Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Diary for 15th November - 21st November 2007

THURSDAY 15TH NOVEMBER - Talking about statues

Another chance to listen to anthropologically-inspired artist Anthony Gormley at the Institut Francais in London tonight. He'll be in conversation with Sarah Kent, talking about his acclaimed recent exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and his approach to work in general. For example, you can read more about his human figures standing on Crosby beach, near Liverpool, here. The evening begins at 18.00 with complementary refreshments, but make sure you phone ahead to confirm availability on 0870 503 688.

FRIDAY 16TH NOVEMBER - The Importance of Air

Today I'm heading along to the second day of a three day symposium about the culture of breathing, called 'Take a Deep Breath'. It's being held at the Tate Modern and is made up of films, lectures, installations, music and discussion forums. The aim is to understand breathing in its cultural context, ranging from an environmental (think pollution) to a religious (think Buddhist consciousness) point of view. The sessions last all day until 20.30 - a full programme is available here, and a ticket for the whole event costs £30 for students. Booking is recommended on 020 2887 8888 or online here.


On Saturday I'm going to a seminar on 'Anthropology and Animals' organised by Middlesex University as part of their series of talks with The British Animal Studies Network. Three anthropologists will be appearing on the panel: Rebecca Cassidy who has worked on horse-racing, Garry Marvin who has researched bullfighting and fox-hunting, and Piers Vitebsky who has conducted fieldwork amongst reindeer herders in Siberia. The session lasts for most of the afternoon, and you need to email Sally Borrell on to register. It's probably not suitable for complete newcomers to anthropology, but should be a fascinating discussion.

SUNDAY 18TH NOVEMBER - Guilty pleasures

There was an interesting article I spotted last week about the work of a group of anthropologists in America who have discovered more about the true origins of chocolate. The team at Cornell University have traced chocolate residues on pots that date back to 1150 BC, and suggest that that chocolate beverages were drunk from then onwards in Central America, probably to celebrate births and weddings. They also think the creators were actually aiming for beer when they came up with the recipe - if you want to read more about the subject then in 2000 an anthropology of chocolate in culture was written! Before reading, I think I'll pop down to the newsagent to do a bit of my own research...

MONDAY 19TH NOVEMBER - The buzz of the Balkans

Tonight I'm back at the Roxy Bar & Screen for another cracking film from Pocketvisions - Beekeeping after War. It evokes the narratives of violence and recovery in post-conflict Balkans, but from the unexpected perspective of beekeepers. The region is renowned for its honey, and the keepers continued working throughout the war, despite the dangers. The film is as much about the war, however, as about the cultural importance of bees - a good example of how societies never change completely, they are continually adapting to and with circumstances. The screening is followed by a Q&A with the director, Tomas Leach, and begins at 20.00 as usual - admission is FREE.


Undergraduate anthropology students often come across a bit of psychology in their studies, so today I though I would listen again to Radio 3's Night Waves programme from yesterday that featured the neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks. Sacks often refers to techniques of medical anthropology in his work - in the past he has lived amongst a community of colourblind people in Micronesia, and also published the intriguingly entitled An Anthropologist on Mars. In this programme, he was talking about his new book which analyses people's responses to music, both psychologically and socially.

WEDNESDAY 21ST NOVEMBER - Moving from old to new

This afternoon I'm going to watch A Town in Migration, that is showing as part of the Ethnographic Film Series at SOAS university in London this winter. The films are all about migration and diaspora in some way, and have been selected from the many submissions to the RAI film festival held earlier this year in Manchester. A Town in Migration is about the residents of a Chinese town that are being forcibly moved to a reconstructed version of their home by the Chinese Government. It depicts their resistance to the imposition of 'new China' on their lives, and is one of only a few observational films made by Chinese directors. It is showing at 13.00 in the Khalili lecture theatre and entrance is FREE and open to all.