Project: The Streetsense Project, formerly known as Parking Matters

Principal Investigator(s): J.A. English-Lueck (SJSU); Dr. Melissa Cefkin (Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Silicon Valley Lab)

Client/Partner: Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Silicon Valley Lab

Summary: In partnership with anthropologist, Melissa Cefkin, at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Silicon Valley Lab graduate students in the Anthropology 232 Applications Core class have conducted original research and developed ethnographically-based video design fictions to examine the potential consequences of changes to our streetscapes as vehicles become more autonomous.  Students in the class go beyond the interior of the vehicle and the experience of driving to examine the landscapes, policies and behaviors that shape our experience of being street adjacent.  Each cohort develops several team projects that examine how our streets reflect vulnerability, social justice, social change and explores cultural concepts such as ability, navigation, safety and community.  The various films have been collected into a public access YouTube Channel, San Jose State Applied Anthropology Nissan Research Center Collaborative Videos.  These videos have been shown to Bay Area communities of practitioners, EPIC (The Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference), the Society for Applied Anthropology, and the Southwestern Anthropological Association. Several students have gone on to base their MA projects on issues considered in the project and/or have received paid internships at the Alliance Lab.   

Funding: N/A

Timeline: 2016-2020

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for individual graduate MA projects.  Contact J.A English-Lueck (

Student Researchers: Anthropology 232, Applications Core: (2020) Chioma Aso, Brieann DeOrnellas, Jillian Ferini, Andrew Ng, Jhaid Parreno, Shilpa Shah, Edher Zamudio, (2019) Melanie Baily, Milton Canas-Chinchilla, Kristen Constanza, Ashley Estrada [pdf], Jasmine Low, Kevin Kochever, Shelbie Taylor, Brett Witteck, (2018) Victor Cortes, Briza Diaz, Andrew Marley, Laticia Marshall, Megan Shaw, Andrea Vinke, (2017) Miguel Huerta, Simon Jarrar, Shauna Mundt, Bhargavi Pawar [pdf], (2016) Clemy Bebb, Leah Grant, Chelsea Halliwell, Erika Harvey, Sarah Luce, Ailea Merriam-Pigg, Jamieson Mockel, Angela Moniz, Ari Pimentel, Alisha Ragland, Kelli Sullivan, and Megan Watson.

Project: Mapping Ourselves

Principal Investigator(s): J.A. English-Lueck (SJSU); Rajiv Mehta (Atlas of Caregiving)

Client/Partner: Atlas of Caregiving

Summary: In partnership with the Atlas of Caregiving students conduct autoethnographic examinations of their ecosystems of care.  Using an expanded practice-based understanding of Care, pioneered by Annemarie Mol, we partnered with the non-profit, the Atlas of Caregiving.  This organization is piloting ways to enhance the effectiveness of communities of care in public and non-profit sectors.  They began by creating an app to help map networks of caregivers beyond the biomedical sector.  The organization came to realize that the exchanges between people in their communities of care practice led to longer term support.  Our efforts at San Jose State University help refine and expand the process.

Funding: N/A, Evaluation funded by We All Care in Michigan

Timeline: 2019-2021

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for individual undergraduate student projects and graduate MA projects.  Contact J.A English-Lueck (

Student Researchers: Anthropology 108, Medical Anthropology students, Steffen Anderson, Lauren Anderson, Angela Ayala, Sean Davis, Calista Dieser, Marley Harr, Andrea Jurado, Jacob Landingin, William Layne, Hannah McCormack, Sana Rahim, Molly Rosenfeld, Alex Su, Mitchell Tran, and Jordan Valenzuela.

Project: Community-based Mobile Networks in Oaxaca, Mexico

Principal Investigator: Roberto González

Client/Partner: N/A

Summary: This ethnographic project examines the process by which Talea de Castro, an indigenous pueblo in southern Mexico, built a "do-it-yourself" cell phone network in 2013, without help from the government or telecom companies. With support from a non-governmental organization, villagers succeeded in creating a local solution to address their needs. Today, the network links more than 4000 people living in approximately 70 pueblos. This project also explores broader themes, including the cultural and social consequences of new technology adoption; the roots of innovation and inventiveness; and the ways in which social media and the internet more generally are used in indigenous communities. The project is based partly upon the investigator's early research in Talea de Castro during the 1990s.

Funding: N/A

Timeline: 2017-2020

Student Opportunities: Since this project has recently concluded, there are not opportunities for student researchers at the moment. This might change if and when the investigator pursues a follow-up project.

Student Researchers: N/A

Project: Virtual Warfare in an Algorithmic Age

Principal Investigator: Roberto González

Client/Partner: N/A

Summary: This project is a critical examination of how military and intelligence agencies, with help from defense contractors, are pursuing "data-driven" technologies for deployment in both virtual and actual battlefields. It also explores how some Silicon Valley companies are enabling and accelerating these processes. The project covers a range of topics: autonomous weapons systems; high-tech propaganda and psyops campaigns; predictive policing; algorithmically biased programs; computational counterinsurgency; and the role of social scientists in creating these technologies. The project is primarily academic and will eventually result in a book-length monograph.

Funding: N/A

Timeline: 2018-2021

Student Opportunities: At the moment, there are not opportunities for student researchers, since the project is coming to an end. If a book manuscript is accepted for publication, there might be opportunities for students to assist with preparation of the final manuscript (for example, fact checking, preparation of bibliographic materials, indexing, and other tasks).

Student Researchers: N/A

Project: The Anthropology of Homelessness and Housing Futures in San José

Principal Investigator(s): A.J. Faas, Co-PI John Marlovits

Client/Partner: HomeFirst San José, San José Downtown Association, Downtown Streets

Summary: Our project objective is to address three broad topics: the production of homelessness; how the homeless camp and alternative housing futures are produced and sustained; and the production of housing futures beyond the camp. Our approach to studying the production of homelessness can be broadly characterized as examining a networked institutional ecology; that is, we are conducting life history interviews with homeless (and recently homeless) individuals to learn about their life paths and the relational, institutional, and spatial networks they navigate on the paths to homelessness. Our approach to studying how homeless camps are produced and sustained is threefold: (a) participant observation in camps to document how camps are built, maintained, displaced, and reproduced over time; (b) qualitative network interviews to study formal support resources and everyday varieties of mutual aid, reciprocity, and protection among the homeless, with attention to how relations endure or are reconstituted through/following processes of displacement; and (c) photo-voice interviews to understand the material culture of encampments, including how materials flow into and out of the camp, and the production of identity through human relationships with materials. Our approach to studying housing futures involves documenting how pathways to housing futures are imagined and operationalized by homeless (and recently homeless) individuals, city and county government, nonprofit organizations, and advocacy groups.

Funding: Pending

Timeline: 2019-2024

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for funded student research assistantships and individual student MA projects and theses. Please contact A.J. Faas (

Student Researchers: Sana Rahim (McNair Scholar), Kiley Stokes, Carey van Tran, Elizabeth Baseman