Larisa Shaterian has always been interested in how narratives make reality across boundaries of space, culture, and gender. During her time as an undergrad at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, she studied how photojournalistic images interacted with power in a US-Middle East circuit. At that same time she herself engaged in a 5 year documentary photography project with a Palestinian family in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem. She is currently interested in how narratives among and about humanitarian aid workers working on chronic refugee problems in the Levant shape and reproduce ideas of need and generosity both in the countries in which they work and the countries where they are from. Larisa also takes an avid interested in the ways humans talk to animals in different languages.
Lashon Daley is an MA student in the department of Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a BA in English with a minor in journalism and psychology from the University of Miami, and an MFA in Writing with a minor in Dance studies from Sarah Lawrence College. Her academic interests includes researching storytelling as a performance art as well as critiquing the space in which storytelling occurs in the festival setting. She was a UC Berkeley Distinguished Fellow in 2012 and a 2014 Callaloo Fellow.
Lissett Bastidas grew up in Peru, where she first learned about folklore. There and then, she realized that behind this concept were celebrations, contradictions, and inequalities that refer to the old, rural, Andean, Indian, Afro, or "traditional" in opposition to everything the "modern" should be. She got her B.A. with a double major in International Development Studies and Middle Eastern and North African Studies from UCLA, where she further studied the dichotomy of modernity and traditionality at local and global levels and with interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives. Her research focuses on the effects of these dichotomies on health, health disparities, institutions, law and epistemology in state-funded community programs for mental health care in the Bay Area.
A poet and educator of Koori descent. Luke grew up Dharawal Country in the south Sydney suburb of Kurnell, Australia. He trained in classical viola performance at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, and there on Wurundjeri continued graduate studies in Linguistics and Creative Writing. Luke’s research focuses on bio-regional identities and consciousness expressed through cultural forms across borders, such as those ordinarily separating academics and performance, as well as elite and vernacular cultural spheres. His academic interests are grounded in his extensive work with Aboriginal and other community-based organisations across Australia.
Naomi Bragin's dissertation, Black Power of Hip Hop Dance: On Kinesthetic Politics, is the first major study of early hip-hop from Oakland to Watts, California, during the 1960s and 1970s. Presenting a new archive of vernacular styles foundational to hip-hop's subsequent rise in New York, she argues that a revolution in social dance literally moved black folks in struggles for power and liberation. Kinesthesia-the body's "sixth" sense of motion subordinate within Western epistemology-is essential to studying erotics of black radical tradition, sustained through ways of feeling- together in movement. (Kin)aesthetic politics describes the primacy of movement perception to the formation of black political community, and asks how do social dance practices work within queer and black communities imagining new forms of kinship? Attuned to (kin)aesthetic politics, hip-hop dance is a corp(oral) medium of paralinguistic storytelling that sustains ongoing protest against racial, gender and sexual oppression, impacting popular culture globally. Publications in May 2014 include "Techniques of Black Male Re/dress" in the Women & Performance special issue All Hail the Queenz: A Queer Feminist Recalibration of Hip Hop Scholarship, and "Shot and Captured," Winner of The Drama Review's 2013 Student Essay Contest. "From Oakland's Turf to Harlem's Shake" is forthcoming 2015 in the Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies, edited by Doug Rosenberg. Her next project is a multi-sited ethnography of transnational street dance culture, tracing circuits of migration through the Caribbean, North Africa and France. Her interests include dance and performance studies, queer of color critique, critical race theory, oral history, performance ethnography, and new media.
Rachel Syka graduated from the University of Virginia in Anthropology. Her project also springs from experience in the food world, specifically the Three Stone Hearth Community-Support Kitchen in Berkeley. She wishes to explore how notions of traditionality and materiality are shaped by material and bodily practices associated with social movements that privilege discourses of the handmade, cultural heritage, and natural foods in artisanal, community-based food production.
Ruth Goldstein is a PhD candidate in the joint Medical Anthropology anthropology program at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. She completed her Masters in Folklore in 2009. Her thesis, "An Ecology of the Self and Other WIld Thoughts," drew from ethnobotanical work in a medicinal plant garden in Costa Rica and ethnographic fieldwork at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. Through an analysis of Claude L¨¦vi-Strauss's contribution to UNESCO's idea of "unity in diversity" and his earlier work in Les Pens¨¦es Sauvages, Goldstein examined how this impacts ownership of traditional knowledge and genetic resources in the setting of the Costa Rican garden, where people see themselves in the plants. Current doctoral research examines the triangular traffic in women, plants, and gold along Latin American's Interoceanic Road in Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. Goldstein spends any second of her free time with horses, cleaning stalls, riding bareback, and revising her dissertation in the company of horses.
Samuel Puliafico is a Southern California native who earned his undergraduate degree from UC Irvine in 2014. While at UC Irvine his research focused on spectacle and performance in American state fairs, festivals, and carnival. After earning his degree in Cultural Anthropology, he spent the past year living and working in Ireland. Samuel is currently researching children’s folklore, and he is specifically interested in the aesthetic and design elements of children’s play objects and how they relate to the concept of play studies. Additionally, he is interested in culture production through children’s media and how these ideas can relate.
Sarah Frances Levin is a PhD candidate in Jewish Studies, with a Designated Emphasis in Folklore. Sarah's dissertation, "Narrative Remembrance: Close Encounters between Muslims and Jews in Morocco's Atlas Mountains," investigates mid-20th-century Jewish-Muslim relations in Morocco as remembered through oral traditions by individuals of both religions living today in Morocco or Israel. Because folklore often serves to express intergroup tensions, it offers a unique frame-work for addressing issues of boundaries and difference, while simul-taneously elucidating the shared cultural experiences of Jews and Muslims. The analysis of the narratives reveals a complex and diverse intercommunal life in which maintaining religious boundaries involved constant negotiation of closeness and separation, and created an intricate-and sometimes tense-dance between affinity and differentiation.
Sarah Montoro is a California native with a B.A. in Creative Writing and English Literature from Cal State University, Long Beach. An undergrad paper she wrote about the small group traditions of the Heaven's Gate cult, her time teaching ESL through play and storytelling in Brazil, and her life-long fascination with her own family lore fueled her interest in folklore, leading her to pursue an M.A. in Folklore at UC Berkeley. Today, Sarah's research interests include family folklore, internet culture, storytelling in public spaces, and the role of monstrous and supernatural figures in urban life. Her research project focuses on the occupational folklore of walking tour guides and the construction of collective memory and identity through narratives of the supernatural and strange in San Francisco.