Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Diary for 23rd August - 29th August 2007

- Sacrifice in the library

This morning I'm off to a talk at the British Museum's Centre for Anthropology on Sacrifice, Ideology and Political Authority in Moche Culture. It's being given by Steve Bourget from the University of Texas who has done extensive research on Moche high-status burials in ancient Peru. Whilst there, I'm also going to have a read of some of the vast collection of 120,000 anthropological books in the museum's library, which can be used free of charge as long as you have some form of photo identification. It also contains maps, newsletters and a picture archive so is well worth a few hours of your time.

FRIDAY 24TH AUGUST - Granite-cased ethnography

On Friday I'm off to visit the Marischal Museum in Aberdeen, incidentally the second largest granite building in the world. Linked to the University, its collections include many ethnographic objects from around the world as well as artefacts from the local area. At the moment, there is also an exhibition examining the union of Great Britain in 1707 from a wider social perspective, attempting to see the religious and economic, as well as political, reasons behind the event. The museum also holds a series of Tuesday evening lectures, starting in September that address a whole range of subjects linked to the collections. It is open from 10.00 until 17.00 and entrance is FREE, or you can even visit the museum's virtual collections from the comfort of your own home here.

SATURDAY 25TH AUGUST -Bhangra in Britain

I'm going to kick off the weekend by going along to 'Soho Road to the Punjab' at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Part of the capital's India Now season, it's an exhibition that tracks the influence and development of bhangra music from the Punjab in 300BC to its status within contemporary British society as an important cultural form. On Saturday, there is also a music workshop with artist Gursharan Channa. The exhibition is open from 10.30 until 17.00 in The Brunei Gallery and admission is FREE, although if you want to attend the workshop booking is recommended on 020 7898 4915.

SUNDAY 26TH AUGUST - Bringing Africa to Kent

On Sunday I'm going to the Quex Museum in Kent, which houses an extensive collection of artefacts from the Asian and African travels of one Percy Powell-Cotton, a major in the British army in the early 20th century. The museum is open from 11.00 until 17.00 and the array of objects there includes the Major's diary entries and some early film footage of his expeditions. It also has close links with the University of Kent's anthropology department, and there is currently someone doing their PhD research on the museum. And just in case you needed any more incentive to check it out, this weekend the venue also plays host to QUEX FEST, a local music event for anyone who fancies getting on down to some Kentish tunes.

MONDAY 27TH AUGUST - It's a wrap

Today I'm heading down to a favourite haunt - the Horniman Museum - to browse their current exhibition called 'Wrapping Japan', which takes a closer look at wrapping as a Japanese cultural practice. It can be socially significant in a number of ways from protecting modesty to commanding respect, and is a particularly refined art in the Far East. The exhibition is partly inspired by the book Wrapping Culture, by Joy Hendry - who has also published a useful introduction to social anthropology. The collection is on show in the Balcony Gallery until February next year and admission is FREE.

TUESDAY 28TH AUGUST - Bamboozling basket-making

On Tuesday I've booked myself in for a two hour session at the British Museum with one of Japan's most renowned basket makers, Hayakawa Shokosai V. Following my trip to the Horniman, this should be a good opportunity to link theory to practice by listening to a man designated as one of Japan's 'Living National Treasures' - an interesting concept in itself. He will be explaining the traditions and techniques of crafting bamboo and how they have changed over the years. Entrance to the session, which begins at 14.30 and is linked to the Crafting Beauty collection currently on in the museum, is £5, and booking in advance is highly recommended.

WEDNESDAY 29TH AUGUST - A treehouse perspective

This afternoon, I'm going along to the Barbican to clamber around a new exhibition by the Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrc. Much of her work is inspired by issues also of interest to social scientists and 'Forest Rising' is an imaginative architectural installation addressing issues of overpopulation and climate change. On show is a replica 'island community' that could potentially be suspended from the Amazonian treetops as way of overcoming these issues. It sounds like an interesting perspective on rural (or jungle) life, in that it focuses on 'modern' solutions and avoids stereotyping such communities. Therefore, I'm planning to take along a copy of anthropologist Stephen Nugent's (who runs the MA in Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths) book on life in the Amazon, 'Big Mouth' which also challenges overly romanticised depictions of the area. The exhibition runs until 2nd September and entrance is FREE.