Speakers/Participants

Regina Austin pursues her interest in the overlapping burdens of race, gender, and class oppression in traditional legal scholarship, as well as in her work on documentary films. She is the director of the Penn Program on Documentaries & the Law, which holds an annual Visual Legal Advocacy Roundtable for public interest lawyers, hosts screenings of law-genre documentary films throughout the year, and maintains a national repository of dozens of clemency videos as a resource for attorneys representing capital defendants. In addition to making extensive use of documentaries in her traditional courses, Austin teaches a visual legal advocacy seminar in which the students make videos on behalf of actual public interest clients and causes that premiere at the annual Rough Cut Video Festival.

Herman Beavers has a joint appointment in the Department of Africana Studies and teaches courses in African American and American literature, including courses on Southern Modernism, 20th Century African American Poetry, as well as  “Trading Fours:  The Literatures of Jazz,” which is a requisite course in the Jazz and Popular Music minor at the University of Pennsylvania.  He also teaches a section of the introductory poetry workshop in the Creative Writing Program.  During the 2009-10 academic year, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University.  His most recent poems have appeared in MELUS, The Langston Hughes Colloquy, and Versadelphia.  He has recently published essays on August Wilson, Charles Johnson, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison.   He also serves as an advisory editor at African American Review, Modern Fiction Studies, and The Journal of Modern Literature.

Karen Beckman is the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Professor of Cinema and Modern Media in the department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania.  As Advisor to the Arts for the University, she coordinates a university-wide arts initiative: https://provost.upenn.edu/initiatives/arts. She is the author of Vanishing Women: Magic, Film and Feminism (Duke UP, 2003); Crash: Cinema and the Politics of Speed and Stasis (Duke UP, 2010), and is now working on a new book, Animation and the Contemporary Art of War. She has co-edited two volumes: Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography with Jean Ma (Duke UP, September 2008) and On Writing With Photography (Minnesota UP, 2013) with Liliane Weissberg, and is also the editor of Animating Film Theory (Duke UP, 2014), which explores the history of film theory’s engagement (and lack of it) with animation: http://www.scribd.com/doc/205208690/Animating-Film-Theory-edited-by-Kare….  Her articles address a range of subjects, including feminism and terrorism, death penalty photography, the animated documentary, the relationship between cinema and contemporary art, fast and slow cinemas, and the evolving role of film theory in the 21st century.

Ruth Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Her honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University, and an Excellence in Education Award from the University of Michigan. Known for her writing about the search for home in our global era, her books include The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village; Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart. She is the co-editor of Women Writing Culture, which has become a classic text on women’s literary contributions to anthropology. Ruth frequently visits and writes about her native Cuba and is the author of An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys. She is the editor of the pioneering anthology, Bridges to Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. She has written editorials about Cuba for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. Her documentary film, Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey, distributed by Women Make Movies, has been shown in festivals around the world. Also a creative writer, her poetry and short fiction appear in Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers; Burnt Sugar/Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish; The Whole Island: Six Decades of Cuban Poetry, a Bilingual Anthology; and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. A trilingual (English, Spanish, Italian) edition of her poems, Everything I Kept, is forthcoming with Edizioni Kolibris in Ferrara, Italy.

Peter Biella is Director of the Visual Anthropology Program at San Francisco State University, past president of the Society for Visual Anthropology and occasional editor of Visual Anthropology Review. He was principle author of “AAA Statement on Ethnographic Visual Media” (2002) – ratified by the AAA Board of Directors – which offers advice to department committees concerned with the hiring, retention and tenure of visual anthropologists. Biella’s Yanomamo Interactive: The Ax Fight on CD-ROM (1997) made a significant contribution to interactive ethnography. He produced films in the United States, Egypt, Romania, Haiti, Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Peru. Biella’s most recent works, however, are collaborative productions in Tanzania. They exemplify his published essays on applied visual anthropology. Using a Freirian approach, the films in Biella’s Maasai Migrants Series (2012) stimulate shared learning among Maasai about HIV and migration. His AIDS in the Barrio (1989), Art in Ayacucho (2007), and The Chairman and the Lions (2012) won a number of awards in the US and abroad.

Kesha Fikes, an anthropologist, dedicates herself to the study of somatic education – somatic bodywork and movement therapy.  She is in private practice in Los Gatos and in Berkeley, CA, where she is the founder of the Center for Sensorial Bodywork & Movement Therapy.  Her modalities are the Danis Bois Method (a gentle form of manual osteopathy that uses embodiment for self-inquiry and physical rehabilitation), and Kathy Kain’s Somatic Practice (a compassionate touch therapy that neurochemically regulates (a) shock and attachment trauma response, and (b) complex autoimmune symptoms like lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic joint/rheumatoid pain, gastrointestinal disorders, and other immune dysregulation crises).  Kesha’s somatic approach facilitates embodied and cognitive awareness of physiological and behavioral patterns that are accompanied by pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and other psycho-somatic expressions.  She partners with physicians and psychotherapists to deliver the best care possible for her diverse clientele.  Before becoming a somatic therapist, she held the position of Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  Kesha has trained directly with Dr. Danis Bois for 13 years.

Kim Fortun is a cultural anthropologist and Professor of Science & Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her research and teaching focus on environmental risk and disaster, and on experimental ethnographic methods and research design.  Her research has examined how people in different geographic and organizational contexts understand environmental problems, uneven distributions of environmental health risks, developments in the environmental health sciences, and factors that contribute to disaster vulnerability.  Fortun’s book Advocacy After Bhopal Environmentalism, Disaster, New World Orders was awarded the 2003 Sharon Stephens Prize by the American Ethnological Society.  From 2005-2010, Fortun co-edited the Journal of Cultural Anthropology. Currently, Fortun is working on a book titled Late Industrialism: Making Environmental Sense, on The Asthma Files, a collaborative project to understand how air pollution and environmental public health are dealt with in different contexts, and on design of the Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), an open source/access digital platform for anthropological and historical research.  Fortun also runs the EcoEd Research Group, which turns ethnographic findings about environmental problems into curriculum delivered to young students (kindergarten-grade 12), and is helping organize both the Disaster-STS Research Network, and the Research Data Alliance’s Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group.

Faye Ginsburg is Director of the Center for Media, Culture, and History, and Co-Director of the NYU Council for the Study of Disability at NYU where she is David Kriser Professor of Anthropology. MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow, and prize winning author/ and editor of three books, Ginsburg’s work focuses on cultural activism from her early work on abortion activists, to her two decades of work on Indigenous media, to her current work on disability, personhood and “the new normal”.

John L. Jackson, Jr., is Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice.  He also is the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication, Africana Studies, and Anthropology in the Standing Faculty of the Annenberg School for Communication and the Standing Faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences. As a filmmaker, Jackson has produced a feature-length fiction film, documentaries, and film-shorts that have screened at film festivals internationally. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Harvard University’s Milton Fund, and the Lilly Endowment (during a year at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina). He has published several books, Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001), Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005), and Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic, 2008), released in paperback in 2010. Jackson has just released Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (Harvard University Press, 2013) and is completing another book (co-authored by Cora Daniels), Impolite Conversations: On Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion (Atria [Simon and Schuster]) that is slated for release in 2014. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah Thomas, is Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012).

 E. Patrick Johnson is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Duke UP, 2003), and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History (University of North Carolina UP, 2008). He is the editor of Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis by Dwight Conquergood (Michigan UP, 2013) and co-editor (with Mae G. Henderson) of Black Queer Studies—A Critical Anthology (Duke UP, 2005) and (with Ramon Rivera-Servera) of solo/black/woman: scripts, interviews, and essays (Northwestern UP, 2013).

Annelise Riles is the Jack G. Clarke Professor of Law in Far East Legal Studies and Professor of Anthropology at Cornell, and she serves as Director of the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture. Her work focuses on the transnational dimensions of laws, markets and culture across the fields of comparative law, conflict of laws, the anthropology of law, public international law and international financial regulation.  Her most recent book, Collateral Knowledge: Legal Reasoning in the Global Financial Markets (Chicago Press 2011) is based on ten years of fieldwork among regulators and lawyers in the global derivatives markets. Her recently co-authored article From Multiculturalism to Technique:  Feminism, Culture, and the Conflict of Laws Style(with Karen Knop & Ralf Michaels), 64(3) Stanford Law Review, 589-656 (Mar 2012) concerns what conflict of laws can contribute to theoretical debates about the clash between feminist and multiculturalist norms.   Her first book, The Network Inside Out, won the American Society of International Law’s Certificate of Merit for 2000-2002. Her second book, Rethinking the Masters of Comparative Law, is a cultural history of Comparative Law presented through its canonical figures. Her third book, Documents: Artifacts of Modern Knowledge brings together lawyers, anthropologists, sociologists and historians of science. She has conducted legal and anthropological research in China, Japan and the Pacific and speaks Chinese, Japanese, French, and Fijian. She has served as a visiting Professor at Yale, University of Tokyo, the London School of Economics, University of Melbourne and as visiting researcher at the Bank of Japan.   She also writes about financial markets regulation on her blog, http://blogs.cornell.edu/collateralknowledge/

Jesse Weaver Shipley is an ethnographer and filmmaker. He is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Haverford College. His scholarly work focuses on the interrelationship between urban life, sovereignty, aesthetics, and technology in Ghana and recent African Diasporas. He is the author of Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music (Duke University Press 2013). Recent articles appear in journals including American Ethnologist, Anthropology Quarterly, Cultural Anthropology, and Social Text. Film work includes Living the Hiplife: Musical Life in the Streets of Accra, Black Star, Is It Sweet? Tales of an African Superstar in New York, Investigated, and High Tea. His new book Trickster Theatre: The Poetics of Freedom in Urban Africa is out in 2015 with Indiana University Press.

Diana Taylor is Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish at NYU. She is the author of Theatre of Crisis: Drama and Politics in Latin America (1991), which won the Best Book Award given by New England Council on Latin American Studies and Honorable Mention in the Joe E. Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama, of Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’, Duke U.P., 1997, and The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Duke U.P., 2003) which won the ATHE Research Award in Theatre Practice and Pedagogy and the Modern Language Association Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for the best book in Latin American and Spanish Literatures and Culture (2004). She is editor of Stages of Conflict: A Reader in Latin American Theatre and Performance (forthcoming Michigan U. P.) and co-editor of Holy Terrors: Latin American Women Perform (Duke U.P., 2004), Defiant Acts/Actos Desafiantes: Four Plays by Diana Raznovich, Bucknell U. P., 2002, Negotiating Performance in Latin/o America: Gender, Sexuality and Theatricality, Duke U.P., 1994, and The Politics of Motherhood: Activists from Left to Right, University Press of New England, 1997. She has edited five volumes of critical essays on Latin American, Latino, and Spanish playwrights. Her articles on Latin American and Latino performance have appeared in The Drama Review, Theatre Journal, Performing Arts Journal, Latin American Theatre Review, Estreno, Gestos, Signs, MLQ and other scholarly journals. She has also been invited to participate in discussions on the role of new technologies in the arts and humanities in important conferences and commissions in the Americas (i.e. ACLS Commission on Cyberinfrastructure). Diana Taylor is founding Director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.

Elmo-Terry Morgan (MFA, University of California-San Diego, 1978) is Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Theatre Arts and Performance Studies; and Artistic Director of Rites and Reason Theatre He is also on the faculty of the new Brown/Trinity Repertory Graduate Program in Theater Arts. Terry-Morgan’s areas of specialization are African-American Theatre, Black LGBTQ Theatre, African-American Folk Traditions and Cultural Expressions, and Playwriting. He has served as managing editor for the Black Theatre Network News. Before coming to Brown Professor Terry-Morgan was a long time associate director and playwright at the National Black Theatre of Harlem, NY.  He also served as writer and director of the AUDELCO Awards show, the Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre, NYC, from 1988–1999.

Deborah A. Thomas is Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica and Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica; and co-editor of the volume Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness. Her articles have appeared in a diverse range of journals including Cultural Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Radical History Review, small axe, Identities, and Feminist Review. Thomas edited the journal Transforming Anthropology from 2007-2010, and currently sits on the editorial boards of Social and Economic Studies and American Anthropologist, for which she also co-edits the Visual Anthropology Section. Thomas was also co-director and co-producer of the documentary film, BAD FRIDAY: RASTAFARI AFTER CORAL GARDENS, which chronicles violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community; she is currently working on a multi-media installation/public art project addressing the state of emergency in West Kingston in 2010. A member of the Executive Council for the Caribbean Studies Association from 2008-2011, Thomas currently sits on the board of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), and is Secretary of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Prior to her life as an academic, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women.

Debra Spitulnik Vidali

is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, Emory University and the Founding Director of Re-Generation Initiative.  Additionally, she is a core faculty member of the Program in Linguistics and an associated faculty member of the Department of Film & Media Studies at Emory University. Vidali’s work centers on critical epistemology, ethnographic theater, experimental ethnography, political subjectivity, democracy & citizenship, public sphere theory, discourse circulation, and media ethnography. Recent publications and projects include: “Kabusha Radio Remix, Your Questions Answered by Pioneering Zambian Talk Show Host,
David Yumba (1923-1990),” a multi-sensorial ethnographic installation co-created with Kwame Philips; “Civic Mediations,” a special Issue of the journal Ethnography 15(1) (2014), guest edited with Thomas Tufte; Slices of Time, class-based collaborative ethnographic theater project; and Re-Generation: Portraits of (Dis)Engagement, playscripts and theatrical productions (2009-2012).

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