Undergrad Peer Advisor - Brianna Kirby
Brianna first discovered anthropology while attending the City College of San Francisco and is now a senior in the Culture and Society track here at Stanford. As a transfer student, she brings a variety of life experiences to inform her approach to academic life and the role of Peer Advisor. After graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2006, Brianna returned to the Bay Area to pursue her dream as a documentary photographer. While working as a Freelance Photographer and a Photography Technician for the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, she decided to return to school in order to better define the guiding purpose behind her photographic endeavors. Since her first exposure to the discipline, Brianna has found anthropology to be a fascinating and challenging framework through which to critically examine the ethics and politics of visual representation in conjunction with humanitarian and service-oriented efforts.
This coming year, Brianna will participate in the Public Service Scholars Program offered through the Haas Center with the ongoing goal to bridge the gap between academia and public service work. She was also selected into the Service Learning Leadership Program, through which she will have the opportunity to TA a service-learning course offered within the anthropology department.
Degree Program: Anthropology BA
Area of Concentration: Culture & Society
Graduation quarter & year: Spring 2014
Thesis or other research project: “Visual Voices: Diverse Manifestations of Photovoice Engagement in Farm-Based Education”
After receiving the Community Research Summer Internship funding through the CCSRE department, I conducted a Photovoice research project this past summer at a farm camp in Sunnyvale, CA.
(Photovoice is a collaborative, participatory photography methodology in which participants are asked to photograph a particular experience or aspect of their life in order to enhance group solidarity/communication and ultimately to enact positive social change. Photovoice utilizes visual media as a tool for expression and communication within populations who may otherwise be "silenced" due to language barriers, social status or other discriminatory factors. The methodology is largely comprised of participant photography and focus groups aimed at discussing the salient themes and patterns that emerge from the photographs. Photography is guided by a theme or focus, with varying degrees of specificity, which is collectively chosen at the beginning of the project.)
My interest is in the application of photovoice as a methodology for community empowerment and social change. I hoped to learn how the process of photovoice manifests differently (or uniformly) across children of distinct ethnic/cultural backgrounds in order to inform future research application of photovoice in various culturally-situated communities. With a nuanced understanding of culturally unique responses to visual media as a method for expression, communication, and data collection, I believe we can more sensitively engage in research within a variety of diverse environments.
Why Anthropology: I really appreciate the limitless opportunities within the discipline and the freedom to select and shape one’s own trajectory when it comes to research topics and career paths. I am also incredibly grateful for the awareness and critical thinking skills that come out of anthropological discourse and which, I feel, contribute to a more thoughtful and proactive approach to life.
Recommended class / professor: I really enjoyed Visual Culture and Politics of Humanitarianism, both with Professor Liisa Malkki. As a research assistant for almost two years, I am also very intrigued by and engaged with the work that Professor Kathy Coll does in conjunction with the Domestic Workers Rights movement.
Career Goals: My goal is to find (or create!) a career path that synthesizes critical inquiry with service-oriented, community-engaged projects. I want to participate in methods of knowledge production that are accessible and applicable to the communities who would benefit most, and not simply conduct research to be contemplated and criticized within isolated spheres of academics. And, of course, this will include photography in one way or another…
Hobbies: I really appreciate the time I get to spend with family and friends. I also enjoy cooking, gardening, knitting (I know…), hanging out with kids, photography, traveling and exploring new places. Oh, and a really good cup of coffee!