For our first Third Thursday of Spring Semester 2021, CEE opened with introductions to both Reggie Wilson and Jenny Chio, the Spring Semester Faculty Fellows with CEE. Jenny offered preliminary reflections on what it has been like to return to teaching remotely, and the way that priorities in teaching have shifted during COVID-19 and quarantine.
Reggie Wilson opened with comments about what being a "lay anthropologist" means to him in his artistic practices, connecting his anthropological approach to reading Zora Neale Hurston. While reading Hurston as a student, Reggie began asking questions about what it means to examine cultures and communities that one is also a part of. He reflected on his virtual travel back and forth between home sites, like Milwaukee, and the place of his work in New York, given the exigencies of COVID. He completed his comments with a reflection on the ways that places where you have been shape who you are and what you are.
Deb followed Reggie's comments with a provocation: what is the relation between people and place, and what holds that kind of relationship together? Jenny responded by turning to locality as an important source of relation, in contrast to nation or country. She spoke of the need for space to define such relationships ina way that is both critical and empathetic, critical and supportive.
Reggie responded by pointing to the fact that personhood and place are concepts that are both "infinite".. They come to play out in "who we are" and "what we are trained to do". The influence of locality, of place, is not small in who we are. Finally, he pointed out that if we can consider people to be the body, or the bodies that we are and we inhabit, then place, or specifically choreographic space, is that "where the body does its things". Also, Reggie drew attention to the fact that place is not merely a physical site outside the body, but can be sites within the body---place can be within one's head, or a specific spot on a wrist.
Jenny then turned to the question of portraiture asking, "what is the place that gets created in the contact between person and place?" and "how do people and objects come to make a place within the realm of portraiture?"
In the question and answer session, Ore asked more about Reggie's approach to negotiating field research and positionality. How can field workers navigate the pressures to make non-linear explorations more logical and linear for the sake of grant writing, funding, and arts support? Reggie shared more of his process in response, explaining how he begins with a research period, intensive site visits and site "feels", and then gathering in the space with his company in order to begin exploring movement.
Jenny Chio reflected on what it has been like to see differences develop in her relationships between towns and between times. She spoke of how she was introduced to a particular site for her PhD, only to watch her relationship "unravel" and change over the years as priorities shifted, and as the same level of "in-touchness" with the field was lost. As a result of this, she has recently been thinking about the way that we can preserve and nurture relationships across difference and distance, and the kind of work that this takes as the length of time spent in research changes so dramatically over the course of one's career.
Jasmine Blanks-Jones posed a question about personhood to the speakers, asking for comments about how and where personhood is located at a collective level---if it doesn't just reside in a body but also between bodies, what does this mean? And finally, at the end of the meetup, Va Bene Elikem Fiatsi posed a question to Reggie about what mutations and relationships are implied by the term "Africans in the Americas". Reggie responded by turning attention tot the importance of local specifities and places in the lives of artists and people, and the critical process of "local" sites in shaping who people are.
On December 21st 2020, audiences joined undergraduate and graduate students in Dr. Kristina Lyons's course, ANTH 310 Transdisciplinary Environmental Humanities, as well as their collaborators in Colombia. During this event, they presented the digital platform they have been building throughout the semster. The platform focuses on four environmental justice struggles from the perspective of communities and citizen-led initiatives in Bogotá, Chocó, and Colombia's páramos and Amazon. The project was funded by the CEE and is the part of the keystone course for the new environmental humanities minor and was cross-listed with LALS.
Wahzmah Osman is an Assistant Professor in Temple University’s Department of Media Studies and Production. Her book analyzes the impact of international funding and cross-border media flows on the national politics of Afghanistan. Her research is rooted in feminist media ethnographies that focus on the political economy of global media industries and the regimes of representation and visual culture they produce. Her critically acclaimed documentary, "Postcards from Tora Bora," has been shown in festivals around the world.
The Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication is proud to present A CARGC Book Talk Television and the Afghan Culture Wars: Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists featuring Wazhmah Osman, Temple University with Discussant Deborah A. Thomas, University of Pennsylvania.
Thursday, December 10 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Experimental Ethnography, Cinema and Media Studies, Middle East Center, and South Asia Center at the University of Pennsylvania
“It’s after the end of the world, don’t you know that yet?”
– Sun Ra
How do you archive something that hasn’t happened yet? What would an archive of the end of the world look like?
On December 3rd at 5 PM EST, Center for Experimental Ethnography fellow Christina Knight and choreographer Jessi Knight of knightworks dance theater discussed their forthcoming short film, “doomsday: field notes,” a fictional work documenting a mysterious set of ritual practices discovered by an anthropologist from the future. In the film, fragments of dance, glimpses of community building, and invocations of black feminist writing reveal a “doomsday church” invested in charting a black future. For this conversation, knightworks shared their creative and collaborative process, screen clips of the work-in-progress, and discussed their investments in the black speculative.
For our November Third Thursday event, "Memorializing Otherwise" on November 19th at Noon, we joined Ken Lum, Deborah Anzinger, and Gabrielle Goliath in discussion about monumentalization and questions around intimacy and embodiment.
Is it possible to publicly narrate the past, and document the present, in ways that move beyond permanence and monumentalization? What would it mean to think in terms of materiality not in relation to landscape but instead in terms of embodiment?
Participants Ken Lum, Deborah Anzinger, and Gabrielle Goliath addressed these questions and others in conversation with participants. Gabrielle Goliath drew from her work "Elegy 7" which can be viewed here.
As always, Third Thursdays are free and open to the public
Feminist Filmmaking and the Representation of Muslim Women
Photo by Nida Mahoob
In this virtual masterclass on Saturday, October 17 at 11:00 am EST Ethnocine-Haverford Artists-in-Residence Seemab Gul and Nida Mehboob explored 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.
Free and open to the public
Teaching Embodied and Creative Practices at a Distance
On October 15th, scholars, students, and members of the public joined together for our second Third Thursday gathering of the semester. We were privileged to discuss the course adjustments made in light of the pandemic, and lessons that CEE-Affiliated Faculty, John J. Jackson, Sharon Hayes, Jasmine Johnson, and Amitanshu Das have learned from them. Guiding questions included:
What challenges have emerged in teaching performance and media-based courses remotely during the pandemic?
In this conversation, Sharon Hayes highlighted the ways she has been "prioritizing presence" throughout the course of the virtual semester, and Jasmine Johnson echoed this sentiment as she continues to navigate the "deep intimacy between constraint and possibility" that the pandemic has presented. The panelists emphasized how the pandemic has inspired them to find new ways to inject energy into what they do as instructors. We look forward to continued conversations about prioritizing "liveness" and promoting collaboration in remote multimodal explorations.
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.
ETHNOGRAPHIC FILMMAKING: A SCREENING OF FINAL PROJECTS FROM THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA + GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION PROJECT
How do you continue making a film when the access, plans, and conditions underlying it suddenly dissolve? Students in Amitanshu Das's class grappled with this question last semester when, in the midst of creating documentaries with/of students across Philadelphia highschools, the COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt stop to both on-site filming and the school programs featured in the films. This month we are screening their films, and will be following up in July with conversations with the students about their process and their experience remotely and collaboratively editing films during this time of physical distancing.
In the SDP (School District of Philadelphia)-GSE (Graduate School of Education) Penn Film Program, students learn about ethnographic filmmaking by making films in the community. The program is led by founder Amitanshu Das (Senior Fellow and Director at the Penn GSE and the Annenberg School for Communication) with the Ethnographic Filmmaking courses taught by Das and Kathleen Hall. In the fall, Penn students first learn filmmaking and are introduced to ethnographic principles, approaches and methods. Planning for this year's program started more than a year ago in Spring 2019, when Philadelphia high schools were invited to apply to be one of three selected schools, finally resulting in Sayre Highschool, Girls High, and the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts being chosen
Amitanshu (Amit) Das is a senior fellow and director at Penn GSE and the Annenberg School for Communication. He has produced broadcast documentaries, filmmaking courses, workshops, and an Academically-Based Community Service filmmaking program in collaboration with Philadelphia’s public schools, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Through coursework and related initiatives, Mr. Das has provided in-depth film training to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. He established and currently leads the School District of Philadelphia (SDP)-Penn GSE Film Project. A central component of this project is a year-long course co-taught with Dr. Kathleen Hall and supported by grants from the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Teams of Penn students are first trained in filmmaking and then collaborate with Philadelphia high school students to produce films on their schools, local communities, and personal lives. SDP-Penn GSE films have been broadcast on PSTV Comcast Philadelphia Channel 52 in 2016 and 2017.
"Motherless Child" features Vince Anthony on vocals, Guthrie Ramsey on keyboards, and is produced by Guthrie Ramsey and engineered by Doug Raus.
This track is drawn from the new album by Guthrie Ramsey (Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music & CEE Affiliated Faculty UPENN) This project is dedicated to Rev. Dr. Leslie Callahan and Annabelle Callahan who have created a place to dream of a radical freedom that’s grounded in love at the St. Paul’s Baptist Church, Philadelphia
These films are from Scribe Video Center's Precious Places Community History Project in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Precious Places is a community oral history project inviting members of the Philadelphia region's many neighborhoods to document the buildings, public spaces, parks, landmarks and other sites that hold the memories of our communities and define where we live. Precious Places teaches the video production process to participating groups, fostering projects authored by those who intimately know the featured neighborhoods.
Conceived as a way to allow neighborhood groups to celebrate their unique histories and as a tool to address current-day concerns, the Precious Places video documentaries explore the rich stories of our communities, the memories, and stories held in public spaces and community landmarks. They record community histories and help define where we live at a time when so many of the city's memories are undergoing so much change (Precious Places description from Scribe.Org 2020).
SCHEDULE OF SUMMER 2020 SCREENINGS
WE ONE, THE LIFE AND LOVE OF NORRIS HOMES
(2019, 10:49 min)
by Residents and Friends of Norris Homes in North Philadelphia 2019
We One: The Love and Life of Norris Homes. This film documents the history of a North Philadelphia public housing community affected by federal policy and is told from the perspective of former residents who lived at Norris going back to its earliest days in the 1950s.
PLENA AND BOMBA AT THE PUERTO RICAN INSTITUTE OF MUSIC
April 27-May 4
(2019, 09:54 min)
by Instituto Puertorriqueño de
Música/Puerto Rican Institute of Music
Plena and Bomba at the Puerto Rican Institute of Music profiles the director and instructor of PRIM, Alberto Pagán-Ramírez, and his students, united by their love for Puerto Rican music and its deeply historical musical traditions, particularly Plena and Bomba music.
BUILD YOUR OWN DOOR -- ATKINSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
(2018, 14:40 min)
by the Hayti Historical Society 2019
In 1936, despite the ravages of segregation in Coatesville, PA, Dr. Whittier Cinclair Atkinson faced extraordinary challenges to build and successfully operate his own hospital. (00:13:10)
WHERE ART LIVES
(2018, 10:42 min)
by Paul Robeson House and the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance in West Philadelphia. 2018
Inspired by Paul Robeson, a man who used his artistic voice as an instrument against racism and oppression all over the world, the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance/Paul Robeson House & Museum from its namesake to its founding and its community programming symbolizes the man.
BETHEL BURYING GROUND
May 18-May 25
(2018, 11:21 min)
by Bethel Burying Ground Production Team
An abandoned burial space, once owned by the historic Mother Bethel AME church, where more than 5,000 Black people were interred starting in 1810, was discovered. This is both an story of the struggle to reclaim the overlooked history of Black people in colonial Philadelphia, but also a story of the organizing, coalition building, and strategy employed by community members intent on preserving and memorializing what they termed as, "the ancestors of the African Diaspora.”
PLAYING IN THE WRECK
May 25-June 1
(2019, 09:15 min)
by Grays Ferry Civic Association
The 102-year old Vare Recreation Center, a decaying landmark in the Gray's Ferry neighborhood of South Philly, is a beacon of youth programming for a community navigating its own unique challenges and triumphs.
RESILIENT ROOTS COMMUNITY FARM
(2019, 09:13 min)
Resilient Roots in East Camden was started as an intergenerational project between Vietnamese elder refugees and multi-ethnic youth in 2012. In this film, voices from the Resilient Roots family, community members, students, elders capture their history of Camden and give testimony to the importance of community control of land and schools.
Join us this week in watching We One, the Love and Life of Norris Homes by members of the Norris Homes community. It documents the history of a North Philadelphia public housing community affected by federal policy and is told from the perspective of former residents who lived at Norris going back to its earliest days in the 1950’s. The film will be available for the next seven days, until Monday the 27th of April.
This digital exhibit reprises the live listening event. Experiments in Audio Ethnography features the work of six student-creators in the course: Florence Madenga, Austin Fisher, Armaghan Fakhraeirad, Juliet Glazer, Jacob Nussbaum, and Pablo Aguilera del Castillo.
CEE Fellows Emily Carris and Wayne Modest
In Spring 2020, the Center for Experimental Ethnography is co-sponsoring visiting artist Arielle Julia Brown. Brown is a cultural producer and social and civic practice theatre artist.
During her residence, Brown will continue developing her work Fallawayinto, a performance installation about Donna Booker, a Black trans woman activist. Concurrently, she will spend time developing the second iteration of Black Spatial Relics, a residency program for performance makers about slavery, justice and freedom. Brown will also mentor undergraduate students working at the intersection of slavery and gender studies, and present her work at an APC seminar.
Brown is interested in how cultural institutions and arts initiatives can facilitate social justice and cultural equity through the championing of culturally specific performance.
Emerging from her work and research around U.S. slavery, racial terror and justice, Brown is committed to supporting and creating Black performance work that commands imaginative and material space for social transformation. In service of this work, Brown’s practice is necessarily multidisciplinary as it traverses cultural producing, cultural strategy, performance making, dramaturgy, public history and performance curation. Brown has received various awards and fellowships for her work. She is most recently a 2018 MAP Fund awardee for her collaborative work, Remember2019.
Above text reproduced from original Penn SAS announcement here.
The Documentaries & the Law lecture series on Media and the First Amendment, sponsored by Stephanie Abrutyn L’91, will consider the impact of the first amendment in documentaries and modern media.
This year’s lecture will be a Dialogue On Demagoguery and Free Speech between Professor Patricia Roberts-Miller, Professor and Director of the University Writing Center, Department of Rhetoric, The University of Texas at Austin and Professor Seth Kreimer, Kenneth W. Gemmill Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.
Demagoguery has been a frequent topic of American documentary films. Demagoguery is also seen as posing a threat to news media around the world today. But what precisely is “demagoguery”? Where does the power of its appeal of populism and irrational prejudice come from?
American demagoguery has a “peculiar” relationship to the First Amendment. Freedom of speech allows demagoguery to develop, yet free speech is generally among its targets. Nonetheless, a democratic society that pursues a political praxis of robust debate and disagreement is best able to fend off and recover from demagoguery’s polarization and factionalism. Can we trust the First Amendment to right the ship of state if it is overtaken by demagoguery and bring about a return to democratic deliberation?
Professor Roberts-Miller, a distant relative of Penn Law’s own Justice Owen J. Roberts, is the author of Demagoguery and Democracy, a pocket-size primer from Experiment Books. Professor Seth Kreimer is a constitutional law scholar who has represented plaintiffs in a range of constitutional litigation.
Held in GITTIS 214 | HAAGA CLASSROOM on Feb 20 at 5:00-7:30 PM
When Philadelphia-born bassist and bandleader Christian McBride arrived in New York in 1989 as a Juilliard student, he was the “Godchild of the Groove” with unlimited potential. Today, with over 300 recordings as a sideman and 11 critically- acclaimed albums as a leader, he now reigns supreme as the “Lord of the Lower Frequencies.” He’s the influential and ubiquitous bassist of his generation, as evidenced by his quintet Inside Straight, his big band, his trio and his work with everybody from James Brown, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis to Sting, The Roots, Bruce Hornsby and Paul McCartney.
Following Emily Carris's presentation, dr. Prof. Wayne Modest began by introducing his current project as the Director of the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC). He began his talk with an insightful provocation: “What happens to a history of design if we look outside the West...or teach a history of photography starting in 1842 in Jamaica rather than one starting in 1839 in Europe?” Wayne then drew attention to the histories that remain to be written, and the voices that remain to speak, Wayne argued that ethnographic objects in these collections carry within them ways of thinking history and write history otherwise. Throughout his presentation, Wayne highlighted that decolonization also requires that we challenge the taken-for-granted assumption that museums are inherently socially useful institutions; they may or may not be such, but assumptions around the "obviousness" of their value to society serve to hold critique back about how things could be different, or transformations could be made in the role they play in society.
These presentations were followed by a lively discussion session and lunch that grappled with the complicity of scholars, academics, and artists working in institutions deeply involved in the colonial project. Several attendees highlighted how uncomfortable such institutional complicity is, and in response others spoke of the need to live with and in this discomfort rather than dismiss it: Institutional repair requires work, and part of that work can be done by laying claim to institutional spaces in the way we speak, move, and gather, and in so doing carve out spaces for other voices and other histories. Following this discussion, other smaller discussions occurred around repatriating photography, the question of archival and imagery ownership, and the revolutionary histories embedded within objects that we are obligated to preserve though we may not yet be able to hear them.
These projects are brought to you by the following creators and students in Ernst Karel's Audio Ethnography course.
Pablo Aguilera Del Castillo
Winnie W.C. Lai
Vab's multimedia and installation/performance work uses the body as a thought provoking tool to explore the constructedness of identity, themes of bodily entrapment, public violence, and extreme marginality. During the lunch, Va Bene will discuss sHe/it's most recent work in decolonial arts organizing as the creator and director of an Ghana-based artists residency that, for its second year in 2020, will bring 56 international artists from dozens of nations for a 2 month collaborative residency in public contemporary art in Kumasi, Ghana. Va bene's past projects have been internationally covered in African Arts, CNN, OkayAfrica, CCQ, Diario de Regiao, Apollo, and other venues, and Vab has completed residencies in France, Germany, England, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Switzerland, Netherlands, Brazil, New York and more (full CV here).
Following a lunch presentation at the Center for Experimental Ethnography, Va Bene Elikem Fiatsi performed an intimate and collaborative self-curated work, RItual reALITies at Slought, followed by a conversation with CEE Postdoc Alissa Jordan.
In "RItual reALITies," Fiatsi engaged in a part-performance and part-discussion that explored identities as rituals that are produced collaboratively if not always conscientiously between individuals and societies. Detangling the notions of ritual, free will, and collaboration at the core of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ violence on the world stage, Fiatsi asks: what collaborative rituals are used to make certain identities "real" and others "unreal" at State borders? and "Can the idea of "Reality" itself be seen as part of political rituals and ritual identity claims?
Listen to the conversation by clicking the link below, and visit the Slought.Org archive of the performance and conversation here.
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The presentation by Indian-born artist and scholar Budhaditya Chattopadhyay delineates the role of sonic ethnography in film and media arts, by introducing a few of Chattopadhyay’s sound works for listening and discussion, as well his forthcoming book The Auditory Setting (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) that investigates how narrative and a sense of place and space are constructed in film and media arts through the recording, reproduction and mediation of location-specific ‘ambience’ or ambient sounds. The term ‘auditory setting’ can be understood as a sonic backdrop or the acoustically mediated space where a story or event can take place. The presentation aims to assess sound’s undervalued role in the setting and its production.
PENN MUSEUM 336