Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Diary for 7th June to 13th June 2007

THURSDAY 7TH JUNE - Pots, pop & philosophy from across the pond

Tonight I'm going to a talk down at the British Museum. A panel of experts including Simon Schama will be discussing how the British have represented America over the last few hundred years and the cultural differences that are portrayed in everything from pop culture to political philosophy. The session - 'America: The View from here' starts at 18.30 in the BP lecture theatre and entry is £5.

If you are particularly interested in the Media, several universities offer specialised degrees in Anthropology and Media. Check out Goldsmiths (Anthropology and Media), Sussex (Anthropology and Media Studies) as well as joint media and anthropology courses at Oxford Brookes, Lampeter, and Roehampton.

Also on this evening is a talk by anthropologist and potter Dr Natalie Tobert. Dr Tobert spent two years observing the potters of Darfur, Sudan, and their creative techniques. She will be recounting her experiences from 19.00 onwards in the Austen Building at Harrow College. It's advisable to phone ahead first on 0208 909 6185 if you're thinking of going.

FRIDAY 8TH JUNE - Getting into the Native Spirit

There's a feast of interesting documentaries showing today at Riverside Studios as past of the Native Spirit film festival I mentioned last week. Starting at 11am, I'm going to watch some more fantastic, but rarely seen, films about the indigenous peoples of North, South and Central America.

Highlights on Friday include the 13.00 screening of 'ABA' about the gathering of 2000 indigenous peoples at the place where the Portuguese colonisers first arrived in Brazil and an evening showing of 'We Are The Indians' about the daily lives of Argentina's remaining Guarani Indians.

Both films will be followed by a Q and A session with the directors. Phil Cox, director of We are the Indians, studied Visual Anthropology in Manchester's Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology before entering into a career in film-making. Tickets are £6.50 for each film.

URDAY 9TH JUNE - Imagining the English

On Saturday I plan to spend the day ambling around a new exhibition on at the Tate Britain. How We Are is the first major exhibition of photography they've ever held and images from the entire historical spectrum of British photography are on show from the 1830s to the present day. It's particularly worth looking out for some early anthropological shots in room 1. I'll also be taking my digital camera along with me - if I get a few pictures on the journey to the Tate there's the opportunity to join the exhibition by uploading photos to Flickr in How We Are Now.

Tate Britain is open from 10.00 until 17.40, and entrance to How We Are is £7.50. You can read some thoughts on the exhibition here - especially interesting is Homer Sykes' article on capturing British customs on camera.

10TH JUNE - Groundbreaking film from Australia

On the back of the inaugural Native Spirit film festival I'm really enthused about the future of indigenous film, and so today I'm off to see Ten Canoes. This is a ground-breaking cinematic production - it's the first ever Australian film made originally entirely in indigenous languages and starring only Aborigine actors. Set in pre-contact times, it tells the tale of ten men preparing their canoes for the annual hunt. The elder, Minygulu, discovers that one of the younger men has designs on his third wife. To restore village order, the old man offers the group a 'morality tale' about a similar situation involving their ancestors many generations before. One of the Associate Producers for the film was an anthropologist, and much of the cinematography was inspired by the photography of early anthropologist Donald Thomson.

The film uses colour film for the distant past, underlining the importance of oral history to the Aborigines, and black and white for the near past, with the footage closely based on Thomson's images from the 1930s. It is showing in London at the Curzon Renoir, the Odeon Covent Garden and the Barbican. In Manchester on Sunday, the Cornerhouse is hosting a special evening screening of the film followed by a 'making of' documentary at 18.10. You can also listen to an interview with the film's director on Radio 3's Night Waves programme here.

MONDAY 11TH JUNE - More great films in your pocket

There are two highly-recommended films showing tonight as part of Pocketvisions' summer season of the best films from its' London Documentary film festival earlier this year.

The films start at 20.00 at theRoxy Bar & Screen in Borough, London. The Everyday Life of Roma Children from Block 71 is a portrait of a Roma family living in a Belgrade skyscraper and presents an alternative and more intimate understanding of Roma life than is often portrayed. It is followed by a short film about another group of marginalised people; The Seeds gives an insight into the lives of a family living in the Siberian mountains and their struggle to get by.

TUESDAY 12TH JUNE - What a load of rubbish...

Today I'm heading down to sunny Cornwall to visit an exhibition running at the Eden Project. 'kNOw trash' is a collection of objects from all parts of the globe - often where money and resources are in short supply - that illuminates the creative ways people recycle waste materials. It's on show in The Core education building throughout the summer - entrance to the whole of the Eden Project site is £14 for adults.

Anthropologists are very interested in what the study of objects can tell us about people. There is even an anthropology of rubbish! In fact, students in an anthropology class at the University of Arizona inn 1971 kick started the Garbage Project (still going on today) which uses rubbish and landfill sites to find out about American lifestyles. Proffessor of Amthropology, William Rathje, together with Cullen Murphy have written a fascinating book called "Rubbish! : the archaelogy of Garbage" about the project. You can also read an article of the anthropology of Polish Christmas rubbish on the website

(The picture is of Professor William Rathje doing some research!)

WEDNESDAY 13TH JUNE - Recording identity through photography

Today I'm heading down to a favourite place of mine - The Horniman Museum for some more fascinating photography. One of their exhibitions at present is a photographic documentation of Creole architecture - it's an interesting example of an attempt to 'record' social artefacts that are fast disappearing. The photos are from Freetown, taken by Sierra Leonians, and represent the first archival project of its kind in 21st century Sierra Leone - an effort to recognise the importance of cultural heritage for future identity. The exhibition runs until 1st July and is open from 10.30 to 17.30.

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