Melissa Caldwell

Melissa L. Caldwell is Professor of Anthropology at UCSC and Editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies. Her research and teaching interests have focused on practice theory, consumption, and material culture, with a special focus on the material and experiential dimensions of social justice concerns in socialist and postsocialist societies. Her current research and teaching focus on creativity, invention, disruptive practices (e.g, hacker cultures) and the new innovation economies in Russia and other (post)socialist societies. Her work in innovative design spans the academic and industry sectors. As a consultant for commercial design-based ethnographic projects she has worked with several global food corporations and European-based design agencies. She has also collaborated with scholars and design practitioners in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom on scholarly design-based projects, including participating in the anthropology of design network based in northern Europe. She was previously affiliated with the ThingTank research project based at TU Delft (Netherlands) and sponsored by Skoltech (Skolkovo Institute of Technology, Moscow, Russia). At UCSC, she founded and leads the anthropology department’s Ethno Fab Lab, which promotes the development of new, collaborative, cross-disciplinary ethnographic methods and trains graduate students to work collaboratively across and at the intersection of the social sciences, humanities, arts, design, and engineering.