Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Diary for 31st May to 6th June 2007

THURSDAY 31ST MAY - From fa'afafine films to trailblazing talks...

A bumper start to the week for anthropologists about town everywhere. The Pasifika Styles Festival at the Cambridge Arch & Anth museum continues with two days of plays and films from New Zealand. Today, I thought I might go along to the lunchtime screening of the documentary Siva Pasifika (directed by Lisa Taouma) which charts the migration of Pacific dance across Polynesia. The screening takes place on the top floor gallery at 1pm, and entry is free. If I enjoy it, I may well come back for Lisa Taouma's film showing tomorrow about the fa'afafine community - same time, same place.

After that, there should be time to jump on the train down to London for an evening discussion centred around the National Portrait Gallery's latest exhibition 'Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700-1850'. Panel members, including anthropologist Claude Ardouin (Head of the African Ethnography at the British Museum), will be debating 'What Should Museums Display?'. They will be trying to get to grips with the extent to which cultural institutions are duty-bound to present distressing images from the past, and whether such presentations risk perpetuating the abuse of bygone eras they seek to document. Admission is free and the event starts at 19.00.

Next up, Professor Robin Dunbar, who I mentioned on last week's blog, is giving another interesting talk at Durham University in the Birley Room, Hatfield College at 17:15. Entitled, 'What can evolution tell us about religion?' he will discuss how much evolutionary theory can explain humanity's capacity for religious belief. Professor Dunbar also appeared on Radio 3's Nightwaves programme last Tuesday discussing similar matters. You can listen again by clicking here.

Also, today is your last chance to get reduced rates on tickets for the 10th Ethnographic Film Festival in Manchester, that runs from 27th June until 2nd July. If you needed any more encouragement, it's just been announced that Kevin Macdonald, director of The Last King of Scotland, is giving the festival's flagship Forman lecture. At the moment tickets for the whole weekend are £49 or £29 for students. See for more details.

FRIDAY 1ST JUNE - Maori theatre in Cambridge

On Friday, I'm back at the Pasifika Styles festival with a hard choice to make between two fascinating theatre productions showing in Cambridge. At the ADC in Park Street, Niu Sila is a play about the friendship that develops between two children of different cultural backgrounds come to live in the same area in 1970s New Zealand. It promises to be "funny and poignant, irreverent yet touching". Alternatively, 'and what remains' at The Playroom, St Edward's Passage is set in the near future of New Zealand (2010) and portrays a New Zealand where all its indigenous Maori population have died or fled. All, that is, bar a young woman called Mary awaiting her flight to leave also. They story uses her personal journey to explore the links between land and people and should be a challenging play.

Whichever one I go for, they both start at 7.45 and cost £7.

SATURDAY 2ND JUNE - Gypsy music, African languages and anthropologists in the Artic.

I've been meaning to go along to 'The 1000 Year Journey' festival of gypsy and Roma music and film at The Barbican in London for some time now. On Saturday, there are two films showing - at 14.00 there's Latcho Drom, a road movie that celebrates gypsy life and culture across Asia and Europe; and then at 16.00 Transylvania, a love story between two strangers. Both films are priced at the reduced rate of £6 if you also have a ticket for the evening concert that starts from 17.00 and stars 'The Destroyers', a gypsy-jazz group from Birmingham and the main event which is a collaboration of some of Greece and Turkey's most renowned musicians. Tickets range from £10 to £20 and you can hear samples of the music on the Barbican website.

Also starting today is the Word from Africa - a London-wide celebration of Africa and its many languages and cultures– in literature, music and arts. The launch event takes place from noon until 20.00 on Saturday at the British Museum. Entry is free, but pre-booking recommended. Make sure to look out for African Poems on the Underground this week too.

Finally, Freeze Frame, a five-week lecture series at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich starts today, in celebration of International Polar Year 2007. It comprises a series of talks by explorers, artists, historians, anthropologists and scientists looking at the environmental threat to climate change. Look out for anthropologist Hugh Brody's contribution later this month on the way indigenous communities are adapting. The talks run on consecutive Saturdays from 15.15 to 17.30 - prices vary depending on many you want to attend!

SUNDAY 3RD JUNE - The Elvis of cultural theory

Today I'm planning to catch a new film 'Zizek!' at the ICA in London about the eponymous Slovenian sociologist and cultural philosopher who has been labeled, for better or worse, the 'Elvis' of his field. I think this is more because of his energetic thinking and challenging writing than a penchant for blue suede shoes, but he often pops up in anthropology so it would be good to know more about the man behind the ideas. The screening is at 1pm, and I may well stick around for a documentary later that day about life in a Haitian slum, Ghosts of Cite Soleil. Both films cost £8, or slightly less if you're a member of the ICA

MONDAY 4TH JUNE - Opera-inspired study of marginality

On Monday, I want to make my first trip to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Newcastle. At the moment, there's an video installation exhibition by Portuguese artist Vasco Araujo produced together with local musicians and community leaders called About Being Different. Inspired by a Benjamin Britten opera about the persecution of a fishermen by his village, it promises to explore ideas of community and marginality in an original and thought-provoking way. The Baltic is open from Monday-Sunday, 10.00-18.00 and entrance is free. About Being Different runs until 28th June.

TUESDAY 5TH JUNE - Native America history and 1st UK Native Spirit Film Festival

At lunchtime today I'm going to the British Museum's temporary exhibition "A New World: England's First View of America" to listen to a free gallery talk by anthropologist Max Carocci. Max's talk is entitled: "Who were the Algonquins?" and begins at 13.15. As well as knowing a lot about Native American history Max recently completed a really interesting PhD at Goldsmiths University called 'Two Spirits: Being Gay and Native American in San Francisco, California.

After looking into some Native American history at the museum, I'm getting a little more contemporary and going along to some of the films in the Native Spirit Film & Video Festival of the Indigenous Peoples of the Three Americas.(4th-10th June, various locations around London).

This festival, organised by the Latin American Association, is really exciting because it's the first festival of its kind in the UK, showcasing some outstanding and innovative films about the indigenous peoples of North, South and Central America. The festival aims to offer the British public a fresh cultural viewpoint and the unique opportunity to learn about some of the world's oldest surviving and most marginalised communities. The film on Tuesday is "Atanarjuat/The Fast Runner (2001)," screening at 7.45pm, Canada House, Free. This a feature film telling an ancient Inuitlegend of survival. It was made by Isuma, Canada's first Inuit production company. You read all about the film, including the production diary and interviews with the actors and Inuit cultural advisers here.

WEDNESDAY 6TH JUNE - Reading religiously

On Wednesday, I want to browse for a few hours around the exhibition 'Sacred' at the British Library. It is a display of religious texts from Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths and examines the differing ways each religion has developed scripturally over their respective histories. Entrance is free, and there are a range of associated talks and events to attend. For more details see the British library website.