2016 Fellows

Nicholas Barber in a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. He conducts collaborative research with a participatory video project in Baka indigenous communities in southeast Cameroon. His doctoral dissertation, entitled Baka Representation: Rights, Videomaking, and Indigenous Identity in Southeast Cameroon, explores the ways in which enterprising Baka community-members are using technology to achieve specific socio-political objectives; these include establishing claims to land and other resources, increasing political visibility domestically and abroad, and influencing social and economic development projects. Employing a multi-sited methodology that travels between local and “global” sites of media production and circulation, the project examines both the impact of mediamaking on local Baka identities and lifeworlds, and seeks to provide an account of the global indigenous “mediascape” through the lens of Baka mediamaking. Nicholas holds a B.A.(Honours) in Political and Development Studies from Queen's University, and a Master's in International Affairs from The New School. His Master's thesis, completed under the supervision of Profs. Stephen Collier and Vyjayanthi Rao, and entitled Metaphysical Agnosticism: Radical Engagements with Indigenous Healing, received the award for best thesis in the 2009 New School International Affairs graduating class. In addition to 2016-17 Wolfe Fellowship, Nicholas has received an Archie Malloch Graduate Fellowship in Public Learning from the McGill Institute on the Public Life of Arts and Idea (2015-16), an Arts Graduate Research Fellowship from Media@McGill (2013-14), a Doctoral Research Award from the International Development Research Centre (2013) and an SSHRC Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2011-14). Since 2011, Nicholas has taught seven undergraduate courses at McGill in the Anthropology, African Studies, and International Development programs. He has written articles for Africa is a Country, the Huffington Post, and Radio Canada, and has worked as a participatory video facilitator in Kenya.

After receiving a Master of Arts in art history at Temple University, Shana Cooperstein began pursuing a doctorate in art history at McGill University under the supervision of Dr. Mary Hunter. Her academic interests include theories of representation, standardization, and the intersection of art and science. Bridging these areas of inquiry, her dissertation situates nineteenth-century French drawing pedagogy at the nexus of art, industrial design, and the visualization of knowledge. In particular, her doctoral research examines nineteenth-century French art pedagogy in relationship to various concepts of habit and habit formation. While scholars typically interpret the institution of drawing lessons and images representative of such instruction as a glorification of Republican ideology, France, and Academicism, her project discusses the conceptual stakes of particular drawing strategies on theories of knowing, the sciences of the mind, and understandings of the body. Distinct from previous studies, which largely take the form of institutional critique and focus on the national interests of art education, such as Patricia Mainardi’s The End of the Salon: Art and the State in the Early Third Republic, Cooperstein articulates the psychophysiological and neuroscientific assumptions underlying artistic curricula. How did the teacher impart drawing skills to his students? How did one teach skills that become a matter of innate habit? What did it mean to pass on skills pertaining to second nature which one has no concrete or material knowledge of? Could artistic and industrial “innovation” be taught? To answer such questions, she looks to the systems conceived by leading thinkers, specifically philosopher Félix Ravaisson, architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, academician Eugène Guillaume, and artist-pedagogue Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. These figures were all in dialogue and often at odds with each other. They set the stage for hotly contested debates about the nature of art pedagogy in private academies, technical schools, and public education in Second Empire and Third Republic France. This thesis will be the first to explore how and why these men placed such an importance on cultivating habits of seeing, thinking, remembering, moving, and creating.

Li Cornfeld is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University, where she researches intersections of media studies and performance studies. Her dissertation investigates live presentations of new technologies in industrial settings: product launches, keynote addresses, trade shows, and expos. Through this research, she analyzes how theatricality shapes social meanings of emerging media and technology under late capitalism. Titled “Stages of Technology: Theatricality and Mediation in the Circuits of Production,” the project investigates how, by presenting new products according to codes of theatrical performance, the tech industry cues cultural connotations that accrue to new technologies ahead of their circulation in commercial markets. Despite its industrial prominence, the tech industry practice of introducing new products through live events has received minimal scholarly attention. This dissertation apprehends these events as crucial nodes in the formation of new technologies. Moreover, as a critical feminist intervention in scholarly and industrial discourses, it attends to the valorization of promotional presentations associated with leaders of industry, styled after the public persona of Steve Jobs, in contrast with the precarious status of female promotional models hired to introduce new products at trade shows. It thus analyzes the gendered logics through which industry devalues feminine modes of performance, even as it relies on feminine labor to cue the cultural formations of technology. By investigating technology from critical feminist perspectives, this dissertation examines industrial initiatives that shape the cultural meanings of technology as well as the gendered modalities of cultural production. Li is a Graduate Writer in Residence at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies at McGill, she served on the faculty of Stony Brook University in the Theatre Arts and Art History programs. She has also taught at the Sadie Nash Leadership Project at the New School and at the Rugao Teacher’s College in Nanjing, China. She holds an M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University and a B.A. in Drama from Vassar College.

Alina Geampana is a PhD candidate in the department of Sociology at McGill University. Her dissertation focuses on the regulation and risk/benefit assessment of hormonal contraceptives. She is particularly interested in different models of expertise and research trajectories that affect contraceptive development. In her thesis, Alina will explore debates about the safety of the pill that have come to the fore in recent years in Canada in light of the public outcry over deaths allegedly caused by popular contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin. In the new context of marketing by pharmaceutical companies and a climate of increasingly complex risk/benefit analysis, there are multiple competing cultural discourses about new contraceptive pills. Alina's research explores contraceptive risk as a socially contested process in order to reveal: 1) how the level of acceptable risk is determined and negotiated 2) what cultural and scientific factors play a role in risk evaluations of controversial pills and 3) how evaluations incorporate the perceived and promoted quality of life benefits of these technologies. This research is meant to advance scientific and technological debates about risk, contraception, and medicine.  Her more general research and teaching interests include sex and gender, women's health, sexuality, medical sociology, science and technology studies, and the sociology of risk. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in Sociology from York University, Toronto and her work has also been supported by the  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University.

Jennifer Glassco is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at McGill University. She specializes in the anthropology of youth, political ecology and critical development studies. Her research focuses on youth livelihoods strategies in the southern Kenyan rangelands, specifically exploring the ways in which new media is enhancing youth income generation, political mobilization, and control over natural resources. Her doctoral dissertation, entitled “Diversification, Strategy, Aspiration: Youth Livelihoods in Kajiado County, Kenya” places processes of using new media in the broader context of youth political engagement and economic independence. By comparing two rural sites, the dissertation shows that social media platforms such as Facebook have been used as sites for whistle-blowing corrupt actions, organizing protests action, and to force real policy changes. Social media use is one demonstration of the ways in which changing youth activities, aspirations, and political activism are reflective of, and driving forward, broad social changes in Maa-speaking pastoralist communities.In Canada, Jennifer has published with Oxfam Quebec on the implications of extreme economic inequality for the world’s youth (Glassco, 2016), and works with them to lobby for the creation of a Canadian national youth policy. Jennifer’s doctoral work has also been supported by a FRQSC Doctoral Fellowship and an IDRC Doctoral Research Award. In 2014 she was a Graduate Research Fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, where she worked on analyzing youth innovations in animal husbandry. She holds a MA in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology from the University of Leiden (2011) and a BA (First Class Honours) in International Development from McGill University (2007). While pursuing her doctorate at McGill she has taught courses in Anthropology and African Studies, including teaching on the Canadian Field Studies in Africa (CFSIA) program in 2015. She has also worked as a research coordinator/assistant for the Institutional Canopy of Conservation (ICAN) research project, which explores the dynamics of community-based conservation in eight sites straddling the Kenya-Tanzania border.

Daniel Steele is a PhD candidate at the School of Information Studies under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Guastavino. Mr. Steele’s experience draws together hearing, psychology, and urban design and planning, which has contributed to an extensive array of projects in a field known as soundscape. He was trained in psychoacoustics and audio technology at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he studied both mathematics and music. He also holds a Masters of Architecture in Urban Design from McGill University and is a member of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT). His research has taken him on extended soundscape research exchanges in the Netherlands, where he engaged with the active European soundscape community. Before returning to academia, he worked as a research programmer at the Starkey Hearing Research Center in Berkeley, California, specializing in hearing loss and music. At Starkey, he became interested in environmental auditory perception in addition to the technological aspects, leading him to soundscapes. His primary research interest is in helping the shapers of our cities - urban planners, designers, architects, etc. - make better decisions about urban soundscapes, which can result in higher quality urban environments and overall more livable cities. His doctoral thesis focuses on understanding the conceptualizations of urban sound by urban planners and designers through semi-structured interviews that also focus on the contexts of their work and where they get their information. His research findings will contribute towards creating and directing resources that are meaningful to planners and designers on sound(scape) and that are also sensitive to contexts and experience. In addition to his thesis work, he serves as the research lead on the Musikiosk project and has co-created numerous soundwalks of Montreal. Outside of the laboratory, he is an avid music performer, swimmer, runner, cook, and learner of languages.

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