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CEE #24



The sun peeked out a little last week, in time to grace the Ethnography Forum and the Black Spatial Relics convening with some added warmth! I especially enjoyed Germaine Ingram’s closing keynote for Black Spatial Relics, in which she spoke about her vocal practice, and about the importance of staying attuned to the silences, to listen to what the song asks of her (indeed, what it needs from her) in order to tell “a true story.” This kind of deep listening also suffuses improvisational practice, about which we’re reading in the “Kinesthetic Anthropology” class this week. Improvisation, Danielle Goldman argues, is also a mode of attunement – to power relations, to aesthetic traditions, to social norms. It is a politically powerful and collaborative mode of making oneself ready. This attunement brims with potentiality, and seems like an apt metaphor for this moment. We have many opportunities to convene – virtually – this month, many chances to stay attuned to each other, and to listen to the communications embedded within silences.

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

Dr. Krystal Strong is an assistant professor in the Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division. Her research and teaching focus on student and community activism, the cultural and political power of youth, new media and popular culture, and the role of education as a site of political struggle with a geographic focus on Africa and the African Diaspora. She teaches courses in the Education, Culture, and Society and International Educational Development programs that focus on global youth cultures, ethnography and qualitative research methods, decolonizing education, and grassroots community activism. As a scholar and active organizer in the city of Philadelphia, Dr. Strong brings a commitment to supporting local communities, and to bringing the lessons of activism to bear on her scholarship and pedagogy.  We recently spoke to Krystal about some of her current projects.

Krystal Strong is a native Philadelphian who grew up in the Francisville section of Fairmount, studied in the West coast and lived in various part of the world. When we spoke, she described the beauty of coming home as an academic, and about how being at Penn has opened up and required that she create space for all the work that she does in her community.  Having returned to Philadelphia, she was disoriented by the intense gentrification she encountered, and she felt it was critical to do the memory work that was needed to remember what was being erased by these processes, both for herself and her famiy, and for Black Philadelphians more generally.

One of the catalysts that brought her to develop the Remember Black Philadelphia Project was the trip she took with her father to the location of his alma mater, which has now been transformed into luxury apartments.  Her father played in the West Philadelphia high school band, and her grandmother owned a beauty salon around the corner from West Philadelphia High. She recalled how the community had pressed for the school to be renovated, but despite strong and organized alumni opposition, the old building (which had opened in 1912 as West Philadelphia’s first secondary school) was repurposed by a Brooklyn-based development company.  Students were relocated to a new building at 49th and Chestnut in 2011, and the community lost a landmark.

These family memories were further activated in 2016, when Strong attended a MOVE event.  She remembered walking up to a table that displayed 35-year old newspapers documenting the struggles of MOVE and Mumia Abu-Jamal. She was struck by the love and care that went into maintaining these newspapers, which had been saved by a community elder in a repurposed bedding set.  This act of archiving demonstrated to her that important memory work was being taken on by the community, and the seeds of a new project were born.  Krystal began collaborating with Jennifer Garcon, a digital librarian at the Price Lab to assist Philadelphia community members in digitizing and preserving their artifacts, and in recording their oral histories.  The resources of the Remember Black Philadelphia Project have also been extended to the MOVE community to create a counter-archive, for which she recently received a two-year grant from the Mellon Foundation that will fund the collection of MOVE histories, their political work and their fight against state targeting.  The counter-archive will culminate in a pop up multimodal exhibit that will assemble the oral histories and artifacts through immersive technologies to create a layered understanding of the role of MOVE in the Black freedom struggle. 

We are very excited about Krystal’s projects!
“Towards an Acoustemology of Afro-Cuban Rap”
by Pablo D. Herrera Veitia
March 2nd  2021 l 5:30 pm EST
What is the nature of Afro-Cuban rap music? As ethnographers, what tools should we use to best grasp its meaning in the context of Cuba? Cuba's notion as a non-racial society dates back to our nation’s wars for independence from Spain in the late 1800s. After 1959, the Cuban socialist government declared itself an heir of that raceless society ideology to solidify popular unity under the socialist revolution. By 1994, with the dollar's re-insertion as legal tender in Cuban territory, blacks found themselves once more at the bottom of society. In Havana, using rap music to communicate how the crisis affected them, Afro-Cuban youths drove the racial debate into the public sphere. This presentation will argue that their songs must be explored as indexes of citizen-citizen and citizen-state exchanges and as sonic elaborations of an Afro-Cuban nation that is geographically inexistent. 
Wolf Humanities Participatory Workshop + Performance
March 3rd 2021, 1PM + 5PM EST  

Participatory Dance & Choreography Workshop on "Choice"

March 3, 2021 at 1PM



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 at 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. 

"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 15th at 5:30 PM EST
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.
Birthing & Refusal | March 19th at Noon


Join us on Thursday, March 18th  at Noon for a virtual Third Thursday event, where Dr. Alissa Jordan, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Experimental Ethnography will be in conversation with  Carmelle Moise, Nurse-Midwife and Board Member  at MamaBaby Haiti, discussing collaborative  research-activism, birthing, and acts of refusal and resistance against hospital detention.

Dr. Alissa Jordan is a multimodal cultural anthropologist who received her Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida in 2016. Her research focuses on questions of bodily being, bodily security, and creativity across field sites in rural Haiti, urban Ghana, and in social spaces in virtual and augmented reality. She investigates these questions using methods of experimental writing, collaborative nonlinear filmmaking, sensory mapping, photography, museum exhibition, and digital experimentations. She is currently researching women's experiences of birthing, and care as resistance, in the context of hospitals that imprison mothers, infants, and other patients for debt. 


Clear, Build, Release: A Black Feminist Movement Lab Friday, March 19th 4-6PM EST


Limbs slice across, clearing away the dank residue of grief. Heart rates climb, building an ecstatic fire of action. Torsos arch and collapse into stillness, releasing the song of a possible future. This collaborative workshop draws on the twin genealogies of Black feminist thought and diasporic dance traditions to move from the abstract Black body to the prism of Black embodiments. Join us as we experiment with movement, gesture, and sensation as practical epistemologies of Black freedom. Come ready to play.

Led by:

Aimee Meredith Cox is a cultural anthropologist, writer, and movement artist. She is currently an associate professor in the Anthropology and African American Studies Departments at Yale University. Her first book, Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke 2015) has won several awards.

Jasmine E. Johnson is a writer, teacher, and dancer from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Savannah Shange is an urban anthropologist who works at the intersections of race, place, sexuality, and the state. She is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz with research interests in circulated and lived forms of blackness, ethnographic ethics, Afro-pessimism, and queer of color critique. Savannah has been a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow, a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Fellow, and a Point Scholar.

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 fundamental objective of the CAMRA Mellon Fellowship Program is to increase the national pipeline of undergraduate students who complete Ph.D. programs in core fields that engage with both the theoretical and practical underpinnings of multimedia research, interrogating the politics of representation and power at play in visual scholarship and media, as well as harnessing the potential of visual methods to democratize the production of knowledge in academic spaces. Through a three-year pipeline, the program aims to increase the presence of individuals from underrepresented groups pursuing Ph.D. programs on college and university faculties, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities. Learn more and apply here

Submit your films to Blackstar Film Festival they celebrate their 10th anniversary!


Films must be directed by a person who identifies as Black, as indigenous, or as a person of color (POC), from anywhere in the world. Work must feature persons of color or tell a story of Black, indigenous, or POC experience.


  • January 15, 2021 – Submissions Open
  • February 10, 2021 – Early Deadline
  • March 8, 2021 – Preferred Deadline
  • March 31, 2021 – Final Deadline
  • May 3, 2021 – Notification Date
Meeting Ricardo Bracho
For our first Third Thursday of Spring Semester 2021, we met Ricardo Bracho our fall Fellow who was in discussion with Jennifer Ponce de León about his work.  Deborah Thomas opened the discussion comments on Ricardo's work. 
Ricardo began by giving us an understanding of his grounding in Marxist/Leninist theory and how it serves as a compass for his work...  Read More 
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