Berkeley Voices

Berkeley Voices

Interviews with people who make UC Berkeley the world-changing place that it is. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


February 22, 2024 8 mins

Brandon Sánchez Mejia stood at a giant wall in UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Art Gallery and couldn’t believe his eyes. In front of him were 150 black-and-white photos of men’s bodies in all sorts of poses and from all sorts of angles. It was his senior thesis project, "A Masculine Vulnerability," and it was out for the world to see.

"It came from this idea that as men, we are not allowed to show skin as scars or emotions or weakness," ...

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The self-guided Black history tour at UC Berkeley begins at Memorial Stadium, where student Walter Gordon was a star of the football team more than 100 years ago. It then weaves through campus, making stops at 13 more locations, each highlighting an important person or landmark related to Black history.

There's Ida Louise Jackson Graduate House, named in honor of the first African American woman to teach in Oakland public schools. N...

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Bonobos and chimpanzees — the closest extant relatives to humans — could have the longest-lasting nonhuman memory, a study led by a UC Berkeley researcher found. Extensive social memory had previously been documented only in dolphins and up to 20 years.

"What we're showing here," said Berkeley comparative psychologist Laura Simone Lewis, "is that chimps and bonobos may be able to remember that long — or longer."

Berkeley Ne...

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Historians have long assumed that immigration to the United States was free from regulation until the introduction of federal laws to restrict Chinese immigration in the late 19th century. But UC Berkeley history professor Hidetaka Hirota, author of Expelling the Poor, says state immigration laws in the country were created earlier than that — and actually served as models for national immigration policy decades later.

This is ...

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Today, we're sharing the first episode of the new season of the Berkeley Remix, a podcast by UC Berkeley's Oral History Center. The four-episode season, called "From Generation to Generation: The Legacy of Japanese American Incarceration," centers the experiences of descendants of Japanese Americans incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II. It explores themes of activism, contested memory, identity and...

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The U.S. transcontinental railroad is considered one of the biggest accomplishments in American history. Completed in 1869, it was the first railroad to connect the East to the West. It cut months off trips across the country and opened up Western trade of goods and ideas throughout the U.S.

But building the railroad was treacherous, brutal work. And the companies leading the railroad project had a hard time retaining American worke...

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UC Berkeley's first social justice theater professor, Timmia Hearn DeRoy, talks about how Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival practice, rooted in emancipation, drives her work today.

"Trinidadian Carnival, it’s social justice theater in practice. Every moment, it’s all about emancipation, the subverting of the powerful narrative through humor, through performance, through doublespeak. And it just taught me so much about the possibilities...

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It was summertime in the early 1970s in New York City. Fifteen-year-old Jim LeBrecht boarded a school bus headed for the Catskill Mountains, home to Camp Jened, a summer camp for people with disabilities. As the bus approached the camp, he peered out the window at the warm and raucous group below.

"I wasn't exactly sure who was a camper and who was a counselor," he said. "I think that's really indicative of one of the many things th...

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May 18, 2023 28 mins

Growing up, Linda Kinstler knew that her Latvian grandfather had mysteriously disappeared after World War II. But she didn't think much about it.

"That was a very common fate from this part of the world," says Kinstler, a Ph.D. candidate in rhetoric at UC Berkeley. "It didn't strike me as totally unusual. It was only later when I began looking into it more that I realized there was probably more to the story."

What she discovered was...

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At 6 months old, Britt H. Young was fitted with her first prosthetic arm. 

"The belief was that you would get started on using an adaptive device right away and that would be easiest for you, rather than learning to adapt to your body the way that it is, rather than learning about how to navigate the world with the body you have," said Britt, who is graduating from UC Berkeley with a Ph.D. in geography on May 15.

Born missing pa...

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Gericault De La Rose is a queer trans Filipinx woman, and refuses to change for anyone.

"Being that queer trans person completely owning herself I hope gives other people permission to be themselves, too," she says. 

A master's student in UC Berkeley's Department of Art Practice, Gericault explores in her art Philippine mythology and her experience as a trans woman. One time, she dressed up like a manananggal — a kind of monster...

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Yesterday at sunset marked the start of Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar. For Ali Bhatti, a Ph.D. candidate in science and math education at UC Berkeley, it’s a time to feel closer to God, to break habits and to remember what he’s thankful for. In this episode, Ali describes, in his own words, what the month means to him. He also talks about how 9/11 shaped his childhood in New Jersey, finding his Muslim...

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In this episode of Be the Change, host Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, interviews Purvi Shah.

Shah is the founder and executive director of Movement Law Lab and a civil rights litigator, policy advocate and law professor who has spent over a decade working at the intersection of law and grassroots social movements.

During their conversation, they talk about the nuts and bolts o...

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In this episode of Be the Change, host Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, interviews Nazune Menka.

Menka is a lecturer at Berkeley Law and a supervising attorney for the campus’s Environmental Law Clinic. She is Denaakk’e from Alaska and Lumbee from North Carolina. In fall 2021, Menka designed and taught a new undergraduate legal studies course called Decolonizing UC Berkeley, an...

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Host Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, interviews Khiara M. Bridges. Bridges is a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Law and a powerful public intellectual who speaks and writes about race, class, reproductive justice and the intersection of the three.

During their conversation, they talk about the process of Bridges claiming and using her voice as a prominent Black woman. And...

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Embodying the change you want to see in the world can feel ... well, intimidating. Impossible, even. But Berkeley Law's Savala Nolan wants to help us all figure it out — one step at a time — in her podcast, Be the Change. 

"We're talking about transforming the world and being the change and these very lofty concepts," says Nolan, director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice. "But I hope what they see is that b...

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We’ve heard the acronym DEIBJ a lot on campus, especially in the past few years. For those who might not know, it stands for diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice. A growing number of people at UC Berkeley have positions dedicated solely to this incredibly important work.

But sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what DEIBJ means, what it actually looks like in practice — now, in our day-to-day lives, but also in the fut...

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In this episode of Berkeley Voices, Berkeley Law student Hoda Katebi discusses how, after she began wearing the hijab as a sixth-grader in Oklahoma, she learned that clothes are inherently political. "It played a huge role in shaping my own personal growth, as well as my relationship to politics," Katebi says.

Since protests broke out in Iran nearly three months ago, sparked by the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini by Iran's so...

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On Nov. 20, 1969, a group of Indigenous Americans that called itself Indians of All Tribes, many of whom were UC Berkeley students, took boats in the early morning hours to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. They bypassed a Coast Guard blockade and took control of the island. The 19-month occupation that followed would be regarded as one of the greatest acts of political resistance in American Indian history.

Everardo Reyes is a ...

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In this episode of Berkeley Voices, Charles Yu discusses his 2020 book, Interior Chinatown, which goes inside the mind of a young Asian American man trying to make it in Hollywood. Incoming UC Berkeley students read the book over the summer as part of On The Same Page, a program from the College of Letters and Science.

"This is really a book about roles and how we play them," Yu said. "Sometimes they are fundamental to who we are, b...

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