Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Diary for 5th July - 11th July 2007

THURSDAY 5TH JULY - A dose of anthropology a day keeps the doctor away

Today I’m going to the hugely varied exhibition – Medicine Man - that’s just opened in Euston. It is part of The Wellcome Collection - a massive assortment of the artefacts gathered by Henry Wellcome over his lifetime. They range from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon's toothbrush to George III's hair! The idea of the displays is to show the different ways the same objects are used across cultures, as well to make you rethink our own accepted understandings of health and the body. The exhibition is open every day until 18.00 except Monday and entry is FREE.

FRIDAY 6TH JULY - Love is in the air

Tonight I'm going to try something a little different, and attend one of Allure Seminars Flirting & Walking Tours - which promise the chance to spend two hours sampling London's flirting 'hotspots'. I'm not sure quite what to expect, but the tour leader, Jean Smith, says she runs the courses from the perspective of a cultural anthropologist, and is fascinated by the different ways people communicate their love. The tour takes place from 18.45, meeting just inside the foyer of the National Portrait Gallery. It costs £20 and you can book online - places are limited to ensure limited to ensure your beating heart gets enough attention. You can also view a short introductory film here.

SATURDAY 7TH JULY - Filming Brick Lane

On Saturday the plan is to check out a photography and video installation currently being held at The Atrium Café, in the Social Sciences Building at City University in London. It is part of the Celebrating Enterprise project being put on to promote and study business amongst ethnic communist in London. Incorporated in the exhibition is Ricardo Leizaola’s observational documentary filming of the Carnaval del Pueblo and Brick Lane Festivals. Ricardo has just completed his PhD on 'folkbotanical' knowledge in Venezuela and also teaches technical skills to budding anthropological film-makers on the MA in Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths University. It is open daily and entry is FREE.

SUNDAY 8TH JULY - Morris dancing with a stiff upper lip

Come Sunday, I hope to spend several hours at the British Film Institute accessing their new Mediatheque resource, where you can delve into the labyrinth of films and television programmes about anything and everything that’s just been opened. The films can be divided into categories, so for example if you’re interested in what it means to be British there is a collection of programmes that explore cultural stereotypes such as the ‘stiff upper lip’ or ‘saucy seaside postcard humour’. The Mediatheque is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11.00 to 20.00 and it’s all FREE.

MONDAY 9TH JULY - Different stories to tell at the London Anthropology Day

Today is the long-awaited London Anthropology Day at the British Museum which offers the opportunity for A-Level students from across the country to spend a day learning about the enormous variety on offer on anthropology degree courses. Places have all been taken up for this year’s event, but there’s plenty of information on the website and you can always think about attending future university open days which I’ll try to mention on the blog, or think about getting in touch with Gem Jones, education officer at the RAI on if you have any questions.

Then tonight is another Pocketvisions screening at the Roxy Bar and Screen. ‘Un’altra storia’, or ‘A Different Story’, follows the 2006 election campaigns of two candidates wanting to become governor of Sicily. One, Rita Borsellino, is a long-time anti-mafia activist who stood against Salvatore ‘Toto’ Cuffaro – then the governor of the island. The film headlined the first ever London International Documentary Festival (LIDF) at the British Museum last March and does what documentary film, and anthropology, does best – uses personal stories to illustrate larger themes such as power and government.

TUESDAY 10TH JULY - Land and human rights in South Africa

On Tuesday I’m going to tune into last week’s episode of Thinking Allowed on Radio 4. The topic up for discussion was land reform in South Africa, and the success the post-apartheid ANC government have had in redistributing land to the rural, black poor. Anthropologist Dr Deborah James from LSE has recently published a book - Gaining Ground?: ‘Rights’ and ‘property’ in South African Land Reform - on the subject, and the legal battles between existing farmers and new claimants that have meant not much land reform has actually occurred. It’s an interesting example of how ethnographic work can reveal the gaps behind political rhetoric

WEDNESDAY 11TH JULY - Fascinating film screening in the Houses of Parliament on development issues in India - book your free place now!

Next week on the 16th July, there is a screening of the film ‘Back to the Village’ made with eminent anthropologist Dr Scarlett Epstein. I’m mentioning it today because it’s being shown at Portcullis Houses in the Houses of Parliament and for security reasons it’s necessary to get in touch with the organiser as soon as possible if you would like to attend. The film is about the massive migration in South India from rural to urban areas, followed by a discussion on the issues raised. You can read the full synopsis as a Google Document here. The event will be chaired by Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas). Dr Epstein has spent her life working in applied anthropology, offering advice to many development organisations worldwide. You can find out more about her here, and her autobiography, Swimming Upstream, is also well worth a read. To enquire about attending, you need to email Dr Epstein at before the 12th July,detailing your interest in the event, which starts at 17.00pm on the 16th July.

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