Faculty » Susan Ossman
Office: 1303 Watkins Hall
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.
Susan continues to work out the theoretical implications of this work 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 political process and media events. She is also preparing articles on the Tunisian revolution and its aftermath and an essay on the carless life in Los Angeles.
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 2014 we will meet again in Amsterdam, Berlin and Athen. In 2015 Susan will make a film about the workshop.
Susan also develops collaborative research methods involving art and ethnography in the ongoing On the Line and Lifeworks projects. 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.
- Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration. Stanford : Stanford University Press, 2013.
- Three Faces of Beauty: Casablanca, Paris, Cairo. Durham:Duke University Press, 2002.
- Picturing Casablanca: Portraits of Power in a Modern City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. [Introduction translated in Maghreb et sciences sociales, June-July 2009.]
- The Places We Share: Migration, Subjectivity and Global Mobility. Lanham, MD: Lexington Press, 2007.
- Mimesis. Imiter, Representer, Circuler.
- Miroirs Maghrébins, Itinéraires de soi et Paysages de Rencontre (Maghrebian Mirrors: Itineraries of Self and Landscapes for Encounters). Paris: CNRS Editions, 1998.
Selected articles and interviews
- Why Manicurists are Modern-day Michelangelos
- Not Your Grandmother’s Immigrants: Susan Ossman on Serial Migration
- ANN Talks: Featuring Susan Ossman
- Moving Matters Traveling Workshop II: Pavillon Vendome, Clichy, France, November 14-16, 2013.
- Moving Matters Traveling Workshop I: Culver Center for the Arts, Riverside in May 28, 2013
- On the Line, Brandstater Gallery, La Sierra University, February 11- March 12 2013.
- The Fabric of Fieldwork (with WESSILING), Brunei Gallery, London, April-June 2012.