I am a cultural anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker. I am Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Emory University (USA) and Co-Editor of Visual Anthropology Review, the journal of the Society for Visual Anthropology. I earned my PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. From 2009-2012, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney (Australia). My scholarship focuses on social transformations in rural China, with a critical focus on the politics of mobility, ethnic minority subjectivities, and vernacular media practices. I have published one ethnographic monograph on ethnic tourism, rural migration, and the visuality of development, as well as numerous articles and chapters on cultural heritage, Chinese documentary film festivals, and visual research methods in anthropology. I also directed an award-winning ethnographic film on rural, ethnic tourism development, which has screened at festivals and universities in the USA, Europe, and China.
Cultural Anthropology, Ethnographic Film Theory and Practice, Visual Culture, Subjectivity, Ethnicity, Gender, Rural Social Transformation, Mobility and Migration, Labor, Contemporary China
“These Days, These Homes”: Biography, Ethnography, and the Possibilities of Portraiture in Film
My project, “These Days, These Homes”: Biography, Ethnography, and the Possibilities of Portraiture in Film, explores new possibilities in the ethnographic and biographical representation of life experiences and human subjectivity by rethinking the methods and theories of documentary film-making, biography, and ethnography as forms of life-imaging. By drawing on research conducted in rural, ethnic minority regions of China since 2006, my goal is to develop new perspectives in biography and ethnography that can traverse the theoretical and empirical boundaries between depictions of specific life histories/trajectories and broader sociocultural conditions and transformations. In my work, I aim to craft a filmic portrait of two rural Miao women born in the 1980s and to provide a person-centered visual ethnography of ethnic, gendered, and classed subjectivities in the post-socialist era. I will also reflect on the challenges and ethics of longitudinal research relationships, and thus, contribute to important on-going debates over power, control, and agency in life-imaging and life-writing. Together, my writing and filmmaking are significant for humanistic research across the disciplines because I provide a person-centered, humanistic approach towards understanding labor, gender, identity, social change, and contemporary rural livelihoods, and suggest dynamic directions in engaged, longitudinal ethnographic research and biographic representation.