About myself and my research

My name is Luis Tsukayama Cisneros, I am a PhD. in sociology and visual story-teller in New York City. As a sociologist, I am interested in the connections between "big" aspects of society (politics, economics, history) and the very personal experiences of everyday life (memory, emotions, identity). I am particularly passionate about using multidisciplinary perspectives to analyze social life and complex issues. And I am particularly committed to public education and disseminating research to non-academic audiences (hence, my passion for having taught students in different fields for over 6 years: from designers and artists to social researchers and musicians).

In general, I am particularly interested in a few things: culture, how people build their identities, the urban environment, how societies change, and how these things affect people's everyday lives. These topics occupy my mind all the time, but they manifest in my interest in things like photography, music, design, food, football, cinema, videogames, architecture, and art, all of which are cultural products that shape people's everyday lives in society. My insatiable curiosity and my constant drive for seeing unexpected connections led to pursue a research project about the connection between food, identity and democracy in Lima.

My doctoral research project is called "Eating across social differences: The unexpected emergence of commonality in Lima through food." It is a five-chapter project that analyzes how food and eating have unexpectedly emerged as imagined areas of commonality and democratic practices in the city of Lima (Peru), where otherwise Limeños often construct their identities on deep historical divisions of race, socioeconomic background, and urban separation. This research was based on a mixed-methodologies approach that included qualitative research methods, ethnography, archival research, urban mapping, use of statistical sets, visual documentation, and cultural comparative analysis

For my resume, you can find my comprehensive profile on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/luis-tsukayama-cisneros-19050710/

And here's a video of me talking about what it means to make cities for people :


About my photography

In my research, I work a lot with theory, I write and read a lot about individuals living in society… but in doing this, there is always something missing, something that perhaps eludes common academic approaches: aesthetics and poetics. My photography is an attempt to do through images what I cannot do with the written word, to say something that cannot be “said”. I'm not a documentarist or a journalist: My intention is not to show something through photos but to better understand and interpret that which I cannot grasp rationally or through traditional sociological research. For that reason, my photography practice and projects are an attempt to look “sideways” in my research; a “sideways” way of looking at rationality, theory, emotions, culture, identities and the poetics of image.

As the famous photographer and founder of Provoke magazine (subtitled: "provocative resources for thought"), Takuma Nakahira, wrote in the magazine's manifesto in 1968: "Today, when words are torn from their material base-in other words, there reality-and seen suspended in space, a photographer's eye can capture fragments of reality that cannot be expressed in language as it is."

I take photos because I am looking for something, something that many times slips through our everyday (on the one hand) and intellectual (on the other) understanding of society and human life; something that most of the times is found unintentionally, at the same time that it is created through everyday interactions in society and culture. Perhaps the poetry of images, perhaps the “punctum” of Roland Barthes, or the  ”aura” of Walter Benjamin, perhaps simply the experience of humanity. I think you, my reader, probably understand what I am saying.