Wednesday, April 29th: Ethnography | A prototype – Alberto Corsín Jiménez

Jiménez SED event poster

WEDNESDAY, April 29th
4:00 – 6:00 PM

Join SED for a talk by Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid. Professor Jiménez will discuss the politics of prototyping at the intersection of ethnographic design and free culture activism. This talk describes a long-term collaborative project with a variety of free culture activists in Madrid: digital artists, Occupy assemblies and guerrilla architectural collectives. Coming of age as Spain walked into the abyss of the economic crisis, Jiménez describes how the research team was forced to re- function the ethnographic project into a ‘prototype’- a notion borrowed from free culture activism. These ethnographic prototypes allowed the team to argue with collaborators *about* the city at the same time as we argued *through* the city. Providing a symmetrical counterpoint to the actions of free culture hackers elsewhere in the city, these anthropological prototypes were both a cultural signature of the radical praxis taking place in Madrid today and its expressive infrastructure.

Alberto Corsín Jiménez has recently completed a book, A trompe l’oeil anthropology for a common world (Berghahn 2013), and edited a special issue on “Prototyping Cultures” for the Journal of Cultural Economy (2014). He is also the editor of Culture and well-being: anthropological approaches to freedom and political ethics (Pluto 2008) and The anthropology of organisations (Ashgate 2007). He is a founding member of Ciudad Escuela (, an open-source urban pedagogical platform.g.

Suggested Reading:

Wednesday, April 22nd: Documentary Theatre and Ethnographic Practice | Workshop with Paul Flores and Alex Sanchez

SED Placas Theatre Workshop Poster

WEDNESDAY, April 22nd
3:00 – 5:00 PM

The Studio for Ethnographic Design presents playwright Paul Flores and gang peacemaker Alex Sanchez. Flores will discuss the relevance of ethnographic practice in developing his documentary theatre work PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo. The workshop will also feature Sanchez, who will reflect upon his experience in collaborating with academics, journalists, and artists in general, and ethnographers in particular, in developing projects of mutual concern.

Workshop participants will discuss the intersections between ethnography and theatre as sites for collaboration and social transformation. Using PLACAS as an example, participants will engage with ethnographic research techniques geared towards building documentary theatre.

Suggested Reading:
PLACAS Study Guide.

PLACAS: Events on Ethnography, Theatre, and Latino Cultural Production


Join SED for a three-day series of events celebrating Latino cultural production, ethical research practice, and ethnographic design in anticipation of the theatre production PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo. The play follows the life of a Salvadorean ex-gang member and his journey to remove his tattoos, save his son, and explore his identity. Written by Paul Flores (UCSD alum) and directed by Michael John Garces (Cornerstone Theatre), PLACAS is based on the life of activist and founder of Homies Unidos, Alex Sanchez, who is played by Ric Salinas of Culture Clash. The play will be performed at Lincoln High School in National City, April 23-25. Playwright Flores, activist Sanchez, and the rest of the cast will be engaged in multiple events at UC San Diego to discuss documentary practices and social justice issues.

MONDAY, April 20th
12:00 – 2:00 PM

UCSD alumni discuss how cultural identity is an asset for community organizing, and how UCSD prepares graduates for leadership in community transformation and social justice campaigns.

TUESDAY, April 21st
4:00 – 6:00 PM

An excerpt from the critically acclaimed play by UCSD Writing/ Literature alum Paul S. Flores about transnational gangs, tattoo removal and healing. Followed by a discussion with cast and gang peacemaker Alex Sanchez.

WEDNESDAY, April 22nd
3:00 – 5:00 PM

The Studio for Ethnographic Design presents playwright Paul Flores and activist Alex Sanchez. Flores will discuss the relevance of ethnographic practice in developing his documentary theatre work PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo. The workshop will also feature gang peacemaker Alex Sanchez, who will reflect upon his experience in collaborating with academics, journalists, and artists in general, and ethnographers in particular, in developing projects of mutual concern.

Cripping/Disabling Ethnography: A discussion with Cassandra Hartblay

CrippingEthnographyTHURSDAY, March 12th
2:30 – 4:30 PM

Join SED for a discussion on ethnography and disability co-hosted with the Center for Humanities Research Group Translat(e)ability: Borders, Disability, and Crip Collaboratives. Cassandra Hartblay – a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – will present work on the tensions and possibilities of producing ethnographic work in relation to critical disability studies.

Cassandra Hartblay is an award-winning scholar of disability and postsoviet Russia. An ethnographer and cultural anthropologist by training, her work contributes to interdisciplinary conversations in queer/feminist disability studies, global studies, and infrastructure studies. Cassandra’s work on comparative regimes of productivity and dependency, as related to gender, disability, and the welfare state between the United States and Soviet Union in the 20th century, received the competitive Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies in 2013. She has also worked as an applied qualitative researcher with the Soros Foundation, contributing to a collected volume on inclusive education in Central Asia. She is a dedicated ethnographer devoted to community engagement, critical praxis, social change, and fostering cross-cultural understanding.

Suggested Reading:
Hartblay, C. (2015). “It’s just for the check mark”: Minimum Requirements, Global Friction, and Inaccessible Accessibility Ramps in Russia. Work in Progress.

March 9: Ethnographic Presence, Absence, and Substance. A discussion with Stefan Helmreich

stefanhelmreich SED_new1

This is a discussion-style event – please feel welcome to attend even if you do not have time for the readings.

Suggested Readings:

Helmreich 2007 An Anthropologist Underwater

Choy 2011 Air’s Substantiations

Stefan Helmreich is the Elting E. Morison Professor and Program Head of Anthropology at MIT. His research examines the works and lives of biologists thinking through the limits of “life” as a category of analysis. Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas (University of California Press, 2009) is a study of marine biologists working in realms usually out of sight and reach: the microscopic world, the deep sea, and oceans outside national sovereignty. This book, winner of the 2010 Senior Book Prize from the American Ethnological Society, the 2010 Gregory Bateson Book Prize from Society for Cultural Anthropology, and the 2012 Rachel Carson Book Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science, charts how marine microbes are entangled with debates about the origin of life, climate change, property in the ocean commons, and the possibility of life on other worlds. An earlier book, Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World (University of California Press, 1998) is an ethnography of computer modeling in the life sciences. In 2000, it won the Diana Forsythe Book Prize from the American Anthropological Association. Helmreich’s newest research concerns the cultural circulation of such abstractions as “water,” “sound,” and “waves.”


March 3rd & March 6th: Brian Cross & Tara-Lynne Pixley – “Visual Ethnographies and Documentary Practices”

SED_Brian Cross & Tara-Lynne Pixley_Visual Ethnographies

TUESDAY, March 3rd
9:30 – 11:00 AM

Join SED for breakfast and a vibrant discussion on visual ethnographies and documentary practices led by Visual Arts professor Brian Cross (B+) and Communication PhD student Tara-Lynne Pixley. Cross and Pixley  both photographers and filmmakers   will discuss the interstitial terrain between these different forms and fields of practice.

FRIDAY, March 6th
3:00 – 5:00 PM

Part II of this workshop is structured as a collaborative event where participants are encouraged to share works-in-progress (photography, video, and multimedia projects), receive feedback, and discuss future iterations of these visual and experimental projects.

Suggested Readings:

Connole, B. (n.d.). Sub-altermodern art? An interview with B+.

MacDougall, D. (1978). Ethnographic Film: Failure and Promise. Annual Review of Anthropology, 7, 405-425.

Minh-Ha, T. (1990). Documentary Is/Not a Name. October, 52 (Spring), 76-98.

Tuesday, February 24th: Angela Booker “Finding, Making, and Repairing Ethical Practices in Community-Based Research”

SED Poster_Angela BookerTUESDAY, February 24th
2:30 – 4:30 PM

Drawing from community-based research with youth and families, Angela Booker will trace the complexities of negotiating textures of agency and calls to action that permeate both ethnographic and design-based work. When challenges to existing discourses of power are added, ethical quandaries and opportunities emerge. This workshop will explore the possibilities that these ethical issues present in the context of community-based research with youth, and beyond. Following this discussion, workshop participants are invited to collaborate in small groups to explore the emergence of ethical opportunities, expectations and the divergence of practices that branch from the ethnographic and research-related experiences of participants.

Suggested Reading:
Goldman, S., Booker, A., & McDermott, M. (2008). Mixing the Digital, Social, and Cultural: Learning, Identity, and Agency in Youth Participation. In Youth, Identity, and Digital Media (p. 185–206). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Thursday, February 19th: Christina Dunbar-Hester “Low Power to the People”

Christina Dunbar-Hester

THURSDAY, February 19th
11:00 AM

Christina Dunbar-Hester will discuss her work on the politics of DIY (do-it-yourself) practice and FM radio activism in her recently-published book, Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism (2014). Following the practices of activist technical communities, Dunbar-Hester traces the activities of a small activist organization focused on low-power FM (LPFM) during the early period of the institutionalization of LPFM, beginning in the early 2000s, with an eye toward the intersection of technical practice and political engagement.

Suggested Reading:

Dunbar-Hester, C. (2014). Producing “Participation”? The Pleasures and Perils of Technical Engagement in Radio Activism. Public Culture, 26(1), 25-50.

TIM INGOLD Ways of Walking and Working Oct 1st and 4th

SED Ingold Poster Final

Suggested Readings:

Ingold, Temporality of the Landscape (1993) in World Archaeology, Volume 25 No. 2, 152-174.

Ingold, Footprints through the Weather World (2010) “Footprints through the weather-world: walking, breathing, knowing,” in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.), S121-S139.

Ingold, That’s enough about ethnography (2014)  in HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4 (1), 383-395.

Ingold, Ways of Walking Introduction (2008) in Ways of Walking: Ethnography and Practice on Foot, Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 1-19.