Faculty » Susan Ossman

Susan Ossman

Ph.D. 1991 University of California Berkeley

Office: 1303 Watkins Hall
Phone: (951) 827-1264


Susan Ossman’s analyses of globalization developed as she carried out fieldwork on media, mobility, aesthetics, gender and politics in sites that span North Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle East. Her innovative designs for mobile ethnography are related to her life of international migration, her experiences directing international collaborative projects and her practice as an artist.

Her new book, Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration (Stanford 2013) follows people who lived in several countries to propose a new way of thinking about the relationship of mobility to identity and politics. Serial migrants have much in common, regardless of their birthplace, language, religion or cultural background. This is not because they are cosmopolitans, freed from the gravity of taken for granted social ties, or nomads who are oblivious to borders. Rather, they have all been immigrants several times. Those who repeat immigration struggle with the accumulation of ways of being themselves in each new home. By listening to their stories we come up against the limits of hyphenated identities and conceptions of modern subjects as collections or assemblages.

The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop uses Susan’s book as a stepping off point for further research. Serial migrant artists develop works about their shared experience across several sites: the workshop mirrors their migrations and enables creative dialogue about this form of life. The first workshop was held at the Culver Center for the Arts in Riverside in May 2013. The second was organized at the Pavillon Vendome in Clichy, France in November 2013. In June 2014 the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam will host the workshop.

Susan continues to work out the theoretical implications of her fieldwork on mobility; most notably by refining the “three world” model she first developed in her study of beauty salons and has since used to analyze politics, media events and experiences of migration. Her 2014-15 lectures on this topic as invited Professor at the CELSA-Sorbonne will be the basis for an upcoming book.

Susan continues to pursue research across art and anthropology on issues of visibility, gender, aesthetics and memory in two collaborative projects: On the Line and Lifeworks. On the Line began with an exhibition of Ossman’s work in February 2013 at the Brandstater Gallery, continued with a “second look” by artists and anthropologists and now, is being developed into a portable installation/research site. In Lifeworks Susan develops “portraits” based on participant observation and life history interviews.

Professor Ossman joined the faculty of UCR in 2007. She is the Director of UCR's Global Studies program. She previously taught at Goldsmith's College, University of London, Rice University, Georgetown University, The American University of Paris and the CELSA-Sorbonne. In 1992 she founded the Rabat center of the Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (IRMC- now Centre Jacques Berque), where she was research fellow and director until 1996.


Edited Books

Selected articles and interviews