U-M welcomes first Anti-Racism Collaborative postdoctoral fellows

August 31, 2021

The University of Michigan is welcoming the first two postdoctoral fellows under its new Anti-Racism Collaborative.

Dominique Adams-Santos will work with Celeste Watkins-Hayes in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy as the associate director of the newly established Center for Racial Justice.

Laura-Ann Jacobs’ fellowship is in partnership with the Stepping uP Against Racism and Xenophobia Project, co-led by Deborah Rivas-Drake, professor of education and psychology, and Enrique Neblett, professor of public health.

Housed in the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the Anti-Racism Collaborative is one of the three components of Provost Susan M. Collins’ anti-racism initiative. Its function is to strengthen research and scholarly engagement around anti-racism at U-M, through mechanisms such as support for postdoctoral fellowships focusing on anti-racism, faculty and student research grants, seminars and symposia, and interdisciplinary scholarly collaboratives.

“The collaborative was created to build on and elevate the work of the existing anti-racist research and scholarship occurring at U-M, to support public engagement around this expertise, and to promote interdisciplinary and intergenerational exchange,” said NCID Director Tabbye Chavous. “The new postdoctoral fellows will both benefit from, as well as be important contributors to, this shared sense of community and purpose of dismantling systemic racism.”

Adams-Santos is a qualitative researcher focusing on questions of race, sexuality and intimacy in the digital era. Specifically, she uses urban and digital ethnographic methods to understand how individuals navigate the racial, gender and sexual politics of digital and urban landscapes in their search for intimacy and community. As a queer woman of color, Adams-Santos is especially invested in mapping the contours of placemaking among racialized and gendered sexual minorities, the subject of her dissertation project.

As the Center for Racial Justice associate director, Adams-Santos will expand the conversation and knowledge about the complex intersections of race and public policy, and will create a vibrant and diverse community of leaders, scholars and students engaged in social justice work, with a focus on racial equity and intersectional justice.

“As an Anti-Racism Collaborative postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Adams-Santos brings her deep sociological knowledge, intersectional feminist perspective, and passion for social justice to the table to cultivate relationships, opportunities, and initiatives at the Center for Racial Justice,” said Watkins-Hayes, the center’s director and a University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor in the Ford School. “Her expertise working at the crossroads of race, gender and sexuality offers an important lens to the project of advancing racial justice within public policy.”

Jacobs grounds her work in the qualities of creativity, compassion and connectedness, and her research pursues questions about how people learn about their identities, how they choose to share their stories, and how they make their mark on the world. Her current work centers around how people individually and collectively translate stated commitments of justice into action for social change.

In partnership with SPARX co-leads, Jacobs will develop, design and launch a public clearinghouse of knowledge regarding racism and xenophobia in childhood and adolescence.

“Dr. Jacobs brings critical expertise as a former K-12 teacher and as a scholar who studies how to prepare teachers to engage anti-racist pedagogy as liberatory practice in education. Her interdisciplinary and creative perspective is a tremendous asset to the SPARX effort and will push us to develop innovative strategies to address the needs of young people in schools and communities — to meet them where they are,” Rivas-Drake said.

The Anti-Racism Collaborative currently has a call for applications for a third postdoctoral fellow, in partnership with the Du Bois-Mandela-Rodney Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department for Afroamerican and African Studies.

This story was originally published by U-M's National Center for Institutional Diversity.