Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier

Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier
Position
Assistant Professor
Anthropology
Credentials

PhD U of Manchester

Contact
Office: COR B330

I am a visual anthropologist interested in how sound –including music –connects with social life, and with media. I explore the concepts of materiality, infrastructures, circulation, digital media, sonic design and the experiencing of social spaces through sound and vision. Through my research, I address questions such as: how can we create spaces of encounter between individuals by using audio-visual montage techniques?; how does sonic design shape our experiences of everyday life?; and how does new media affect the circulation and consumption of music in different cultural contexts and locations?

In order to explore these questions, I adopt a methodological approach that borrows from the art domains to explore the creative potentials of research in social sciences. More specifically, I am a producer-researcher in addition to be a participant observer. That is, my research projects are lead by the production of audio-visual texts such as films, sound clips, drawings, shorter and longer videos, and audio-visual installations, which are part of the research process and which becomes concrete outcomes of the investigation projects.

I am interested in supervising graduate students whose work relates to visual anthropology (film, audio-visual installations), sound studies (including music), creative practices and methodologies, digital media, infrastructure, cultural policies, Cuba, the Caribbean and South America.

MA Student wanted: Applications are being accepted for a MA Student in Anthropology to work on Digital Media in Cuba.

Interests

  • Visual Anthropology
  • Sound
  • Creative practices
  • Digital media
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural policy
  • Caribbean, Cuba
  • Canada
  • Sonoptica

Current projects

Wires, Waves and Webs: Media Infrastructures and Sonic Aesthetics in Contemporary Cuba

Project funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2013-2015) and an Internal Research Grant from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at UVic (2015-2016).

Cuba has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world. This has encouraged Cubans to create alternative ways of coping with digital scarcity, including hidden wi-fi antennas and Ethernet cables strung over streets and rooftops, and physical networks of digital media circulation that rely on memory sticks and other portable devices. These alternative networks provide access not only to digital media (text, audio, and image files, cracked software, plug-ins, and anti-virus definitions) but also to what is circulating outside of Cuba. The move to normalize relations between the U.S. States and Cuba announced in 2014 promises to create new opportunities for Cubans—including musicians—in the domains of communication, transportation, and infrastructure. Given recent (and forthcoming) changes related to this announcement, the Wires, Waves and Webs (WWW) project examines the creative impacts of evolving media infrastructures on the production and circulation of digital media in Cuba, specifically how ‘wires, waves and webs’ affect the creation of new collectives and new music during a period of rapid economic and political transformation.

This research addresses this specific gap by exploring how digital music is produced, consumed and circulated in Cuba. Collecting narratives that incorporate stories about the limitations and opportunities offered by media infrastructures helps to understand what it means to consume, share and produce digital music in Cuba today. This project looks at how Cubans use cell phones and the internet and considers the generative impacts of cables, wires and webs. In other words, it explores how mobile phone networks, transmission stations, cable systems, internet routers, server farms, internet service providers, satellites, and undersea cables (among others), as well as the institutions that regulate these systems, are all connected and are all implicated in the circulation of digital media, in the creation of networks and collectives, and in the production of new sonic aesthetics. Research projects on digital technologies in Cuba are rare; this project contributes to the increased visibility of this topic among academics, students, and the general public in Cuba and in Canada.

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From 2011 to 2013, I collaborated to the MusDig research project at the University of Oxford (Department of Music) and funded by the European Research Council (ERC). In the context of this project, I conducted research on how Cubans consume digital music and how they share and acquire digital data considering their limited access to Internet. A comparative approach, which specifically aimed at looking at consumption patterns of music aficionados in a saturated digital world, was conducted in Montreal.

Urban soundscape and interstitial spaces

The project Opening the Back-Alley Pathway: Towards an Audio-Visual and Creative Approach in Anthropology (Faculty of Social Sciences, UVic) proposes to explore the landscapes and the soundscapes of Vancouver’s back alleys. The research addresses two main questions: How are back alleys experienced from a visual and sonic perspective in Vancouver; and what can sonic and visual design teach us about the appropriation, interpretation and use of back alleys by social actors?

Examples of video-clips produced with the collaboration of musicians and artists can be watched here: http://vimeo.com/78777150, http://vimeo.com/73407966.

Production and experimental audio-visual texts

The project Image and Sound Making: A Comparative and Collaborative Approach to Visual Anthropology (FAPESP-UVic grant; 2013-2015) aimed at developing a comparative and collaborative approach in Visual Anthropology between researchers working in different locations. With two Brazilian colleagues working at the University of São Paulo, Dr. Sylvia Caiuby Novaes and Dr. Rose Hikiji, we directed, produced the film Fabrik Funk (2015; 24’) about funk music in the periphery of this mega city. More than a standard ethnographic film based on observational aesthetics and principles, we are producing an ethno-fiction which aims at showing the reality of Negaly, a young woman who would like to take part in the music industry despite the challenges she encounters. In 2015, we finished our second short ethnographic film called The Eagle (17’) about Miguel Aguíla, a Cuban expatriate living in Victoria, British Columbia.

Selected publications

Books

  • 2012 - Afrodescendance, cultures et citoyennetés. Edited with Francine Saillant. Quebec: Laval University Press, Nord-Sud.

Articles and chapters

  • 2012 - Fairley, Jan and Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier. Recording the Revolution: 50 years of Music Studios in Revolutionary Cuba. In The Art of Record Production. Simon Zagorski-Thomas and Simon Frith. London: Ashgate, p. 247-267.
  • 2012 - Loignon, Christine and Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier. From Paternalism to Benevolent Coaching. Canadian Family Physician, Nov. 58:1194-1195.
  • 2012 - Écho d’une rencontre virtuelle: Vers une ethnographie de la production audio-visuelle. Anthropologica 54(1).
  • 2012 - Ethnographic Mise-en-scene: On Locating the Anthropologist’s Creative Agency. Anthropology News. February. http://dev.aaanet.org/news/index.php/2012/02/13/ethnographic-mise-en-scene/
  • 2010 - Ateliers hip-hop et double morale à Cuba. Cahiers de recherche sociologique 49:95-121.
  • 2009 - Complicity Through Montage: A Call for an Intercultural Approach to Ethnographic Filmmaking. Ethnologies 31(2):169-188.
  • 2008 - Positioning the New Reggaetón Stars in Cuba: From Home-Based Recording Studios to Alternative Narratives. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 13(2):337-361.

Films and installations

  • Fabrik Funk (2015). In post-production phase, Laboratory of Image and Sound in Anthropology (LISA), University of São Paulo.

  • Echo ~the first tie (2011). Audio-visual installation. Selected for Ethnographic Terminalia 2011 Montreal. Art exhibition hosted by Eastern Bloc (Centre for New Media and Interdisciplinary Art), Montreal, Canada.

  • Golden Scars (2010:61’). Funded in part by the Filmmaker Assistance Program (FAP), National Film Board of Canada. Launching: November 22, 2010, National Film Board of Canada, Montreal.