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Dear Reader,

Continuing on with 10th year celebration of the Center on Media and Child Health, we hope you enjoy June's Monthly Meet!

Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
The Mediatrician®

Center on Media and Child Health Monthly Meet


Richard Chalfen PORTRAIT (2)Meet
: Richard Chalfen

How long have you been at the Center? 10 years as Senior Scientist at CMCH, and since 1997 (16 years) a member of the
VIA research wing.

What do you do at the Center? I'm a specialist in participant visual media research, which in this context means that I help write grants for and analyze video narratives made by adolescent patients in VIA research projects. Since 1998, I’ve co-authored a series of academic articles describing results and applications of these projects. More recently, I’ve been working with staff on issues relating Internet literacy, participation, and safety for young people.

What is one of you current CMCH projects? I'm furthering the concept of “applied visual anthropology” while reworking my earlier notion of a family-issued “cell phone license”, especially in light of ongoing discussions of what it means to earn a driver’s license and hold a gun license.

What is one way you like to use media creativity? I like to put media production in the hands of young people to explore their own models of expression and narratives about “how they look” (both how they appear and how they see) in their own creative ways. I'm interested in how people develop ways of seeing and interpreting what they see. In previous years, I offered an undergraduate course entitled “Anthropology through Feature Films” and a graduate seminar exploring ways to interpret the constructed reality of daytime drama. 

What is one of your favorite movies/TV shows and why? In movies, it's a tie between Being There (1980), from Jerzy Kosinski’s novel of the same title, for its fresh perspective of media’s presence and media socialization in American culture, and ­Krippendorf’s Tribe (1998), for its critique of anthropological representation. In television shows, my favorites are Big Bang Theory, which is great humor about geek sub-culture, and Doc Martin, which shows the anti-bedside manner of an heroic M.D. in the UK.

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