Polyphonic Autobiography

The history of LCHC cannot properly be told in a linear way. Although the events that shaped the direction of the lab could be placed in a chain, the people and social circumstances that shaped its development have intertwined in complicated, non-linear, sometimes ironic, and in any case diverse, ways. The story of LCHC’s research is a complex amalgam of its distinct fibers and threads: the voices of those who shaped LCHC and were shaped by it. It’s a history full of convergences and divergences that crosscut each other and unfold at diverse time-scales.

This hybrid narrative form is, we feel, important to writing the story of LCHC because it encourages a branching of historical lines, and, at the same time, a plurality of voices to co-exist in relation to the same organization. The narrative begins in cross-cultural research of the 1960’s before LCHC came into existence as a formal research unit –– first at Rockefeller University in New York City then at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

It traces different lines of research that were focal to the group effort and the gradual evolution of the lab into what is now referred to as a “collaboratory” that serves multiple functions for members currently or once co-located as well as those who have collaborated with us at a distance.

LCHC members’ interests and pursuits comprise diverse trajectories and career paths. Hence, the chapters are best treated as a starting point for exploration. Each section is designed to link participants to a wide range of intellectual resources about LCHC (its people, projects, concepts, etc.) and the key social, cultural, economic, political and policy dialogues its work engaged. Within sections, we have divided the text into chapters that highlight one or another of the major project clusters that preoccupied us at the time. We have included links to the pages of individual participants, to long lasting projects, and to topics of continuing concern. We have adopted this format as a means of coming as close as possible to being a “polyphonic autobiography” of an unusual research collaborative.



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