A Provost's Interdisciplinary Seminar
On March 20, 2015, University of Pennsylvania presented The Visual and Performative Ethnography Symposium, which was livestreamed on the global, commons based peer-produced HowlRound TV network. This cross-school interdisciplinary symposium was designed to create a public conversation during which we deliberated several key questions raised by these trends.
The past twenty years have witnessed an “ethnographic turn” across the humanities and social sciences, and in professional schools, fine arts and architecture. Whether in business, medicine, or law, photography, sculpture, or performance art, qualitative social science methods have become more common as scholars and practitioners seek insights into the everyday worlds and ideas of those with whom they work. At the same time, contemporary developments in technology have made new representational techniques widely available and familiar, especially to younger generations now moving into academia. These transformations have forced us to confront new questions:
How are we thinking about what the digital age means for humanistic, social scientific, and professional inquiry and practice in today’s world?
How are we using both old and new technologies to advocate for and work with communities?
What tools for research and communication should we offer the next generation of Ph.D. students, and how do we prepare them and others to assess non-text based research?
Participants in this event included Regina Austin (UPenn), Herman Beavers (UPenn), Karen Beckman (UPenn), Ruth Behar (University of Michigan), Peter Biella (San Francisco State University), Kesha Fikes (The Center for Sensorial Bodywork and Movement Therapy), Kim Fortun (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Faye Ginsburg (NYU), John Jackson Jr. (UPenn), E. Patrick Johnson (Northwestern University), Annelise Riles (Cornell University), Jesse Shipley (Haverford College), Diana Taylor (New York University), Elmo Terry-Morgan (Brown University), Deborah Thomas (UPenn), Debra Vidali (Emory University).
PART 1. OPENING REMARKS
Click below to watch the opening remarks with Professor Deborah Thomas, Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania
PART II. MULTI MODALITY WORKSHOP
Intercession, Multi-Modality Workshop (Led by CAMRA: Sofia Chaparro, Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan)
1) What the “ethnographic turn” means across the disciplines, and how do we think about “visuality” and “performativity” in relation to research generated ethnographically and in collaboration with communities?
2) What role are new technologies (both material and embodied) playing in the research process, and what kinds of archives do they create?
3) How might we institutionalize inter-disciplinary, multi-modal work within the academy in a way that collaborates with community organizations?
4) What standards and evaluative criteria can be established for this kind of work, and how can we translate this approach in a way that makes it legible to others when it comes time for doctoral students to enter the job market or for junior faculty to be promoted?
PART III. Institutionalization & Interdisciplinarity
Where do we locate the visual and the performative within the academy? How have scholars positioned in different parts of the academy attempted to institutionalize visual and performative work at their respective universities? What strategies have worked best? What methods were deployed to translate conceptual goals into concrete institutional and administrative support? To what extent have these initiatives been driven by curricular concerns and commitments? How have their respective institutional spaces changed over time, and what strategies allow for the most successful means of incorporating a wide array of faculty, graduate students, and undergrads into the Institute’s orbit? To what extent have “local communities” been engaged through these efforts?
Moderator: Herman Beavers (U Penn) Diana Taylor, Hemi (New York U), Elmo Terry-Morgan, Rites and Reasons (Brown U), Faye Ginsburg, Center for Media, History and Culture (New York U)*, Annelise Riles, Anthropology and Law (Cornell U)
PENN MUSEUM 336