camra – REACH in Ambler

In association with camra and collaborating curator Arjun Shankar, Ethnographic Terminalia presents:


REACH in Ambler (REACH = Resources for Education and Action for Community Health)


The borough of Ambler is a small community located outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1881, the Keasbey and Mattison Company, relocating from nearby Philadelphia, opened factories in Ambler to begin manufacturing asbestos in the form of roof tiles, insulation and brake linings. The production of the fibrous mineral quickly became the central economic activity and identifying characteristic of this “factory town.” For almost one hundred years Ambler was an international locus for the production of asbestos (1880 to 1970), passing from one company to another until the harmful health effects of asbestos became widely known and factories subsequently closed their doors. Leaving in its wake was not only a massive environmental hazard and but also a deeply wounded community. The industrial legacy of asbestos production still greatly impacts residents today.

Based on in-depth interviews, oral histories, guided tours, and field research our first filmic product seeks to capture some of the initial questions at the heart of the project around governmentality, community engagement, and decision-making. Additionally, we strive to represent the multiperspectival realities, experiences and histories of Ambler and its residents around perceptions of perceived risk vs. actual risk, environmental justice, fear, social responsibility and community/civic engagement and communication. The project pivots on critical reflection that explores the boundaries between methodology, empiricism and research reflexivity as they converge in visual media. Our presentation includes a 5-minute filmlet on loop on a single screen with 1 set of headphones and 1 chair. The filmlet introduces Ambler, the REACH project and some emerging themes.



Matthew Tarditi is a Doctoral student in the Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. His academic and professional work combines international educational development, school-community partnerships, and the integration of film and other media to foster collaborative approaches to research, practice, and knowledge production.

Jabari Zuberi is a visual artist whose practice is based in Photography and Cinema. He received his BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago (09’) and his MLA from the University of Pennsylvania (12’). His work addresses a wide range of social issues, and it has been displayed both nationally and internationally. He is based out of his Brooklyn studio.

Tali Ziv, MPH, is a Doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania who has worked on issues of race, marginalization and citizenship in the Caribbean and US inner-city. She has a Masters in Public Health and is currently conducting fieldwork in Philadelphia.