Participant Bios:

The Aja Project, founded in 2000 and based in San Diego, runs a participatory photography program that engages refugee and immigrant youth through the visual storytelling process to reflect upon, process, and share their experiences of migration; increase their self-esteem; and strengthen their ability to think critically about their identities and cultural communities. The AjA Project also has two international sister programs, one in a refugee camp along the Thailand/ Burma borde that works with young refugees from the Karen ethnic group in Burma, and another in Bogota, Colombia that works with internally displaced children. AjA's large-scale public exhibits intersect the student's voice with the larger community and create a forum for cross-cultural exchange. Public exhibitions validate the youth's experience, build self-esteem, encourage them to value their heritage, and to embrace visual narratives as a powerful means of social transformation.

Richard Chalfen, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Temple University, has been an Associate of the Scientific Staff of the Department of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital, Boston, where he has conducted an on-going ethnography into the use of self-produced video in the management of children with long-term conditions such as asthma. A founder of the method of auto-ethnography through his early work as a graduate assistant to anthropologists Sol Worth and John Adair in their classic study of the late 1960s, The Navajo Film Themselves. Chalfen also conducts a seminar on Japanese Visual Culture in Japan each summer through Temple University. An internationally recognized innovator in visual anthropology methodology, Chalfen’s work is documented in key essay contributions to the journals Visual Anthropology Review, Visual Studies, and Visual Communication

Yvonne Eriksson, Ph.D, is Professor in Information Design, Mälardalen
University. She has a background in art history and visual studies and her doctoral thesis is Tactile Pictures: Pictorial representation for the blind 1784-1940 (1998). Beyond studies on tactile pictures and tactile reading, Eriksson’s research has focused on how gender performs in art and instrumental pictures. She has a special interest in visual communication.

Alexandra Juhasz is Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. She makes and studies committed media practices that contribute to political change and individual and community growth.  She is the author of AIDS TV: Identity, Community and Alternative Video (Duke Univ Press, 1995) Women of Vision: Histories in Feminist Film and Video (Univ of Minnesota Press, 2001), F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing, co-edited with Jesse Lerner (Minnesota, 2005), and Media Praxis: A Radical Web-Site Integrating Theory, Practice and Politics, She has published extensively on documentary film and video. Dr. Juhasz is also the producer of educational videotapes on feminist issues from AIDS to teen pregnancy.  She recently completed the feature documentaries SCALE: Measuring Might in the Media Age (2008), Video Remains (2005) and Dear Gabe (2003) as well as Women of Vision: 18 Histories in Feminist Film and Video (1998) and the shorts RELEASED: 5 Short Videos about Women and Film (2000) and Naming Prairie (2001), a Sundance Film Festival, 2002, official selection. She is the producer of the feature films, The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1997) and THE OWLS (Cheryl Dunye, 2010). Her current work is on and about YouTube: and

Roberto Manduchi, Associate Professor of Computer Engineering at UC Santa Cruz is developing algorithms and systems for visual sensor processing, with applications in assistive technology for the blind and sensor networks. He and his colleagues are developing a wayfinding system for the blind and the visually impaired which uses a regular cell phone camera to detect special color targets in the scene. He is also engaged in building a device called the "virtual white cane", a laser-based mobility tool for the blind. 

Fatimah Tobing Rony, is Associate Professor of Film & Media Studies, University of California at Irvine.  Author of The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle (Duke 1996), Rony is an accomplished filmmaker who will be presenting her most recent film: Chants of Lotus. Financed by the Kalyana Shira Foundation project and with the goal of giving Indonesian woman a right to voice their opinions, Chants of Lotus is a film with four episodes, written by Vivian Idris and Melissa Karim and directed by Fatimah T. Rony, Upi Avianti, Nia diNata and Lasja Susatyo. The intention is to tell stories from a feminine point of view in different geographical and social contexts in Indonesia. Chants of Lotus was the most controversial winner at the Indonesian Film Awards in 2008. Presented in the full original version as the closing movie at the Jakarta International Film Festival in 2007, Chants Of Lotus (Perempuan punya cerita, or “the women have stories”) met serious resistance from the from the Indonesian film censor board, who demanded heavy editing before authorizing the film’s release. Four women filmmakers tackle four different stories about lives of marginalized women and their children in Indonesia: In “Chant From The Capital City”, Lasja Susatyo confronts the prejudices that women, even in modern and relatively western cities like Jakarta, still have to go through. Laksmi (Susan Bachtiar), found out that her husband has died of AIDS. Barely recovered from grieve, she has to deal with the fact that she is infected with the same virus. Her mother-in-law demand the custody of their grandchild, Belinda (Ranti Maria). Laksmi struggles to keep Belinda. Trying to survive without a job, Laksmi begin to see the harsh reality: she has to choose between her daughter and her fight with HIV.  

Steven Rubin, Assistant Professor of Photography at Penn State University, worked for many years as a documentary photographer, traveling on assignment in Iraq, Rwanda, Kosovo, Pakistan, Turkey, Chile and Cuba, and throughout the United States. His photographs have been published in magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Stern, GEO, Focus, L’Express and The London Independent Magazine, and in numerous books including Schattenlicht – The Best of Black and White Photography (published by GEO), and The Century (published by Phaidon). His work has been exhibited in venues throughout the United States and featured at the International Festival Visa pour L’Image, in Perpignan, France. He is the recipient of the Leica Medal of Excellence, a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship, a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, and an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship. He was a Fellow with the Open Society Institute, which supported his photographic investigation of the U.S. government’s detention of immigrants, and funded his development of Healing Images, a program providing digital cameras, instruction and therapy to survivors of torture. A graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, he obtained his MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego.  

Shannon Lowe recently completed her Ph.D. at the Institute for Cultural Research, Lancaster University, UK.  She is the author of 'mADDness, life and literature: How 'ADD' Has Changed Language and Thought (1890-2004)' (forthcoming) and articles in Deleuze Studies, Journal for Cultural Research, and Culture Machine, amongst others.  She researches visual cultures of science and medicine within the frame of a history of madness and literature, gender studies, and print and moving media technologies. Lowe is currently working on a monograph on a cultural history of divorce in film, and editing a collection on the work of Elisabeth Roudinesco and Rural Cultural Theory.