Photo by Veronica Vierin
At the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, I am a Swiss National Science Foundation researcher and visiting lecturer. My research and teaching interests include surveillance and tech imaginaries, critical Indigenous studies, the politics of voice and listening, embodied narratives of exile, Latin American cinema, movements for racial, social and environmental justice, and migration activism. Completing my Ph.D. in visual anthropology in 2015, over the course of my academic career I have conducted participatory, ethnographic, and audiovisual research in the US-Mexico Borderlands, El Salvador, Uruguay, Cuba, and Ireland.
As a scholar, my craft is intimate, reflexive, and conscious of ethical considerations in the development of shared practices. Drawing from poetry, creative non-fiction, moving and still image, I facilitate co-creative ethnographic research as inquiry through practice. Aesthetic engagement, curiosity, theoretical rigor, and mindful listening are key components of my work. In 2018, the American Anthropological Association’s Society for Humanistic Anthropology awarded me first-place in ethnographic poetry for my collection of poems about violence, migration, and spectral belongings. In 2019, I was among the 10% of poetry applicants invited to participate in the Tin House Summer Workshop where I studied and attended lectures with Maureen N. McLane and Natalie Diaz.
Since 2007, I have mentored learning partners in representing their lived experiences, knowledge, and insights through audiovisual media production in governmental, university, and community contexts. In addition to masterclasses and workshops with diverse filmmakers, my approach is informed by studies in video documentary at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and digital storytelling facilitation at the StoryCenter in Berkeley, California.
For my doctoral fieldwork in Ireland, I received an ABBEST Ph.D. fellowship through the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice in Dublin. As a research fellow, I developed the participatory media genre of digital storytelling as a method of inquiry with newcomer communities. View the videos from Living in Direct Provision and Undocumented in Ireland and read more about the research here.
My lifelong commitment to human and civil rights is rooted in the Americas where I organized with Indigenous, anti-racist, Chicanx/Latinx, and queer activists and coordinated national solidarity delegations to El Salvador between 1989-1994. Together with my dear friend Ralph Sprenkels, I worked as an investigator with the Salvadoran Association in Search of Disappeared Children (Pro Búsqueda) between 1994-1998. In 1998, I moved to the Sonoran Desert where I worked with Indigenous, Mexican American, Mexican, and Euro American women and children as an adult educator at Pima Community College. In Tucson, I completed my graduate studies in the anthropology of education at the University of Arizona with mentors Luis C. Moll, Laura Briggs, Norma Mendoza Denton, and Julio Cammarota. These experiences have shaped my dedication to cultural and political engagement and collaborative inquiry through documentary storytelling.
I am an adoptee and grew up in the South San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, I live in Zurich with my husband, Swiss documentary filmmaker, and sound recordist, Reto Stamm.