Skip to main content

Caroline Collins

Dr. Caroline Collins earned her PhD in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at University of California, Irvine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside and a B.A. in American Literature and Culture from UCLA. Her research examines public remembrances of the American West through archival methods, ethnographic study, media production, and public history exhibition. Her public scholarship includes exhibits and media produced in collaboration with the California Institute for Rural Studies, the California Historical Society, the California African American Museum, Exhibit Envoy, and the First Nations Development Institute. Dr. Collins' research has been supported by the Bylo Chacon Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / U.S. Latino Digital Humanities (USLDH) Recovering the US Hispanic Heritage Grant, California Humanities, UCSD Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program, the UC Consortium for Black Studies in California Project, and the Herbert I. Schiller Communication Dissertation Fellowship.


Ph.D., Department of Communication, UC San Diego 2019

M.A., Communication, UC San Diego 2016

MFA, Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts, UC Riverside 2011

B.A., American Literature and Culture, UCLA 2000


Cathryn P. Gamble Postdoctoral Fellowship (funded by Bylo Chacon)

Andrew W. Mellon / US Latino Digital Humanities Recovering the US Hispanic Heritage Grant

Herbert I. Schiller Dissertation Fellowship

Joseph Naiman Graduate Fellowship

UCSD Department of Communication Summer Research Fellowship

Co-Investigator and Co-Recipient, Innovation Grant, UCSD Vice Chancellor’s Office on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Qualcomm / Alliance For Empowerment Graduate Scholarship

UC Consortium for Black Studies in California Travel Grant

UCSD Department of Communication First Year Doctoral Fellowship

UCSD Pan-Hellenic Association Outstanding Professor Award Recipient (received as a Lecturer)


Selected Publications

Collins, C. (in preparation for submission to Public). Water berth: My journey to the Black Pacific as a site of memory and futurity.

Anderson, P.; Aushana, C.; & Collins, C. (revising for International Journal of Transitional Justice). When we are in crisis: Youth-centered transitional justice, police violence, and political imaginaries.

Collins, C. (under review). Hidden roots: The erasing of Afro-Latina/os and African Americans from the California origin story. In Oliver, M. (Ed.), Voices of the Golden Ghosts

Collins, C. (abstract accepted, in preparation for submission). When Do You Stop Arriving?: Troubling the Narrative of the Black Migrant in California in the We Are Not Strangers Here Project, California History (UC Press). 

Collins, C. (Under Review with University of Nevada Press). Westworld and The Evolution of the Myth of the West. In Jones, C. (Ed.), Rethinking, Remaking, Reimagining: The American Cowboy in a 21st Century. 

Collins, C. (Book Proposal Under Review). Erecting Eden: The Public Remaking of Race and Place in the California Origin Story.

Refereed Conference Proceedings, “Deepening perceptions of learning: Studying and designing ethical practice with researchers, teachers and learners,” (with Megan Bang, Northwestern University; Angela Booker, UC San Diego; Kyle Halle-Erby, UCLA; Amanda Marin, UCLA; Nikki McDaid-Morgan, Northwestern University; and Meixi Ng, University of Washington) International Society of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Nashville, Tennessee, 19 - 23, June 2020. (Held digitally due to COVID-19). 

Collins, C. I. (2019). Manifest Re-destined: The Politics of Remembering and Forgetting in the American West [Ph.D., University of California, San Diego].

Collins, C. (submitted) The Power of Embodied Activity in an Age of Impact Factor: A Biography of Master Storyteller, Folklorist, and Vocal Artist Victoria Burnett, M.Ed. In Willoughby-Herard, T. (Ed.), Scandal In Real Time: The State of Scholarship on Black Women in Politics.

Collins, C. (2016).  Cooperative Measures: NGO and Institutional Educational Partnerships in the US. In C. Brock (Ed.), Education and NGOs. Bloomsbury Publishing. 

Collins, C. (Spring 2014).  A Selection of Lorca. In Exchanges: A Journal of Literary Translation. University of Iowa. 

Collins, C. (July 2012).  “Dream Interrupted.” In the African-American Experience Collection. The Whistling Fire.  

Collins, C., Vásquez, O. A., Bliesner, J. (2011).  Bridging the Gaps:  Community - University Partnerships as a New Form of Social Policy.  In Bowdon, M. & Carpenter. R. (Eds.), Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, Community Partnerships: Concepts, Models, and Applications, IGI Global.

Presentations & Participation

(Upcoming, October 2021) “We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California Moderated Discussion.” Black Progressive Summit (via Zoom).

(July 2021) “We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California Panel Discussion.” CA State Parks. (via Zoom).

(July 2021) “We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California.” Central Valley Scholars. (via Zoom).

(May 2021) “Lift Every Voice: Celebrating Black Storytelling. Rural Justice Summit. (via Zoom)

(May 2021) “Re-Storying California in the Public Imagination.” American Studies 101: Special Topics. Guest Lecture. UC Davis (via Zoom). 

(May 2021) “Freedom Chasers: Early Black Settlers and the California Dream.” Communication 110M: Communication in the Community. Guest Lecture. UC San Diego (via Zoom).

(May 2021) “We Are Not Strangers Here and the Politics of Wilderness.” Environmental Studies 140: Wilderness and Human Values. Guest Lecture. UC San Diego. (via Zoom).

(November 2020) “Navigating Cultural Competency in Recreation: Understanding the Impacts of the Environmental History of Race in Park Programming,” California Parks and Recreation Society, San Diego, California (via Zoom).

(March 2020, Postponed due to COVID-19)  “The Power of Re-Storying Rural California: The Making of the We Are Not Strangers Here Exhibit and Podcast.” Rural Justice Summit. UC Merced.

(January 2020) “Storying Change in the Public Imagination.” UCSD Changemaker Week. UC San Diego.

(September 2019) (Re)Imagining the West: California’s Railroads and the National Imagination,” an after-show moderated conversation for The Coast Starlight production, La Jolla Playhouse Discovery Sunday Speaker Series, La Jolla, California.

(March 2018) “Pursuing Equity in Action: Attempting To Make Democracy Material in Daily Life,” UC Links Conference, UC Berkeley.

(March 2018) ESCorp Game Room Demo (Gaming as Mediation), Embodied Storytelling Collective, UC San Diego Sixth College Culture, Art, & Technology Lab.

(March 2018) Native Like Water: We're Still Here, San Diego Digital Gym, San Diego 2018 Film Week.

(October 2017) “Negotiating the Ethos of University-Community Collaborative Filmmaking” 17th Annual Imagining America Conference, UC Davis. **Had to cancel travel due to wildfires**

(March 2017) “Partners for Life: Negotiating Equity in University-Community Collaborations.” UC Links, UC Berkeley.

(November 2016) “New Media Communication for Community Wellness,” UCSD Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program Symposium.

(July 2016) COMM 190: Black Lives Matter: Race, Technoscience, & the Human; Lecture Title: “Memory, Movement, & Mediated Practices: Examining the Mediated Interstices Between Cultural Memory, Space, & Identity.”  UC San Diego.

(April & May 2016) Oral History Training and Oral History Collection of scholar and artist Victoria Burnett, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA.

(November 2015) “The Syntax of Survival: Biopolitics Of An Oral Practice of Parents of Black American Children,” 29th Annual Society for Literature Science and the Arts (SLSA) Conference 2015, “After Biopolitics” Rice University, Houston TX

(September 2015) “Forging University/Community Partnerships: InterTribal Youth and UC San Diego,” UC San Diego, Vice-Chancellor’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Luncheon and Symposium.

(May 2015) “Making Graduate School a Reality Workshop,” for the LCM Fellows Program for Under-represented Students, UC San Diego, CA.

(April 2015)  “Walls that Speak: An Analysis of the Narrative Power of Graffiti within a Colombian University,” California State University, San Bernardino Latin American Studies. 30 April 2015.  (Had to decline speaking due to a family health emergency).

(January 2015) Panelist, “Hands Up: What is Your Perspective?” A Dialogue on the Relationship Between Race and Policing on Campus and Beyond, Hosted by the UC San Diego Black Staff Association.

(September 2014) Invited Speaker, Black Resource Center’s Student Success Institute, UC San Diego, Huerta/Vera Cruz Room.  

(August 2014) Global Partnership Practicum Course Development Consultant, UC San Diego / Unillanos Conferencia at the Universidad de los Llanos, Villavicencia, Colombia.

(August 2014) Co-Presenter, “LCM Infrastructure of Change,” UC San Diego / Unillanos Conferencia at the Universidad de los Llanos, Villavicencia, Colombia in the Auditorio Jamie Garzón.

(August 2014) Guest Lecturer, “Collaboratively Learning English In a Non-English Context: Uno Desarrollo Clase en Ingles,” at the Universidad de los Llanos, Villavicencia, Colombia.  

(May 2014) Presenter, “La Clase Mágica: The View From the Practicum,” for the CIER Mission Seminar, UCSD, CA.  

(May 2014) Workshop Leader, “Power of Story Personal Statement Workshop,” for the LCM Fellows Program, UCSD, CA.

(March 2014) Co-Presenter, “Assessment and practice: Links between pedagogy & assessment,” UC Links Annual Conference, Berkeley, CA.  

(February 2014) Workshop Leader, “Allow them to Re-Introduce Themselves: An Examination of the Influence of Narrative-Based Activities Within an After-School Setting,” for the LCM Fellows Program, La Jolla, CA.

(July - August 2013) Selected Pilot Workshop Participant, UCSD/Calit2/Qualcomm “Flipping the Classroom”: Building Effective Online and Blended Learning Environments Summer Workshop, La Jolla, CA.

(May 2013) Program Speaker, “Blazing A Pathway to College,” Mi Arte Mi Voz Education Exploration Conference, UCSD.

(April 2013) Co-Presenter, “21st Century Literacies: New Ways of Knowing For A World In Motion,” UC Links Annual Conference, Berkeley, CA.

(June 2011) Presenter, “Literature and The Other.”  Graduate Lecture at the University of California, Riverside, Palm Desert.

Media Production

Collins, C. (Producer). (Upcoming: 2022).  Re-seeding: Stories from a new generation of California Indigenous people. [Audio podcast episode] In Cal Ag Roots. California Institute of Rural Studies.

Collins, C. (Host, Producer). (Feb 9,  2021). Freedom chasers: Early Black settlers and the California dream (We Are Not Strangers Here 1). [Audio podcast episode] In Cal Ag Roots. California Institute of Rural Studies 

Collins, C. (Host, Producer). (Feb 16, 2021).  Hidden roots: Uncovering the legacies of African American homesteaders in California (We Are Not Strangers Here 2). [Audio podcast episode] In Cal Ag Roots. California Institute of Rural Studies 

Collins, C. (Host, Producer). (Feb. 23, 2021). Cultivating change: African American homesteaders, innovators, and civic leaders (We Are Not Strangers Here 3). [Audio podcast episode] In Cal Ag Roots. California Institute of Rural Studies 

Collins, C. (Host, Producer). (Mar. 2, 2021). Independent settlements: Building Black communities in rural California (We Are Not Strangers Here 4). [Audio podcast episode] In Cal Ag Roots. California Institute of Rural Studies 

Collins, C. (Host, Producer). (Mar. 9, 2021). Back to the land: Allensworth and the Black utopian dream (We Are Not Strangers Here 5). [Audio podcast episode] In Cal Ag Roots. California Institute of Rural Studies 

Collins, C. (Host, Producer). (Mar. 16, 2021). Still here: Black farmers and agricultural stewardship in the modern age (We Are Not Strangers Here 6). [Audio podcast episode] In Cal Ag Roots. California Institute of Rural Studies 

Davis, Z. (Director). Collins, C. (Assistant Director & Co-Producer). (In-progress). Exalted and exhumed! Independent short film. USA. 

Collins, C. (Executive Producer). (2016). Native like water: We’re still here. Independent short film. USA. 

  • Screenings: UC San Diego; 2017 Water is Life Expo (Flint, MI); the 42nd Annual Northwest Indian Youth Conference in Washington; the San Diego Regional Water Quality Board’s Environmental Justice Symposium; the 2017 International Youth Congress hosted at the University of Hawaii Manoa; 2018 San Diego Film Week; and was scheduled to screen at the 2017 Imagining America Conference at UC Davis (had to cancel travel due to wildfires)
  • Nominations: Best Student Documentary Short, 2018 San Diego Film Awards

Collins, C. (Producer & Writer). (2016). Community services promos. [Web videos]. Prepared for UC San Diego Center for Integrative Medicine

Collins, C. (Writer & Camera Crew). (2015). UCSD: A brief introduction. [Web video]. Prepared for the UC San Diego Department of Communication.

Collins, C. (2012).  Hype [Screenplay].  Reg. Number: 1596559, Writers Guild of America, West.

Public Exhibits

(BETA Prototype Coming Summer 2022, Principal Investigator). Black and Brown California: Raciality, Colonialisms, and Identity in Alta California. [Digital Exhibit]. funded through a Mellon / US Latino Digital Humanities (USLDH) Recovering the US Hispanic Heritage Grant in partnership with Arte Público Press at the University of Houston. 

(COMING APRIL 2022 - OCTOBER 2022, Exhibition Researcher). For Race and Country: Buffalo Soldiers and Their Impact on California. [Physical Exhibit]. California African American Museum (CAAM). 

(RELAUNCHING after its COVID-19 hold. Now Touring. Exhibit Researcher). We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California. [Traveling Banner Exhibit]. In partnership with the California Institute of Rural Studies, California Historical Society, Susan D. Anderson (CAAM), and Exhibit Envoy. Scheduled Tour Stops: Sutter County Museum (Yuba City); Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park (Earlimart); San Luis Obispo Coast District of California State Parks; Tulare County Museum (Visalia); The Society of California Pioneers (San Francisco); San Diego Public Library, (San Diego). Visit for 2022 booking information. 

(COMING Late 2021, Exhibit Digital Designer) We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California DIGITAL EXHIBIT. In partnership with the California Institute of Rural Studies, California Historical Society, Susan D. Anderson (CAAM), and Exhibit Envoy.


  • COMM 145 History, Memory, and Popular Culture: What role does popular culture play in shaping and creating our shared memory of the past? Examining products and practices such as textbooks, monuments, holidays, gaming, museums, films, music, and tourist attractions this course challenges students to explore the complex and taken-for-granted relationship between history, memory, and popular culture, including what this relationship can tell us about the present.
  • COMM 190: Making ‘Americanness’ in Popular Culture: This junior seminar examines how popular cultural products and narratives (re)construct and define ‘Americanness,’ and the political stakes of this construction. 
  • COMM 129 Race, Nation, and Violence in Multicultural California: How does media representation of race, nation, and violence work? Taking multicultural California as our site, this course explores how social power is embedded in a variety of visual texts, and how media not only represents but also reproduces conflict.
  • COMM 103F How to Read a Film: What does it mean to ‘read’ a film? This introductory course on the language of film examines filmmaking techniques in addition to modes of production, technological and economic factors, narrative structure, and historical context. The course helps students broaden their understandings of film as a mass medium and develop critical skills for analyzing visual culture.
  • COMM 102D: Communication Practicum: This upper division practicum course provides students with a cultural laboratory experience in applying communication, media, learning, and development theories to practice. Students work with underserved children in countywide after-school programs to design and facilitate their own participatory research projects.
  • COMM 110T: Language, Thought, and Media: This upper division course explores various communicative channels that mediate human action and thought on both the individual and collective level.
  • Approved Courses: ENVR 102 (Environmental Studies) Blackness and Wilderness; COMM 113T: Migration and Memory; COMM 190: Speculative Future Narratives