Dr. Alicia Blum Ross

Alicia Blum-Ross is an ESRC Fellow in Media and Communications. She has a D Phil (PhD) and M Phil in Social Anthropology from University of Oxford. She was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Digital World Research Centre at University of Surrey and a Visiting Fellow in the Media and Communications department at LSE.

Alicia Blum-Ross's research experiences have centred on exploring intersections between participatory media, citizenship and learning. As a media anthropologist, community media facilitator, educator and consultant, she has worked with Higher Education Institutions, schools and community and cultural organisations. Her doctoral research at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, utilised ethnographic methodologies to investigate how discourses of citizenship and participation are incorporated into filmmaking projects for disadvantaged young people in London. She was the recipient of the Graduate Studentship in Anthropology and the Rausing Scholarship at Linacre College. Prior to her doctorate she completed an M Phil in Social Anthropology at Oxford that emphasised visual anthropology theory and methods. Her Masters' dissertation drew on fieldwork in the Dadaab Refugee Camps on the Kenya-Somali border that analysed the use of participatory video as part of a behavior change communication campaign targeting the spread of HIV.

After completing her PhD, Alicia Blum-Ross was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Digital World Research Centre in the Department of Sociology at University of Surrey. As the sole anthropologist on an interdisciplinary digital design project called Bespoke (www.bespokeproject.org|), her research examined how community media can be used as a means of generating ethnographic insight and enabling participant feedback within a community-centred innovation process. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under the Digital Economy programme, Bespoke worked with residents to create a series of 'old' and 'new' media outputs Ð from a local newsletter to a hyper-local journalism website - which a digital design team then employed as a basis for creating new digital tools for community use. She was the lead author on a widely distributed policy report on Bespoke that accompanied an exhibition at the V&A Museum during the London Design Festival, 2011.

Before beginning her current position at LSE, Alicia Blum-Ross worked with the Media and Communications Department as a Visiting Fellow on the Space2Cre8 project in collaboration with researchers from the Graduate School of Education at University of California, Berkeley. Space2Cre8 (www.space2cre8.com|) is an international collaboration between schools in the US, UK, Australia, South Africa, India and Norway to explore how young people can use social networks as a means to foster creative inter-cultural communication. Additionally, she is a Fellow of the Digital Anthropology programme at University College, London and serves on the selection committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival.

Alongside her academic research, Alicia Blum-Ross has managed programmes at FilmAid International (http://filmaid.org/|) and the Barbican and the British Film Institute Education Departments. From 2005-2007 she was the Education Manager of the Times BFI London Film Festival, creating film-based educational programmes and writing comprehensive teaching resources for schools, further and higher education and groups across London. She specialises in the development of evaluation and monitoring materials and methodologies and has conducted evaluations and strategic consultancies for the Roundhouse, Keats House Museum, the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, among others.

Research Interests

Alicia Blum-Ross's research interests centre on studying participatory media as a vehicle for understanding the cultural production of identity, learning, belonging and citizenship. She also explores the use of different ethnographic methodologies, ranging from video diaries, cultural mapping and photomontage to extensive participant-observation in physical and virtual spaces, as part of her research. Her research draws on media and digital anthropology, community media studies, cultural geography, participatory design, political theory and urban planning.

Much of Alicia Blum-Ross's research has focused on the creation of non-formal learning spaces for young people and on the different forms of critical, media and digital literacy fostered by taking part in participatory media activities. As a researcher, she foregrounds multi-sited fieldwork that brings together not only the perspectives of participants in youth and community media projects, but also the facilitators, project managers and institutional funders who instigate them.

Her research views media-making as a social, technological and creative process which both actively contests and reifies rhetorics of "voice" and "participation." She is particularly interested in using empirical material to contrast on-the-ground practices of media-makers with an understanding of the political economy of youth and media funding and policy. Her research on community media demonstrates both the possibilities and limitations of viewing community media as a counter-narrative to mainstream mediated representations, particularly of youth.

In addition to youth media research, she also has developed an interest in models of participatory innovation, using media as a tool for design ethnography and user research. Inspired by her work on Bespoke, she is interested in developing future research that explores how participatory media can be used as a form of community consultation and action research.

Publications

  • Blum-Ross, A. (2013) ‘’It Made Our Eyes Get Bigger:’ Youth Filmmaking and Place-Making in East London.’ Visual Anthropology Review, Fall 2013. pp- 89 - 106.
  • Blum-Ross, A., J. Mills, P. Egglestone and D. Frohlich (2013) ‘Community media and design: Insight Journalism as a method for innovation.’ Journal of Media Practice, Vol. 14 No. 3. Pp. 171 - 192.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2012) ‘‘Authentic’ representations? Ethical quandaries in participatory filmmaking with young people.’  In Negotiating Ethical Challenges in Youth Research, K. te Riele and R. Brooks (eds.) Critical Youth Studies series, London: Routledge.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2012) ‘Youth Filmmaking and ‘Justice-Oriented Citizenship.’’ Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy. Issue No. 4, http://www.idunn.no/ts/dk/2012/04.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2012) ‘Insight Journalism.’ In Fieldguide: Issue 1, J. Rogers and P. Thomas (eds). London Design Festival 2012.
  • Taylor, N., J. Marshall, A.Blum-Ross, J. Mills, J. Rogers, P. Egglestone, D. Frohlich, P. Wright and P. Oliver (2012) ‘Viewpoint: Empowering Communities with Situated Voting Devices.’ Proceedings of CHI 2012, New York: ACM.
  • Blum-Ross, A., J. Marshall, J. Mills and J. Rogers (2011) Bespoke: Insight Journalism as a Method for Community Innovation and Engagement. Policy report for London Design Festival 2011.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2011) ‘Teaching evaluation: Putting anthropological research skills to work’ in Teaching Anthropology, Vol. 1 Issue 1.
  • Blum-Ross, A., D. Frohlich, J. Mills and P. Egglestone (2011) Participatory video and design: examples from the Bespoke project.  Proceedings of the Participatory Innovation Conference.  Sonderborg, Denmark 13-15 January 2011.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2011) Review of Film Festival Yearbook 2: Film Festivals and Imagined Communities.  Dina Iordanova and Ruby Cheung (eds.) Visual Studies.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2011) Review of The Anthropology of News and Journalism: Global Perspectives.  S. Elizabeth Bird (ed).  Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford.
  • Blum-Ross, A. and C. Blum (2009) ‘Film’ in Encyclopedia of Human Rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2007) Teaching Resource: Viewing ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. British Film Institute.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2007) Journey Times: A Teaching Resource for Exploring Travel and Transport through Documentary Film.  London: Transport for London.
  • Blum-Ross, A. (2006) Reality Bites: A Teaching Resource for viewing films about food and consumption. British Film Institute.
  • Blum-Ross, A (2005) Adding Spice’: Collaborative Video as an Intersection between Institutions and Refugees in Dadaab, Kenya’ The Communication Initiative on-line journal, http://www.comminit.com/

Contact:

Email: A.Blum-Ross@lse.ac.uk|

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Alicia Blum-Ross