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Discovery of California Professor's Shared Ancestry with Obama Leads to Research Breakthrough Pt One
Southern California professor D. Emily Hicks has discovered that she and President Obama share Melungeon ancestry. This, along with findings by another researcher has led to a breakthrough in Hicks' work on borders and mixed ancestry.
For her department at a university in California, Chicana/o Studies, and the college in which her department is located, the discovery could not have come at a more opportune time. Ethnic Studies departments are under attack. Her dean is supportive of her department. A more nuanced approach to ethnic identities could help to dissipate attacks on ethnic studies programs and immigrants by giving the public a broader view of ethnic formations.
Most people have never heard of Melungeons. They are a mixed ancestry population whose ancestors most likely include immigrants from Spain and Portugal who came to the southeastern United States. There are two issues or conflicts related to mixed ancestry and to society at large. The first is slavery and the second is immigration. Professor Hicks delivered a paper on immigration and slavery several years ago at a conference held outside of the US. She argued that the current issues of immigration is linked to the history of slavery. The academic study of mixed populations can help researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the integration of new immigrants in the United States; Many researchers in the social sciences and public policy have discussed this topic in relation to social cohesion.
Professor Hicks is completing a book on Magna Carta, borders and mixed ancestry. She is using models developed in her earlier book, Border Writing, the Multidimensional Text, published in 1991 in a prestigous series by the University of Minnesota. Hicks is focussing on human rights and those of mixed ancestry in colonial America.
Hicks was one of the first, if not the first literary theorists to link the work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze to an analysis of the US-Mexico border. She published her earliest findings in the late 1980s. Hicks came to a southern California university in 1984 and was asked to teach in Chicana/o Studies due to her expertise in border studies in 1996. She currently has a joint appointment in an ethnic studies department (Chicana/o Studies) and a department of English and Comparative Literature. She directs an institute, the Border Institute for Advanced Studies in Nonlinear Events and Structures. Hicks studied with leading scholar Fredric Jameson and the philospher Herbert Marcuse. Her dissertation adviser was Michel De Certeau.
Melungeons are one of over 200 mixed ancestry groups in the United States. The most famous book about Melungeons was written by N. Brent Kennedy. Mixed ancestry populations were first linked to borders in the 1950s in the research of anthropologist Edward T. Price. In his article “ A Geographical Analysis of White-Negro-
Hicks is a leading scholar on border theory. 2011 marks the twentieth annivesary of the publication of her book Border Writing, now taught throughout the United States and in the UK. The book is available through Minnesota Archive Editions; it is considered a classic in the field of Border Studies. Hicks' work on borders may have brought her to the attention of the Council on Foreign Relations Many national leaders, including Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton, are members of this organization. After being invited by the CFR to its New York headquarters to meet with Obama's advisers in 2008, along with a group of about 20 academics, Hicks began hosting the CFR Academic Conference Call series at her university. The series gives students the opportunity to speak to world leaders, policy makers and experts on a variety of controversial and timely topics. It also gives Hicks' students an opportunity they might not have otherwise. Many of Hicks's students are working class, first-generation Chicana/o students.
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The Border Institute for Advanced Studies is a research institute focussed on the following: borders, including geopolitical and cultural borders; minority and mixed ancestry populations, ethnic studies, Deleuze and complexity science;
Page Updated Last on: Sep 26, 2011