Mitchell: South Asia Studies Showcase 2012

PowerPoint Videos - Showcase 2012

East and West: A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Cultural History of the Modern World
Dr. Lisa Mitchell, Associate Professor of South Asia Studies, has guided her students to create voiceover videos as class assignments for a large undergraduate class (ANTH 063 / SAST 063 / HIST 087) in South Asia Studies. Her class focuses on how the desire to possess and consume commodities has shaped cultures. In addition to the commodities studied by the full class, each student researches a commodity for an individual presentation. Documents related to the commodities assignment include:
In 2011 (see 2011 showcase), her students largely used PowerPoint slideshows captured as screen videos. Projects from the 2012 spring semester include some integration of video content in addition to stills. Students in all six sections of the course viewed the videos, and chose winners at the section at course levels - examples are included below.

Rubber, 1st Place Overall 

Rubber Video Group
Jackie Birnbaum, William Feldman, and Kaytlena Stillman

Jackie, William, and Kaytlena use a captivating combination of audio, image stills, and videos to trace the history of rubber. The group pinpoints World War II as the turning point for both perception and use of rubber. The video explores:


  • The history of rubber
  • Vulcanization as the gateway to widespread rubber adoption
  • Rubber as a symbol of military power
  • Effects of the development of synthetic rubber

Ivory, 2nd Place Overall 

Salina Lee and Mier Wang
Salina and Mier follow the shift of ivory from globally-consumed commodity to unethical product. By unearthing stills from the peak of the environmental conservation movement, Salina and Mier evoke the same emotions in the viewer as conservationists felt during the elephant genocide of the 1990s. The video explores:


  • Different uses of ivory throughout history
  • Origins of the environmental conservation movement
  • Legislation and global regulation of the ivory trade

Quinoa, 1st Place in Section 

Quinoa Video Group

Elena Stern


Elena uncovers the transition between quinoa as local food staple to global dietary phenomenon, positing that the shift in meaning and status has only hurt the consumers of quinoa's native South America. Elena uses the Ken Burns effect - panning over an image still - to give her video the feel of a documentary exposé. The video explores:
  • Reasons behind the explosion in global popularity
  • An exploration into the roots of quinoa production
  • Health implications for those who can no longer afford quinoa

American Cheese, 1st Place in Section 

Cheese Video Group

Dilip Rajan and Lindsay Wong


Lindsay and Dilip explore the journey of American cheese from extensified commodity to intensified artisan product. The video explores:
  • Reasons behind the doubling of American cheese consumption from 1970 to 1994
  • Implications of the artisan cheese movement in the United States
  • Connotations of class and status associated with different cheeses

Maple Syrup, Honorable Mention 

Maple Syrup Video Group

Benedict Amoo, Aaditya Sekar, and Luke Swaszek


Benedict, Aaditya, and Luke examine the history and production of maple syrup, as well as ways in which the production process has changed. Learn about:
  • Effects of production inefficiency on commodity price
  • Competition between maple sugar and cane sugar
  • The emergence of maple syrup as a breakfast condiment

Oil and Foreign Policy, Honorable Mention 

Oil Video Group

Haley Pearlstein and Madeleine Macks


Haley and Madeleine posit World War II as the turning point for global oil popularity. This group employs the Ken Burns effect while using motion-oriented and colorful section breaks to give their video the tone of a newsflash. The video explores:
  • Use cases from Germany, Japan, and the United States
  • The inclusion of oil in production of synthetic rubber
  • How militaristic strategy has changed concerning the commodity