Director, Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL)
On Leave Fall 2021
Research and Teaching Interests
Sensory ethnography, phenomenology, media anthropology, post-human and multi-species anthropology; intellectuals and reason; cultural and political ecology; franco-creole Caribbean, Europe, and the American West.
Director of the Sensory Ethnography Lab, Castaing-Taylor is an anthropologist whose work seeks to conjugate art's negative capability with an ethnographic attachment to the flux of life. His work is in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art and the British Museum, has been exhibited at the Tate, Centre Pompidou, MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, Berlin Kunsthalle, PS1, Whitechapel Gallery, and London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, and has formed the subject of symposia at the Smithsonian Institution, the Musée du quai Branly, and the British Museum. His films and videos have screened at Berlin, Locarno, New York, Toronto and other film festivals. Recent awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts (2013), and, with Véréna Paravel, the True Vision Award (2013), Los Angeles Film Critics' Circle Douglas Edwards Independent and Experimental Film Award (2012), and FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) Award (2012).
Castaing-Taylor and Paravel are currently at work on various installations set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, as well forthcoming projects in Japan. Together with Ernst Karel, he and Paravel have recently completed Ah humanity!, an installation about the anthropocene. Earlier works include Leviathan (with Paravel), a film about humanity and the sea, and Sweetgrass (with Ilisa Barbash), an unsentimental elegy at once to the American West and to the 10,000 years of uneasy accommodation between post-Paleolithic humans and animals, as well as a series of audio-video installations and photographic Westerns that variously evoke the allure and ambivalence of the pastoral, including Into-the-jug (Geworfen), Turned at the Pass, Coom Biddy, Bedding Down, Hell Roaring Creek and The High Trail. In 2010, he was commissioned to make The Quick and the Dead / Moutons de Panurge, a four-channel video installation by the Berlin Arsenal to commemorate the four decades of the Berlinale Forum. In 1995, he collaborated with Isaac Julien and Mark Nash on their film Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask. Earlier works (with Barbash) include In and Out of Africa, an ethnographic video about authenticity, taste, and racial politics in the transnational African art market, and Made in USA, a film about sweatshops and child labor in the Los Angeles garment industry. Written publications include Visualizing Theory (ed., Routledge, 1994), Cross-Cultural Filmmaking (with Barbash, University of California Press, 1997), Transcultural Cinema, a collection of essays by ethnographic filmmaker David MacDougall (ed., Princeton University Press, 1998), and The Cinema of Robert Gardner (coed., with Barbash, Berg, 2008). He was the founding editor of the American Anthropological Association's journal Visual Anthropology Review (1991-94).
Cambridge, MA 02138