I've just released a "preview" of my work-in-progress second film, These Days, These Homes! With support from the Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship (awarded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation), I've been working on the film all year and hope to have it finished in 2019. For a description of what I've been doing and what's coming next for the film, see my blog post on the Wenner-Gren website.
As of August 2018, I'm now based at the University of Southern California, as Visiting Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles took up most of the summer, but now the semester has begun at USC and it's full steam ahead. I'm excited to be teaching a First-Year Seminar titled "Nation, Culture, and Power in East Asia" as well as a graduate seminar on Media Ethnography and Chinese Visual Culture. USC has a vibrant visual studies and visual anthropology community as well, and I recently spoke as a discussant for the opening "back to school" event in the Visual Studies Research Institute, which featured talks on art and heritage politics by Sarah Hollenberg (University of Utah) and Peter Probst (Tufts University). In Spring 2019, I'll be co-teaching the visual studies graduate seminar with Nancy Lutkehaus (USC Anthropology), on cultural heritage, tourism, and art.
In other news, I was interviewed for a recently published article on ethnic minority restaurants in China, by Georgia Freeman, who has a cookbook on Yunnanese food coming out later this fall.
I was invited to write an afterword for this forthcoming special issue of the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology on film and the representation of "exotic others." The issue features a wide range of case studies of (mostly) documentary filmmaking projects across the Asia-Pacific region, and the authors analyze the multiple intersections between documentary film, tourism development, and the imagination of the other. Moreover, the essays in the issue question deeply how the representation of "otherness" is produced and practiced in touristic contexts.
In my afterword, I situate these case studies within broader anthropological debates on tourism imaginaries and visual anthropology. As my own work as an ethnographic filmmaker and anthropologist tries to show, the fundamental methodology of participation observation can and should be critiqued and challenged by concepts and practices of filmmaking and visual representation. Thus, I titled my afterword "filmmaking as critical participation observation" in order to illustrate what ethnographers (particularly those working in touristic contexts) can gain from taking film seriously in the practice and production of cultural representations.
Click on the image for a list of articles and abstracts from the issue!