UCLA scholars are launching an ambitious initiative to create one of the nation’s most diverse collections of materials related to policing and incarceration. The effort will collect, digitize and preserve a sustainable archive of data, testimonies, artifacts and police files for the next generation of research on racial and social justice.
“Archiving the Age of Mass Incarceration” is being funded in part by a three-year, $3.65 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and it will bring together expertise from the UCLA Institute of American Cultures’ four ethnic studies centers and their established connections to local advocacy groups.
The project builds off of the work of the award-winning UCLA-based Million Dollar Hoods research project, a community-driven initiative that began in 2016 to map the fiscal and human cost of mass incarceration in Los Angeles.
The collection will include new oral histories documenting Angelenos’ experiences with law enforcement and incarceration, as well as stories of survival and protest practices. Other materials collected from the community, such as bail bond receipts, mix tapes and poster art, will provide meaningful counterpoints to official police and criminal justice statistics.
As part of the project, UCLA scholars plan to make the archive available to the public by the end of the three-year grant period. The Mellon Foundation funding will enable UCLA to build a digital platform to be shared across the ethnic studies centers; that platform will both create the permanent home for the archive and build the centers’ capacity to maintain a wide range of digital collections focused on racial justice.
“The new platform will catapult our centers into the digital future in knowledge-sharing and knowledge production,” said Karen Umemoto, director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.