Faculty » Susan Ossman

Susan Ossman

Ph.D. 1991 University of California Berkeley

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

E-mail: susan.ossman@ucr.edu

Susan Ossman’s research on media, mobility, aesthetics, globalization gender and politics engages sites in North Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle East. She is known for her innovative designs for fieldwork and collaborative research across anthropology and the arts. Her projects currently focus on the relationship of mobility, subjectivity and power, and the material culture of scholarly knowledge production.

The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW) mobilizes research, art and ideas of collective life. Since 2013 the MMTW has evolved as a platform for art and research by linking a series of site-specific interventions. Its trajectory is meaningful and productive because it mimes the individual paths of the  serial migrant artists and scholars who compose it. By staging exhibitions, performances and participatory interventions about mobility and migration for diverse publics in venues ranging from  Amsterdam’s Hermitage Museum to the Berlin Wall memorial to public plazas and academic conferences, the MMTW’s collective serial migration has generated a mobile community. The project has opened horizons for conceptualizing and studying changing relationships of people and objects to territories and politics. The activities of the MMTW have been extensively documented and reflexive projects include short films and a collaborative “memory book” project. Susan and her collaborators are currently developing a digital book about the MMTW using this archive. Readers will be able to read the book and experience the art of the MMTW following a variety of paths.

In 2016-17 Susan studied the materials and processes of knowledge production at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She worked with these same materials to make art from fieldwork and an on-site exhibition, Wissen/Schaffen. Other projects about the relationship of media to ways of knowing include My Mediterranean Archeology, Gather Wood, Gather Words, and In the Arms of Morpheus andLifeworks. A 2012 Fabric of Fieldwork exhibition at the Brunei gallery and an article in the La vie des idées situate this work in the longer trajectory of Susan’s journeys across anthropology and art.
Susan has also used anthropological field design to generate programs across artistic disciplines and engage diverse publics. From 2013-16 the NEA funded program On the Line brought together nearly 100 asked artists, anthropologists, dancers, writers and musicians. Together they contemplated the meaning of clotheslines, developing exhibitions and performances that invited the public to participate in conversations about what laundry says about gender and generation, race, culture and class. Susan’s writing and work with the MMTW also inspired a collaboratively written play by the Los Angeles Son of Semele Ensemble.

Before joining the faculty at UCR Susan convened the MA in Transnational and Global Media at Goldsmith's College. She also previously taught at Rice University, Georgetown University, The American University of Paris and the CELSA-Sorbonne and founded the Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain in Rabat (now the Centre Jacques Berque) where she was research fellow and director from 1992-1996. Her awards include grants from the CNRS (France), the British Academy and the US National Endowment for the Arts and a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship.


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.]

Edited Books

The Places We Share: Migration, Subjectivity and Global MobilityLanham, MD: Lexington Press, 2007.

Mimesis. Imiter, Representer, Circuler. Paris: CNRS Editions, 1998.

Miroirs Maghrébins, Itinéraires de soi et Paysages de Rencontre (Maghrebian Mirrors: Itineraries of Self and Landscapes for Encounters). Paris: CNRS Editions, 1998.

Recent articles

Wissen/Schaffen, from Fieldwork to Exhibition

Is Berlin done with Walls?, an interview with Lisa Strehmann.

On the Line: a report on shifting collaborations around clotheslines.

Making Matrice: Intersubjectivity in Ethnography and Art, (with Juliann Allison)

Recent Interviews:

The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop: An Interview with Susan Ossman

Not Your Grandmother’s Immigrants: Susan Ossman on Serial Migration

Artists and Scientists Doing Things Together

ANN Talks: Featuring Susan Ossman

Curating (Selected):

Walls, with Lisa Strehman and exhibiting artist, The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, Kapelle der Versöhnung/ Berlin Wall Monument, Berlin, Germany, June 2017.

Wissen /Schaffen, with Claire Lambe, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, June 2016.

“My Memory, Your History. With Alec Balasescu, Typographia Gallery, Bucharest, Romania, July 2015.

2014 “Objects in/of Migration”, Group exhibition, Allard Pierson Museum of Mediterranean Antiquities, Amsterdam,May 30-  June 62014.

On the Line: a linked series of seven exhibitions at the  Brandstater Gallery,  Afterimage gallery and in collaboration with the Public Libraries of Riverside California, 2013-16.


Traverse Heritage, Voice, Body, Movement, Devised and performed with the The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW),  Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, May 2018.

Competence/Incompetence, Devised and performed with the The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW), Santa Monica Arts Center, Barcelona, September 2017.

Walls, Performer and Co-producer, Devised and performed with the The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW), Kapelle der Versöhnung/ Berlin Wall Monument, Berlin, Germany, June 30 and July 1.

The Arts of Migration, Devised, Directed and Produced, Performance of The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, Culver Center for the Arts, Riverside, CA, March 12, 2016.

Objects in/of Migration, Co-producer and Performer, Allard Pierson Museum of Mediterranean Antiquities, Amsterdam, June 6, 2014.

Dances with Words, Solo interactive performance in honor of the memory of Nabiha Jerad, Beit al hikma, Tunis, Tunisia, October 26, 2013.

Film Production

On the Line, directed by Rashaun Richardson, Produced by Susan Ossman. 2016.

Objects in/Of Migration: Rehearsals, directed by Blanca Casas Brullet, 205.

Objects in/Of Migration: Rehearsals, directed by Blanca Casas Brullet, 2015.

Moving Matters Clichy, Directed by Joe Lukowski, 2014.

Moving Matters, the Art of Serial Migration. Directed by Alana You, 2013.

Exhibitions can be viewed here

Active Websites: susanossman.com | movingmattersworkshops.ucr.edu