A group of scholars at UC Berkeley who call themselves the Hip-Hop Studies Working Group are hoping to legitimize the study of hip-hop culture in fields such as law and education, according to a media-relations article on the school’s Web site. Supported by a grant from UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities, the scholars’ group supports researchers and aims to one day establish a hip-hop studies major.
The scholars say hip-hop not only acts as a bridge between academia and reality, but also as a forum for the discussion of race, class, gender, sexuality, politics, and the economy. But currently, they’re hard-pressed to find faculty members to review and assess their research. That might change if the group can pressure the university to hire more specialists in this burgeoning field.
Of course, studying hip-hop isn’t new to the university. Many years ago, a popular de-cal class taught by students focused on the work of Tupac Shakur, and past courses in history and African-American studies have incorporated aspects of hip-hop culture.
Can the group actually establish a hip-hop studies major? It remains to be seen. The campus’ historically progressive roots have changed dramatically thanks to Prop. 209, tuition fee increases, and the influx of students from Southern California. — Kathleen Richards