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CEE #23




Well, the groundhog saw his shadow (does he ever NOT?), so we’re stuck with six more weeks of dreary winter here in snowy Philadelphia.  There is a fractal recursivity to this (something I’m learning about from CEE Fellow Reggie Wilson in our class together!), as COVID-lockdown scales to snowstorm-lockdown.  Nevertheless, February brings some bright points.  We have a new CEE faculty affiliate, Julia Alekseyeva from Cinema Studies.  You can listen here to an NPR interview with Julia about her graphic novel, Soviet Daughter, based on the secret diaries written by her great grandmother Lola, who worked for a time with what would eventually become the KGB!  We are also getting ready to launch a new “incubation program” for undergraduate students, which will support the development of an immersive and participatory multi-modal project over the course of three semesters with advising by CAMRA mentors and a faculty team.  And Dee Asaah is finishing post-production on the documentary version of Grounds That Shout! (and others merely shaking…), which chronicles the 2019 collaboration between Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group, Philadelphia Contemporary, Partners for Sacred Spaces, Danspace, and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.  We’ll let you know about screening dates soon.  We will also soon announce the date for the conference/screening series we are planning with CEE Fellow Jenny Chio, “The Contest over Indigeneity:  Film and Ethnography in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.”  Until then, stay warm!!

Deborah A. Thomas
R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology
Director, Center for Experimental Ethnography

Julia Alekseyeva is an Assistant Professor of English and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, she holds affiliate positions in Russian and East European Studies, the Center for East Asian Studies, Art History, Comparative Literature, and the Forum on Japan. She researches the interactions between global media and radical leftist politics. Her work is fundamentally comparative and transnational, and delves into the film, visual art, comics, television, and digital media of Japan, France, and the former Soviet Union. She is currently working on the monograph Between Truth and Beauty: The Semi-Documentary in the Global 1960s. Alongside her academic writing, Alekseyeva is also the author-illustrator of the award-winning non-fiction graphic novel Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution (Microcosm, 2017). Since 2017, she has written articles in the “graphic essay” format for The Nib, Sequentials, Jewish Currents, The Paper Brigade, and World Literature Today. She is currently working on an anthology of her published graphic essays.
Ricardo Bracho in conversation with Jennifer Ponce de León | February 18th at Noon
Join us on Thursday, February 18th  at Noon for a virtual Third Thursday event, where Ricardo Bracho will be in conversation with Jennifer Ponce de León. Ricardo will be discussing current projects. Participants can register here. 
Ricardo A. Bracho is currently Sachs Artist-in-Residence in the Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies program here at Penn, where he teaches creative and critical writing. His plays have been staged read, workshopped, and premiered in theaters and at universities nationwide.  He has a committed focus on working with feminist, queer, Latiina/o, community-based, and experimental theaters including Mabou Mines, INTAR, and Company of Angels. His plays have also been staged read and workshopped at Vassar, Stanford, DePaul University, and the University of California campuses at Riverside, Berkeley, Irvine, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara.  His past academic appointments include Artist/Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara and the Multicultural Faculty position at The Theatre School at DePaul University.  His plays include The Sweetest Hangover, Sissy, Mexican Psychotic, and Puto.  He has worked in independent film and video as an art director, in casting, and as a script, grant, and editorial consultant, primarily with queer, black, and brown makers, including Augie Robles, Cauleen Smith, and Ela Troyano.

As a producer and dramaturge, he has helped stage anti-gentrification street theater in Boyle Heights and the works of Lisa Thompson, Brian Bauman, and Sigrid Gilmer. He began this theater career some thirty years ago as Assistant Director to Cherrie Moraga’s DramaDIVAS, writing for a performance workshop for queer and trans youth of color.  He was a co-founder of Proyecto ContraSIDA Por VIDA, a San Francisco based Latina/o LGBT HIV service agency.  He has also worked on curriculums, media campaigns, research and funding for FIERCE!, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.  He was a researcher on The H.I.P. H.O.P. Project (Health in Prison, Health Outta Prison) for young men in San Quentin Prison. He was interviewed on The Blunt Project in New York. He is developing two chapbooks of poetry, The Salt of Him and Under Quarantine.
Graduate Summer Funding
The Center for Experimental Ethnography invites graduate students from across the University to apply for our student summer research grants.  These grants are meant to support doctoral, MFA, and professional degree students who are incorporating multi-modal methodological strategies into their ethnographic research.  These strategies can encompass film, performance, sound, creative writing, drawing, and/or other media. Proposals should be no more than 750 words with a budget not exceeding $1,500, and should outline the broad research questions of the project, the specific methods used to explore them, and the expected broader significance or intervention.  Applicants should also submit a current CV.  Learn more and apply here.
The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation
The spring application for Sachs Program for Arts Innovation student grants is due Feburary 19 and applicants will be notified in March. Student Grants are open to undergraduate, graduate and informal student groups. They are intended to support ambitious student-developed and student-driven projects – performances, exhibitions, convenings, etcetera.  Spring 2021 grants support projects through Spring 2022. Students and informal student groups may request up to $4,000, and must seek approval by their department or program, in order to apply in this category. The department or program must agree to manage the grant funds if an application is successful.Apply here

Black Dance and the Politics of Movement

Penn Museum Living Room Lecture by Jasmine Johnson
Thursday, February 11, 2021 | 5:30PM - 6:15PM EST

Join Jasmine Johnson, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and CEE affiliate faculty for a discussion focused on the politics of Black movement, including dance, diasporic travel, and gentrification. Jasmine will draw from her research on the industry of West African dance and the cultural history of Black American dance to bring these topics to life. As a professional dancer who has performed internationally, she will also share her personal experiences with dance and performance. Finally, Jasmine will offer her thoughts on the future of dance and the dance communities actively shaping this discipline. REGISTER HERE
(Re)Constitutions of Choice:   
Wolf Humanities Center's 2020-2021 Forum on Choice
February 19th & February 20, 2021  

What does it mean to make a choice?

Decision-making is rarely as simple as right or wrong, black or white, yes or no: it is a murky and complex process filled with human (and nonhuman) will, impulse, and error. This event brings together artists, activists, and scholars from across disciplinary boundaries to explore how choices are made, and why. Join us for three exciting panels that examine the social, philosophical, and creative contours of choice-making. 

The event in itself is choice-filled: talks and performances are available to be streamed two weeks before the live discussions, empowering the audience to choose when and in what order they engage with the material. Live, mediated 90-minute discussions, including audience Q+A, will take place online February 19 and 20.


Terra/Forms of Choice
February 19, 2021 / 11:00 am

Ama Josephine Budge Johnstone, Chelsea Frazier, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Himali Singh-Soin


Temporalities of Choice
February 19, 2021 / 3:15 pm
Achille Mbembe, Carlos Rojas, Karen Thornber

Ideologies and Materialities of Choice
February 20, 2021 / 2:00 pm
Jorge L. A. Garcia, Nancy H. Kwak, Heonik Kwon

 Ethnography in Education Research Forum  
Friday-Saturday, February 26-27, 2021

This year’s theme focuses on the complexities associated with race and inequity that have historically defined social systems in the U.S. and globally.

 Ethnographic research has created interdisciplinary pathways to think expansively about how culture is understood, entwined with related concepts, and revised to weigh critical questions of race, racism, and multiple forms of inequality. Ethnographic scholarship has examined the everyday lives, hardships, and forms of resistance within historically marginalized communities and has provided nuanced analyses that delineate the intersections of these issues with problems of educational access and social (in)equity.

REGISTER HERE: The Forum will be a free and online program. 

Wolf Humanities Participatory Workshop + Performance
March 3rd 2021, 1PM + 5PM EST  

Participatory Dance & Choreography Workshop on "Choice"

March 3, 2021 (Wednesday) / 1:00 pm—2:00 pm


Dawn Marie Bazemore

Dance Artist; Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance, Rowan University


Philadelphia's Premier Modern Dance Company

Join us for a live virtual interactive workshop that explores the Wolf Humanities Center's annual topic of "Choice" through the embodied practice of dance and art-making. Led by Dawn Marie Bazemore and lead dancers from Philadanco, this workshop welcomes participation from all backgrounds and skill levels.

Support for this workshop and  Dancers Choices, Choreographers Choices provided by The Sachs Program for Arts  Innovation.

Dawn Marie Bazemore is a Philadelphia-based dance artist and educator. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Rowan University and the Artistic Director of her own dance collective DMB|#dbdanceproject. Dawn Marie is a former member of Philadanco and has also performed featured roles in Broadway and regional musical theatre productions. Her performance of Strange Fruit, choreographed by the late Dr. Pearl Primus, is currently on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 



Dancers' Choice Choreographers' Choices

March 3, 2021 (Wednesday) / 5:00 pm



Philadelphia's Premier Modern Dance Company

Dawn Marie Bazemore

Dance Artist; Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance, Rowan University

Jasmine E. Johnson

Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Deborah A. Thomas

Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Dixon Li

Doctoral Candidate, Penn English

Lead dancers from Philadelphia’s premier modern dance company perform a piece that pays homage to the Yoruba deity Oshun, the protector, savior, and nurturer of humanity. Following this special performance, Dixon Li will moderate a conversation among the dancers and dance scholars Jasmine Johnson, Deborah Thomas, and Dawn Marie Bazemore, that touches upon the choice to dance, choreography and choice, and performance and choice.

Support for Dancers' Choices, Choreographers' Choices provided by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation. Cosponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and the Center for Africana Studies.

"Madan Sara: The Power of Haitian Women" I March 8th at 6pm

On International Women's Day 2021, the Center for Experimental Ethnography is pleased to present Haitian filmmaker Etant Dupain's feature "Madan Sara: Pouvwa Fanm Aysiyen" (Madan Sara: The Power of Haitian Women) followed by a discussion between Etant Dupain (Director, Madan Sara), Dr. Régine Michelle Jean-Charles (Associate Professor of French and the Graduate Program Director at Boston College), and Lunise Cerin (Editor, Madan Sara). The CEE screening of Madan Sara follows a four-day series of free, public screenings of the film throughout Haiti, supported by Matenmidiswa productions. REGISTER HERE

"The women known as Madan Sara are on the forefront of the battle for a more robust and inclusive economy in Haiti. They work tirelessly to buy, distribute, and sell food and other essentials in markets through the country. Despite the obstacles faced by the women working in a sector that lacks investment, infrastructure and state assistance, the Madan Sara continue to be one of the most critical parts of the Haitian economy and of who we are as a country. The Madan Sara documentary tells the stories of these indefatigable women who work at the margins to make Haiti’s economy run. Despite facing intense hardship and social stigma, the hard work of the Madan Sara puts their children through school, houses their families, and helps to ensure a better life for generations to come. This film amplifies the calls of the Madan Sara as they speak directly to society to share their dreams for a more just Haiti." 
Documenting Discontent I March 8th at 6pm
Documenting Discontent is a virtual audio event that will take place on March 15th at 5:30 PM. This one-hour virtual event will bring together two Mexico-based sound artists/researchers, Karina Franco Villaseñor (nê.i) and Vladimir Flores García (Vlax) to discuss their creative practices in sound. Funded in part by a Sachs Arts Innovation Grant and with support from the Center for Experimental Ethnography, this event is interested in the ways sound is used to document microhistories and communicate social imaginaries derived from protest and conflict, the deconstruction of acoustic pleasure, and the power of sound to reinforce relationships and political dynamics. Select works by the two artists will be made available for listening online in the days prior to the event and will be streamed immediately following the one-hour discussion. Drawing on Franco Villaseñor and García Flores' experiences as researchers, teachers, and creators, the conversation will consider the challenges and potentials of sonic archiving, reflect on the state of sound art/sonic investigations in Mexico, and question the construction of official narratives. The event will be conducted in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English and will be open to the public.
Meeting Reggie Wilson & Jenny Chio
For our first Third Thursday of Spring Semester 2021, we met Spring 2021 Fellows Jenny Chio and Reggie Wilson.  Deborah Thomas opened the discussion with comments on Jenny Chio's work as a filmmaker, a writer, and also as a fieldworker, followed by an introduction to the work and background of Reggie Wilson, choreographer, researcher, and artist. Jenny opened with reflections on the tensions between national identity and local identity in her work in rural China. Reggie spoke about identifying as a "lay anthropologist" in his artistic practice, linking this to  his early experiences reading Zora Neale Hurston's work. Read More 
In Conversation: Susie Ibarra and Will Calhoun
Moderated by Jake Nussbaum
Watch as Jake Nussbaum (CEE Student, PhD Candidate in Anthropology) talks with drumming masters Susie Ibarra and Will Calhoun and Milford Graves about how rhythms heal, about the body (and more!), in this ICA conversation co-sponsored with Ars Nova Workshop conversation. Rhythm is literally and figuratively at the heart of Milford Graves’s practice. Using a device known as an electronic stethoscope, Graves was able to hear and record the different patterns produced by each heartbeat, translating these vibrations into audible frequencies that he called heart music. Of course what he is best known for are the rhythms he produced as a percussionist, educator, healer, and spiritual guide.
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