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Anthropology and the Arts

Asain dancer statue

The intersections of aesthetic and cultural production, art and critical social theory, and experience and the senses inform conversations among a number of faculty. Paulla Ebron has focused on performance and the politics of representing Africa. She is currently working on two projects, one on landscape and history, artifact and memory, and writing as an engaged practice. A second project centers on globalization, Western art music, and forms of cultural capital. Angela Garcia explores literary craft in ethnographic writing and the efficacy of such modes to engage human experience, social forms and broader publics. Lochlann Jain takes graphic production, and representation more generally, as a central feature of how Americans understand and practice law and medicine. Jain is currently researching graphic practices in medicine and teaches courses on graphic novels and visual theory. Tanya Luhrmann examines outsider art and specifically work produced by people with psychotic disorders. Thomas Blom Hansen has written on how popular theatre and film are powerful media for debating public morality and community ethics in urban South Africa. Liisa Malkki is interested in visual culture, the social and political uses of the category of "art", as well as the ethics and aesthetics of humanitarianism. She is also working on the material practices that people other than professional aid workers engage in as they seek to identify subject positions from which to be of aid, to be "useful".

Duana Fullwiley is experimenting with how voice and narration in cross cultural fiction might prove useful in relating ethnographic accounts of high tech science for the broader public. As an anthropologist of science and medicine, she also queries how images of nature, and especially geography, are used in scientific renderings of genetic maps and other visual constructions of social orders. She is generally concerned about the pictorial use of the physical world in scientific models to instantiate specific truths about human difference.

John Rick looks at cognitive issues concerning the use of sound and light, and the display of iconic, graphic imagery in early heirarchical societies of the Andes. Barbara Voss collaborates with San Francisco Bay area artists to expand the representation and interpretation of local archaeological collections and sites. Lynn Meskell's research ranges from "object lessons" in ancient Egypt; materiality, form, and human and animal figuration at Catalhoyuk, Turkey. Her more current work centers on the often fraught politics of UNESCO practice, particularly as it informs struggles over "World Heritage" sites.