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CEE #26

ISSUE CONTENTS

LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR | INTRODUCING FALL 2021 FELLOWS |  INTRODUCING SPRING 2021 FELLOW | UPCOMING EVENTS I STUDENT PROJECTS | FALL 2021 CLASSES OF INTEREST  |

 

Welcome back!!
 
We hope everyone was able to catch some rest this summer, after a trying year!!  Last year was very exciting and generative for us here at the CEE, despite having had to move everything to virtual fora.  As you know, we hosted four fellows; we hosted or co-sponsored many very popular events (including a couple of open discussions about MOVE, the Penn Museum, and Physical Anthropology); we hired a new Administrative Associate and Community Liaison (Grace Ndicu), and we were approved to transform Alissa Jordan’s position from postdoctoral fellow to Associate Director (congratulations Alissa!); we launched an experimental ethnography course for professional school students; we awarded our first CEE Graduate Certificates; we funded 21 graduate students for summer research or working group participation; we developed partnerships and collaborations with WXPN, PAFA, and the African American Museum of Philadelphia; and we continued to support each other through a challenging year!
 
This year at the Center for Experimental Ethnography we will be welcoming four fellows:  Ricardo Bracho, and Christiana Giordano and Greg Pierotti in the fall, and Amitav Ghosh in the spring!  Our theme this year is hyper-fictions/hyper-realism and we are excited for a year focused on performance in many guises.  Don’t miss our October conference, co-sponsored with the Penn Museum, “Settler Colonialism, Slavery, and the Problem of Decolonizing Museums,” from October 20-23.  Our real-time virtual offerings will be complemented by a number of in person evening events focused on critical interventions within the Penn Museum.  And check our website for our upcoming “Third Thursday” conversations (which, for the fall, will remain virtual).  The first, our usual “meet the fellows” affair, will take place September 13th at noon.  We are also excited about the new Arts Lounge in the lobby of the re-branded Annenberg Performing Arts Center, Penn Live Arts!  Check it out later this month. 
 

 
 

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

INTRODUCING FALL 2021 FELLOWS
Getting Caught: A Collaboration On and Off Stage Between Theater and Anthropology   
ANTH-588-401 I FNAR-388-401 I FNAR-588-401 ITHAR-388-401 
Cristiana Giordano is an associate professor of anthropology at UC Davis. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.A. in philosophy from the University of Pavia, Italy. She works on foreign migration, mental health, the body, and cultural translation in contemporary Italy. Her research addresses the politics of migration in Europe through the lens of ethno-psychiatry and its radical critique of psychiatric, legal, and moral categories of inclusion/exclusion of foreign others; and through the lens of research on the human microbiome and migrant health in Europe. MORE...
Greg Pierotti is an assistant professor of dramaturgy and collaborative playmaking at the University of Arizona, and an interdisciplinary theater artist. He and his collaborator Cristiana Giordano are currently investigating the intersection of ethnographic and theatrical writing and research practices. MORE...
Surrealism in Americas: A Creative and Critical Writing and Performance Workshop
ANTH-596-401 I GSWS-398-401 I LALS-596-401 I FNAR-596-401
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. MORE...
INTRODUCING SPRING 2021 FELLOW
Performing Parables: Ragas and Sagas of Sundarban
ANTH 179 I ENGL 149 I FNAR 149 I SAST 179 I THAR 253
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He is the author of two books of non-fiction, a collection of essays and ten novels. His books have won many prizes and he holds four honorary doctorates. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages and he has served on the Jury of the Locarno and Venice film festivals. In 2018 he became the first English-language writer to receive India’s highest literary honor, the Jnanpith Award. His most recent publication is Jungle Nama, an adaptation of a legend from the Sundarban, with artwork by Salman Toor. His new book, The Nutmeg’s Curse; Parables for a Planet in Crisis, a work of non-fiction, is due to be published in October 2021. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, the writer Deborah Baker.

UPCOMING EVENTS
Third Thursday
MEET THE FELLOWS
Join us for our this year's inaugural Third Thursday event as we welcome this year fall fellows, Cristiana Giordano, Greg Pieriotti, and Ricardo Bracho as they discuss their exciting fall courses. 
Register below!
REGISTER
curated by Kate Pourshariati
In this panel, we explore artistic modalities and co-laboring as ways of knowing that offer a multi-modal attunement without pinning down or leaning on a redemptive ‘truth’. The panelists offer reflections and performances that attend to institutional and epistemic violence reproduced in the academy, state or extra/judicial systems. We look to spaces and ways of making knowledge differently that challenge us to reimagine ways of being together and collaborate in research; modes of knowing that refuse and unsettle the ‘comforts’ provided by established canons of what constitutes ‘good’ research methods, conceptual conceits and community entanglements. We reflect on praxis, reciprocity, and esthetic engagements as ways of being and knowing in this particular moment of reckoning with liberal academic discourses on anti-racism and decolonization.
REGISTER
SETTLER COLONIALISM, SLAVERY, AND THE PROBLEM OF DECOLONIZING MUSEUMS
Co-sponsored by CEE and Penn Museum 

Over the past several decades scholars and practitioners have critically reconsidered the role of ethnographic museums in the development and representation of knowledge about people and processes throughout the world.  Persistent questions have emerged again and again:  What are the relationships between colonialism and collection?  What issues of accountability surround contemporary knowledge production and representation?  How do we think through the challenges of repatriation?  And what might repair look like?  These are not new questions, and they have been asked not only within museum settings, but also across the discipline of anthropology as a whole for the past thirty years.  Yet as museums attempt to reevaluate their practices of collecting, exhibiting, and repatriating, we must still confront – and determine a new relationship to – the legacies of Enlightenment-based scientific humanism and its imperial underpinnings.  

This conference builds on some of the issues being raised within European and South African contexts, while also thinking through the particularities of the view from the United States.  Drawing from the insights and experiences of scholars, museum practitioners, and educators, we seek to join the conversations related to settler colonialism to those related to slavery and imperialism.  We also seek to chart a terrain that emphasizes multi-vocality and multi-modality, and that imagines the kinds of collaboration that might be possible between European, North American, South African, and other stakeholders.  Finally, we want to elaborate new forms of relationship museums might have to their audiences.

The conference will open on Wednesday, 20 October and will run through Saturday.  On Wednesday, we will start with synchronous virtual welcomes from Christopher Woods (Director, Penn Museum) and Deborah Thomas (Director, Center for Experimental Ethnography).  These will be followed by our keynote speaker, Laura Van Broekhoven (Director, Pitt Rivers Museum).  Panelist presentations will be pre-recorded (15-20 minutes) and posted to our website, and each of the remaining days we will convene for a synchronous moderated discussion and Q&A (at noon, EST).  Each evening, we will also offer live events specific to the Penn and Philadelphia museum community, and these will also be streamed. Read More...

REGISTER
STUDENT PROJECTS
Bethany Monea 
Bethany Monea PhD Candidate in Reading, Writing, and Literacy, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education hosted a three-day writing, art, and film-making retreat for eight young women who have been her research collaborators for the past eighteen months. Since their senior year of high school in 2020, Bethany and the students have been using participatory, multimodal, and ethnographic research methods to investigate their transitions to college as first-generation, Latinx students. Despite the need for physical distancing, their work together has been deeply ethnographic and collaborative: They created a twelve-episode YouTube series documenting their transitions to college during the pandemic, conducted interviews and collaborative analysis workshops, engaged in weekly dialogic inquiry sessions, co-authored academic articles, and co-presented our work at academic conferences, film festivals, and local schools. After they had all been fully vaccinated and during a period of low numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Philadelphia area, they used funds from CEE to convene a culminating creative retreat, coming together in person after over a year of collaborating remotely. Their time together was filled with laughter, music, delicious food, and in-depth conversations reflecting on the past and future trajectory of their participatory research. As they sat together around a large table on the back porch of a country home, backdropped by woods and the sound of cicadas, they reflected on what they had learned about themselves, about each other, and about how educational structures can support more equitable pathways to college for other first-generation and minoritized students. As they celebrated they accomplishments, they also dreamed up new articles to write and new videos to make, and the students read aloud to each other the words of Gloria Anzaldúa, who encouraged them to "write with your eyes like painters, with your ears like musicians, with your feet like dancers.” Later, they spread their paints, pastels, and pencils across the table and spent an afternoon creating artistic representations of their collective and individual insights: they made self-portraits, landscapes, and abstract designs that illustrated their collective theorizing about participants’ Latinx and first-gen student identity, about their collaborative research processes, and about students’ educational trajectories and family histories. As they concluded their time together and prepared for another school year and another chapter in their work together, they made plans for creating more art, more articles, and more YouTube videos, and left with new strategies for how these young women can take ownership over the project and lead the work forward together.
Hakimah Abdul-Fattah
Hakimah Abdul-Fattah is a William Fontaine Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Hakimah's project for  Portrait as/in Ethnography built on three previous portraits made during the semester exploring kinship, archives, and citizenship, as it pertains to her maternal relatives and displacement in the United States and Antigua. Her still and time-based portraits featured the only remaining images of her maternal grandmother and grandfather who both came to Princeton, New Jersey in the second or third resettlement as a result of migration from the American South and South of the American border. Neither of them lived long enough to see a second wave of Black migration out of Princeton due to gentrification, strengthened in part by the university. By thinking through a limited visual family archive, which mimics in many ways the silences in larger state and colonial records of Black communities, Hakimah became interested in thinking beyond kinship structures to human and nonhuman connections with place/space, built community, and past and future generations. While her maternal grandparents ground this research she believes the final portrait project was as much of a portrait of a place (or places; Princeton, NJ, Clewiston, FL, All Saints, Antigua, etc..) than particular individuals.

FALL 2021 CLASSES OF INTEREST
GLOBAL DOCUMENTARY
CIMS 201 I ENGL 291 | ARTH 391 | COML 201
JULIA ALEKSEYEVA
MONDAY   12-3 PM    
 
This course is a study of non-fiction film practices internationally, beginning from the invention of cinema and ending in the contemporary landscape. Although the bulk of the class is organized chronologically, the course is divided into types of non-fiction filmmaking practices, including ethnographies, experimental non-fiction films, essay films, activist documentaries, and animated documentaries. Lectures, screenings, and discussions will be oriented around the theory of documentary filmmaking as well as an in-depth analysis of the films themselves. Requirements will include readings in film history and film analysis, short response papers, active participation, a research paper, and an optional creative assignment.
 
British philosopher Gilbert Ryle used the imagery of a “ghost in the machine” to characterize that fundamental Cartesian separation between mind and body. Ryle also provided interpretive anthropologist Clifford Geertz his oft-cited distinction between thin and thick descriptions of social life. For scholars of communication, examining how debates about race are organized and framed can be a valuable way to reimagine what interventions the field might make into ongoing scholarly and popular disputes on the subject. With such a goal in mind, this course will ask students to consider (i) what kinds of dualisms organize racialist logics, (ii) whether conspiracy theories might be said to pivot on racialized understandings of difference and power, (iii) how people ground assertions of racial authority/authenticity, and (iv) the ways in which these inter-related themes are impacted by our decidedly new/social media moment.  Students will be encouraged to produce multimodal projects for their final assignments. 
BACKSTAGE DRAMA IN THEATRE AND FILM
CIMS 283 I THAR 283 | ENGL 202 I
MARCIA FERGUSON
TUESDAY & THURSDAY  1:45-3:15pm  
Inviting audiences into a special relationship with illusion, backstage dramas (whether on film or on stage) and plays-within-plays reach beyond and alongside traditional plot-driven narratives, to reflect on the process of representation itself. Drawing from classical debates about the relationships between reality, illusion, representation, and imitation (mimesis), we will examine a variety of plays and films as we articulate the complex network of responses and underlying assumptions (whether cultural, political, or social), about art and life, that these works engage. This course centers on plays and films that are about their own production, or about the "backstage" realm of their own creation. They reflect on artistic construction, and/or their reception by the audience (through metadrama and other devices), to articulate a critical perspective on themselves as experiences and representations, even as we watch/consume them. Engaging fields of aesthetics, adaptation, and cultural studies, the course provides multiple ways to talk about relationships between representation and audiences, illusion and reality, in political, social and personal terms. Students develop their ability to read, write, discuss and think critically about issues that straddle scripted and unscripted worlds.
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THAR 120.301
MARCIA FERGUSON
Tuesday & Thursday 10:15 AM to 11:45 AM
Rooted in the system devised by Constantine Stanislavsky, but incorporating a wide variety of approaches, including improvisation, this course takes students step by step through the practical work an actor must do to live and behave truthfully on-stage. Beginning with relaxation and physical exercise, interactive games, and ensemble building, students then learn and put into practice basic acting techniques, including sensory work, the principles of action, objectives, given circumstances, etc. The semester culminates in the performance of a scene or scenes, most often from a play from the Realist tradition. This course strongly stresses a commitment to actor work and responsibility to one's fellow actors. Practical work is supplemented by readings from Stanislavsky and a variety of other acting theorists that may include Uta Hagen, Robert Cohen, Stella Adler, among others. Students are required to submit short essays over the course of the semester in response to the readings and in preparation for their final scene project.
ETHNOGRAPHIC FILMMAKING
EDUC 586 /ANTH 583
AMITANSHU DAS
This ethnographic methodology course considers filmmaking/videography as a tool in conducting ethnographic research as well as a medium for presenting academic research to scholarly and non-scholarly audiences. The course engages the methodological and theoretical implications of capturing data and crafting social scientific accounts/narratives in images and sounds. Students are required to put theory into practice by producing videos and films.  In service to that goal, students will read about ethnography (as a social scientific method and representational genre), learn and utilize ethnographic methods in fieldwork, watch films (to be analyzed for formal properties and implicit assumptions about culture/sociality), and acquire rigorous training in the history, theory,  skills and craft of digital filmmaking. This is an ABCS course, and students will produce short ethnographic films with students in Philadelphia high schools as part of a partnership project with the School District of Philadelphia. Due to the time needed for ethnographic film production, this is a year-long course series, which will meet in both the fall and in the spring semester as Community Youth Filmmaking (EDUC 752) .
Copyright © 2021 Center for Experimental Ethnography, UPenn, All rights reserved.


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