CEE | Center for Experimental Ethnography
The film screening and conversation series "Gaza on Screen" was curated by Nayrouz Abu Hatoum and Hadeel Assali.
Friday, April 15th at 7pm
Gaza on Screen: Attending to the Fugitive
A conversation and screening with Nayrouz Abu Hatoum and Hadeel Assali, joined by Anna Shah Hoque. The evening featured resistance videos and discussion.
Saturday, April 16th at 2pm
Gaza on Screen: The Archaeological Imagination
Nadia Yaqub presents the films “Living Archaeology” by Forensic Architecture (10 min, 2022) and “The Apollo of Gaza” by Nicolas Wadimoff (78b min, 2018). This will be followed with a Q&A led by Nadia Yaqub featuring Yasmine El Khoudary.
For its annual Third Thursday event, CAMRA discussed the March 2022 Screening Scholarship Media Festival (SSMF) "Pause". Members of the CAMRA directors’ team and the SSMF planning committee discussed how they built, launched, and live-streamed this year's SSMF festival.
Each year, the Screening Scholarship Media Festival (SSMF) provides a creative, collaborative space to engage with diverse multimedia projects. We explore the affordances and challenges of multimodal representational strategies in research, and we interrogate their social implications. SSMF is a hybrid between a traditional academic conference and a film/media festival. We strive to bridge the gap between art and science by bringing together scholars, artists, educators, and activists.
This year’s SSMF was organized around the theme Pause, understood as mobility and immobility, as waiting, as rest and recuperation, but also as a refusal and political strategy and action.
For whom is pause a privilege? For whom is it a need for existence? And how do our practices respond to the notions of pause? What do pauses encompass?
The festival features projects that explore pause as an intentional engagement with suspension, as well as a way of being.
CAMRA (Collective for Advancing Multimodal Research Arts) fosters interdisciplinary collaborations amongst scholars, sensory ethnographers, artists and educators within and beyond the University of Pennsylvania to explore, practice, evaluate and teach about multimedia research and representation.
We ask questions about the affordances, challenges, and possibilities of multimodal scholarship in teaching, learning, mediamaking, and knowledge production. Our aim is to support media-based research and pedagogies, with an explicit focus on: (1) providing practical guidelines for evaluation of multimodal research; (2) utilizing participatory, digital, and ethnographic methodologies; (3) creating digital and physical spaces for multimodal work to be showcased; (4) critically examining how technology is changing the processes of teaching and learning.
For March's Third Thursday event, we joined in conversation with Shivaike Shah about his "Uprooting Medea" Tour.
In 2018, as a student at Oxford, Shah produced an on campus production of Medea, the institution’s first entirely BIPOC production. Shah believes Medea is a powerful story about “questions of home, identity, belonging and broken promises.”
After graduation, he began to develop a short, non-narrative film about the character of Medea, co-written by Francesca Amewudah-Rivers.
During his talk, Shah reflected on how Khameleon Productions’ effort to make space for BIPOC individuals in theater is reflected in the theme of belonging within the story of Medea.
Khameleon’s adaptation of Medea is currently being reviewed by multiple film festivals and will be released to the public when it is selected by one of the festivals.
Join us for February's Third Thursday event where CEE spring Fellows Amitav Ghosh and Ali Sethi discuss their collaboration on a course they are teaching with Penn's own Brooke O'Harra. Amitav, Ali, and Brooke are leading students in a rigorous process of research, development, and rehearsal, culminating in a public performance of a musical version of Ghosh's newest book Jungle Nama on March 2nd and 3rd (in-person and remote tickets available).
MARCH 2 & 3
The Center for Experimental Ethnography held a stage performance of Amitav Ghosh's adaptation of an episode from the legend of Bon Bibi, titled: "Jungle Nama: A Story of the Sundarban." The performance will take place at the Montgomery Theatre at Penn Live Arts.
Jungle Nama is Amitav Ghosh's verse adaptation of an episode from the legend of Bon Bibi, a tale popular in the villages of the Sundarban, which also lies at the heart of the novel The Hungry Tide. It is the story of the avaricious rich merchant Dhona, the poor lad Dukhey, and his mother; it is also the story of Dokkhin Rai, a mighty spirit who appears to humans as a tiger, of Bon Bibi, the benign goddess of the forest, and her warrior brother Shah Jongoli. The original print version of this legend, dating back to the nineteenth century, is composed in a Bengali verse meter known as dwipodi poyar. "Jungle-nama" is a free adaptation of the legend, told entirely in a poyar-like meter of twenty-four syllable couplets that replicate the cadence of the original.
Illustration by Salman Toor
erin manning + brian massumi
The body’s sensing is inseparable from processes of abstraction that extend life into incorporeal realms. From sonsensuous similarity to amodal perception, from reaching-toward to preacceleration, from distantism to synaesthesia, from autistic perception to lived abstraction, sensation and perception exceed the model of sense impression inherited from classical empiricism. This talk will draw on the radical empiricism of William James and the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead to explore the ways in which perception is already a mode of thought and thought is feeling.
This event (co-sponsored by the Graduate Group in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, the Department of English, and the Center for Experimental Ethnography) is part of the 2021-2022 Penn Anthropology Colloquium on “Sense.”
On Thursday, January 20 2022 we convened a lively conversation with Wazhmah Osman, Assistant Professor at Temple University, and Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, Director, Screenwriter, and Editor about their film projects, including Osman's "Postcards from Tora Bora" and "Smokescreen", and Alexandrowicz latest piece, "The Viewing Booth".
DR. WAZHMAH OSMAN
Wazhmah Osman is an Afghan-American academic and filmmaker. She is an assistant professor in Media Studies and Production at Temple University. In her book Television and the AfghanCulture Wars: Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists (University of Illinois Press, Fall 2020), she analyzes the impact of international funding and cross-border media flows on the national politics of Afghanistan, the region, and beyond. Her research and teaching are 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. In her recent work she extends these critical inquiries to the politics of representation and visual culture of "The War On Terror" including gender/sexuality discourses and how they reverberate globally and locally. Osman endeavors to intervene on these subjects beyond academia. She has appeared as a commentator on Democracy Now, WNYC, NPR, and Al Jazeera and works with community and activist groups. She has worked in television and film production for major American and international media institutions and as an independent journalist and filmmaker. Her critically acclaimed documentary films have screened in diverse venues, ranging from human rights organizations to national and international film festivals.
Ra’anan Alexandrowicz is a director, screenwriter and editor. He is known for the documentary The Law in These Parts (2011), which received the Grand Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, a Peabody award, and numerous other prizes. His earlier documentaries, The Inner Tour (2001) and Martin (1999), were shown in the Berlin Film Festival’s Forum section and MoMA’s New Directors / New Films series. Alexandrowicz’s single fiction feature, James’ Journey to Jerusalem (2003), premiered in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and at the Toronto International Film Festival and received several international awards. Alexandrowicz’s films have been released theatrically in the United States and Europe, and broadcast by PBS, ARTE, the BBC, as well as other television channels. Ra’anan served several times as an editing advisor for the Sundance Documentary Fund and his film The Viewing Booth is supported by the Sundance Art of Nonfiction initiative.
The Viewing Booth
Minimalist in approach yet far-reaching in its application and consequence, The Viewing Booth forms a one-of-a-kind cinematic testimony to the psychology of the viewer in the digital era. Recounting a unique encounter between filmmaker and a viewer the film is an exploration of the way meaning is attributed to non-fiction images in today’s day and age. In a lab-like location, Maia Levy, a young Jewish American woman, watches videos portraying life in the occupied West Bank. Maia is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, and the images in the videos, depicting Palestinian life under Israeli military rule, contradict some of her deep-seated beliefs. Empathy, anger, embarrassment, innate biases, and healthy curiosity — all play out before our eyes as we watch her watch the images of military occupation. Six months later, Levy returns to watch more footage. This time, Maia views edited footage of herself while she was watching the images of the occupation. What is revealed in the process is multi-layered, puzzling, insightful and extends beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Maia’s candid and reflective analysis of her previous commentary gives the viewer a staggering demonstration of the idea that seeing is not always believing.
Postcards from Tora Bora
"Postcards from Tora Bora is a feature length documentary that follows Osman when she returns home to Afghanistan to piece together the life that was torn apart by the 1979 Soviet invasion. At the height of the Cold War, the Osman family frantically escaped from Afghanistan while leaving almost everything behind. In the ensuing chaos, their suitcase filled with family photos is stolen.
Now, after two decades in America, Wazhmah Osman, a young Afghan-American woman, returns to her childhood home. Armed only with rapidly fading memories, she recruits some unlikely and reluctant guides to put together the pieces of her past. On an alternately sad and humorous quest, she encounters confused cabbies, the enthusiastic former minister of the tourism bureau, a museum director who archives land mines and a group of angry street vendors.
As Wazhmah desperately searches for any tangible evidence of her former life, the journey leads her to many unexpected places. Amidst the rubble and destruction, she finds her estranged father, who in the aftermath of war chose his country over his family. On the road, Wazhmah frequently finds herself at a strange intersection where cultures clash, identities are mistaken and the past violently collides with the present. " from Al Jazeera 5 April 2008
The Fellows Year-End Event "Mexican Psychotic ", is an experimental film led by Ricardo Bracho, followed by a panel discussion scholars and artists on Ramírez’s work and contemporary issues of incarceration, mental health, and artistry. This panel discussion included Ricardo Bracho in conversation with editor and animator Oludare Marcelle, editor Emily Dunlop, Toorjo Ghose (UPenn), James Yaya Hough (Artist , and Aaron Alarcon-Bowen.
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.
Dr. Toorjo Ghose is an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice whose work focuses on structural interventions in the areas of incarceration, substance use, homelessness, and HIV, both at the domestic and international levels.
Dr. Jennifer S. Ponce de León is an interdisciplinary scholar and Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, whose research focuses on cultural production and antisystemic movements in the Americas since the 1960s and critical theory.
James "Yaya" Hough is the inaugural artist in residence for the district attorney’s office of Philadelphia.
Aaron Alarcon-Bowen is the Executive Director of the Community Services Bureau in Concord, California.
Dec 6th at 5 pm.
Our CEE Fellow Year-End Event "Affect Theatre" included a presentation followed by scenes written and performed by graduate students in the Affect Theatre class, and lead by Cristiana Giordano and Greg Pierotti
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.
ABOUT THIS EVENT
The Center for Experimental Ethnography, WXPN, and Dr. Camee Maddox-Wingfield held a panel on Haitian Vodou inspirations and the roots of musical responses to social injustice, featuring Haitian and Haitian American artists Manzè Beaubrun (Boukman Eksperyans), Malou Beauvoir (Malou Beauvoir), and Richard Morse (RAM and IMAMOU). The event was in English with simultaneous translation in Haitian Creole. Register now.
LISTEN BEFORE THE EVENT
In order for you to get the most out of the conversation, we suggest you listen to some amazing grooves by the artists who will be joining us on Dec 7! Scroll to the end of the post to find out more.
Mimerose ‘Manzè’ Beaubrun
Photo Above: Mimerose Beaubrun, courtesy of the artist
Mimerose ‘Manzè’ Beaubrun is the lead singer and co-founder (with Lolo Beaubrun) of Boukman Eksperyans and the author of Nan Dòmi, récit d'une initiation vodou (2011), translated into English as Nan Dòmi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou (2013), as well as a manbo (Vodou priestess). She received her BA in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the Université d'État d'Haiti, and co-authored the 1998 book Livre ouvert sur le développement endogène d’Haïti, translated into English as Open Book on the Endogenous Development of Haiti.
Boukman Eksperyans (English: Boukman Experience) is a Grammy-nominated mizik rasin band. The band derives its name from a a tribute to the Jamaican born enslaved leader Boukman Dutty who launched the Haitian revolution in August 1791, and the Haitian Creole word for "experience" (Eksperyans), inspired by the band's appreciation of the music of Jimi Hendrix. One of the most important musical movements that swept Haiti in the years following the exile of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, mizik rasin combines elements of traditional vodou ceremonial and folkloric music with rock and roll. When Mimerose and Lolo began to seek their musical goals, they felt a strong desire to incorporate African elements in Haiti's culture into their music, combining roots music with vodou religious and musical traditions.
Since the beginning, starting with the first encounters made by the Beaubruns with deep African roots, Boukman Eksperyans has remained steadfastly linked to the Ginen ("Guinea") vodou line. The band calls it vodou adjae after a vodou ceremonial dance. This was also the title of their first album, released in 1991.
Boukman Eksperyans first became famous in 1990 when they presented their song "Ke'm Pa Sote" at the Carnival celebration in Port-au-Prince with its infamous lyrics: "My heart doesn't leap, I'm not afraid". These words were a grounded protest of the living conditions under the post-Duvalier interim military government of General Prosper Avril. Following the death of a young girl (who was shot by a soldier), Ke'm Pa Sote became an out-and-out battle hymn admonishing the government. The band continued to write and perform rebellious songs that depicted the reality of Haiti as they saw it. At the height of their popularity in 1991, Boukman Eksperyans fled Haiti to live in exile when Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a military coup d'etat. During their time abroad, the band performed and spoke out against the military dictatorship of Raoul Cédras. In 1994, after Aristide was restored to power, the band returned to Haiti, where they continued to play concerts, record albums, and perform at the Carnival celebrations.
Above: Photo of Malou Beauvoir by Johnny Rodriguez, courtesy of Malou Beauvoir
Haitian-American performing artist Malou Beauvoir is a captivating, highly emotive singer-songwriter, actor and producer who brings to her artistry the unique amalgamation of her multi-cultural influences and experiences. A citizen of the world, she has lived in the US, Europe and Haiti, and traveled extensively; each culture she has encountered has impacted and informed her in different ways, reinforcing her openness to different perspectives and forms of spirituality. Malou has offered her performances and support to the “TIBET FUND Gala” in NY, the Fonkoze Gala in L.A, the Back Country Jazz fundraiser, and other non-profit organizations who are working to make this world a better place. For more info : maloubeauvoir.com
Richard Auguste Morse (born 1957) is a Puerto-Rican-born Haitian-American musician and founder of a mizik rasin band, RAM, named after his initials, and IMAMOU. Morse is married to RAM's lead female vocalist, Lunise Morse, and has two children. Morse also manages a famous hotel and venue in Port-Au-Prince, the Hotel Oloffso
In 1992, Morse and RAM adapted a traditional vodou folk song, "Fèy", to a rasin rhythm and instrumentation. Despite no overt references to the political situation, it was widely played on the radio and immediately taken up throughout the country as an unofficial anthem of support for Aristide. By the summer of 1992, playing or singing the song was banned under military authority, and Morse was subjected to death threats from the regime. In one particular instance, Morse was summoned before Evans François, the brother of Colonel Michel François, and his life was threatened. Over time, Morse, like many other Haitians, became disillusioned with Aristide and his new political party, Fanmi Lavalas.
RAM is a Haitian music band based in the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The band derives its name from the initials of its founder, songwriter, and lead male vocalist, Richard A. Morse. The band’s sound reflects a mix of West African rhythms brought over on slave ships and Haitian rhythms influenced by indigenous cultures.
RAM began performing together in 1990, and recorded their first album in 1993. The band's music incorporates traditional Vodou lyrics and instruments, such as rara horns and petro drums, into modern rock and roll. The band's songs include lyrics in Haitian Creole and English. RAM first made the world scene in 1993, when one of its most popular singles, "Ibo Lele (Dreams Come True)," was included in the soundtrack for the major motion picture Philadelphia, next to famous musicians including Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young.
RAM is famous for its regular Thursday night performances at the Hotel Oloffson in downtown Port-au-Prince, attended by hotel guests and a wide spectrum of the country's political and racial groups. Yet throughout their 30-year career, the band has also performed at prestigious music venues around the globe including the Kennedy Center, Edinburgh Festival (Scotland), and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 2021 RAM was featured in the Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans audio documentary.
The band’s discography includes:
Puritan Vodou (1997)
Kite Yo Pale (2001)
Le Jardin (2003)
Manman M Se Ginen (2016)
RAM 7: August 1791 (2018)
Dr. Camee Maddox-Wingfield
Photo Above: Dr. Camee Maddox-Wingfield
Dr. Camee Maddox-Wingfield is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. As a cultural anthropologist, Dr. Maddox-Wingfield’s research interests center on cultural activism and identity formation in Caribbean and African diaspora dance communities, with a primary focus on the French Caribbean. She is especially interested in the various ways that dance expression intersects with cultural politics, spirituality, and healing in communities suffering from colonial and/or racial oppression. Her work also explores the ways in which dance becomes an expression of protest, resistance and solidarity.
Dr. Maddox-Wingfield is currently working on a book project that is tentatively titled Rhythmic Consolation: Bèlè’s Rebirth in Contemporary Martinique. The book interrogates the cultural politics and power dynamics that shape the contemporary discourse and practice of bèlè – a traditional drum-dance complex in Martinique . In this work, Maddox-Wingfield situates bèlè as a site for intervening in ongoing debates about (non)sovereignty and the complexities of French national secularism.
The book project is being developed along with a virtual exhibition that will serve as a multimedia companion to the book, promoting wider public engagement with digital scholarship on performative cultural traditions. Her research has been published in the journal Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, engaging bèlè performance from Black feminist perspectives to analyze the therapeutic impact and the function of sensual expressivity in bèlè for women dancers. She also contributed a chapter in a new edited volume titled Embodying Black Religions in Africa and its Diasporas published by Duke University Press September 2021.
Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms & the Music of New Orleans
From WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the producers of the Peabody-nominated and Regional Edward R. Murrow award-winning Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul, comes a new audio docu-series chronicling the history of Haiti and Haitian influences on the music, culture, and community of New Orleans and contextualizing the nation’s historical importance through its considerable artistic and musical traditions.
The nationally distributed production is hosted by Haitian-American and New Orleans-based musician Leyla McCalla, a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and is produced by Alex Lewis, and award-winning independent radio producer and musician.
The documentary features interviews and music from Haitian performers Boukman Eksperyans, Paul Beaubrun, RAM, Lakou Mizik, Chico Boyer, Win Butler & Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Ben Jaffe of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and more.
RAM "Kite Jouda Yo Pale" (Let People Gossip)
Boukman Eksperyans "Jou Nou Revolte" (The Day We Revolt)
Malou Beauvoir "Kenbe M" (Hold Me)
RAM "Fey" (Leaves/Herbs)
Boukman Eksperyans "Ke M Pa Sote" (MY HEART DOESN'T JUMP)
Malou Beauvoir (feat. Paul Beaubrun) "Rasenbleman"
RAM " Se Pa Saw Te Di" (That's Not What You Said)
Boukman Eksperyans "Kan'w Pran'w Konen"
Malou Beauvoir "Nwaye" (Drown)
During our November Third Thursday convening, Sosena Solomon and Peter Decherney, directors of DREAMING OF JERUSALEM (a film about the Jewish community in Gondar), and Michelle Y. Hurtubise will discuss different forms of collaboration.
Sosena Solomon is an award winning social documentary film and multimedia visual artist from Ethiopia. Intuitively selecting subjects and stories, she is particularly interested in spaces of transition and change, acting as a cultural preservationist. Her work, whether presented as a film or an immersive 3-dimensional experience, explores cross sections of various subcultures and communities in flux, carefully teasing out cultural nuances and capturing personal narratives via arresting visual storytelling and cinéma vérité stylings. Sosena has worked for many years in the commercial and nonprofit sectors and has worked as a Director and Cinematographer on many short film projects including “Sole”, a documentary on sneaker culture that premiered on PBS affiliate MINDTV, and “MERKATO,” filmed on location in one of Africa’s largest open-air markets and exhibited internationally as an audio, visual, and sensory installation. Sosena earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Social Documentary Film from The School of Visual Arts in New York, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Television Production from Temple University. She is a recipient of The Leeway Foundation Art and Change grant (2013) and the Transformation Award (2014).
Peter Decherney is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and teacher. He is Professor of Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. Since 2015, he has directed a series of documentary and virtual reality films about global migration and on the political role of artists. FILMMAKING FOR DEMOCRACY IN MYANMAR (2015) took viewers into the world of Myanmar’s politically subversive straight-to-DVD film industry. His first virtual reality project explored an experimental refugee settlement in Kenya near the South Sudanese border. He followed with a 12-episode docuseries THE HEART OF PUERTO RICO (co-directed with Jean Lee) about artists after Hurricane Maria. The series won Best Virtual Reality Experience at the 2020 AT&T Film Awards. His most recent film, DREAMING OF JERUSALEM (co-directed with Sosena Solomon), about the Jewish community in Gondar, Ethiopia, is a Discovery+ Original. He is also the author or editor of six books including Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet and Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Forbes, and Inside Higher Ed, among other places. His free online course on the history of Hollywood has enrolled more that 65,000 learners.
Michelle Y. Hurtubise (she/her) is a Visual Anthropology Ph.D. candidate at Temple University researching narrative sovereignty, Indigenous media, and diverse festival networks through the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and the development of Kin Theory, a global Indigenous media makers database. With a background in arts and activism, she did human rights and media work in Rio de Janeiro as part of her Master’s thesis at New York University, and she received a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Michelle was a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow and a Society for Visual Anthropology/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellow. Currently a research strategist at the Nia Tero foundation, she has also worked with the Center for Artistic Activism and the Center for Media, Culture, and History.
Join us for Business as (Un)Usual talkback with Maisha Akbar and Brian Shapiro
Business as s(Un)Usual, a multi-modal work written, produced and starring Dr. Maisha Akbar and Brian Shapiro, MA, satirizes the question “Why can’t white men listen to Black women?” In this discussion of the film which premiered at 2020 the Philadelphia FringeArts Festival, Akbar and Shapiro will address reactions to the film’s content as well as its methodology. The discussion will also center upon Business as (Un)Usual’s use of ethnographic practices as well as race, and gender issues as explored through personal narratives and music performances. The discussion will be recorded via video, with footage used to create a short film about the discussion itself. All participants will be provided a password-protected link to Business as (Un)Usual for viewing prior to the discussion.
In this panel, Aimee Cox (Yale University), Peter Morin (Tahltan Nation, OCAD University), Ayumi Goto (OCAD University), Marlon Swai (University of Cape Town), Dara Culhane (Simon Fraser University) explored artistic modalities and co-laboring as ways of knowing that offer a multi-modal attunement without pinning down or leaning on a redemptive ‘truth’. The panelists offered reflections and performances that attend to institutional and epistemic violence reproduced in the academy, state or extra/judicial systems. They looked to spaces and ways of making knowledge differently that challenge us to reimagine ways of being together and collaborate in research; modes of knowing that refuse and unsettle the ‘comforts’ provided by established canons of what constitutes ‘good’ research methods, conceptual conceits and community entanglements. Together, they reflected on on praxis, reciprocity, and esthetic engagements as ways of being and knowing in this particular moment of reckoning with liberal academic discourses on anti-racism and decolonization. Watch the full event here.
The event was sponsored by the Wenner Gren and Organized by the Association of Black Anthropologists, Anthropology Southern Africa, the Center for Experimental Ethnography, and the Transformative Memory Network ,
We were joined by the Center for Experimental Ethnography's Fall Fellows, Cristiana Giordano, Greg Pierotti and Ricardo Bracho. They discussed their fall classes as well as projects they are working on.
A CONTINUING CONVERSATION ABOUT MOVE AND THE PENN MUSEUM
The recent revelations concerning the Penn Museum and human remains have raised a number of questions about the histories of anthropology and ethnographic museums, and about the practices of collecting, exhibiting, and researching:
Our guests Rachel Watkins (American University), Aja Lans (Syracuse University), and Delande Justinvil (American University) will help us think through these questions, and more…
PRE-READINGS / VIEWINGS
Blakey, M. L. (2020). “Archaeology under the blinding light of race.” Current Anthropology, 61(S22), S183-S197.
Justinvil, D. & Colwell, C. 2021. “US museums hold the remains of thousands of Black people. What can be done about it?” Available at:
Lans, Aja. 2020. “Decolonize This Collection: Integrating Black Feminism and Art to Re-Examine Human Skeletal Remains in Museums.” Feminist Anthropology DOI: 10.1002/fea2.12027
Watkins, Rachel. 2020. “An Alter(ed)native Perspective on Historical Bioarchaeology.” Historical Archaeology 53(4).
Reclaiming the Ancestors: Indigenous and Black Perspectives on Repatriation, Human Rights, and Justice, September 2020.
The event featured Reggie Wilson in conversation with CEE Director Deborah Thomas, Jasmine Johnson, John L. Jackson Jr. and Jawole Zollar
ABOUT THIS EVENT
On May 1, we were honored to host a conversation featuring Reggie Wilson in dialogue with Jasmine Johnson, John Jackson, and Jawole Zollar regarding the film, “GROUNDS THAT SHOUT!...and others merely shaking.” This film emerged from Reggie’s work in 2018-2019, sponsored by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage and organized through Philadelphia Contemporary, the Danspace Project, and Partners for Sacred Places. For this project, Reggie curated dance with local choreographers and dance groups at historical churches in Philadelphia. “Grounds that Shout!” was meant to explore the relationships between religion, movement, race, place, and the body, and to foreground how the histories of contemporary performance are intertwined with the legacies of African-American religious and religiously-affiliated spaces. Graduate students in CAMRA documented the project, With generous support from the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, graduate students in CAMRA, and the resulting film, which was circulated ahead of time, provided the basis for our conversation. The film bears witness to Reggie’s process, documenting the development of movement, the relationships between performers and space, and the city and its denizens. The conversation was wide-ranging, addressing the overlapping circles of performance, method, and community-building, and the simultaneity of past and present. Listening to the distinct sounds of places and bodies in the film became an important way of becoming literate, of being able to hear the ground shout. And rapport with death, in this work, became a generative possibility where choreography was a practice of life.
The film was Directed and Produced by Gordon Divine "Dee" Asaah.
Executive Producer: Center for Experimental Ethnography in collaboration with CAMRA (Collective for Advancing Multimodal Research Arts)
Watch the dicussion HERE
A program curated and organized by Jenny Chio, Spring 2021 Visiting Fellow at the Center for Experimental Ethnography (University of Pennsylvania) and Associate Professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures and Anthropology at the University of Southern California.
With eleven films, three dialogues, two essays, and one live Zoom conversation, this film series illustrated the productive “unruliness” (to quote U Penn Professor Chenshu Zhou) of ethnography and film in exploring the contours of Indigenous identities and politics. Indigeneity, as the films and conversations revealed, encompasses stories of personal loss and memories of suffering, reflections on current social transformations and cultural subjectivities, and narratives of state violence and power in marginalized communities and upon individuals. Filmmaking has become a means to confront the lived realities of cultural and ethnic differences, claims to political sovereignty, and shared social histories that together constitute some of the possibilities of Indigenous experiences in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. [While the films are no longer available, the event website with film and filmmaker descriptions, dialogues, and essays is online: www.filmandethnography.org.]
This film and conversation series explores the category and concept of “Indigeneity” in the contemporary People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
In each political space, “Indigenous” has come to represent and symbolize the different stakes of identity, culture, and heritage in the modern world, while grappling with ongoing political tensions around national sovereignty, China’s global influence, and social solidarity. Whereas “Indigenous” in Hong Kong now refers to both a nativist political movement and marginalized communities that settled in Hong Kong prior to British colonial rule, in Taiwan Indigenous refers to Austronesian Aboriginal communities who align themselves with contemporary global Indigenous activists. In China, the term Indigenous itself is highly contested, as the Chinese state increasingly resists and represses claims to cultural self-determination amongst its ethnic minority populations. Thus, the films and speakers in this event all approach Indigeneity from their own personal backgrounds and experiences as citizens, artists, and scholars from and working in China, Hong Kong, and/or Taiwan.
The Contest over "Indigeneity": Film and Ethnography in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan is an online exhibit includeing an event website, eleven films, three prerecorded discussions, and biographies of event guests, as well as a virtual screening week (Friday April 23- Friday April 30) and a live zoom discussion (Thursday April 29 at 7PM EDT).
Event hosted by the Center for Experimental Ethnography, and co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at Penn, and Penn Global
film screening week | Friday April 23 -April 30, 2021
During this weeklong film screening, we invited participants to watch films by artists working on Indigeneity in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, curated by Jenny Chio. Information on these artists can be found here.
We also invited attendees to listen to the pre-recorded conversations between the filmmakers, curator Jenny Chio, and invited scholars.
LIVE CONVERSATION | Thursday april 29 at 7PM
The live discussion on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 7 pm EST/EDT took place with CEE Faculty Fellow Dr. Jenny Chio, Cui Yi (filmmaker and conservation ecologist), Dr. Aynur Kadi (assistant professor of Digital Media Arts at the University of Waterloo), Dr. Chenshu Zhou (Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies in the Department of History of Art at UPENN), Chan Ho-Lun Fredie (filmmaker and producer), Li Xin (a visual anthropologist and filmmaker), Dr. Miguel Angel Hidalgo Martinez (Assistant Professor of China Studies at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University)
As many of you know, it was revealed last week that the remains of two of the children killed when the City of Philadelphia dropped two bombs on the MOVE compound in 1985 – Tree and Delisha Africa – had been held in the Penn Museum and used for research and teaching. Mike Africa, Jr., a MOVE family member, has circulated a number of demands including the return of the remains to the MOVE family, an apology and appropriate restitution, and the creation of a transparent, public investigation led by a MOVE-approved investigator into how these remains ended up in the Museum’s possession over the past 35 years. The Museum and the University have both issued statements.
Still, the questions remain:
The Center for Experimental Ethnography will facilitate a dialogue about these questions with Krystal Strong (GSE, Black Lives Matter Philly), who has been working closely with the Africa family and the MOVE community to develop a counter-archive.
PENN MUSEUM 336
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