Cristiana Giordano (2015-16)

Cristiana Giordano is an assistant professor of anthropology. Her research interests include medical and psychological anthropology, psychoanalysis, ethno-psychiatry, subjectivity, theories of translation, migration, human rights, citizenship, anthropology of the state and the law, Italy, Europe, and the Mediterranean.

Cristiana's most recent book, Migrants in Translation: Caring and the Logics of Difference in Contemporary Italy (UC Press, 2014) is an ethnographic reflection on foreign migration, mental health, and cultural translation in Italy. She earned her Ph.D. in anthropology at UC Berkeley.

Her 2015-16 Proseminar was entitled Ethnography and Care-full Description.

Dr. Giordano offered the following update in August 2017, describing how she used her ISS Fellow award:

Unstories: Explorations around Research, Narrative, and Performance

The ISS pro-seminar on ‘Ethnography and Care-full Description’ was the beginning of a creative exploration of research methods and writing practices that led to generative interdisciplinary experiments. In the Fall, 2015, I started collaborating with playwright and director Greg Pierotti (Tectonic Theater Project) who has conceived a devising technique that uses non-theatrical source material on current events such as interviews, archival material, and participant observation as the basis for new plays. Since then, we have been designing thinking and rehearsal spaces where this dialogue between disciplines takes shape and new interdisciplinary methods emerge. These workshops are not about performing our research, but are rather experiments in using theatrical devising practices to slow down thinking, and to create new relations with our empirical material. Instead of thinking at our desks and computers, we practice thinking with space, with architecture, with light, sound, and with the body. This practice unfolds in a space which we call the workshop, which for us is also a mode of thinking. By creating spatial relations among bodies, lights, and sounds we collaboratively produce an affective context in which movement and thinking are woven together.

During the academic year 2016-17, we organized a series of workshops with students and faculty in the humanities, social sciences, and performance studies (partly funded by DHI and the Mellon Initiative on Comparative Border Studies). We collaboratively worked on material that I have been collecting on issues of migration to Italy, and what the mainstream media and academic discourses have described as “the refugee crisis” in the Mediterranean. This material investigates the narratives, spaces, and experiences that discussions of the “crisis” and national borders tend to erase or marginalize. The 2016-17 workshops led to the creation of a 50-minute long performance piece entitled Unstories, which we performed on May 7th, 2017 at UC Davis, and on September 23rd, 2017 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

ISS funding supported my research in Italy during the Summers of 2015 and 2016. The material collected served as the empirical grounding of Unstories, a performance we are now developing into a full-length piece to show in the Spring, 2018, on our campus.

Learn more about Cristiana Giordano at her faculty webpage.

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