Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier

Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier
Position
Associate Professor
Anthropology
Credentials

PhD U of Manchester

Status

Accepting Grad Students

Contact
Office: COR B330

Accepting Grad Students for Fall 2021.

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.

Editor-in-Chief of Anthropologica

Interests

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

Current projects

Building Cuba's Future: Hope and Anticipation in Time of Transition

Project funded by a SSHRC Development Grant (2018-2022).

Cuba is in the midst of a major sociopolitical transition: for the first time in 59 years, Cuba's president is not a member of the Castro family; the country is open to foreign investment; and, as the Internet makes its way into Cuban households, new opportunities for networking reach beyond the island. While media outlets worldwide have covered these changes, we know little about how Cubans view the shifting. political tides affecting their futures, especially when it comes to problems that are woven into the fabric of their everyday lives. To respond to this gap, this research project proposes to investigate the Cuban housing crisis to understand how Cubans imagine the future in a time of rapid socioeconomic change, specifically how their hopes and dreams for the future are articulated in their approaches to home construction and renovation.

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

Project funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2015-2017)  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. 

Production and experimental audio-visual texts

We are in the process of editing the film La Tumba Mambi (2021) co-directed with Havana-based Inay Rodriguez Agramonte, alias DJ Jigüe. The film follows Flavito, a young member of the tumba francesa La Caridad de Oriente located in Santiago de Cuba, who discovers the rich history of this cultural group, while he is working on a school-based homework. DJ Jiüe created the film’s original soundtrack that combines traditional music of the tumba francesa with electronic influences and rhythms.  

The project Guardians of the Night (Internal Research Grant 2017-2018), in collaboration with Dr. Eleonora Diamanti (post-doctoral fellow, UVic) is a research-based project that took the form of a creative and sensorial short-length film about the cyclical and spontaneous life activities that emerge at nighttime in Eastern Cuba. The Guantánamo-based DJ Zevil Strix composed the soundtrack of the film. 

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 Satiko Gitirana 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 produced an ethno-fiction which aimed 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

  • Forthcoming - Building Cuba’s Future: Creative Practices in Visual Anthropology. Under contract with Manchester University Press, Anthropology, Creative Practice and Ethnography series.
  • Forthcoming. Audible Infrastructures. Co-edited with Kyle Devine. Oxford University Press.

  • 2020. Aerial Imagination in Cuba: Above the Rooftops. Routledge, Francis & Taylor.
  • 2017. Urban Encounters: Art and the Public. Co-edited with Martha Radice. McGill-Queen’s University Press: Culture of Cities Series.

Articles (Selection)

  • 2020. Sound Matters. In The Routledge International Handbook of Ethnographic Film and Video, edited by Phillip Vannini. Routledge (Taylor & Francis). In Press.
  • 2019. Social Imaginary, Memory Sticks and Plastic Bags in Cuba. American Anthropologist 121(3):750-755.
  • 2019. D’étudiant à “élève du son”: L’éveil sonore en anthropologie. Anthropologie et Société (43(1)):49-69.
  • 2017.  Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier and Nick Wees. “Creative Engagement with Interstitial Urban Spaces: The Case of the Vancouver’s Back Alleys.” In Urban Encounters: Art and the Public. Edited by Martha Radice and Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier. McGill University Press: Culture of Cities Series.
  • 2016.  The Fortune of Scarcity: Digital Music in Circulation. In The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography, edited by Larissa Hjorth, Heather Horst, Anne Galloway, and Genevieve Bell. Routledge.
  • 2016.  Recording and Editing. In A Different Kind of Ethnography: Practices and Creative Methodologies, edited by Denielle Elliott and Dara Culhane. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. 69-89.
  • 2016.  Microtopia in Counterpoint: Relational Aesthetics and the Echo Project. Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia 5(1):135-154.  Article in html and pdf available at this address: https://cadernosaa.revues.org/1060
  • 2010. Complicity Through Montage: A Call for an Intercultural Approach to Ethnographic Filmmaking. Ethnologies 31(2):169-188.

Films and installations

  • 2015.  Derrumbeat: The Beat of Collapse. Selected for the 1st Society for Ethnomusicology, Austin, Texas.  
  • 2014.  Datatrack.Selected for Ethnographic Terminalia 2014. Art exhibition hosted by Heritage Art Gallery, Washington DC.
  • 2011.  Echo ~the first tie. Selected for Ethnographic Terminalia 2011. Art exhibition hosted by Eastern Bloc (Centre for New Media and Interdisciplinary Art), Montreal.
  • 2010.  Golden Scars (61 min.). Funded in part by the Filmmaker Assistance Program (FAP), National Film Board of Canada. Launching: November 22, 2010, National Film Board of Canada, Montreal.