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I am currently working on a research project entitled Drawing together: the visual archive of expeditionary fieldwork supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2016-2018).

Inspired by recent approaches to the study of visual technologies in anthropological fieldwork, my project explores the practice and experience of image-making as deployed on European expeditions to South America from the 1850s to the 1950s.

Developing from my previous research on sketching, photography and documentary film, the project investigates the various forms and contexts of visual engagement in the field, examining in particular the relationship between drawing, photography and film-making as embodied practices of in situ observation, including their role in cross-cultural exchanges and encounters.

I am also part of a successful application for the Newton Fund - British Council scheme for the project Mobilising the value of biocultural collections in Brazil, led by the Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro (JBRJ), in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), the Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro (FOIRN) and the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi (MPEG).

The project aims to build capacity among Brazilian research institutes to research, catalogue and mobilise data from important collections, and to develop these unique resources for improved understanding of the useful and cultural properties of plants. It will facilitate and enhance development of data portals, making biocultural collections and associated data freely accessible, and will strengthen capacity of indigenous communities on the Rio Negro for autonomous research into material culture and plant use.

I used the opportunity of taking part on the workshop with indigenous communities on the Rio Negro to produce two short films in collaboration with the Derek Jarman Lab (DJL), The Many Lives of a Shield and Workshop on Scientific and Indigenous Botanical Knowledge.

Click here for a DJL blog on my first filmmaking experience.

Profile

Originally trained in architecture and urban planning, I have published papers in Brazil and in English-language journals on the visual culture of tropicality, geographical thought, world cities and modernity, and digital art history.

I specialise in visual and material culture, cultural history and the history and philosophy of geography. My work spans from tropical landscapes produced by early nineteenth century European naturalists, artists and navigators to mid-twentieth century visions of Brazil in documentary film and photography, including those made by explorers, anthropologists, and modernist artists.

My recent book on the Brazilian image world in the early 20th century is entitled Photography and Documentary Film in the Making of Modern Brazil (Manchester, 2013). In 2013 I have completed the AHRC-funded research project Weaving Communities of Practice, a major project on textiles, culture and identity in the Andes.

Appointed a member of the AHRC Peer Review College in 2012, and of the Strategic College in 2016, I also took part in the Steering Group of the AHRC-funded project Traces of Nitrate: History and Photography Between Britain and Chile, 1879-1914 in the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton. In addition, I am a member of the Steering Group of the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre at Birkbeck since its establishment in 2012.

In 2014, I was awarded two fully-funded PhD studentships by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), under the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme, both for research on aspects of Brazilian visual culture, in partnership with the V&A Museum and the Royal Society respectively.