Organizing against anti-Asian racism: the “Berkeley School” of economics

A newsletter from a fellow Canadian organization in the Bay Area.


Canadian Studies Announcements
In this issue:
  • Hildebrand Fellow Jae Yeon Kim on effective community organization
  • In the News: Affiliate economist David Card & the “Berkeley School” of economics
  • Upcoming event: Is Canada’s healthcare system a model for the US?
  • Upcoming event: “Canada’s Role in a Psychedelic Renaissance”
  • External event: Canadian Inuit film now showing in select Bay Area theaters
Hildebrand Fellow Jae Yeon Kim Discusses Effective Community Organizing in the Face of Racism
Across the United States and Canada, activists are organizing to counter an alarming rise in hate crimes towards Asians. While advocates have reported an increase in hate crimes against Asians since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the push sees renewed urgency following a recent string of high-profile incidents, including a spate of robberies and unprovoked attacks targeting Asian elders in the San Francisco Bay Area.
However, a shared experience of racism isn’t necessarily enough to organize a cohesive movement, as research by former Hildebrand Fellow Jae Yeon Kim shows. Kim, a political scientist who studies grassroots mobilization among marginalized populations, says today’s activists can learn a lesson from how Chinatown activists in Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco mobilized to protect their neighborhoods in the 1960’s and ’70s.
His Hildebrand-funded research, published last year in Studies in American Political Development, explored why the three movements succeeded. According to Kim, Chinese activists carefully curated their allies, forming strategic partnerships outside their immediate community while ensuring their message and cohesion was not diluted by an overbroad coalition. “Coalition-building,” says Kim, “is not an automatic response” among marginalized groups: it relies on trust, strategy, and commitment for greatest effect. Read a summary of his findings here.
UC Berkeley will be hosting a special panel on the history and present of anti-Asian violence on April 1st: learn more here.
In the News
Professor David Card and the “Berkeley School” of Economics
recent article in The American Prospect profiled the growing influence of UC Berkeley’s economics department on current US policy. The department owes much of its reputation to its current chair, the Canadian labor economist (and Canadian Studies affiliate) David Card. As a young scholar, Card developed a reputation for iconoclastic, data-driven research that challenged then-current theoretical orthodoxies. When he relocated to Berkeley in 1997, Card’s preference for empiricism over theory was at odds with the department’s old guard and many of the larger schools of economics.
Today, however, it forms a central tenet among the department’s most notable figures – many of whom Card personally hired – and has been adopted by other leading schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and MIT. And with many Berkeley economists focusing on issues at intersection of economics and social policy, such as wealth inequality, the Berkeley model promises to only become more relevant as we seek data-driven answers to today’s most pressing problems.
Upcoming Events
Panel Discussion: The Canadian Healthcare System: A Model for the US?
April 6 | 12:30 p.m. | RSVP here
Most Canadians are proud of their national healthcare system, widely considered one of the best in the world. But when it comes to US healthcare reform, the Canadian example is much more divisive. A growing number of Americans view Canada as a model for a potential US single-payer system. However, for many others a “Canadian” system conjures images of long waits and rationing. Join Canadian Studies for a special panel exploring how Canada’s healthcare system really works, and why its perception in the US is so polarized.
Gregory Marchildon is a professor of comparative healthcare at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. He specializes in Canada’s healthcare system and has written extensively on comparative policy.
Amanda Aronczyk is a journalist and co-host of the NPR show Planet Money. Her 2020 episode “Frame Canada” investigated the US insurance lobby’s long-running PR campaign to block major healthcare reform by discrediting Canada’s healthcare system.
Daniel Béland is the director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and James McGill Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University. He studies social policy and health care reform, and their relationship to fiscal policy.
Psychedelics, Eh? Canada’s Role in a Psychedelic Renaissance
April 27 | 12:30 p.m. | RSVP here
In the 1950’s, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan was on the cutting edge of research into hallucinogenic drugs. Under the province’s massive healthcare reforms, researchers received grants to pursue LSD treatments they thought could revolutionize psychiatry. What do these experiments say about Canada’s healthcare system and society at the time? And what can we learn from the program’s successes and failures at a time when psychedelics are attracting renewed scientific and public interest?
Erika Dyck is the Canada Research Chair in the History of Health & Social Justice at the University of Saskatchewan. She specializes in the history of psychiatry, and has written several books on the history of psychedelic research and eugenics in Canada.
Affiliate/External Events
Canadian Film Kuessipan Now Showing at Bay Area Theaters
The award-winning 2019 independent Canadian film Kuessipan is current receiving a limited theatrical release in several locations around the San Francisco Bay Area. Adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same name by First Nations author Naomi Fontaine, the drama tells the story of two girls in a Quebec Innu community who find their friendship tested when one begins to dream of leaving the reservation. Directed by Quebecoise filmmaker Myriam Verreault and co-written by Fontaine, the film stars Innu actors Sharon Ishpatao Fontaine and Yamie Grégoire. Learn more and find participating theaters here.
Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley, 213 Moses Hall #2308, Berkeley, CA 94720

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