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My post-graduate research focused on landscape and place-making, the cultural body and senses as well as, the importance of metaphorical creativity associated with these themes. My dissertation explores landscape and cosmology in rural Central Mexican town by examining various scales of social and spatial organization. This includes forms of architecture, urban form as well as various horizons which are discussed in terms of social identity, memory and spatially distributed notions of personhood.
My research aims to orient ethnography towards questions about the sensory nature of experience, perceptions and practice to give an account of a shared landscape based ‘sensorium’. It also advances a position that argues that this is integral to ethnographic practice. Such an emphasis stresses a better understanding of the relations between ethnography and place as an intimate domain of creativity and imagination. These priorities aim at further develop a theory of materiality concerning the lasting impact of the landscape environment on social identity and, promote ethnography that contributes to anthropological research into symbolic form and cognitive ecology.
Dissertation title: ‘Landscape, person and perspective: creativity and place-making in a
Principal Supervisor: Christopher Tilley; PhD awarded in March, 2012
Abstract: Based on 15 months of ethnographic field research in a Mexican town in the southern desert highlands of Puebla, this dissertation explores spatial relations through qualitative embodied scales of intimacy and distance, near and far, small and large, the encapsulated and the cosmic. It takes the anthropological concern with landscape environment to emphasize ethnography oriented towards questions about lived processes and the immersive sensory qualities of perception and practice. It also examines the culturally construction metaphors and ideational creativity in the arenas of the body, domestic and social places, and indigenous notions of territory. Ethnographically, the approach builds upon a concern for how spatial orders relate historical developments through a sentient memory of place in a rural town in Central Mexico and employs a combined a phenomenological and semiotic approach aimed at developing an analytical framework within a descriptive practice. The approach accepts that landscape creativity is largely image based, cosmogonic in orientation and, necessarily exploits a pre-existing, if always indeterminate, Mesoamerican cultural milieu.
‘Notes on the Cryptology of Place in a Mexican Town’ 2009, AAA Conference panel ‘Perception, Production and Circulation: Sensory Ethnography through Media’ organized by the ‘Sensory Ethnography Lab’ Harvard. Abstracts: http://senseplorations.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/panel-abstract_program.pdf
Printing Technology and Materiality of Early Tarot Cards’, 2006, UCL
, Institute of Archaeology,
conference ‘Embedded Technologies: Reworking technological Studies in
Publications in preparation:
I am preparing: a paper based on my second dissertation chapter ‘Temascal: Soma, Place and Memory’ which will concern the ‘mythography’ and cosmogonic ideation surrounding the temascal – the Mexican domestic steam bath.
A paper based on my third chapter: ‘Iconographic and Kinaesthetic Horizons’ on the issue of constructing and embodying horizons and their relationship to urban form.
Two further papers will be based on materials found in chapters four and five -‘The Figures of the Town and Centre’ and ‘A Cryptography of Place’
I am also collaborating with Eigi Yuzawa on a piece with the provisional title of ‘The Bones of Photography’ (see Eigi’s site at: http://www.eiji-yuzawa.com ).
I have been teaching assistant for two courses at the UCL Department of Anthropology:
‘Introduction to Material and Visual
‘The Social Construction of Landscape’
Radcliffe Brown & Firth Trust Fund Arts & Humanities Research Council PhD fellowship
University of London, Central Research Fund
UCL Graduate School Research Fund
Journal of Material Culture, Essay competition award for ‘The Printing Technology and Materiality of Early Tarot Cards.
Sensory Ethnography Lab: http://sel.fas.harvard.edu/ ;
Journal for Experiments in Critical Media Practice’ http://www.sensatejournal.com/
Co-op’ forum Body & Form http://openanthcoop.ning.com/group/bodyandform
Cristina Lammer’s website on research into the use of images in contemporary surgical theatres in Vienna: www.corporalities.com