Meet Our Wadsworth International Fellows: Carlos Mario Tobon Franco

With the support of the Wadsworth International Fellowship Carlos Mario Tobon Franco will continue his training in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin sponsored by Craig Campbell. Read the previous entries in the series here.

I am dedicated to the possibilities of working with multimedia ethnography to do justice to the entanglements of the senses. With the increased usage of new technologies that have opened the possibilities to share and distribute anthropological knowledge, we need scholars who are able not only to criticize these circulations but to engage with them creatively. Accordingly, I have experience producing photographs and multimedia pieces regarding social phenomena across the Americas, about Indigenous traditions, urban identities, Afro-Colombian communities, armed conflict zones, borderlands, and immigrants.

My scholarship at this moment is focused on the US-Mexico border and its ramifications. I am curious to look at how border premises are ideologically and politically constructed to shape particular cultural and social configurations. By intertwining race studies, affect theory, and structural violence studies, I envision my dissertation as a multimodal ethnography that relates the US surveillance, racial, and militaristic practices north of the border to structural violence, infrastructure mega-projects, and precarious economies to the south in Mexico and Central America.

I began the doctoral program at the University of Texas at Austin in fall 2020 during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Regardless, I found tremendous support and care within the Anthropology department. After a year of courses, gatherings, and stimulating advising, I can’t imagine getting the training I look for anywhere else. My advisor, Dr. Craig Campbell, and his work with media and leadership in Visual Anthropology have guided me through the latest developments and discussions in the genre. Dr. Kathleen Stewart and Dr. Marina Peterson’s focus on affect studies, experimental ethnography, and media theory have supported my interests and explorations of these topics. Regarding border studies, I am thrilled to join Dr. Jason Cons and Dr. Martha Menchaca in seminars on political ecologies and race and ethnicity in America, specifically. The doctoral program at UT Austin allows for considerable inter-disciplinary study opportunities. Therefore, I look forward to engaging with exciting scholars at the African and African Diasporic Studies, especially the work of Dr. Simone Browne on surveillance practices and Dr. Christen Smith’s research on racial formation, violence, and transnational struggles.