Zito, Angela

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Religious Studies
Director, Religious Studies Program

Co-director of the Center for Religion and Media
Religious Studies Program
Associate Faculty Cinema Studies

Ph.D. Chicago 1989.

External Affiliation: Association for Asian Studies, China and Inner Asia Council; American Academy of Religion, section on Critical Theories and Discourses of Religion; American Anthropological Association; American Ethnological Society.

Fellowships/Honors: Henry R. Luce Foundation initiative on Religion and International Affairs grant for September 2011-May 2014. The Pew Charitable Trusts grant for $3 million to co-found with Faye Ginsburg the Center for Religion and Media at NYU in 2003; Chiang-ching Kuo Foundation post-doctoral fellowship, 1997; Gladys Brookes Teaching Award, Barnard College, 1995; National Endowment for the Humanities summer 1994; National Academy of Sciences – National Committee for Communication with the People's Republic of China post-doctoral fellowship, 1991-92; Social Science Research Foundation grant 1980-82; Committee for Communication with the People's Republic of China, advanced study award 1979-80.

Recipient of the 2013 Arts & Science Golden Dozen Teaching Awards http://cas.nyu.edu/page/teaching/awards/

DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations after Independent Film, co-editor with Zhang Zhen, University of Hawaii Press, 2015.

身体与笔:18世纪中国作为文本/表演的大祀 (translation by Li Jin, Of Body and Brush in Beijing University’s series of History and Anthropology), 2014, with new preface by author.

Writing in Water, or, Evanescence, Enchantment and Ethnography in a Chinese Urban Park.” Visual Anthropology Review 30.1 (2014): 11-22.

“十字架与摄影机:基督教美学与数理影像世界中实现的虚构“ The cross and the camera: Christian aesthetics realized in the video world of China”《中国独立影响》Chinese Indie Cinema 2013.08(12:32-40). Original essay translated into Chinese, dated 2013, published 2014 year.

“Reading as Watching: What we see and what we get.” positions: asia critique 20.1 (Winter 2012):241-266.

“Body” Material Religion: the Journal of Objects, Art and Belief 7.1 (March 2011):  18-25.

“Culture,”  in David Morgan, ed.  Keywords in Religion, Media and Culture. (Routledge Press,  2008).

"Can television mediate religious experience? The theology of Joan of Arcadia" in Religion: Beyond the Concept, edited by Hent deVries, Fordham University Press, 2007.

"Secularizing the pain of foot-binding in China: Missionary and medical stagings of the universal body" in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75.1 (March 2007): 1-24.

"Things Chinese" and "This is not a façade" in Making Things Public, edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Wiebel.  (Catalogue for exhibit in the ZKM Center for Art and Media of Karlsruhe, Germany, 2005.)

"Bound to be represented: theorizing/fetishizing footbinding," in Modernity Incarnate: Refiguring Body Politics in China, eds. Larissa Macfarquhar and Fran Martin. University of Hawaii, 2006.

"Purchasing parents in 17th century China” (Zai chiqi shiji Zhongguo mai fumu). In Ming Qing qingyu (Sentiments and Desires in Ming-Qing China), Academi Sinica, Taiwan, 2004.

Of Body and Brush: Grand Sacrifice as Text/Performance in 18th Century China. University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Body, Subject and Power in China, co-edited with Tani Barlow. University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Current News/Projects
Updated May 2015

My empirical work is based in China, ranging from the historical (18th century ritual life) to the creation of new forms of personal value in the urban spaces of Beijing and Shanghai.  This span of interest is held together through my study of bodies in sensory performances and the ways that we mediate those performances in social life in many different material forms, both everyday and artistically marked, from getting together in parks to making film and avant garde art.

This year sees the publication of a collection of essays on Chinese documentary film co-edited with Zhang Zhen of Cinema Studies at NYU entitled DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformation after Independent Film (University of Hawaii Press). This work grows our of longstanding research interests in the public cultural life Chinese independent documentary film. I have been serving on festival juries  (May 2009 at the 7th Independent Documentary Film Festival in Beijing;  October 2011 at the 8th China Independent Film Festival in Nanjing) in an era of the contraction of public expression.  Our work “offshore” to provide exhibition of these films—in collaboration with Chinese friends--continued with the latest Spring 2014 Reel China@NYU 7th Independent Film Biennial, which I co-curate with Professor Zhang. http://www.crmnyu.org/projects/reel-china/    We regularly teach regularly a graduate seminar in “New Chinese Documentary Film.”  The festival provides opportunities for our students to see new work and meet filmmakers from China as well.

A new project of mine underway, this time in Shanghai, takes up the various socialities of filiality (xiaoshun 孝顺), especially as mobilized by the powerful imperial or socialist center. Filiality as always been a fundamental aspect of what we recognize as Chinese religious life, be that Confucian ethics, or Buddhist piety.New forms of affective relations between generations, and between married or sexually involved heterosexual couples, are being scrutinized and mobilized in ways that resonate strongly with revived, older forms of filial orthodoxy. I will be on leave in 2015-2106 working on this project.

I continue to write about a previous project in Beijing on how people transmute time “spent” into forms of social and personal value while simultaneously creating public space as they take up new activities together.  This work conjoins some newly emergent senses of the individual with equally new senses of the possibilities of being together with others.  The question of access to the means of cultural production in public is a fascinating one in flux right now in this post-reform era. Various collaborations of mine over the past few years have explored the production of art by local citizens in public spaces. They include a neighborhood photography installation, a performance piece about stiletto shoes and feminine beauty with a fashion house and my work with a community of students studying calligraphy with two teachers in a public park, writing in water on pavement using large sponge-tipped brushes.  This beautiful disappearing Writing in Water (2012, 42 min) is the subject of my documentary, which has been screened at several universities in the past year and went to the 9th Beijing Independent Film Festival in August 2012.  The Beijing fieldwork places the body and its mediations at the center of its theoretical commitments, continuing this theme as the grounding of my intellectual life. For more on this research and for my papers, visit my website at http://www.angelazito.com/zito1.htm. As Director of Religious Studies, I have been working to create a location for studying religion and social life in a world drawn together in new ways through global capital and media networks.
http://religiousstudies.fas.nyu.edu/page/home.  I continue to co-direct (with Faye Ginsburg) the Center for Religion and Media at NYU—visit our website to find our programming. http://www.crmnyu.org/   We conitinue at the forefront of longform web-based writing on religion at the Center’s magazine, The Revealer http://therevealer.org/ which is dedicated to religion and media issues, and to critically reviewing how religion is treated in the media.

As a member of the Anthropology Department, I encourage students interested in religion to join me and my colleagues in Religious Studies for either an undergraduate course or the graduate seminar, “Theories and Methods for the Study of Religion,” which I teach nearly every fall.  We all look forward to another year of exciting public programming at the Center, lectures in our department and, of course, teaching and research!