Congratulations to this year’s Summer Research Award recipients! We are thrilled by the ambitious and innovative work they’re all completing, and are pleased to be able to provide summer funding to support their research initiatives.
Miyoko Conley (Theater, Dance & Performance Studies) asks: how do new media technologies alter concepts of liveness? How can we see this change through transnational fan cultures? And what does liveness say about audience practices in the digital age? These are key questions in my dissertation on transnational K-pop (Korean pop music) fandom, which uses K-pop fandom as a specific example to understand audience reception on a transnational scale, and how digital media affects community formation and practices. My research project for summer 2017 is to examine K-pop hologram concerts in Seoul, South Korea, to see how digital technologies and fan practices affect performance in a physical space. In addition to hologram concerts themselves, I will study the multimedia complexes they are attached to, in order to think through how K-pop is specifically figured as a digital, total entertainment.
Juliana’s (Anthropology) summer research project seeks to integrate Many-to-Many, a collaborative digital archive project, into her broader dissertation research on media, youth and sexuality in West Africa. Many-to-Many is an interactive digital archive of conversations recorded around the world. A collaboration with BCNM, it harnesses digital tools to promote collaboration in the production and circulation of ethnographic knowledge. For the first part of the summer, she will revise the user interface in response to feedback received at a round table discussion held in April. She hopes to bring the user interface into better alignment with ethical commitments to collaboration. Then, upon her return to Senegal, she will work with key interlocutors at her main field site – an adolescent health center in Kolda, Senegal – to conduct user experience research in their communities. She will ask her teen informants, including a peer sex-educator who recorded conversations about sexuality on the website, to help determine who takes part in the user experience study. Since part of her research concerns changing modes of intergenerational discussion about sexuality amidst expanding digital media, their decision to include or exclude parents and/or paternal aunts (bajaan) from discussion will be particularly revealing. In addition to addressing specific research questions about publicity, privacy, and digital circulation, community feedback will help improve the website’s accessibility, and will help address unacknowledged assumptions that may be embedded in the interface. Both in Berkeley and in Kolda, this summer explores the possibilities and limitations of Many-to-Many as a tool for dialogic anthropology and participatory research.
Maija Hynninen (Music) will research and begin manufacturing wireless sensor technology for her dissertation this summer. She is creating a sound design for a kinetic sculpture by Eero Tiittula, the working title of which is ‘Sounding Sculpture’. By building contact microphones and pre-amplifiers that attach directly on the sculpture, she hopes to capture the sound of this kinetic sculpture as it moves and process the sound live. She will also use a surround sound system to be able to create vivid spatialisation of the sound in space. The results of this research will be presented in a concert during fall 2017 or spring 2018. As an acoustic musician accompanied by live electronics, Maija focuses on mixed music, and is interested in building her own audio tools as a personal toolkit for her artistic work. She is particularly interested in wireless sensor technology, computer-controlled LEDs, and enclosures for devices.
Engaging black women who work and perform at the interstices of slavery’s legacies and erotic autonomy, Malika Imhotep (African American Studies) explores the connections between: proximity to sites of slave trade, vernacular understandings of black female flesh as commodity, black femme erotic labor, and the performance aesthetics and consequent global identities that emerge from these discourses. She uses “black femme erotic labor” to index the distinct ways in which blackness, femininity, and performative sexuality intersect as the bodies marked by their characteristics seek access to capital. Her research question asks: Considering cultural production in the Black Diaspora, how does ‘sex work,’ operating as a performance trope, illicit economy and medium of mobility, speak to the raced and gendered infrastructure of modernity? This summer, Malika will be traveling to Bahia, Brazil to attend a Decolonial Black Feminism Summer School, where she will have the opportunity to work closely with Angela Davis and Patricia Hill Collins. Malika will also travel to Slavador de Bahia, where Batekoo, a black Brazilian party turned social movement, was founded, during which she will engage with the urban youth mediascape that the initial Batekoo videos were circulated throughout to draw parallels between this urban afro-phenomenon and that of ‘twerk’ in the American South. In addition to online and offline socialization, Malika will conduct some preliminary field inquiries to see how black femme erotic laborers in Brazil see themselves in relation other black diasporic communities, and how they use black online publics as a means of self-fashioning and community building.
Molly Nicholas (Computer Science) is thrilled to be working with Eric Paulos to combine her interests of puppeteering and robotics in new and unusual ways. She is particularly interested in how her practice of bringing inanimate objects to life can inform interaction design of mechanical-electric systems, prompting delight and wonder in the participant, and creating a more magical world for humans and robots alike. Over the summer, she will work with the Medical Clowning Project in San Francisco to create playful, fun, empowering interactive experiences for patients. Molly has already spent some time shadowing the clowns in their hospital rounds, and now looks forward to making custom electronics prototypes for the clowns to use as they connect with patients.
Yairamaren Roman Maldonado
Yairamaren (Spanish & Portuguese Language & Literature)will be collaborating with UC Davis’ digital storytelling project Humanizando la Deportación/ Humanizing Deportation this summer. The principal investigators of this project are Robert Irwin and Guillermo Alonso Meneses. The project objectives are the following: “In response to general lack of first-hand knowledge regarding the experience of deportation and removal, and the consequent dehumanized narratives on the topic, we are producing an online open access archive of personal stories about deportation. Policy debate on deportation tends to be driven by statistics, with little attention to human experience. This project will make visible a range of humanitarian issues that mass human displacement has generated as the result of its management on both sides of the US-Mexico border.It employs digital storytelling, a digital genre that puts control of content and production in the hands of community storytellers (deportees and others affected by deportation and deportability), to produce a public archive that will give a human face to the deportation crisis.”. For more information and/or to stay updated with this project, please visit the website: http://humanizandoladeportacion.ucdavis.edu/en/