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Smiling at Strangers: Autoethnographic Dance Video

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

This movement and spoken word piece is an exploration of alternative autoethnography based on lived interactions and observations as a visibly queer person living in Wyoming and San Diego

"One important aspect of my queering of anthropology centers on the idea that you are the only person who can say who you are. In that sense, I am very inspired by autoethnography because I find that the most considerate and empathetic analysis comes from those who have an element of relation to the subject of study because they speak the broader, metaphorical language of the culture. In this we find power in our liminality as conduits of ideas who can communicate between worlds. In that vein, another important idea for me is accessibility of information. I often wonder how we can communicate big ideas in interesting and concise ways that allow academia to communicate with the broader public, so this video, Smiling at Strangers, was an attempt for me to turn highly reflexive social observations into something digestible and aesthetically pleasing in a way that communicates a widespread plight in my community. As Tufts scholar Kareem Kubchandani, also known as the drag queen LaWhore Vagistan, recently put it in a drag and gender expressive performance master class, androgyny--that is showing few or no signs of gender-- has become more accepted in our culture, but where does that leave those of us who show too many signs of gender?"

Lavender Grey Higley (They/Them) is a recent transfer to UCSC after beginning their cultural anthropology education in San Diego. While there, they also danced with Visionary Dance Theatre and Mojalet Dance Collective's Core Group and in multiple International Fringe Festivals. Academically, their interests primarily center queer folx and dance, especially as an intersection, but they also pursue research into sex, gender, social justice, and the arts more broadly as well as religion, spirituality, and the occult. They find the insights of queer and dance theories to be infinitely applicable in the study of culture with their special interests in identity, body, internal experience, and external observation.

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