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Fellows 2012-13

FSC-Radcliffe Fellows

Romuald Karmakar

Véréna Paravel

Nicolas Pereda


FSC-Harvard Fellows

Cynthia Browne

Philippe Grandrieux

Cuilan Liu

Heidi Matthews

Finnian Moore Gerety

Kara Oehler

Benny Shaffer

J.P. Sniadecki

Stephanie Spray

Maria Stalford

Pacho Velez

Julia Yezbick


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Cynthia Browne is a graduate student in social anthropology, with a secondary field in critical media practice. Her project, Ginkgo Biloba, is a cinematic portrait of an older woman artist living in Werden, Germany.

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Philippe Grandrieux is a Visiting Lecturer on Visual and Environmental Studies. His films include Sombre (1998), La vie nouvelle (2002) and Un Lac (2008). His Film Study Center project, Meurtière (Murderess) approaches an originary image, the "body without organs," invented by Artaud and thought through by Deleuze, to confront the human figure. The face will be the primary subject of this project—silent portraits of men and women; large, mute images through which we will be made to feel the permanence of our passions, our anxiety.

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Romuald Karmakar is a David and Roberta Logie Fellow and FSC-Radcliffe Fellow from Germany. His project, Maybe Rauff is a feature film on the post-war career of a former German SS officer. Based, among others, on the biography of Walther Rauff (1906-1984) who, between 1940-42, was substantially involved at the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Head Office) in the development and operation of mobile gas vans used for the extermination of the European Jews.

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Cuilan Liu is a doctoral candidate concentrating on Tibetan studies. Her current project Young Jigsmed (working title), with Prof. Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp as its producer, is a narration-free documentary about a newly ordained eighteen-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk whose early days of religious life are filled with both determination and confusion. This project is originated from her dissertation fieldwork on Buddhist musical traditions in Tibet during the four summers from 2007 to 2010. On the basis of what she has shot in 2010, a thirty minute version has been commissioned by CNEX. At FSC, she will be working on a fuller version of this story with additional footage from her 2011 trip to Tibet.Cuilan Liu is a PhD candidate researching on the nature and role of music in Buddhist traditions from India to China and Tibet. She is a novice filmmaker working with non-fiction video. From the summer of 2007, she has been researching on Tibetan folk music in Eastern Tibet. With financial support from Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and a fellowship from Film Study Center at Harvard, she began to film the life of young Buddhist monks in a small Tibetan monastery in this region where the monks have preserved a special chanting tradition for centuries. The film is now in post-production with the Harvard Film Study Center.

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Heidi Matthews is a doctoral (SJD) candidate at Harvard Law School. Her research focuses on international law, specifically at the intersection of criminal law, the law of war, and human rights law. Her dissertation undertakes a genealogy of the concept of international criminality, and seeks to theorize international criminal law from the point of view of the political. Her project at the FSC is tentatively entitled Envisioning Ambivalence: Sexual Violence in Berlin, 1945. Through interviews with seven women, it examines the social meaning of mass sexual violence perpetrated by Soviet forces against German women during the fall of the Third Reich. Heidi has experience in domestic criminal defense, and has worked for the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

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Finnian Moore Gerety is a doctoral candidate in the Department of South Asian Studies. His main research interest is the interplay between text and performance in historical and contemporary Hindu traditions. His current film project charts the transformations in the culture of the Chakyars, a caste of actors and storytellers from central Kerala. Their traditional vocation has been to enact stories from the Indian epics inside Hindu temples; in recent years, their art has found new life and a new audience in a very different context: high school youth competitions.

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Kara Oehler is Editor-in-Chief of Zeega, a non-profit and open source platform dedicated to inventing new forms of interactive storytelling, a founder of metaLAB (at) Harvard, and a Rockefeller Fellow with United States Artists. Her work focuses on pushing the boundaries of narrative journalism on the air and across multiple platforms; combining investigative storytelling with participatory media; and building new systems and opportunities for education and artistic practice. Primarily, Oehler creates aesthetically experimental audio and interactive documentaries to engage and refamiliarize people with everyday stories and pressing issues, striving to keep much of their uncertainty, cruelty, sparseness, whimsy, and clatter intact. Since 1999, her radio stories and interactive projects have received George Foster Peabody, Edward R. Murrow, Associated Press and Third Coast International Audio Festival awards, aired on shows such as RadioLab, Morning Edition, Studio 360 and been exhibited at MoMA (New York), among other venues.

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Véréna Paravel is a Frieda L. Miller Fellow and FSC-Radcliffe Fellow from France. Her project, Pavor Nocturnus is a feature-length experimental non-fiction film about sleep, or more particularly an empirical inquiry into the quotidian process of going-to-sleep. The film explores the physical gestures and subjective fantasies and fears of people as they prepare for sleep. It contains an edge of sexual tension – of play around the fraught landscape of flesh, vulnerability, and intimacy – but it engages equally with boredom and the banal, semi-conscious routines of bedtime. The film will bring together a series of sequences that reflect on fear, loneliness, obsession, desire, voyeurism, the ambiguous and the influencing power of the camera, and the impulse to connect with others, both though media and apart from them.

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Nicolas Pereda is a David and Roberta Logie Fellow and FSC-Radcliffe Fellow from Mexico.His project, The Heart of the Sky is an experimental fiction/documentary film project about an immigrant family of refugees that recently arrived in Canada. To escape the troubling times the youngest son constructs a fantasy world in which he and his sister are connected to some form of divinity.

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Benny Shaffer is a Graduate Student in Anthropology whose research focuses primarily on independent cinema and contemporary art in China. His current video project in the U.S. looks at the town of Braddock, Pennsylvania in a critical engagement with the aesthetics of ruins and an exploration of the affective relationships of Braddock residents to post-industrial spaces.

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J.P. Sniadecki is a filmmaker and doctoral candidate in Anthropology. His current projects include The Iron Ministry, a feature-length work of nonfiction that depicts China's railway system and examines the social experience of train travel; People's Park (2012, co-directed with Libbie D. Cohn) a 75-minute single shot documentary that immerses viewers in an unbroken journey through a famous urban park in Chengdu, Sichuan Province; and Yumen, a 16mm portrait of a quasi-ghost town in northwest China.

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Stephanie Spray is a filmmaker and doctoral candidate in social anthropology at Harvard University, with a secondary field in Critical Media Practice. She received her B.A. in the study of world religions at Smith College and a master's degree at Harvard Divinity School. She has been engaged in various fieldwork-based projects in Nepal since 1999. In 2001 she was the recipient of a Fulbright-IIE grant, which she used to begin fieldwork with the Gāine, a caste of itinerant musicians. Two such musicians were the subjects of an observational digital video Kāle and Kāle, produced in 2007 with the support of the Sensory Ethnography Laboratory. She continued her video work with the Gāine in Monsoon-Reflections (2008) and As Long as There's Breath (2009), experimental documentaries depicting aspects of the lifeworld of one such Gāine family. In 2009 Stephanie began work on Blue Sky, White River, a sound piece made from Nepali radio and field recordings. She is currently in Nepal conducting dissertation research with the Gāine as an SSRC-IDRF fellow and Fulbright-Hays DDRA grant recipient and is working on a related six-part video and phonographic project entitled Reflections on the Seasons.

Reflections on the Seasons is composed of a series of inter-related, yet independent, video and sound works thematically linked to the cycles of the seasons and how seasonal routines of labor in turn connect people to the land. The works are conceptually bound and structured by the epic poem, "Reflections on the Season" (ritu vicara), by the Nepali poet Lekhnath Paudyal (1885-1966). Divided into six cantos, corresponding to the six seasons of the Nepali calendar, the poem is an elegant and sensuous panegyric of the natural world. Stephanie's videos for Reflections on the Seasons will attend to more concretely located cyclic existence with an intentionally diverse spectrum of Nepali places and individuals.

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Maria Stalford is a doctoral candidate in social anthropology with a secondary field in critical media practice. She is currently working on two ethnographic video projects. The first focuses on ritual practice and community life in a lay-led Buddhist temple in Boston. The second complements her dissertation research on family relationships, everyday moral experience, and decision-making in the lives of cancer patients and their loved ones in contemporary Vietnam. 

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Pacho Velez is a teaching assistant in VES. He received his MFA from CalArts in 2010. His current project (co-directed with Stephanie Spray) is a film about cable cars in Nepal.

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Julia Yezbick is a filmmaker, multimedia artist, and doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology (with Media) with a secondary field in Critical Media Practice at Harvard University. She received her MA in Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester (2004) and taught anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University before starting the PhD in 2008. Her scholarly and artistic works address issues such as creative processes and artistic practice, labor and work, the body and the senses, materiality and ephemerality, and the ways in which "place" is experienced, constructed, and imagined. Her works have been screened at international film festivals including the Mostra Internacional do Filme Etnográfico, Rio de Janeiro, the Nordic Anthropological Film Association, Stockholm, and the Montreal Ethnographic Film Festival. In 2010 she founded the online, multimedia journal, Sensate, and is the acting Editor-in-Chief.

Her current project, How to Rust (working title), explores the shifting contours of the "American Dream" as the relationship between what we make and who we are (as artists, craftspeople, and manufacturers) is recast in the capital city of the American rustbelt: Detroit, Michigan. Once the vanguard of industrial modernism, Detroit is now the "avant garde of deindustrialization," and this piece aims to explore the perceived cycles of rebirth and resurgence and to reflect on how we mythologize a former glory and how we shape an imagined future.

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