Reviewed by: AAA Executive Program Committee
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Resilience
Secondary Theme: Resistance
This installation combines performance, video presentation, oral presentation, objects and dance to report on research on the life of teaching assistants. It creates and re-recreate mosaics of a collaborative ethnographic experiences that go beyond traditional strategies in anthropology. Interacting with the audience, we will actively reflect on how this methodology builds on the resistance and/or adaptation of academic subjects.
What is it like to be a teaching assistant? A group of Graduate students at UC Riverside (UCR) decided to explore this question together for their Ethnographic methods course. Each researcher focused on a specific topic to create a holistic, sensory and affective picture of how teaching assistants’ experiences shape and are shaped by inequalities, power dynamics, policies, food, drinks, and objects.
We used charcoal drawing and dance to investigate and re-present the multiple faces and bodies of TAs and to capture subjective realities that often escape technological devices. We explored theories of wellbeing and embodiment, race and gender inequality, material culture, and the strategic liminal position of the TA by drawing on Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ idea of “the mindful body”, exploring the spaces, the movements, and the rhythms that set the pace for the lives and work of teaching assistants.
In this installation, we invite the audience to visit the teaching assistant’s office and to witness daily routines, sensory experiences, and political struggles while encouraging a collective reflection on the adaptive strategies employed to navigate Academia within liminal roles.