Anthropology

Anthropology

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Stephanie N Sadre-Orafai

Title: Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Critical Visions Certificate Program
Office: 448 Braunstein Hall
Tel: 513-556-3569
Email: sadreose@ucmail.uc.edu

Stephanie Sadre-Orafai is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the production of difference and types among expert communities in the United States. Her ethnographic work examines media and cultural producers, emerging forms of expertise, the intersection of race, language, and visual practices in aesthetic industries, and forms of evidence and the body. She studied anthropology with a minor in African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (BA, 2000) and received her Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at New York University in 2010, when she also joined the faculty at UC. 

Her essays on casting, model development, and fashion reality television have appeared in several edited volumes (PDFs). She is currently working on her first book, tentatively titled Real People, Real Models: Casting Race and Fashion in 21st Century America, which examines the history of casting in the New York fashion industry, the rise of non-professional or "real people" models, and how modeling and casting agents produce models' bodies as forms of media, creating new articulations of mediation, visibility, and difference in the process. Building on four years of ethnographic fieldwork in the New York fashion industry, the book explores the political implications of how these new articulations are refracted through idioms of beauty, desirability, and justice. 

She is also working on a comparative project, Type by Design, that explores the overlapping concerns of inanimate (typefaces) and animate (models) type production in the commercial font and high fashion modeling industries in New York City. In both sites, there are tensions between visibility and invisibility, legibility and aesthetic nuance, and the management of lay and expert visions in producing culturally recognizable types and individual faces. Joining together ethnographic and archival research, she examines the mutually vivifying and dehumanizing dimensions of type production and what their professional practices can reveal about underlying changes in cultural ideas of “difference” and how they are visually encoded across time, technologies, and markets. This project extends her earlier comparative work on fashion and policing, where she examined the temporal dimensions of mug shots alongside casting photographs, and the spatial dimensions of street scouting and stop-and-frisk practices. 

She co-directs the Critical Visions Certificate, a joint effort between faculty in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and College of Arts and Sciences, which she established with Jordan Tate in 2011. The program is aimed at teaching students how to effectively combine critical theory and social analysis with art, media, and design practice. She co-edits CVSN, the experimental publication of student work from the program, made possible with funding from UC Forward. Themes have included "space" (2013), "the future," "color" (2016), and "surface" (2018).She is also core faculty for the Graduate Certificate in Film & Media Studies, a founding member of the Taft Visual Studies Research Group, and affiliate faculty in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Education

  • PhD, New York University, 2010 (Anthropology).
  • MA, New York University, 2005 (Anthropology).
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley, 2000 (Anthropology).

Research Information

Research Interests

race and visual culture; social, cultural, and institutional practices of typification; professional communities; media, design, and aesthetic industries; language and expertise; evidence and the body; practice-based social theory; the United States

Research Support

  • (PI), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Zoey Bray, and Jenny Chio, Theorizing Portraits in the 21st Century: Images of Social Engagement, Cultural Encounters, and Political Recognition, Workshop Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. 19,950. 2019. Status: Active.
  • (PI), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, and Brooke Brandewie, Social Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology, Faculty Development Interdisciplinary Research Grant. 10,000. 2018. Status: Completed.
  • (Fellow), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Type by Design, Bard Graduate Center Visiting Fellowship. 04-01-2017 to 06-30-2017. Status: Completed.
  • (Fellow), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Type by Design, Third Century Faculty Release Fellowship, Arts, Humanities, and Social Science Research Advisory Board. $9,957. 2016. Status: Completed.
  • (PI), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Cultural Practices of Type Production, UC LEAF Career Branch Award, University of Cincinnati. $3,000. 2013 to 2014. Status: Completed.
  • (Fellow), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Visual Anxiety: Fashioning Difference in 21st Century America, Faculty Summer Research Fellowship, Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, University of Cincinnati. $8,000. 2012. Status: Completed.
  • (PI), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Jordan Tate, Critical Visions, UC Forward Faculty Request for Funding, University of Cincinnati. $30,000. 2012 to 2016. Status: Active.
  • (PI), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Jordan Tate, Look Better: The Critical Visions Symposium, Faculty Development Council Interdisciplinary Research Grant. $17,240. 2011. Status: Completed.
  • (PI), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Image Makers: Collecting Oral Histories of Casting Professionals in the New York Fashion Industry, University Research Council Faculty Research Grant, University of Cincinnati. $8,000. 2010. Status: Completed.
  • (PI), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Producing Racial and Ethnic Types: Language, Perception & Embodied Differences in New York's Fashion Industry, Dissertation Fieldwork Award, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. $25,000. 2006 to 2007. Status: Completed.
  • (Fellow), Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for Minorities. 2002 to 2006. Status: Completed.

Publications

Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie, Jordan Tate, Sso-Rha Kang, and Andrew McGrath (2018). Critical Visions and the Unsteady In-Between. American Anthropologist , 120 (1), 153–162. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2016). Models, Measurement, and the Problem of Mediation in the New York Fashion Industry. Visual Anthropology Review, 32 (2), 122-132. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2016). Recasting Fashion Image Production: An Ethnographic & Practice-Based Approach to Studying Bodies as Media. Fashion Studies: Research Methods, Sites & Practices, Edited by Heike Jenß. London, Bloomsbury, 101-16. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014). Beauty. Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012). The Figure of the Model and Reality Television. Fashioning Models: Image, Text, and Industry, Edited by Joanne Entwistle and Elizabeth Wissinger. London: Berg., 119-133. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2008). Developing Images: Race, Language, and Perception in Fashion-model Casting. Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Reviewing Images of Fashion, 141-53. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (In Press). Mug Shot/Head Shot: Danger, Beauty, and the Temporal Politics of Booking Photography. Fashion Crimes: Dressing for Deviance, Edited by Jo Turney. London, IB Tauris. [Link]

Invited Publications

  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2018). Neda Maghbouleh, The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017) [book review]. Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies , 5 (2). [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2016). Liminal Spaces and Worlds Otherwise. Prefaces, Jordan Tate. Copenhagen: Lodret Vandret, 80-83. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012). Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 4-August 7, 2011, curated by Andrew Bolton (exhibition review). Catwalk: The Journal of Fashion, Beauty, and Style , 1 (1), 104-9. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2011). Fashion's Other Images: Casting Photographs and the Production of a Professional Vision. Images in Time: Flashing Forward, Backward, in Front and Behind Photography in Fashion, Advertising and the Press, Edited by Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir, Michael A. Langkjær, and Jo Turney. Bath, Wunderkammer, 123-130. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2005). Hypernationalist Discourse in the Rapso Movement of Trinidad & Tobago. Globalisation, Diaspora, and Caribbean Popular Culture, 215-41. [Link]

Other Publications

  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2013). Matter out of Place. An experimental encyclopedia exhibited in Chasing Papers, Ford Gallery, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, October 14–November 14.. [Link]
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Robert Y. Chang (2011). Casting. A 6-minute documentary exhibited in Artless Photographs, University Galleries on Sycamore, FotoFocus Biennial, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 1–27.. [Link]

Presentations & Lectures

Invited Presentations

  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (11-17-2016). On the strategic non-use and insistent use of photography—the future of visual anthropology Ethnographic Terminalia Workshop: The Photo-Essay is Dead, Long Live the Photo Essay, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis .
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (11-05-2014). Eyes on the Street Roundtable participant. Niehoff Urban Studio in conjunction with the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (10-23-2014). Visual Anxiety and Expert Logics of Type Production LETStudio, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (04-03-2014). Modeling Numbers: Race, Age, and Health in the New York Fashion Industry Departments of Sociology, Anthropology, and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (03-05-2014). Access Keynote Roundtable Participant. Transforming Access, Composition Graduate Student Conference. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Elizabeth Wissinger (09-26-2013). Fashioning Models Public Lecture with Elizabeth Wissinger, The Museum at FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (07-12-2013). Mugging the Archive: Traces of Encounters, Spaces of Imagination Thinking Memory through Space: Materiality, Representation, and Imagination Symposium, Goldsmiths College, London, UK.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (03-02-2012). Race, Realness, and the New York Fashion Industry Sociology Colloquium, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (11-12-2010). Recasting Fashion Image Production Locating Fashion/Studies: Research Sites & Practices Symposium, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (09-09-2010). Culture and Media and the New York Fashion Industry Culture and Media @ 25: Past, Present, Future, New York University, New York, New York.

Paper Presentations

  • Sadre-Orafai (2017). Characters, Types, and Specimens: On Human and Non-Human Portraiture, Washington, DC.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2015). “I Kind of Naturally Became Very Anthropological”: Race, Language, Brands & the Limits of Para- Ethnography in the New York Fashion Industry, Denver, CO.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014). Research, Design, and Pedagogical Encounters with Post-Rationalization: Language, Embodiment, and the Making of Meaning, Washington, DC.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie & Todd Nicewonger (2014). Post-Rationalization, LETStudio, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014). The Logic of Sense: Crafting and Mediating Types in 21st Century America, Detroit, Michigan.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2014). The In/Visibility of Type Production: Casting, Design, and Surveillance as Cultural Practices, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2013). Street Suspicion: Experts and Types in Post-9/11 New York City, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2013). Desiring In/Visibility: Street Surveillance and Visual Anxiety in 21st Century New York, London, UK.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012). Models, Measurement, and Mediation in the New York Fashion Industry, San Francisco, California.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2012). Artless Photographs, Albany, New York.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2011). Beyond Types: Animating Evidence and Potential in Booking Photographs, Montreal, Canada.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2011). As If: Ethnographies of the Subjunctive, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2010). Polaroids and Go-Sees: Casting Encounters, Casting Epistemologies, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2009). Scouting and Developing “Difference”: The Meaning of Value, Labor, and Bodies in New York’s Modeling Industry, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2009). Working with Fashion’s Other Images: An Ethnographic Practice-Based Approach to Analyzing Casting Photographs, Image Brokers, and Bodies as Media, Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2008). The Figure of the Model: Reframing Visibility, Agency, “Difference,” and Desert in the New York Fashion Industry, San Francisco, California.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2007). Imagining Types: Race, Place, and “Real People” Casting in the New York Fashion Industry, Washington, DC.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2005). Evidentiary vs. Aesthetic Evaluation: Production and the Fashion Image on America’s Next Top Model, Washington, DC.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2005). The Booker’s Eye: On Visuality, Veracity, and Mutability, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2002). Beauty, Sex and Passing, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Sadre-Orafai, Stephanie (2000). Hypernationalist Discourse in the Rapso Movement in Trinidad and Tobago, Castries, St. Lucia.

Honors & Awards

  • George Barbour Award for Good Faculty-Student Relations, All-University Faculty Award, University of Cincinnati, 2016 to 2017.
  • Outstanding Faculty Award, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Cincinnati, 2018.
  • Rising Star Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Cincinnati, 2018.

Experience & Service

Events Organized

  • Symposium. Social Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology [co-organized with Brooke Brandewie] (03-29-2018 to 03-30-2018) , University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Conference Session. Practice, Process, and Post-Rationalization: Notes on Making and the Temporality of Creativity [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger] (12-03-2014 to 12-07-2014) , American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
  • Workshop. Post-Rationalization: Practice, Process, and the Temporality of Creativity [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger] (10-28-2014 to 10-29-2014) , LETStudio, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Conference Session. What Work Feels Like: The Ends of Invisibility in America [co-organized with Christina Moon & Susanna Rosenbaum] (05-09-2014 to 05-10-2014) , Society of Cultural Anthropology Biennial Meeting, Detroit, Michigan.
  • Exhibition. Artless Photographs [co-curated with Lee Elizabeth Douglas] (10-01-2012 to 10-27-2012) , University Galleries on Sycamore, FotoFocus Biennial, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 1-27.
  • Conference Session: Rhythms of Hesitation, Edges of Forms [co-organized with Christina Moon] (11-17-2011 to 11-20-2011) , American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Conference Session: Unsettling Accounts: Photographs, Traces, and Evidence [co-organized with Lee Elizabeth Douglas] (11-16-2011 to 11-20-2011) , American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.
  • Conference Roundtable: As If: Ethnographies of the Subjunctive [co-organized with Susanna Rosenbaum] (10-20-2011 to 10-23-2011) , American Studies Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Symposium. LOOK BETTER: The Critical Visions Symposium [co-organized with Jordan Tate] (10-13-2011 to 10-14-2011) , University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Conference Session: Revisiting the Beauty/Justice Debate and Anthropology’s Place in It: New Ethnographies of Aesthetic Practices & Industries [co-organized with Todd NIcewonger] (11-19-2008 to 11-23-2008) , American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, California.
  • Conference Session: Brokering Images, Casting Differences: Practices of Anticipating the Imagination of Others [co-organized with Zeynep Devrim Gürsel] (11-28-2007 to 12-02-2007) , American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
  • Conference Session: Fashion Reality TV: Fashion as Process, Fashion as Product [co-organized with Todd Nicewonger] (11-30-2005 to 12-04-2005) , American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
  • Exhibition. What Is and What Can Be: Women of Color and the Struggle for Justice [co-curated and designed with Matthew Wizinsky] (09-05-2018, various.

Student Advising

  • Lauren Freese, Anthropology, Corporate Apprenticeships in Design Research: Interdisciplinary Learning Practices of an Emergent Profession (Master), Advisor. Status: Completed (2018)
  • Andrew McGrath, Taft Senior Fellow, Anthropology, Conflicting Agency: Struggle and Resilience in a Housing First Program in Over-the-Rhine (Undergrad), Advisor. Status: Completed (2015)
  • Christian Key Beck, Anthropology, There is a Stranger among Us: The African-American Experience of Blackness in Japan (Master), Advisor. Status: Completed (2013)
  • Rachel Nickens, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Strength beyond the Track: Empowerment in Women’s Roller Derby (Master), Advisor. Status: Completed (2012)
  • Katherine Blake Plowden, Taft Senior Fellow, Anthropology, Re-Adapting Models of Democracy in Peru’s High Amazon (Undergrad), Advisor. Status: Completed (2012)
  • Andrew McGrath, Anthropology, Beyond Plasticity: Cochlear Implants, Family Objects, and Quasi-Neuronal Lives (Master), Advisor. Status: Completed (2017)
  • Keeley Gogul, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Invisibility, Fuckability, or Queerability? A Feminist Investigation of Gender Exploration and Identity in Adolescent Girls (Master), Chair. Status: In Progress
  • Forrest Schmitt, Anthropology (Master), Chair. Status: In Progress (2019)
  • Stacy Jane Grover, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Queer Appalachian Oral History (Master), Committee Member. Status: In Progress (2019)
  • Jennifer Fisher, Anthropology, You are How You Speak: A Discursive Study of Experts and Expertise in Pediatric Pain Assessment (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2016)
  • Mark Albain, Fine Art (Master), Committee Member. Status: In Progress (2019)
  • Aaron Wagner, Anthropology, From Plant to Park: The Evolution of Risk Perspectives among Former Fernald Employees (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2014)
  • Kelly Voss, Art History, Placing Feminist Criticism within a Larger Social and Theoretical Framework: The Abject Art of Valie Export, Gina Pane & ORLAN (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2014)
  • Jarrod Welling-Cann, Senior Project, Electronic Media, Nachiappan Sunrise (Undergrad), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2013)
  • Amy Dunham, Art History, Towards Collaboration: Partnership Between Indigenous & Non-Indigenous Australians in Art, from 1970 to the Present (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2011)
  • Nick Hawes, Anthropology, Parental Strategies of Normalization in Account Giving for Child Behavioral Issues (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2011)
  • Sso-Rha Kang, Art History, The Mood of Nothing: Depictions of Extraordinary Banality (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2016)
  • Lisa Wnek, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Taking the “Man” out of war: A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2016)
  • Amanda Hatch, German Studies/Film & Media Studies Certificate, “Where is Home?” Examining Borders in Yüksel Yavuz’s Kleine Freiheit and Kutluğ Ataman’s Lola und Bilidikid (Master), Committee Member. Status: Completed (2016)

Service

  • Editorial Board Member, Clothing Cultures 2012 to To Present
  • Editor of Journal, Visual Anthropology Review 2019 to 2021

Publicity

  • 11-2016.
  • 09-2016.
  • 03-15-2016.
  • 10-08-2015.
  • 09-22-2015.
  • 05-03-2014.
  • 11-20-2013.
  • 11-16-2011.
  • 10-11-2011.
  • 11-20-2010.
  • 01-2018.
  • 08-2018.

Courses Taught