CESA aims to develop an approach to scholarship, institution building, and activism animated by the spirit of the decolonial, antiracist, and other global liberationist movements that enabled the creation of Ethnic Studies and which continues to inform its political and intellectual projects.

We seek to move away from current critical deadlocks, to counteract institutional marginalization, to revisit the political ideas that precipitated Ethnic Studies’ founding moment within the US academy, and to create new conversations. In particular, we seek to forge a Critical Ethnic Studies that challenges US hegemony in traditional Ethnic Studies, acknowledges other genealogies of antiracist and decolonial thinking and struggle, and moves towards thinking and acting in ways that are transnational and at the service of multiple local struggles.


Ethnic studies scholarship has laid the foundation for analyzing how racism, settler colonialism, immigration, imperialism, and slavery interact in the creation and maintenance of systems of domination, dispossession, criminalization, expropriation, exploitation, and violence that are predicated upon hierarchies of racialized, gendered, sexualized, economized, and nationalized social existence in the United States and beyond. Our vision of Critical Ethnic Studies highlights how systematized oppression is coterminous with the multitude of practices that resist these systems.

Critical ethnic studies does not treat decolonization as a destination, but sees decolonizing as a set of ongoing theories, practices, imaginaries, and methods in the service of abolishing global oppression. Thus, rather than focusing exclusively on critique, critical ethnic studies stands for decolonizing as a generative praxis of world-making.