Anthropologist of Language and Utopia
Welcome! I’m Dr. Teruko Vida Mitsuhara, a UCLA-trained anthropologist, linguist, Afro-futurist, critical social theorist, public speaker, university teacher, market and UX researcher, and performer. In my academic research, I specialize in alternative worldbuilding movements that live in opposition to stresses of modern life such as racism, capitalism, and environmental ruin. To assist communities in building their better future from “scratch,” I founded a research and consulting firm “The Science of Worldbuilding.” This work has led me to be part of Google’s well-being think-tank, “Vitality Lab.”
I teach about the relations between language, culture, power, and social change. I have a deep methodological training in ethnographic methods, video ethnography, linguistic and narrative analysis, coding, and transcription. I am an Assistant Researcher for the Center for Language, Interaction, and Culture (CLIC) at UCLA.
I also freelance as a consultant for companies doing market research and UX Research. I’m currently at Adobe as User Experience Researcher having a lot of fun researching innovative offerings that are the future of digital creativity.
Science and Art
Studying the future is a playful endeavor. To keep myself open to possibilities and to help build hopeful futures means that I cannot get caught up in how things have been, I cannot be mired in how others have thought things should be. Instead, I must keep my mind, spirit, and body open to change. The best way to do that is to play and to imagine without reservation.
I returned to acting toward the end of graduate school after several years of developing an expertise in anthropology and linguistics. I needed a space where I could shed my doctoral self and play as an actor, fiction writer, improvisor and stand-up comedian. I am a core-track student at the theater company, The Groundlings Theatre and School, where I have found the most lovely balance to my academic side. I was recently awarded the competitive Groundlings SNL Scholarship (2021) which among other perks means I have the great honor of being coached by the Groundlings to audition for SNL within the next two years.
If there are any artists out there in the Ivory Tower reading this, please remember to create and embrace your artist within while pursuing your studies. Play an instrument, write your play, do standup, dance and more! It’ll help you laugh, which helps you think better, and write your book chapters, articles, and that elusive dissertation, I promise!!