past three years, while Delta ecologists and supporters argue that use should be cut dramatically – up to 50 percent in some scenarios, from 6 million acre feet (MFA) per year of exported water to roughly 3 million.

To read the entire report, click here.