Office & Hours
Office: SZB 262D
The University of Texas at Austin
Educ Psychol Dept
1 University Station D5800
Austin, TX 78712-1294
UT Mail Code: D5800
download vita (pdf)
My current interests reside primarily in the study of psychoanalysis and cultural experience through such topics as the psychological experience of immigration, ethnic conflicts within communities, and the relationship between individual and collective identity. I pursue these topics primarily through descriptive methodologies that I term psychoanalytic ethnography because it includes traditional psychoanalytic interviewing techniques, as well as psychoanalytic constructs for understanding individuals and communities, while at the same time borrowing heavily from traditional ethnographic and qualitative approaches to inquiry. I believe that such a methodology allows for a more nuanced and textured understanding of human experience, one that brings us into closer proximity to the complex motivations that lie at the heart of what we do as individuals and as members of communities.
I have worked at the intersection of psychology and culture for some time, and my work tends to be deeply psychological rather than sociological in character. In No Dancin' in Anson (Jason Aronson, 1995) I chronicled the experience of a West Texas community that had been transformed by the Civil Rights era, having once been almost exclusively White (prior to 1965) and now finding itself with a population that was over a third Mexican-American. I have also published chapters related to culture and the experience of immigration (see "Cultural Mourning: Vignettes from the Mexican immigrant experience", in Crossings: Mexican Immigration in Interdisciplinary Perspectives Suarez-Orozco, Ed. Harvard University Press, 1998; and "The plasticity of culture and psychodynamic and psychosocial processes in Latino immigrant families" in Latinos: Remaking America. Suarez-Orozco, M. & Paez, M. Eds. UC Press, 2002). More recently, I have studied the impact of a racial murder (the 1998 killing of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas) on a Texas community (see. Ainslie, R.C. & Brabeck, K. (2003) "Race murder and community trauma: Psychoanalysis and Ethnography in exploring the impact of the killing of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas" Journal of Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society. Vol 8:1, pp42-51; and, Ainslie, R.C., & Hall, E. (in press). "Community resilience and grassroots leadership: Serendipity in the wake of a race murder." Mind and Human Interaction.
I have also engaged these topics through documentary film and photographic exhibits. In "Crossover: A story of desegregation," I addressed issues of cultural conflict and transformation by examining the impact of school desegregation on the community of Hempstead, Texas. Similarly, in a collaboration with a documentary photographer I developed a photographic exhibit describing the impact of the murder of James Byrd on Jasper, in East Texas. In 2007 I completed "Ya Basta! Kidnapped in Mexico" a feature-length documentary film about crime and Mexico's transition to democracy. I am currently working on a book about Mexico's drug war ("The Savior of Juarez: Mexico at the Time of the Great Drug War" Univ. of Texas Press) and a documentary film about the experience of war "War Stories").
Finally, in my courses at the university I teach doctoral courses in contemporary psychoanalytic theories, projective testing, and a practicum seminar. I also teach an undergraduate Liberal Arts Honors/Education Honors course titled "Life history and documentary approaches to inquiry" (open to both undergraduate and graduate students from across the university) where I teach the methodology I have worked with in these communities and where students develop documentary (video) film projects. I am developing a new course: "Ethnographic and qualitative inquiry in education."
Please see my website for description of some of my major projects: www.ricardoainslie.com