Perspectives on Los Angeles: Narratives, Images, History


The Research Institute's 1996/1997 residential scholar program, Perspectives on Los Angeles: Narratives, Images, History, was devoted to research on Los Angeles and to comparative projects that viewed the city in relationship to other hemispheric and global sites. Scholars in residence had the opportunity to participate in a number of corollary programs developed by the Research Institute on issues of identity, community, and public culture, as well as programs having to do with preservation, resource development, and the comparative study of cities in the Americas at the turn of the century.

Getty Scholars


Professor Robert L. Carringer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Film Studies. Professor Carringer conducted research for a project on "the representation of Los Angeles in Hollywood feature films since 1975, a period marking Hollywood's increased commitment to imagining and picturing itself and its city."

Professor Dana C. Cuff, University of California, Los Angeles, Architecture and Urban Design. Professor Cuff examined architectural projects in Los Angeles from World War II to the present, which reveal the interaction of aesthetics and politics in urban form. "The physical climate of Los Angeles, its building traditions, and its ideological aversion to history have created fertile ground for a fugitive architecture."

Mr. Mike Davis, Independent Scholar, Los Angeles, Urban and Environmental History. Mr. Davis,author of City of Quartz published in 1990, pursued his research in environmental history of Los Angeles and Southern California concentrating on the period from 1850-1950.

Professor Robert Dawidoff, Claremont Graduate School, U.S. History. Professor Dawidoff researched the cultural production of gay men in Los Angeles and their impact on twentieth-century American civilization "to make the connection between gay men in Los Angeles and their significant role in the extraordinary phenomenon of twentieth-century American mass culture."

Christopher Donnan, University of California, Los Angeles, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Archaelogy. Professor Donnan continued his research on Moche pottery (Peru), as well as comparative archaeology.

Professor Philip J. Ethington, University of Southern California, U.S. History. Utilizing an advanced Geographic Information System (GIS) data set, Professor Ethington examined both photographic and textual evidence within Los Angeles County. "The principal innovation of this study is to contest the century-old model of urban studies, which has sought to narrate the histories of single communities as homogeneous wholes... In contrast, my study builds on a borderlands perspective... to orient attention to the zones of contact and exchange between groups."

Professor Robbert Flick, University of Southern California, School of Fine Arts. Artist Robbert Flick spent his year in residence working on a "visual documentation" of Los Angeles. "In tracing these trajectories and parallel passages through Los Angeles the evolution and changing demographics of the metropolis are revealed. On the facades of the buildings and in the gardens of the houses a living history unfolds, and a visual text reflecting the terrors and hopes of generations emerges."

Professor Roger O. Friedland, University of California, Santa Barbara, Sociology. Working in conjunction with fellow Getty Scholar Harold Zellman, Roger Friedland pursued a project that examines the architectural and ethnographic history of Crestwood Hills, a "modern cooperative village," which began as the Mutual Housing Association (MHA) in 1946. "We will reconstitute the story of a social experiment whose ambitious aims were gradually compromised but which produced the prototype for the modern hillside housing development, one of the few vernacular architectures California has produced."

Professor Thomas S. Hines, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S. History, Modern Architecture. Professor Hines continued writing his book about modernist architecture in Los Angeles. "Essentially this work is a study in intellectual history since it will focus on the idea of, and rationale for, modernist architecture within a regional context."

Professor David E. James, University of Southern California, Film Studies. Professor James explored a project on the history of avant-garde experimental filmmaking in Los Angeles. "In reconstructing this history, I employ significantly new interdisciplinary models of independent film and of the relation between culture and social geography."

Professor Jérôme Monnet, Université de Toulouse-LeMirail, Toulouse, France, Urban Planning and Geography. Professor Monnet, a scholar of Latin American urban geography, conducted a comparative study of the urban and cultural geography of city centers in North and South America, using Los Angeles as one of the major focal points of the study.

Professor Allan Sekula, California Institute of the Arts. Artist and scholar Allan Sekula researched a project examining the port of Los Angeles. "Los Angeles is paradigmatic of the contemporary port city by virtue of the sheer distance between the city's putative centers and the industrial port. This paradigmatic status is seconded by a cultural obliviousness to the significance of the port."

Mr. Harold Zellman, Harold Zellman and Associates, Architects. Working in conjunction with Getty Scholar Roger Friedland, architect Harold Zellman examined the Mutual Housing Association (MHA) project from 1946. "We seek to show the ways in which modern architecture began as part of a progressive politics in the United States, and to examine a concrete case that shows how important California was as a center of these architectural and political ideas."

Pre-Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Fellows


Brenda Bright received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Rice University with a dissertation entitled Mexican-American Low Riders: An Anthropological Approach to Popular Culture.

Ramón García, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, San Diego, completed his dissertation Locating Chicano Identity: Realism, the Baroque, and the Crisis of Representation.

Kanishka Goonewardena, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, completed his dissertation entitled Learning from Los Angeles: The New Urban Space in Global Context.

Becky M. Nicolaides received her Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University with a dissertation entitled In Search of the Good Life: Community and Politics in Working-Class Los Angeles, 1920-1955.

Susan A. Phillips, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, continued work on her dissertation entitled Politics, Graffiti, and Gang Ideology: The Ethnography of a Bloods Neighborhood.

Visiting Scholars


Octavia Butler, Writer, Los Angeles. Author of ten published novels, her short story Speech Sounds won a Hugo Award as best short short story of 1984, and Bloodchild won both the 1985 Hugo and the 1984 Nebula awards as best novelette.

Bernard Cooper, Writer, Los Angeles. At the scholar retreat, Mr. Cooper gave a reading from his book, Truth Serum. (1996) During his residence he was writing a book of short stories set in Los Angeles.

Dorothy Crawford, Independent Scholar, Massachusetts, Musicology/Ethnomusicology. Ms. Crawford, performer, opera stage director, teacher and author, explored the impact of musical émigrés upon the diverse musical communities of the thirties, forties, and fifties.

William F. Deverell, California Institute of Technology, Los Angeles, U.S. History. Professor Deverell is writing a book that is concerned with the construction of a "Spanish fantasy past" by Anglo elites, entitled: The Creation of Los Angeles: Regional Cultures, Regional Memories, 1870-1940.

Douglas Flamming, California Institute of Technology, Los Angeles, U.S. History. Professor Flamming examined African American culture and the politics of culture in Los Angeles in the 1920s. His work is entitled: A World to Gain: African Americans and the Making of Los Angeles, 1890-1940.

Paolo Gasparini Photographer, Caracas, Venezuela. Mr. Gasparini, continued his photography of images of the city of Los Angeles. He gave an audio-visual presentation as a part of the Perspectives on Los Angeles series entitled: "The Visions of Moctezuma: Mexico City 1994."

François Hartog, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France, European History. During his residency Professor Hartog worked on a book about the concept of history in ancient Greece and gave a lecture in the Construction of Historical Meaning series entitled "Times of Patrimony: A History of Cultural Legacies."

Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Sociology. Professor Hondagneu-Sotelo is writing a book about paid domestic workers in Los Angeles. This study concentrates on ways the work is organized and how it is discussed between employers and employees.

Karen L. Ishizuka, Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, Cultural Anthropology. Ms. Ishizuka has been conducting primary research on home movies of Japanese Americans, from the 1920s to the 1970s. Two films constructed from these home movies, Moving Memories and Something Strong Within, were shown in the Perspectives on L.A. Film series. These films were produced and written by Karen Ishizuka and directed by Robert Nakamura.

Samella Lewis, Independent Scholar, Los Angeles, Art History. An artist and author of numerous publications in art history, Samella Lewis pursued her interest in the art of Richmond Barthe, sculptor and painter.

William J. Mohr, Independent Scholar, Los Angeles, Literature/Poetry. Poet, editor, publisher, and teacher, Mr. Mohr continued writing his book of Los Angeles poets and their work over the past forty years, entitled Crevices.

Cees Nooteboom, Writer, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Mr. Nooteboom, author of novels, poetry and criticism, returned to continue work begun here as a Getty Scholar last year. His travel book on Spain, Roads to Santiago has just been published in the United States.

Carolyn See, University of California, Los Angeles, Literature/Writer. Author of several L.A. based novels including Golden Days, Professor See is writing a new novel set in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles.

Robert J. Smith, Los Angeles, Freelance Journalist. Mr. Smith conducted interviews to create an oral history for a political and cultural history of Los Angeles' Central Avenue community between 1940 and 1960.

Penelope Spheeris, Los Angeles, Independent Filmmaker. Ms. Spheeris completed post-production on Part III of the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, which examines young people and the music of the current punk rock scene in and around Los Angles.

Camilo J. Vergara, New York, Photographer/Writer. Mr. Vergara returned to re-photograph sites in Los Angeles, particulary the ghettos, to study their physical transformations in comparison to similar sites in Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Mr. Vergara's photographs were exhibited at the Getty Research Institute.

Raúl H. Villa, Occidental College, Los Angeles, Literature and Cultural Studies. Professor Villa researched expressive cultural practices (such as religious and commercial iconography, body art, graffiti, song lyrics, and body language) which construct contemporary Latino social geographies in Los Angeles.

Mark J. Williams, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, Film Studies. Professor Williams studied the relationship of the motion picture industry and the emergent television industry in the 1950s. He is collecting a series of oral histories from production personnel and members of early television audiences in Los Angeles.

Research Associate


Paola Dematté, Independent Scholar, Los Angeles, Archaeology