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CEE #30




As we near the end of another semester, and another year with the ever-mutating COVID, we are grateful and joyful for the ways we have been able to be together making work that imagines the new worlds we seek to bring into being!  We have been fortunate to have been able to host wonderful performers and writers who have pushed our students in new directions and challenged their own ways of working, and we are excited to share their end-of-semester offerings with all of you (see below).  We are also looking forward to next semester, when we will deepen our relationships with a number of Philadelphia-based cultural institutions, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), the African-American Museum of Philadelphia (AAMP), Usiloquy Dance Designs, and Air Devi.  We are working with PAFA and AAMP during the lead-up to their “Rising Sun” exhibit, developing podcast conversations with the artists and curators as part of Alissa Jordan’s class, “Contemporary Artists in Conversation” (and we will be excited to host Saya Woolfalk, one of the artists in the exhibit, during the fall 2022 semester).  Shaily Dadiala, Artistic Director of Usiloquy, has agreed to work with us on choreography for the staging of Amitav Ghosh’s parable “Jungle-nama” next semester, and Penn alum Devi Majeske will lend her musical talents to the production as well!  We also know that we are lucky to be in the company of an ever-expanding network of like-minded spaces.  During the American Anthropological Association meetings in Baltimore, I was honored to be part of a panel organized by Fiona McDonald, one of the co-founders of the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective and director of the Collaborative and Experimental Ethnography Lab at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus.  The panel brought together leaders of a number of experimental and multi-modal labs across North America to talk about the challenges and opportunities that have emerged as we have all attempted to reshape scholarship in our respective spaces.  As we look forward to the collaborations to come, we wish everyone a fantastic holiday season and a healthy beginning to 2022!!

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

Join us for our CEE Fellow Year-End Event "Mexican Psychotic ", an experimental film led by Ricardo Bracho, followed by a panel discussion with an exciting array of panelists on Dec 3rd at 5 pm.
Mexican Psychotic is an experimental video-in-progress on the life, art, and mythos of artist Martín Ramírez, who spent 30 years drawing beautiful works while incarcerated in California mental asylums. The film team includes Richardo Bracho as writer and director, Oludare Marcelle as lead editor/animator, Emily Dunlop as assistant editor, Nicholas Plante as assistant editor, and voiceover director.
The screening will take place at the Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum (it will also be live-streamed for remote audiences) followed by a discussion with CEE Fellow Ricardo A. Bracho and a panel of scholars and artists on Ramírez’s work and contemporary issues of incarceration, mental health, and artistry. The discussion panel will include Dr. Toorjo Ghose, Dr. Jennifer S. Ponce de León, James "Yaya" Hough, Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, and Aaron Alarcon-Bowen. MORE



Join us for our CEE Fellow Year-End Event "Affect Theatre",  a presentation followed by a discussion led by Cristiana Giordano and Greg Pierotti on Dec 6th at 5 pm. How does an ethnographer remain affected by worlds encountered after leaving the field of research? How does a theater maker build theatrical worlds from empirical research that conveys not only story, but also affective experiences? Affect Theatre is a thinking and acting space for experimenting with these questions. During this lecture presentations students will present brief theatrical episodes which they will then explore and analyze with spectators in a group feedback process. CEE Fellows Cristiana Giordano and Greg Pierotti will give a talk laying out the practices and the theory underlying their collaborative experiment and methodology.


Voudou Beats Across the Waters
Dec 7th 10 AM

Join the Center for Experimental Ethnography, WXPN, and Dr. Camee Maddox-Wingfield on Dec. 7 at 10am for a panel on Haitian Vodou inspirations and the roots of musical responses to social injustice, featuring sensational Haitian and Haitian American artists  Manzè Beaubrun (Boukman Eksperyans), Malou Beauvoir (Malou Beauvoir), and Richard Morse (RAM and IMAMOU). The event will be in English with simultaneous translation in Haitian Creole. Register now, and get familiar with a playlist of their powerful grooves before the events, including music video selections Jou Nou Revolte (The Day We Revolt) by Boukman Eksperyans; Fèy (Herbs/Leaves) by RAM; and Nwaye (Drown) by Malou Beauvoir. LEARN MORE





The 10th Annual Screening Scholarship Media Festival (SSMF) is now open for submissions. The Festival will be held on March 25th-26th, 2022 at the University of Pennsylvania. CAMRA invites submissions from scholars, activists, artists, filmmakers, and educators of all backgrounds to critically explore the theme of “Pause”.  CAMRA understands pause as mobility and immobility, as waiting, as rest and recuperation, but also as refusal, political strategy, and action. SSMF brings together a community of scholars, students, activists, artists, educators, and filmmakers of all backgrounds to critically explore these ideas. Submissions will be accepted in the following categories: film, audio, performance, interactive exhibit or installation, and research presentation. The submission system will be open until December 05, 2021. More information about the submissions process can be found at here. 

Any questions about the festival can be directed to


Slought and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce "Rotten Foundations, Dangerous Footholds," a series of demonstration projects confronting Scientific Racism in institutional spaces and the process of (un)becoming human, on display at Slought from December 9, 2021 to December 21, 2021. An opening event will take place on Thursday, December 9, 2021, at 4 pm beginning with a screening of "The Controversial Carleton Coon: Legacies of Scientific Racism in American Anthropology," a short film directed and produced by Aleia Manning and Jesus Pallares. This will be followed by informal remarks by Deborah A. Thomas and members of her introductory class "Anthropology, Race, and the Making of the Modern World." MORE
Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever
Presented by WXPN at Fringe Arts
Dec 10 & 11th 8:00PM

As part of its signature series KANAVAL: HAITIAN RHYTHMS & THE MUSIC OF NEW ORLEANS, public radio station WXPN presents this original project by Haitian-American singer-songwriter LEYLA McCALLA that explores the legacy of Radio Haiti-Inter, Haiti’s first privately owned Creole-speaking radio station, and the assassination of its owner, Jean Dominique, in 2000. The title is derived from a proverb used by Dominique to describe the spirit of Haiti’s marginalized poor in the face of violence and political oppression. MORE
Brooke O’Harra 
Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing  University of Pennsylvania
This month, we would like to spotlight Brook O’Harra, a new CEE Affiliate Faculty Member who will be co-teaching a course with CEE Faculty Fellow Amitav Ghosh and composer Ali Sethi in Spring 2022. Brooke O’Harra is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania. Her fields of interest include Japanese theater, experimental theater, serial drama, LGBTQ theater and performance, performance with live media, and contemporary visual art. Brooke is a professional theater director and an artist.  She was co-founder of the NYC based company The Theater of a Two-headed Calf and has developed and directed all 14 of Two-headed Calf’s productions including the OBIE Award-winning Drum of the Waves of Horikawa (2007 HERE Arts Center), It Cannot Be Called Our Mother but Our Graves a.k.a Macbeth (Soho Rep Lab 2008/9), Trifles (Ontological Hysteric Incubator 2010), and the opera project You, My Mother (2012 at La Mama ETC, 2013 in the River to River Festival). She is also a co-founder with Sharon Hayes of The Performance Intensive. MORE...
Courses in Spring 2021:
CEE & Affiliated Faculty Courses
Performing Parables: Ragas and Sagas of the Sundarban
Amitav Ghosh (CEE Faculty Fellow), Brooke K. O'Harra, & Ali Sethi

ANTH 179401  | ENGL 149401  |   FNAR 149401  | SAST 179401 |   THAR 253401

In this course writer Amitav Ghosh invites Penn students to engage his ongoing collaboration with the musician/performer Ali Sethi to stage his newest book Jungle Nama, alongside Director Brooke O'Harra. Ghosh's book Jungle Nama employs dwipdipoyar verse form and the popular folk tale of Bon Bibi the guardian spirit of the Sundarban to address the eroding ecosystem of the Sundarban. In this course students will work in a short intensive collaborative process with the artists to realize a lyric and musical performance of Jungle Nama. MORE
Sighting Black Girlhood 
Grace Sanders Johnson & Deborah A Thomas

ANTH 334401 |  AFRC334401 | AFRC634401
T 01:45 PM-04:45 PM

This course will investigate the relationships among women, gender, sexuality, and anthropological research. We will begin by exploring the trajectory of research interest in women and gender, drawing first from the early work on gender and sex by anthropologists like Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict; moving through the 1970s and 1980s arguments about gender, culture, and political economy; arriving at more current concerns with gender, race, sexuality, and empire. MORE
Contemporary Artists in Conversation: Reckoning and Repair
Alissa M. Jordan

ANTH 597-401 | ANTH 397-401
MW 10:15 AM-11:45 AM

This course considers contemporary art as  a complementary method of scholarship to ethnography, giving students hands on-experience in interviewing, oral history, and podcast production by hosting a series of conversations with contemporary artists, curators, and community organizations who are part of a transformative multi-site exhibit "Rising Sun–Artists and an Uncertain America," which is a collaboration between the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) and the African American Museum of Philadelphia (AAMP). MORE
Visual Legal Advocacy, Part II (Production and Post-Production)
Regina Austin

LAW 979-001  
W 4:30PM - 6:30PM

Visual Legal Advocacy will introduce students to the art of making short nonfiction advocacy films on behalf of actual individual clients and/or groups devoted to the advancement of the cause of social justice.  Instruction will track the steps in the production of a nonfiction or documentary film. MORE
Community Youth Filmmaking
Amitanshu Das

THUR 3:30-5:30 PM

This course focuses on how the filmmaking medium, and process can provide a means for engaging youth in ethnographically grounded civic action projects where they learn about, reflect on, and communicate to others about their issues in their schools and communities. Students receive advanced training in film and video for social change. A project-based service-learning course, students collaborate with Philadelphia high school students and community groups to make films and videos that encourage creative self-expression and represent issues important to youth, schools, and local communities. MORE

World Film History 1945-Present

Julia Alekseyeva
CIMS 102  | ENGL 091  |  ARTH 109   |   COML124
MW 3:30-5 PM

Focusing on movies made after 1945, this course allows students to learn and to sharpen methods, terminologies, and tools needed for the critical analysis of film. Beginning with the cinematic revolution signaled by the Italian Neo-Realism (of Rossellini and De Sica), we will follow the evolution of postwar cinema through the French New Wave (of Godard, Resnais, and Varda), American movies of the 1950s and 1960s (including the New Hollywood cinema of Coppola and Scorsese), and the various other new wave movements of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (such as the New German Cinema).

Cinema and Socialism

Julia Alekseyeva

CIMS 310  | ENGL 310  |  ARTH 381 | EALC 104 | REES 269
M 12-3pm

Films from socialist countries are often labeled and dismissed as “propaganda” in Western democratic societies. This course complicates this simplistic view, arguing for the value in understanding the ties between socialist governments, the cinematic arts, and everything in between.

The Chinese Body and the Production of Space in Chinatown
Kenneth Lum

ASAM 313
T 1:45 PM – 4:45 PM

The localization of the Chinese throughout the Americas within Chinatown precincts was also subject to representational imaginings that were negotiated through the lens of civic planning. This course will study the often-fraught negotiation between representation and planning. The hyper-urbanization of China over the past several decades has radically altered traditional conceptions of public space in China. Mass migration from rural to urban areas has meant very high population densities in Chinese cities. 
We are excited to invite scholars who work in multiple modalities to submit their work to the pre-conference, to be held in person at the American University of Paris on May 26, 8am – 4pm. If you engage in research-creation, creative commons projects, interactive data visualization, computational art, performance, or digital humanities and social sciences, for example, or in any classical medium such as film, video, radio, movement, or installation, we welcome your submission.
 Abstracted Migrations: Ideas on Embodied Motion
A Conversation with Saya Woolfalk and Kalia Brooks,
moderated by Deborah A. Thomas

On November 9, 2021 artist Saya Woolfalk and curator Kalia Brooks presented in conjunction with the exhibition Abstracted Migrations: Ideas on Embodied Motion, on view in The Galleries at Moore this fall. Following their presentation, a discussion was moderated by Deborah A. Thomas. This event was a collaboration between The Galleries at Moore and Moore’s Socially Engaged Art MFA and MA programsMORE

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