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2007 SIAH

New Directions in Cultural Research: Community Collaboration Practice

How can culture and creativity contribute to progressive social change? How is globalization reshaping what we understand by ‘culture’ and ‘the arts’? And how might undergraduate students at UW collaborate with community groups to engage with real world cultural issues? The 2007 Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities offers an opportunity to explore these and other questions about arts, culture, and activism together with a dynamic group of UW faculty.

The Summer Institute will provide students with the methodological, theoretical, and ethical skills needed to undertake cultural investigations at sites of their own selection. Students will develop their own independent projects in collaboration with community-based organizations and/or actors (and with each other). Research may take form in various media—a public performance or an art installation, an academic paper or an organizational report. For example, student projects could involve working with north Indian students to produce a collaborative book on youth cultures; shooting a short film in conjunction with a local agency serving immigrant groups; or developing a more progressive sex ed curricula for teenage girls together with a girls advocacy organization. Possible community site partners for the 2007 Institute may include but are not limited to 911 Media Arts, producers of community television programming through SCAN-TV, Reel Grrls, and/or Children’s Youth Theatre.

Where the academic humanities have traditionally focused on textual and archival researches, new social and technological developments have recently pushed the humanities to new engagements with everything from new media to new community partnerships. Research and teaching agendas in the humanities are consequently adapting to develop collaborative and community-based orientations. These new orientations have on the one-hand led the humanities into productive exchange with the qualitative social sciences (which have deeper and longer histories of practical, community engagement and development) and the arts (which focus on creative production and have become increasing central to discussions of community development.) These engagements in turn have illuminated the strength of community-based arts and culture projects as a site for humanistic research, but also highlighted arts and culture as methods that can renew community-based research within the social sciences.

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Teaching Team

Craig Jeffrey

Assistant Professor, Geography and Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle,

Craig’s work focuses on youth, youth culture, and particularly youth theater, in movements for democratic and educational change, particularly in a North Indian context. He is currently undertaking a comparative study of youth theater practices in the United States and Bosnia. Alongside his research, teaching and outreach, Jeffrey has acted in or directed over twenty theatrical productions since 1991.

Ron Krabill

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell,

Ron teaches courses involving African studies, cultural studies, mass media, contentious politics, and colonial and postcolonial history and theory. His research, published on three continents, focuses on politics, mass media, and culture during and after apartheid in South Africa, with a particular interest in social movements and issues of peace and justice.

Kari Lerum

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell,

Kari teaches the sociology of family, sexuality, inequality, feminist theory, and qualitative methods. Her ethnographic research examines the organization of work in low status jobs. She was worked with the Pat Graney Dance Company as videographer, and has produced several local documentaries, examining topics such as sex work, pirate radio, and heroin use in the Seattle music scene.

Georgia M. Roberts

PhD candidate, English, University of Washington, Seattle,

Georgia’s research interests include global hip hop culture, American and Comparative Cultural Studies, Critical Race Theory and public scholarship. She is also interested in late nineteenth century American literature, pragmatism and turn-of-the-century political and practical (everyday) conceptions of race, nation and empire.

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