Any of you who know me know that I obsess about questions having to do with witnessing and repair. In what ways are we attuned to our contemporary moment, and how do we bear witness to its antecedents and legacies? What forms of repair are necessary and possible, and what new worlds might we build? We are now six and a half months into COVID-quarantine, having counted over 200,000 deaths in the United States alone. Wildfires rage along the west coast, accountability for police violence globally remains elusive, and debates degenerate into incoherent shouting matches (and it’s not even Halloween!). If there were ever a time we needed creative experiments it is now. As we move through a new semester in new ways, let us make sure to care for each other in inspiring and sustaining ways, to be response-able (and here I’m thinking with Avery Gordon) for each other’s development, and to chart new directions for an as yet unknowable future. Happy October, and hope to see you on the 15th for Third Thursday!!
Deborah A. Thomas
R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology
Director, Center for Experimental Ethnography
PANDEMIC PEDAGOGIES | October 15th, Noon
Join us for our October Third Thursday event, "Pandemic Pedagogies: Teaching Creative and Embodied Practices at a Distance" on October 15th at Noon. We bring together CEE faculty in a public conversation about multimodal education in the current climate: What challenges have emerged in teaching performance and media-based courses remotely during the pandemic? What have we learned about "liveness", about collaboration, about privacy, and about intimacy?
Participants John L. Jackson, Jr. (Dean, Annenberg School for Communication), Sharon Hayes (Weitzman School of Design), Jasmine Johnson (Africana Studies, Annenberg School for Communication), and Amitanshu Das (GSE Films) will address these questions and others in conversation with participants.
WEAPONIZING RESISTANCE | Feminist Filmmaking and the Representation of Muslim Women
Photo by Nida Mehoob
In this virtual masterclass on Saturday, October 17 at 11:00 am EST Ethnocine-Haverford Artists-in-Residence Seemab Gul and Nida Mehboob will explore the important role of feminism in Muslim countries, the often exploitative representation of South Asian/Afghan women in western media, and the ethics of collaboration and participation for documentary filmmakers, photographers and visual anthropologists.
The artists residency is a collaboration between VCAM and Ethnocine Collective, a group of visual anthropologists and filmmakers who push the boundaries of documentary storytelling through decolonial and intersectional feminist practice. The residency aims to strengthen the burgeoning field of feminist ethnographic filmmaking by supporting two underrepresented artists to claim the time, space, and a critically engaged community to move the needle forward on works-in-progress.
Organized by Ethnocine Collective & Haverford's VCAM, Co-sponsored by the Center for Experimental Ethnography and the Brown Girls Doc Mafia.
Kelly Writers House would like to announce the winter 2021 Kelly Writers House Fellows, Hilton Als (essayist/memorist/theorist, theater critic) Gabrielle Hamilton (chef, writer, food memoirist) & Erica Hunt (poet, activist). Funded by a grant from Paul Kelly, the Kelly Writers House Fellows program enables us to realize two unusual goals. We want to make it possible for the youngest writers and writer-critics to have sustained contact with authors of great accomplishment in an informal atmosphere. We also want to resist the time-honored distinction -- more honored in practice than in theory -- between working with eminent writers on the one hand and studying literature on the other.
If you are a current Penn student and might like to join the KWH Fellows Seminar—reading, discussing & meeting these three amazing writers—contact Lily Applebaum at email@example.com
Month in Review
3RD THURSDAY | Meet the Fellows
On Sep. 17th, scholars, students, and members of the public joined together for the first virtual monthly lunch gathering of the semester. We introduced our Spring 2020 fellows, Christina Knight and Steven Feld, and they discussed their academic, creative, and ethnographic endeavors. Dr. Feld described how his undergraduate work in sound, text, and film work led him to pursue avenues for legitimizing interdisciplinary and multimodal work in the academy, while Dr. Knight her academic, creative, and teaching efforts at the intersection of art and identity.
THE ORLANDO PROJECT |A Student Film Project
Ensemble/Creators: Whitney Barrett, Olivia Demberg, Adam Ritter, Susset Tamayo, Matthias Volker II Director/Editor: Marcia Ferguson II Original Music: Marcia Ferguson & Adam Ritter
From the beginning of the semester through the start of spring break, the students in Dr. Marcia Ferguson’s class at the University of Pennsylania, “The Edinburgh Project,” read works by Virginia Woolf and rehearsed a production of Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of Woolf’s classic novel Orlando. The production was to premiere in April on campus, then travel to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. Their rehearsals with Ferguson and their training with Blanka Zizka, Artistic Director of the Wilma Theater and the 2020 artistic resident for the Theatre Arts program, were cut short by the pandemic.
With the University moving to remote learning and the Edinburgh Fringe ultimately canceled for 2020, it was clear the course would not be able to proceed as planned. Looking for a way to build on this initial work within a new format, Dr. Ferguson gave the group a new assignment: weekly video projects in which the individual members of the class reflect on Ruhl’s play, the Virginia Woolf novel on which it was based, and their experience of the pandemic. The resulting film blends distinctive imagery, original music, and first-person accounts.
PERIOD POVERTY | Multimodal Menstruation Research Update Amidst a Pandemic
Shelby Davies, MD, is a pediatrician at CHOP and a recipient of the 2020 CEE Graduate Student Funding.
While the coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the field of research, it has in many ways brought menstrual health into a more national spotlight. As many menstrual health advocates have alliteratively put forth, periods do not stop for pandemics. Menstruators with means may have been able to sufficiently supply themselves with menstrual products during the pandemic, but many menstruators, especially those facing unemployment and school closure, are faced with new barriers such as higher prices and supply shortages. Now more than ever youth are joining the national dialogue. They are talking about their periods and this once taboo topic has now become part of mainstream conversation. Furthermore, we know that adolescents were used to communicating largely through virtual media prior to the pandemic but they have adapted to the new normal with increased use of technology as a means of social contact. We know that teens now have fewer school commitments and less access to extracurricular and social opportunities, and many have turned to screen entertainment and social media as a natural solution to the challenges of quarantine .Keep Reading
EVENTS OF INTEREST IMultimodal Programs
Combahee Experimental: Black Women's Experimental Filmmaking October 7th, 6 PM EST
A film series of three screenings and conversations celebrating the work of Black women filmmakers and their unique cinematic contributions to contemporary visual culture, will be presented virtually on October 7, 22 and 29 at 6:00 p.m. The series is curated by award-winning multimedia artist Simone Leigh and Black feminist theorist of visual culture and contemporary art Tina Campt, with guests Julie Dash, Angela Davis, Barbara McCullough, Nuotama Bodomo, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, Garrett Bradley, and Rungano Nyoni. Presented online via Zoom Webinar by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University, the series is free and open to the public and cosponsored by the Department of Art and Archaeology.
Imaged by History Thursday, Oct. 29th, 1PM EST
Virtually join VIAD--University of Johannesburg and colleagues around the world in the virtual event "Reading the Moment Session #2" on October 29th at 1PM EST.
The program will consist of a series of dialogues among photographers, artists, scholars, writers, and critics, whose work helps theorise, document, challenge, and strategise against institutional and systemic practices of exclusion. This session calls to account the normative imaging of white, patriarchal, heteronormative history. We ask: how have aesthetics been used to veil imperial ventures, capitalist violence, violence against women, and liberal racism? How are images, and the ways in which we make images informed by these lineages of power? How are photo editors, publications, and photography institutions imbricated in continuing practices that continue histories of violence?
Panelists: Benjamin Chesterton, Candice Jansen, Sarah Sentilles & Asim Rafiqui - with M. Neelika Jayawardane
⇢ Register Here
COMBAHEE EXPERIMENTAL Oct 7th, 22nd, & 29th
Check out a three-part online film series and filmmaker discussion set called, Combahee Experimental: Black Women's Experimental Filmmaking, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts' Program in Visual Arts. Co-curated by Simone Leigh and Tina Campt, "Combahee Experimental" kicks off this coming Wednesdaywith a conversation and screening with Angela Davis, Julie Dash, Barbara McCulloughand Zeinabu irene Davis.
Racial Transparency in the Embodied Therapeutic Encounter Sunday, Oct. 18th 3PM EST
Dr. Kesha Fikes (Somatic Trauma Therapist & Anthropologist) will be presenting Racial Transparency in the Embodied Therapeutic Encounter at the Embodied Conference.
This presentation – existential and experiential – addresses the persistence of race in the therapeutic encounter. The intention is to examine tensions between the following somatic time-spaces: 1) the resonant, intimate, reciprocating field that is a focus in embodied therapeutic work; and 2) the broader, historic colonial field within which such resonant intimacy exists. Drawing from Frantz Fanon’s understanding of race as hierarchical recognition that roots the colonial dynamic, and Judith Butler’s treatment of gender as a norming process brought to life through repeated interactions, we consider the danger in neglecting sanctioned, racialized binds/dependencies that occur between/among same and different identities in therapy. To this end, addressed is the importance of continuous, relational tracking of the ‘decontextualized’ projections that make-up "the water", as Menakem highlights, the effects of which repeatedly center white supremacy - and the interrelated social norms, around sexuality, gender, class, etc. that support it - in the therapeutic narrative. Explored is the building of a layered, somatic practice that can track, in real time, 1) racisms that are expressed and embodied in the therapeutic relational field, and 2) beatific, somatic states of connection that dialogue with what is unspoken in the therapeutic field. This practice presupposes mature, secure attachment in the therapeutic relationship and racial discomfort capacity experience by both practitioner/therapist and client, alike. The presentation shares tools with social justice-informed practitioners/ therapists that can support transparent, responsible, spacious holding of our violent histories, as well as our somatic participation in their slow, messy unfolding. And, we not only consider the practice of what I call 'reciprocal historic repair', but the therapeutic field becomes a space for imagining, enacting and even challenging the potentiality in mutual unboundedness.? Free and open to the public
Come December, our visiting fellowswill be hosting virtual events to conclude their time at Penn. Christina Knight will be sharing a Knightworks piece called, "doomsday" on December 3rd at 5:00 PM and Steven Feld will be presenting a piece titled, "Hearing Heat" on December 8th at 5:00 PM. Both events will be free and open to the public. Stay tuned for more information, registration, and Zoom links for these exciting experiences.
DOCUMENTARY HISTORY PROJECT FOR YOUTH |Dec 2nd, 6:00 PM
Please join Scribe Video Center to celebrate new works from the 2020 Documentary History Project for Youth. Examining the broad definition of “leader”, this year our young filmmakers have applied their talents to explore and document the many ways leadership manifests across the city of Philadelphia. Exploring themes across the past, present and future, each film reflects today’s nationwide momentum for immediate change, justice and action. For more information and registration, visit the Scribe website.