An interview with Kija Lucas

“Bring your sentimental object or objects to be photographed.”

Kija Lucas’ Museum of Sentimental Taxonomy is a crowd-sourced, traveling archive of memory. From the Bay Area to Pittsburgh, Tulsa to upstate New York, The Museum has popped up across the nation to invite community members to bring in their sentimental objects. The expected family heirlooms — old photographs, love letters, a set of antique turquoise rings — sit alongside many more unassuming — even surprising — objects of sentiment, including a desiccated bird carcass, a European starling that has “followed” its owner around for decades, serving as a memento mori, an ever-present reminder of life’s fragility. A Star Trek phaser gun, a relic of a nerdy adolescence, serves as a beacon, “for all those little kids with huge glasses…waiting for a world to appreciate them.” A plastic grocery bag contains Top Ramen and canned sausages, the last meal one participant shared with her grandfather; it’s presented with an assemblage of other objects collected on the day of his funeral. …

CIIS Goes Virtual: Challenges and Advantages of Online Learning and Teaching

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The transition to online learning and teaching is something new for some in the CIIS community, who had to adapt to this format in just a couple of days. Not being able to see familiar faces, having to interact in an online environment, having to suddenly adapt a course that had been created for the physical classroom, are just some of the challenges some had to suddenly face. As East-West Psychology student Jeff Henson affirmed, “virtual classrooms are a practical solution given the circumstances. …

Are these seeds then, or are they pills?
Is this a placebo, one that will gently and blankly inspire me to get better
or is this a homeopathic dose of deadly conjecture? Is this gossip? Is this cruelty?

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On Friday, March 6, 2020, Grant Colfax, Director of the Department of Public Health, issued a statement asking 900,000 San Francisco residents to avoid unnecessary gatherings, followed quickly by increasingly urgent messages to cease gathering altogether and, eventually, a directive to shelter-in-place.

Three days prior, in the Desai | Matta Gallery in downtown San Francisco, we had installed Prescriptions for Life, a collaborative exhibition between long-time friends, visual artist Paula Gray and poet Theresa Whitehill. Catalyzed by Gray’s discovery of an intact prescription ledger from 1890, the pair who together share decades of life and their attendant losses — a best friend, parents, a sibling — consider the construction of the body, of health and illness, and of the limits of our knowledge to heal. …

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Last week when theShelter-in-Place ordinance was mandated in the Bay Area, Transformative Studies student, Russel Fitzpatrick, sent an email to his friends and family with tips to survive the time at home. As more and more regions decide to implement a similar mandate, we thought this could be helpful for anyone entering into an extended period at home.

  1. Keep a routine.

For those lucky enough to be able to work/learn from home, and even for those not able to work, keep a routine. Wake up at a reasonable time. Brush your teeth and shower. Change your clothes. Go to work in a separate room (the kitchen table works fine). There are plenty of helpful hints on the internet about working from home. …

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Welcome to The Student Life, our monthly column with stories by and for CIIS students. You’ll find tips, hacks, and interesting facts that we hope will help make your student life at CIIS a little bit easier.

How can you go to class, do the readings and the assignments, write papers and so on, while spending some or maybe many weekly hours on another job?

I sense a lot of anxiety around working and studying and how to best manage one’s time. …

For our Spotlight On: Anthropology and Social Change series, we interviewed alum Natalie Cox (‘16), now a Professor at City College of San Francisco.

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What was your dissertation about, and what brought you to that area of research?

My dissertation was an anthropological study of the experiences and struggles of African immigrants as they navigate immigration bureaucracies here in the Bay Area. I focused on two major immigration processes that were the most common legal pathways within African communities here: family reunification and asylum.

I came to this area of research because I lived and studied abroad in Ghana for a year when I was an undergrad, and when I came to San Francisco to get a master’s degree in anthropology at San Francisco State University, I learned that there was a large community of Ghanaians and Africans living in the Bay Area. While getting my MA, I began volunteering at the African Advocacy Network, a small legal-services provider in San Francisco. This activism eventually developed into a long-term research partnership, and I have collaborated with the agency ever since, advocating for immigrant rights while simultaneously highlighting the unique issues faced by immigrants from the African continent. …

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For our Spotlight On: East-West Psychology (EWP) series, we interviewed Adina Morguelan Ascher, licensed social worker, Liberation Institute Clinical Director, and 2013 alum.

For some of us who are more familiar with clinical-oriented psychology, East-West Psychology is a bit of an unknown. How would you describe it?

It’s a theoretical psychology that focuses on the intersection between psychology, spirituality, and philosophy. It can be applied phenomenologically or heuristically, but in general I’d say it’s more theoretical.

Many philosophy programs are centered on a cannon of white dudes in Western philosophy. EWP has that plus a whole range of other scholars and voices. We extensively studied Indian philosophy, which set the groundwork for much of Western philosophical thought. I also was able to take courses in other departments, including an Asian Philosophies class on the trickster in Tibetan Buddhism and a course in Expressive Arts Therapy. …

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Maia with her guide dog Gleam, photo by Anna Wilke

For our Spotlight On: MFA series we spoke with teacher, bodyworker, labyrinth designer, and 2014 alum Maia Scott.

What do you currently do for work?

In addition to doing bodywork, which sustained me through my time at CIIS, I am an instructor at City College of San Francisco teaching accessible theater and arts through Disabled Students Programs and Services. I teach classes offsite at programs that serve people with disabilities who may not be able to attend regular classes on campus. I have the joy of bouncing around San Francisco stirring up creative empowerment.

Tell us a little about your journey — who you were when you began at CIIS and who you are today.

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Welcome to The Student Life, our new monthly column with stories by and for CIIS students. You’ll find tips, hacks, and interesting facts that we hope will help make your student life at CIIS easier.

Do you tend to procrastinate and end up having to write all your papers in the last two weeks of the semester? Do you start each term thinking this time will be different but end up with the same last-minute habit?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Sometimes it can be hard to plan ahead and actually follow through on your good intentions. My friend Ankur Chablani, a fellow PsyD student does not have this problem. He’s very organized and always on top of everything. …

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He and Craig Chaiquist discuss Banerji new book, Meditations on the Isa Upanishads: Tracing the Philosophical Vision of Sri Aurobindo

In his most recent book, Meditations on the Isa Upanishads: Tracing the Philosophical Vision of Sri Aurobindo, chair of the East West Psychology program Debashish Banerji, explores the Isha Upanshad. The Upanishads are early Indian wisdom texts that represent a foundation for Indian philosophies. Using complex linguistic devices such as puzzles, paradoxes, metaphors, daramatic personae and word-play, they force an engagement of consciousness.

Banerji has been drawn to the study of the Upanishads as a quintessential mode of Indian philosophical thinking since 2000. He has been engaging with the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo since the 1990s and was intrigued by the Isha Upanishad, since Sri Aurobindo has written his own commentary on it. This interest was amplified by the fact that the Isha Upanishad relates to a particularly postmodern problematic, that of homogenizing unifications vs. relativistic fragmentation. …


California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)

Opening doors to a life inspired through 25 degrees & certificates in spirituality, psychology, anthropology, leadership, health, & the arts.

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