The first Critical Ethnic Studies conference took place in March 2011 at the University of California Riverside, Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide: Settler Colonialism/Heteropatriarchy/White Supremacy. Shortly thereafter, folks who organized and participated in the conference formed the Association. The second Critical Ethnic Studies conference took place in September 2013 at the University of Illinois Chicago, Decolonizing Future Intellectual Legacies and Activist Practices. The third conference, Sovereignties and Colonialisms: Resisting Racism, Extraction and Dispossession, is taking place at York University in Toronto April 30 - May 5, 2015.


The guiding intellectual question of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association is: how do the histories of colonialism and conquest, racial chattel slavery, and white supremacist patriarchies and heteronormativities affect, inspire, and unsettle scholarship and activism in the present? By decentering the nation-state as a unit of inquiry and reimagining the place of scholarship in activism, the objectives of CESA are to:

  • Establish an international and interdisciplinary network of scholars and activists.
  • Stimulate debate on critical ethnic studies, the professionalization within ethnic studies, and the concomitant refusal to interrogate the politics of the academic and non-profit industrial complexes or to engage with broader movements for social transformation.
  • Provide forums such as the biannual conference for thinking about global variants of racialization, racial and colonial domination, capital, heteropatriarchy, and settler colonialism.
  • Produce critical engagement around white supremacy, settler colonialism, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, militarism, occupation, neocolonialism, migration, anti-blackness.
  • Engage in productive dialogue through the organization of seminars, social media activities, webinars, lectures, and conferences.
  • Disseminate information on activist and scholarly activities concerning critical ethnic studies.

Publish a journal, Critical Ethnic Studies, for emerging ethnic studies scholarship, for the formulation of new analytical languages and paradigms, and to facilitate a more critical and constructive dialogue between activist and academic voices.