About myself and my research

My name is Luis Tsukayama Cisneros, I am an advanced PhD candidate in sociology at the New School for Social Research 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 teaching in non-social sciences students).

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 cultural practices such as 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, archival research, urban mapping, use of statistical sets, discourse analysis, 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/

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About my interest in photography

In my research work a lot with theory, I write and read extensively about individuals living in society… but in so doing 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 photographic practice and projects are an attempt to look “sideways” in my sociological 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.

My photographic practice

I shoot film most of the time but I also do digital from time to time. The focus of this website is not photographic gear, but I cannot deny the fact that cameras and the medium of my choice affect my style of shooting.

I am mostly a rangefinder photographer and I shoot mostly with a Leica M3 and an M6. People have an important relationship with material things, particularly with tools they use almost every day. In my case, my photography would be very different if I did not prefer film, or if I didn’t shoot Leica (the silent shutter, the fact its size and design is not as threatening to people as a big DSLR). 

I also love film, particularly because it is a very physical thing (I shoot, develop and make my own prints), but also because it takes time to see the results of my shooting.

My Leica M3 was recently featured in Tokyo Camera Style during my last trip to Tokyo in July 2014. You can check it out here.