Benny Shaffer is a PhD Candidate in Media Anthropology whose research interests include independent cinema, contemporary art, and popular performance in China. His dissertation project, “Living as Spectacle: Performance, Experience, and Imagination in Contemporary China,” as well as his CMP capstone project, “Elsewhere”, both explore the lived experiences of migrant-worker performers who move between various institutions of tourism and entertainment in southwest China. “Elsewhere” combines 16mm film, video, and location audio recordings.
Prior to coming to Harvard, Benny worked in Beijing as a writer and editor at LEAP: The International Art Magazine of Contemporary China. Since 2011, he has co-curated the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies’ Emergent Visions screening series, which showcases new and innovative works of independent cinema from China. He is also co-founder of Crows and Sparrows, a Boston-based initiative that seeks to create and enhance opportunities for independent media exchange between artists in North America and East/Southeast Asia.