Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Diary for 27th September - 3rd October 2007

THURSDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER - Carpeting Turkmenistan

Tonight I'm heading down to London's Asia House for an evening of cultural events from Turkmenistan. On display will be a collection of textiles courtesy of The Ministry of Carpets in Turkmenistan, accompanied by a lecture from Jon Thompson, an expert in the subject - and music from the country, including a rare opportunity to hear instruments such as the gyjak and the dutar (both types of lute). As a result of the cultural and economic importance of carpets, they can actually tell us a lot more about Turkmenistan society that you might at first think. The venue often holds similar events that give artistic and cultural insights into lesser known places, and anthropologists are frequently amongst the visitors and speakers. The evening starts at 18.30 (with a champagne reception!) and entrance costs £12 for non-members. You need to book in advance on 020 7307 5454 or by sending an email to

FRIDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER - South London Saris

On Friday I want to check out a new exhibition at London's Brent Museum called 'The British Sari Story' - an art and research project that uses saris to spotlight the heritage of British Asians, inspired by the contents of a sari shop in Tooting, South London. The exhibition is being put on by Bridging Arts, an interesting organisation that provides a creative platform for many issues surrounding migration. Like anthropologists, they try to show the human stories behind stereotypes, by exposing the areas of society where cultures and people overlap. In fact, the organisers ran a sari design competition in conjunction with the exhibition, in which instead of the usual 'Asian' images on the saris, contributors used images such as cup cakes and the Yorkshire weather - you can see some of the designs here. The exhibition is open daily at the Brent Museum, from 9.00 until 18.00.

If this exhibition makes you want to find out more, you might like a book called "The Sari" by anthropologists Daniel Miller and Mukuilika Banerjee. The book combine anthropology and photography and was reviewed by Time Out London as: "a fascinating treatise on the relationship between the sari and the women who wear it...Not only is the book beautifully illustrated, it also has a nice sense of humour." Read more about their book, published by Berg here.

SATURDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER - Myths & mermaids in Cornwall

There's an unusual and fascinating course starting today as part of the WEA's learning curriculum, called Cornish Folklore in the Field. It is comprised of two sessions over this Saturday and next, and will look at the anthropology and folklore of several different West-Cornish myths. Among the topics under discussion will be the Stonehenge-like structure Men-an-Tol and the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor. The course starts at 10.30 in Exeter each week, lasts for four and a half hours and costs £26.50 - although it is FREE for 16-18 year olds. To find out more, you can contact South West WEA on 01392 490 970 or email, or just fill in the form online.

SUNDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER - Native American poetry

On Sunday I'm going to the October Gallery in London to watch Trudell The Movie - a documentary about the occupation of Alcatraz by a group of Native American activists, led by musician and poet John Trudell. He was at the centre of many political protests in the 1960s and 1970s, until his family died in mysterious circumstances. The film promises to be an interesting examination of the experience of indigenous peoples who feel marginalised by their nation state, a topic which anthropologists often seek to explore and understand. Doors open at 18.30 and tickets cost £6 (£4 concessions).

MONDAY 1ST OCTOBER - Off I go to Indigo (Brighton)

Today I'm going to view an exhibition in Brighton that's been touring the country for some time now - it's all based around Indigo - which has historically been one of the most important dyes, and therefore colours, in the world. As such, indigo is of interest to anthropologists as an important part of material culture - and has even had a whole book published about it. Famous anthropologist Danny Miller - who writes a lot about the material world (and wrote the book "the Sari" mentioned above) - has also mentioned it in his blog, saying he would like to research the importance of denim! The exhibition - 'Indigo: A Blue to Die for' - runs at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery until January.

TUESDAY 2ND OCTOBER - Spot the anthropologist

On Tuesday I'm going to listen again to the Radio 4 Today programme from last week, covering the events that have recently been occurring in Burma. On air was an anthropologist, Gustaaf Houtman, (editor of magazine Anthropology Today) speaking about the country's history and the role colonialism has played in its present difficulties. He has published several books on Burmese society and is a renowned expert on the country. You can listen to the interview here (it was broadcast at approximately 8.50), and also read an article linked to the discussion here.

WEDNESDAY 3RD OCTOBER - A Different way of seeing...

This evening sees the start of a great little introductory course in anthropology at the University of Sussex, called Ways of Seeing. Run over 20 weeks, in two-hour evening sessions, it promises to analyse familiar situations or themes but in unfamiliar settings. Anthropology is often described as 'making the strange familiar, and the familiar strange' so this seems like a good place to start. You have to be over 18 to attend, and you can enrol online or by phoning 01273 678527 - the course is priced at £44 for students. If you can't make this course, the university offers many other culture and society ones, from shamanic consciousness to British cinema, so read around the website for more details.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NEWSFLASH - event at the Maritime Museum thisThursday!

I didn't find out about this event in time for the blog last week, but it looks pretty good so I'm putting out a newsflash:

Voiceless Odysseys: excavating the unspeakable in enslavement is a symposium open to the general public this Thursday afternoon at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. It's bringing together artists, writers and academics to talk about how we remember and represent the history of slavery. Full details are on the flyer which you can read here and there'll also be poetry readings by John Agard.