Alex Ungprateeb Flynn

Alex Ungprateeb Flynn

Assistant Professor, Vice Chair of Graduate Affairs - Ph.D. in Culture and Performance


Professor Alex Ungprateeb Flynn is Assistant Professor of Art and Anthropology and Graduate Vice Chair of the Culture and Performance Doctoral Program in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance.

Alex’s research explores the disciplinary terrain between the arts and the social sciences, between cultural theory and artistic practice. Working collaboratively with activists, curators, and artists in Brazil, Alex explores the prefigurative potential of art in community contexts to theorize the production of knowledge, notions of the pluriversal, and social and aesthetic dimensions of form. Framed by an interdisciplinary methodological approach, Alex fundamentally inquires how into human beings express themselves artistically, and in doing so, seek to transform the world.

Having worked in Brazil since 2007 with the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) and more recently in Mexico and Argentina with the Cartonera publishing phenomenon, Alex’s research has increasingly focused on the intersection of ethnographic and curatorial modes of enquiry, resulting in exhibitions in Paris Concrete Mirror, with Noara Quintana, and São Paulo, Releituras Latino-Americanas, with Beatriz Lemos. For his curatorial work with São Paulo’s Cambridge Artistic Residency, Alex received the prestigious Association of Art Critics 2016 APCA Trophy. His first book, Taking Form, Making Worlds (University of Texas Press, 2022), co-authored with Lucy Bell and Patrick O’Hare, was the winner of the 2023 LASA Best Book in Visual Culture Studies award.

Alex’s scholarship has been recognized by substantial funding awards from the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the Economic and Social Research Council, and he is an affiliated member of the Center for Brazilian studies at UCLA and the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Politique at Paris’ École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS).


Art and sociality; Ethnography and activism; Curatorial practice; Interdisciplinary methodologies; Social movement theory; Utopias and modernisms; Anthropological theory and practice; Temporality and transformation; The pluriversal and anticolonial.

Recent courses include: Curating Cultures, Research Methodologies, and Introduction to Field-Based Methods

Creative practice and research

Recent publications include:

· Taking Form, Making Worlds: Cartonera Publishers in Latin America (University of Texas Press, 2022), Winner of the 2023 LASA Best Book in Visual Culture Studies award

· Published open access in Spanish as Creando Mundos: Las Editoriales Cartoneras en América Latina(Editorial Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, 2023)

· Relational Art. In: The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, in 12 Vols. Edited by Hilary Callan. New York: Wiley Blackwell

· On anthropology, on curation. In ‘The Anthropologist as Curator’. Sansi, R. (ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury

· Once upon a time in Utopia: Bergson, temporality and the remaking of social movement futures. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale. Special issue ‘Utopian Confluences. Anthropological mappings of generative politics’ 29(1): 156-173.

Recent exhibitions include:

· Concrete Mirror: together with the artist Noara Quintana, this project, based in Paris, created a series of dialogues, workshops and an exhibition to explore how the social sciences can engage with the particular genres of knowledge and ethics that contemporary art proposes.

· Residência Artística Cambridge: an artistic residency program based within an occupied building in downtown São Paulo, this 15 month project focused on the participatory and open-ended potential of the contemporary art research process, departing from a premise that conceived of the artist as a producer of knowledge and theorizing agent.

Doctoral Supervision

Alex welcomes inquiries relating to the Culture and Performance PhD Program on topics connected with but not limited to socially engaged artistic practice, ethnographic research methodologies, expanded curatorial practice, social movement activisms, and diasporic aesthetics.

Current supervisions

Lili Flores Aguilar

Kristen Dorsey

Cora Laszlo