In the latest post of the Alumni Blog series, I caught up with Dr Camilo Sol Inti Soler Caicedo, to find out why he chose CMCI’s Ph.D. Culture, Media and the Creative Industries course and more about his academic journey, as well as what he is currently working on.
Camilo Sol Inti Soler Caicedo specialises in the fields of anthropology and the creative industries. Camilo undertook CMCI’s PhD Culture, Media and the Creative Industries between 2016 and 2020.
His thesis ‘Exporting the embodied capital of Colombian salsa’, explored how Colombian Salsa is transmitted and integrated into informal economies in the migrant and transnational scenes, by comparing ethnographic observations of Bogota and London and reviewing over 25 semi-structured and video-elicited interviews with dancers and promoters. Camilo has an extensive research background having worked for the National University of Colombia as an Anthropologist, the Goethe Institute as a Curatorial Assistant, and King’s College London as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Visiting Lecturer. His most recent role is as a Research Associate in Post-conflict Reconciliation; part of POR EL Páramo, a multidisciplinary project on the process of facilitating mutual understanding across diverse traditional inhabitants and related stake holders in the Colombian Andean Moorlands.
Firstly, why did you choose to undertake a Ph.D. Culture, Media and the Creative Industries? And why at the CMCI Department at King’s College?
I was coming from an academic journey in which I was increasingly committed to the applicability of knowledge from the humanities and social sciences into real world problems. My background in anthropology in my undergrad, and then in development in my masters had given me tools in participatory action research for establishing bridges between different forms of knowledge (academic and otherwise). However, I identified that not many people had worked on using popular arts as both a mean for, and a result of, socially engaged research. I discovered then that a PhD in creative industries was the best locus for such a particular intersection of disciplines. In the CMCI department at King’s I found a highly diversified disciplinary landscape in which new ideas from unexpected fields, in my case popular salsa dancing, were welcomed and flourished. King’s College as a whole also provided a wide range of opportunities for exploring alliances and exploring innovative approaches to research.
How did completing a Ph.D. Culture, Media and the Creative Industries prepare you for your current role?
The intrinsically interdisciplinary nature of the field in creative industries helped me develop an ability to understand and be able to communicate with experts in many fields and sectors, from scholars in the arts, the social sciences, and the humanities, to artists and cultural workers, to local communities. Because of this, I could easily become part of the School of Design at Loughborough, even though I am not a designer myself and use design and arts-based methodologies successfully in social interventions. Similarly, the ability to communicate the value of the arts to different sections of society, which is a strong emphasis in CMCI at King’s, has proved highly valuable to facilitate communication between different stakeholders at the Páramo (Andean Moorlands, where I have been designing arts-based workshops bringing together local farmers and campesinos, conservationists, ex-combatants, policy-makers and representatives of other governmental and non-governmental institutions in order to discuss the future of this particular ecosystem in the Colombian highlands.
What skills, networks, and experiences did you find most useful in progressing your career as an academic? And what advice would you give to students and graduates looking to go into lecturing, among other academic roles?
Beyond the opportunity of finetuning my academic writing craft in an understandable and meaningful, but also captivating way, the different options of training in research collaborations in academia and the arts brought about several crucial skills in terms of effective communication, adaptability and resourcefulness. In terms of networks and experiences, in 2018 we were invited as students to the Creative Industries Federation summit, which was an amazing opportunity to get to meet other scholars, but most importantly several important leaders in different sectors (dance, cinema, IT, dance, art entrepreneurship), which in turn provided a great chance to understand the sector better and establish networks for future collabs.
Name something exciting that you are currently working on, and that has been informed by your degree studies.
I recently collaborated with the Goethe-Institut London and São Paulo in co-curating the digital exhibition Carnival in the Making where I could use both the understanding of the field of the arts acquired throughout the PhD, but also implement parts of my own analysis from a perspective on intersectionality and post-colonialism. It was a great opportunity to make the most of the enthralling projects of artists from over 13 countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe taking a wide range of perspectives on the resonance between both sides of the Atlantic and the feelings of atemporality, unfinishedness and yet-to-be-finished-ness caused by the covid pandemic. It is now finished and available in English, German and Portuguese in the link above.