Stephanie N Sadre-Orafai
Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Critical Visions Certificate Program
Stephanie Sadre-Orafai is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the production of difference and types among expert communities in the United States. Her ethnographic work examines media and cultural producers, emerging forms of expertise, the intersection of race, language, and visual practices in aesthetic industries, and forms of evidence and the body. She studied anthropology with a minor in African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (BA, 2000) and received her Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at New York University in 2010, when she also joined the faculty at UC.
Her essays on casting, model development, and fashion reality television have appeared in several edited volumes (PDFs). She is currently working on her first book, tentatively titled Real People, Real Models: Casting Race and Fashion in 21st Century America, which examines the history of casting in the New York fashion industry, the rise of non-professional or "real people" models, and how modeling and casting agents produce models' bodies as forms of media, creating new articulations of mediation, visibility, and difference in the process. Building on four years of ethnographic fieldwork in the New York fashion industry, the book explores the political implications of how these new articulations are refracted through idioms of beauty, desirability, and justice.
She is also working on a comparative project, Type by Design, that explores the overlapping concerns of inanimate (typefaces) and animate (models) type production in the commercial font and high fashion modeling industries in New York City. In both sites, there are tensions between visibility and invisibility, legibility and aesthetic nuance, and the management of lay and expert visions in producing culturally recognizable types and individual faces. Joining together ethnographic and archival research, she examines the mutually vivifying and dehumanizing dimensions of type production and what their professional practices can reveal about underlying changes in cultural ideas of “difference” and how they are visually encoded across time, technologies, and markets. This project extends her earlier comparative work on fashion and policing, where she examined the temporal dimensions of mug shots alongside casting photographs, and the spatial dimensions of street scouting and stop-and-frisk practices.
She co-directs the Critical Visions Certificate, a joint effort between faculty in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and College of Arts and Sciences, which she established with Jordan Tate in 2011. The program is aimed at teaching students how to effectively combine critical theory and social analysis with art, media, and design practice. She co-edits CVSN, the experimental publication of student work from the program, made possible with funding from UC Forward. Themes have included "space" (2013), "the future," "color" (2016), and "surface" (2018).She is also core faculty for the Graduate Certificate in Film & Media Studies, a founding member of the Taft Visual Studies Research Group, and affiliate faculty in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
PhD, New York University 2010 (Anthropology)
MA, New York University 2005 (Anthropology)
BA, University of California, Berkeley 2000 (Anthropology)
race and visual culture; social, cultural, and institutional practices of typification; professional communities; media, design, and aesthetic industries; language and expertise; evidence and the body; practice-based social theory; the United States
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Zoey Bray, and Jenny Chio 2019 Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Theorizing Portraits in the 21st Century: Images of Social Engagement, Cultural Encounters, and Political Recognition, Workshop Grant Role:PI 19,950 Active Type:Grant
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, and Brooke Brandewie 2018 Faculty Development Interdisciplinary Research Grant Social Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology Role:PI 10,000 Completed Type:Grant
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie 04-01-2017 -06-30-2017 Bard Graduate Center Visiting Fellowship Type by Design Role:Fellow Completed Type:Fellowship
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie 2016 Third Century Faculty Release Fellowship, Arts, Humanities, and Social Science Research Advisory Board Type by Design Role:Fellow $9,957 Completed Type:Fellowship
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie 2013 -2014 UC LEAF Career Branch Award, University of Cincinnati Cultural Practices of Type Production Role:PI $3,000 Completed Type:Grant
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie 2012 Faculty Summer Research Fellowship, Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, University of Cincinnati Visual Anxiety: Fashioning Difference in 21st Century America Role:Fellow $8,000 Completed Type:Fellowship
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Jordan Tate 2012 -2016 UC Forward Faculty Request for Funding, University of Cincinnati Critical Visions Role:PI $30,000 Active
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Jordan Tate 2011 Faculty Development Council Interdisciplinary Research Grant Look Better: The Critical Visions Symposium Role:PI $17,240 Completed Type:Grant
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie 2010 University Research Council Faculty Research Grant, University of Cincinnati Image Makers: Collecting Oral Histories of Casting Professionals in the New York Fashion Industry Role:PI $8,000 Completed
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie 2006 -2007 Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Producing Racial and Ethnic Types: Language, Perception & Embodied Differences in New York's Fashion Industry, Dissertation Fieldwork Award Role:PI $25,000 Completed Type:Grant
Investigators:Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie 2002 -2006 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for Minorities Role:Fellow Completed Type:Fellowship
Peer Reviewed Publications
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Jordan Tate, Sso-Rha Kang, and Andrew McGrath (2018. )Critical Visions and the Unsteady In-Between .American Anthropologist , ,120 (1 ),153–162
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2016. )Models, Measurement, and the Problem of Mediation in the New York Fashion Industry .Visual Anthropology Review, ,32 (2 ),122-132
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2016. )Recasting Fashion Image Production: An Ethnographic & Practice-Based Approach to Studying Bodies as Media .Fashion Studies: Research Methods, Sites & Practices, ,Edited by Heike Jenß. London, Bloomsbury ,101-16
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014. ).Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology, ,
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012. )The Figure of the Model and Reality Television .Fashioning Models: Image, Text, and Industry, ,Edited by Joanne Entwistle and Elizabeth Wissinger. London: Berg. ,119 -133
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2008. )Developing Images: Race, Language, and Perception in Fashion-model Casting .Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Reviewing Images of Fashion, ,141-53
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie Mug Shot/Head Shot: Danger, Beauty, and the Temporal Politics of Booking Photography .Fashion Crimes: Dressing for Deviance, ,Edited by Jo Turney. London, IB Tauris ,
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2018. ).Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies , 5 (2 ),
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2016. )Liminal Spaces and Worlds Otherwise .Prefaces, Jordan Tate. Copenhagen: Lodret Vandret ,80-83
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012. )Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 4-August 7, 2011, curated by Andrew Bolton (exhibition review) .Catwalk: The Journal of Fashion, Beauty, and Style , 1 (1 ),104-9
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2011. )Fashion's Other Images: Casting Photographs and the Production of a Professional Vision .Images in Time: Flashing Forward, Backward, in Front and Behind Photography in Fashion, Advertising and the Press, Edited by Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir, Michael A. Langkjær, and Jo Turney. Bath, Wunderkammer ,123 -130
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2005. )Hypernationalist Discourse in the Rapso Movement of Trinidad & Tobago .Globalisation, Diaspora, and Caribbean Popular Culture, 215-41
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2013. )Matter out of Place. An experimental encyclopedia exhibited in Chasing Papers, Ford Gallery, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, October 14–November 14 .
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Robert Y. Chang (2011. )Casting. A 6-minute documentary exhibited in Artless Photographs, University Galleries on Sycamore, FotoFocus Biennial, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 1–27 .
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (11-17-2016. )On the strategic non-use and insistent use of photography—the future of visual anthropology .Ethnographic Terminalia Workshop: The Photo-Essay is Dead, Long Live the Photo Essay, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis .
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (11-05-2014. )Eyes on the Street .Roundtable participant. Niehoff Urban Studio in conjunction with the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (10-23-2014. )Visual Anxiety and Expert Logics of Type Production .LETStudio, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (04-03-2014. )Modeling Numbers: Race, Age, and Health in the New York Fashion Industry .Departments of Sociology, Anthropology, and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (03-05-2014. )Access .Keynote Roundtable Participant. Transforming Access, Composition Graduate Student Conference. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Elizabeth Wissinger (09-26-2013. )Fashioning Models .Public Lecture with Elizabeth Wissinger, The Museum at FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (07-12-2013. )Mugging the Archive: Traces of Encounters, Spaces of Imagination .Thinking Memory through Space: Materiality, Representation, and Imagination Symposium, Goldsmiths College, London, UK.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (03-02-2012. )Race, Realness, and the New York Fashion Industry .Sociology Colloquium, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (11-12-2010. )Recasting Fashion Image Production .Locating Fashion/Studies: Research Sites & Practices Symposium, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (09-09-2010. )Culture and Media and the New York Fashion Industry .Culture and Media @ 25: Past, Present, Future, New York University, New York, New York.
Sadre-Orafai (2017. )Characters, Types, and Specimens: On Human and Non-Human Portraiture .Washington, DC.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2015. )“I Kind of Naturally Became Very Anthropological”: Race, Language, Brands & the Limits of Para- Ethnography in the New York Fashion Industry .Denver, CO.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014. )Research, Design, and Pedagogical Encounters with Post-Rationalization: Language, Embodiment, and the Making of Meaning .Washington, DC. Professional Meeting.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Todd Nicewonger (2014. )Post-Rationalization .LETStudio, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014. )The Logic of Sense: Crafting and Mediating Types in 21st Century America .Detroit, Michigan.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014. )The In/Visibility of Type Production: Casting, Design, and Surveillance as Cultural Practices .Boston, Massachusetts.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2013. )Street Suspicion: Experts and Types in Post-9/11 New York City .Chicago, Illinois.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2013. )Desiring In/Visibility: Street Surveillance and Visual Anxiety in 21st Century New York .London, UK.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012. )Models, Measurement, and Mediation in the New York Fashion Industry .San Francisco, California.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012. )Artless Photographs .Albany, New York.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2011. )Beyond Types: Animating Evidence and Potential in Booking Photographs .Montreal, Canada.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2011. )As If: Ethnographies of the Subjunctive .Baltimore, Maryland.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2010. )Polaroids and Go-Sees: Casting Encounters, Casting Epistemologies .New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2009. )Scouting and Developing “Difference”: The Meaning of Value, Labor, and Bodies in New York’s Modeling Industry .Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2009. )Working with Fashion’s Other Images: An Ethnographic Practice-Based Approach to Analyzing Casting Photographs, Image Brokers, and Bodies as Media .Reykjavik, Iceland.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2008. )The Figure of the Model: Reframing Visibility, Agency, “Difference,” and Desert in the New York Fashion Industry .San Francisco, California.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2007. )Imagining Types: Race, Place, and “Real People” Casting in the New York Fashion Industry .Washington, DC.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2005. )Evidentiary vs. Aesthetic Evaluation: Production and the Fashion Image on America’s Next Top Model .Washington, DC.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2005. )The Booker’s Eye: On Visuality, Veracity, and Mutability .Worcester, Massachusetts.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2002. )Beauty, Sex and Passing .San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2000. )Hypernationalist Discourse in the Rapso Movement in Trinidad and Tobago .Castries, St. Lucia.
Event OrganizedSocial Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology [co-organized with Brooke Brandewie]
Social Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology [co-organized with Brooke Brandewie] Symposium 03-29-2018 03-30-2018 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio Level:NationalConference Session. Practice, Process, and Post-Rationalization: Notes on Making and the Temporality of Creativity [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger]
Conference Session. Practice, Process, and Post-Rationalization: Notes on Making and the Temporality of Creativity [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger] 12-03-2014 12-07-2014 American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DCPost-Rationalization: Practice, Process, and the Temporality of Creativity [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger]
Post-Rationalization: Practice, Process, and the Temporality of Creativity [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger] Workshop 10-28-2014 10-29-2014 LETStudio, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden Level:InternationalConference Session. What Work Feels Like: The Ends of Invisibility in America [co-organized with Christina Moon & Susanna Rosenbaum]
Conference Session. What Work Feels Like: The Ends of Invisibility in America [co-organized with Christina Moon & Susanna Rosenbaum] 05-09-2014 05-10-2014 Society of Cultural Anthropology Biennial Meeting, Detroit, MichiganExhibition. Artless Photographs [co-curated with Lee Elizabeth Douglas]
Exhibition. Artless Photographs [co-curated with Lee Elizabeth Douglas] 10-01-2012 10-27-2012 University Galleries on Sycamore, FotoFocus Biennial, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 1-27Conference Session: Rhythms of Hesitation, Edges of Forms [co-organized with Christina Moon]
Conference Session: Rhythms of Hesitation, Edges of Forms [co-organized with Christina Moon] 11-17-2011 11-20-2011 American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LouisianaConference Session: Unsettling Accounts: Photographs, Traces, and Evidence [co-organized with Lee Elizabeth Douglas]
Conference Session: Unsettling Accounts: Photographs, Traces, and Evidence [co-organized with Lee Elizabeth Douglas] 11-16-2011 11-20-2011 American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Montreal, CanadaConference Roundtable: As If: Ethnographies of the Subjunctive [co-organized with Susanna Rosenbaum]
Conference Roundtable: As If: Ethnographies of the Subjunctive [co-organized with Susanna Rosenbaum] 10-20-2011 10-23-2011 American Studies Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, MarylandLOOK BETTER: The Critical Visions Symposium [co-organized with Jordan Tate]
LOOK BETTER: The Critical Visions Symposium [co-organized with Jordan Tate] Symposium 10-13-2011 10-14-2011 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio Level:InternationalConference Session: Revisiting the Beauty/Justice Debate and Anthropology’s Place in It: New Ethnographies of Aesthetic Practices & Industries [co-organized with Todd NIcewonger]
Conference Session: Revisiting the Beauty/Justice Debate and Anthropology’s Place in It: New Ethnographies of Aesthetic Practices & Industries [co-organized with Todd NIcewonger] 11-19-2008 11-23-2008 American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CaliforniaConference Session: Brokering Images, Casting Differences: Practices of Anticipating the Imagination of Others [co-organized with Zeynep Devrim Gürsel]
Conference Session: Brokering Images, Casting Differences: Practices of Anticipating the Imagination of Others [co-organized with Zeynep Devrim Gürsel] 11-28-2007 12-02-2007 American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DCConference Session: Fashion Reality TV: Fashion as Process, Fashion as Product [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger]
Conference Session: Fashion Reality TV: Fashion as Process, Fashion as Product [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger] 11-30-2005 12-04-2005 American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DCExhibition. What Is and What Can Be: Women of Color and the Struggle for Justice [co-curated and designed with Matthew Wizinsky]
Exhibition. What Is and What Can Be: Women of Color and the Struggle for Justice [co-curated and designed with Matthew Wizinsky] 09-05-2018 various Level:Regional
2016 -2017 George Barbour Award for Good Faculty-Student Relations, All-University Faculty Award, University of Cincinnati
2018 Outstanding Faculty Award, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Cincinnati
2018 Rising Star Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Cincinnati
Lauren Freese, Anthropology, Corporate Apprenticeships in Design Research: Interdisciplinary Learning Practices of an Emergent Profession (Master )Advisor Status:Completed 2018
Andrew McGrath, Taft Senior Fellow, Anthropology, Conflicting Agency: Struggle and Resilience in a Housing First Program in Over-the-Rhine (Undergrad )Advisor Status:Completed 2015
Christian Key Beck, Anthropology, There is a Stranger among Us: The African-American Experience of Blackness in Japan (Master )Advisor Status:Completed 2013
Rachel Nickens, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Strength beyond the Track: Empowerment in Women’s Roller Derby (Master )Advisor Status:Completed 2012
Katherine Blake Plowden, Taft Senior Fellow, Anthropology, Re-Adapting Models of Democracy in Peru’s High Amazon (Undergrad )Advisor Status:Completed 2012
Andrew McGrath, Anthropology, Beyond Plasticity: Cochlear Implants, Family Objects, and Quasi-Neuronal Lives (Master )Advisor Status:Completed 2017
Keeley Gogul, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Invisibility, Fuckability, or Queerability? A Feminist Investigation of Gender Exploration and Identity in Adolescent Girls (Master )Chair Status:In Progress
Forrest Schmitt, Anthropology (Master )Chair Status:In Progress 2019
Stacy Jane Grover, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Queer Appalachian Oral History (Master )Committee Member Status:In Progress 2019
Jennifer Fisher, Anthropology, You are How You Speak: A Discursive Study of Experts and Expertise in Pediatric Pain Assessment (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2016
Mark Albain, Fine Art (Master )Committee Member Status:In Progress 2019
Aaron Wagner, Anthropology, From Plant to Park: The Evolution of Risk Perspectives among Former Fernald Employees (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2014
Kelly Voss, Art History, Placing Feminist Criticism within a Larger Social and Theoretical Framework: The Abject Art of Valie Export, Gina Pane & ORLAN (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2014
Jarrod Welling-Cann, Senior Project, Electronic Media, Nachiappan Sunrise (Undergrad )Committee Member Status:Completed 2013
Amy Dunham, Art History, Towards Collaboration: Partnership Between Indigenous & Non-Indigenous Australians in Art, from 1970 to the Present (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2011
Nick Hawes, Anthropology, Parental Strategies of Normalization in Account Giving for Child Behavioral Issues (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2011
Sso-Rha Kang, Art History, The Mood of Nothing: Depictions of Extraordinary Banality (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2016
Lisa Wnek, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Taking the “Man” out of war: A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2016
Amanda Hatch, German Studies/Film & Media Studies Certificate, “Where is Home?” Examining Borders in Yüksel Yavuz’s Kleine Freiheit and Kutluğ Ataman’s Lola und Bilidikid (Master )Committee Member Status:Completed 2016
Clothing Cultures Editorial Board Member Type:Editorial Service 2012 -To Present
Visual Anthropology Review Editor of Journal Type:Editorial Service 2019 -2021
Race, sociocultural anthropology, visual culture, aesthetic industries, fashion, media, cultural production, language, critical theory, social inequalities, ideologies of exclusion and inclusion, evidence, the body, profiling, US
Anthropology of Media / Advanced Topics: Media Anthropology, sophomore lecture and discussion course & grad seminar [F10, S12, S14, S19] Examining "media" as both an anthropological object and socio-cultural practice, this course focuses on how popular media like advertising, television, film, journalism, and photography (a) produce knowledge about cultures, (b) circulate and are mobilized in different ways across social and cultural contexts, and (c) can be analyzed through their artifacts, practices, and processes to reveal key insights about contemporary social life around the world. We will draw on a range of ethnographic case studies, including both readings and screenings, to explore topics such as culture, power, and representation; mediation and social life; desire, publics, and counterpublics; and globalization, states, and markets. We will also examine popular and scholarly discourses about "media" and consider the parallel projects of representation and mediation in which both anthropologists and media producers engage. This course satisfies the Breadth of Knowledge requirement in Diversity & Culture and Social & Ethical Issues.
Contemporary Anthropological Theory, senior/graduate seminar [W11, S12, S13, S15, F17] This course is organized around enduring tensions and emerging concepts in contemporary anthropological theory. Working through a select list of keywords—including culture, practice, structure and agency, power, subjectivity, performance and performativity, the everyday and the ordinary, precarity, the future, life and death, as well as others chosen by students—we will explore the relationships among anthropological theory, methods, pedagogy, and form. Our goal is to not just contextualize and historicize contemporary anthropological theory but also actively and creatively imagine its possible future trajectories. This is a combined graduate and advanced undergraduate seminar that fulfills the anthropology major capstone requirement and one of the two courses required for cultural track anthropology masters students.
Critical Visions, joint senior studio/seminar cross-listed in Fine Art, co-taught with Jordan Tate [S13, S14, S16, S18] The course is designed to guide students through the process of identifying and critiquing a dominant way of seeing that builds on their individualized coursework in critical theory, social analysis, and art, media, or design practice. Each student's project will synthesize these core elements (critical theory, social analysis, and art, media, or design practice) and function both independently as individual projects and collaboratively as part of work organized around a single theme identified by each cohort. Course activities will include research and discussion of project concepts, identification of a unifying group theme, individual and group critiques of the developing projects, and final execution and display of the projects in a forum that will encourage broad university engagement. This course is the required capstone for Critical Visions Certificate students.
Forms of Seeing / Advanced Topics: Seeing as Social Practice, junior lecture and discussion & grad seminar [F11, F12, F13, S15, F15, F18] An ethnographic approach to a range of visualizing practices and forms, emphasizing seeing as a socially situated, culturally variable, and historically specific practice. Topics include image, imagination, and power; visual economies; expert-visions; moral and social implications of forms of seeing; the intersection of visual, material, discursive and embodied practices.This course satisfies the Breadth of Knowledge requirement in Diversity & Culture and Social & Ethical Issues and can be applied toward the Critical Visions and Film & Media Studies certificates.
Beauty, Race, and Gender in the Marketplace / Advanced Topics: Beauty, Race, Gender & Power, senior & graduate seminar [S11, W12, S19] An ethnographic examination of the political, cultural, and economic stakes of aesthetic industries in multicultural and multiracial societies with a focus on race, gender, and power. We will explore the relationship between processes of racialization and aestheticization, how they are gendered, and their connections to liberalism, nationalism, business, and justice. This course can be applied toward the Critical Visions certificate.
Independent Readings, junior and senior directed readings courses [W12, S13, F12, S13] Directed readings on advanced topics for students who have completed at least two other courses with me. Topics have included: Beauty & Justice, Experimental Ethnography, Language, Politics & Sexuality, and Race & Post-9/11 America.
Anthropology of Hipsters, sophomore lecture & discussion course, co-taught with Sarah Jackson [S16] Using hipsters as a case study, this course introduces students to anthropological approaches to studying cultural groups. Drawing on methods used by both cultural anthropologists and archaeologists to study and define cultural groups--technologies, material culture, shared practices--this course asks what happens when a group rejects a category of identification. Drawing on both popular and scholarly examples, students will engage with multiple methodological approaches to studying identity groups, considering the different interpretations that result from disparate data sets. Topics will include irony and individuality; taste, class, and cool; fashion and cultural appropriation; music and media; technology, early adopters, and remediation; race and gentrification; and the globalization of the hipster phenomenon. This course satisfies the Breadth of Knowledge requirement in Diversity & Culture and Social Sciences and can be applied toward the Critical Visions Certificate program.
Anthropology of Race: Beyond Social Construction and Biological Determinism, sophomore honors course, co-taught with Heather Norton [F17] This course offers a critical analysis of race from an anthropological perspective that integrates both biological and socio-cultural subfields/approaches. We will draw on a range of ethnographic case studies and scientific papers to explore topics such as the historical, social, and cultural contingency of racial categories and their consequences; the evolution and patterning of human biological variation; the use of genomic information to refute and reinforce the salience of race as a biological concept; and the enduring impact of race and racism in American culture and individuals' constructions of their identities. Seeking to move beyond social constructionist and biological determinist arguments about race, we will explore how the biological is cultural, and vice versa. Through site visits to local institutional contexts where data about race is collected (including university labs and hospitals, government offices, and product firms), students will directly observe how race is made real in Cincinnati. Building on a series of applied writing assignments that integrate these visits with course readings and discussions—including memos to government officials, op-eds, and plans for science curricular reform—the seminar will culminate with students designing community engagement projects that translate their discoveries about race for local audiences.