Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Diary for 26th July to 1st August 2007

Thursday 26th July - The Unhappy Hour

Today I'm going to listen again to the discussion about 'The Art of Moaning' that featured on Radio 4's Women's Hour last week. Social anthropologist, Kate Fox (author of 'Watching the English'), was part of a discussion about why British people are so renowned for complaining, inspired by a Lancashire pub that has confined all moaning to a Sunday afternoon Unhappy Hour. You can listen to the locals whinge about everything from dominoes to bus journeys, and then hear Kate Fox's assessment of it all as a social ritual. Watch out though - perhaps in an effort to make us grumble that nothing's ever easy Radio 4 have mixed up the links, and to listen to the discussion you need to click on the link next to 'Endometriosis', not 'The Art of Moaning' - you can find it here.

Friday 27th July - Food and culture

Today sees the launch of the Whitecross Street Market Food Festival, as part of the 'New Crowned Hope' season at the Barbican that has been celebrating world cultures for the past month. The Festival aims to show how culture is 'rooted' in agriculture, which is also a growing area of research in anthropology - food can by symbolically, politically and economically important in people's lives. For example, you can now study for an MA in the Anthropology of Food at SOAS, and there are several books on the subject, such as the tasty-looking read, Food and Culture. The Festival opens (in the presence of Anthony Worrall-Thompson no less) at 13.15 on Friday and lasts from 10.00-17.00 each day of the weekend, and is free except for what you choose to eat.

Saturday 28th July - Music to change the world

I'm back down at the Barbican today for some dancing to work off all that fine food I enjoyed yesterday. Another part of the New Crowned Hope season, is the 'Another World is Possible' weekend of concerts, showcasing the exciting range of music that exists within refugee communities. Highlights include Emmanual Jal, from Sudan, who raps against the use of child soldiers and on Sunday at 14.30 a group from Congo, Kasai Masai. The events - all FREE - are being run in conjunction with the Refugee Council, an organisation that campaigns for greater understanding and respect of refugees and their cultures.

Sunday 29th July - Read all about it!

Last week an anthropologist, Melissa Leach, was profiled in The Guardian for her pioneering work as the newly appointed director of a research unit aiming to understand why the gap between the world's rich and poor is growing. She is a great example of how relevant anthropology can be in movements for social change, since her findings are used to inform and often overturn government policies. Her principle aim is always to bring the voice of local people to the fore, since they are naturally well-placed to work out local solutions and address local needs. You can read another article about her work here.

Monday 30th July - Exploring the City

On Monday I'm off to the Global Cities exhibition at the Tate Modern which explores 10 cities from across the globe in terms of their size, speed, diversity, density and form through photographs, writing and film. You can watch some of the films on the website - such as this look at immigration and segregation in the bustling metropolis that is Sao Paolo, Brazil. The exhibition runs until 27th August and entrance is FREE.

Then later that night, I'll be sitting down to watch the fascinating BBC observational documentary, The Tower, which charts the 'regeneration' of an estate in South East London and what this meant for its inhabitants old and new. You can watch a trailer here. Both the exhibition and the documentary explore issues that are central to the anthropology of cities, which studies the hugely complex societies that exist within the urban landscape.

Tuesday 31st July - World culture comes to Plymouth....and the web

Today I'm going to check out the ethnography collection at the Plymouth City Museum which contains over 3700 artefacts from all over the world. These include the walking boots of one Gertrude Benham, who spent 30 years travelling the world, and in the process collected around 700 objects which are now on display. Gertrude was the first woman to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, in 1909, and interestingly she used to swap her knitting for many of the items she collected along the way. Recently, they museum have also set a website as part of an initiative which includes comments on the objects from visitors to the collection - you can view it online here. The museum is open 10.00 to 17.30 from Tuesday to Friday and admission is FREE.

Wednesday 1st August - Talking Tools at the British Museum

Come Wednesday, I'm back down at the British Museum for Jill Cook's talk, Life on the edge: the last hunter-gatherers in Britain. It is linked to the episode of the BBC2 programme, The Museum, showing on Thursday nights at 19.30, which follows what happens when some of the museum's objects go out into the community. These range from an image of the Hindu Goddess Durga, to ancient board games, to an ancient handaxe. The talk begins at 13.15 in Room 51 and admission is FREE.

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