Graduate students aim to 'bring people together'
By Tracy Kohm l College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
DENVER – Un/Shared Worlds: A celebration of engaged scholarship and arts-based ethnography brought together a broad cross-section of people who engage in critical, exploratory and experimental forms of ethnography. On March 22, Un/Shared Worlds was presented at the 73rd Annual Society for Applied Anthropology (SFAA) national meeting in Denver.
Curated by three CU Denver Anthropology graduate students, Un/Shared Worlds was a chance to celebrate the more artistic side of anthropology and shake off the trappings of traditional academia. Participants included undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers, artists and community members.
“This was born out of frustration,” said Burditt Drew Zackary, graduate student. “We wanted to break down interdisciplinary boundaries and have an event at SFAA to celebrate the social sciences non-traditional aspects and practices, something to really bring people together.”
Fellow graduate student AJ Oscarson, whose work focuses on applied visuals and video media, agreed. “We wanted to create something based in the arts, to show people that anthropology and scholarly work is more than just books and conferences.”
Un/Shared Worlds came together with plenty of hard work and collaboration, noted Ash Collin the third graduate student who helped pull it together. “AJ and Drew started planning this back in December, and working with them was great. You need to work really well together to pull something like this off.”
The venue featured more than 20 visual pieces and multimedia works by students, faculty, researchers and community members with applied anthropology sensibilities. A spoken word keynote was presented by poet Bobby LeFebre and an additional spoken word presentation was given by CU Denver Anthropology student Casey Cole. Contributors included members of the CU Denver Community, but also ethnographers from California, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon and as far away as Connecticut.
CU Denver’s Anthropology Department has a tradition of applied anthropology in Colorado and elsewhere. In the interests of crossing disciplinary borders, the event was planned as a festive approach to sharing of methodology, representation, pedagogy and professional development experiences and opportunities. The celebration allowed anthropology students and researchers to display their work in semi-structured (e.g. non-linear and non-didactic) formats, sharing findings and boundary-crossing ideas within their own research areas. In addition, presenters and participants were provided an informal setting to discuss in fluid groups the practices and innovations being developed in applied anthropology. Using arts-based strategies, the presenters explored blueprints to promote economic and ecological equities through visual media, art pieces and written texts.
Funding support for the event was provided by the CU Denver Graduate School with additional support from the Antropology Department and faculty.