Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Diary for 13th December - 19th December 2007

THURSDAY 13TH DECEMBER - Punishing artworks

On Thursday I want to attend a talk being given by the famous visual anthropologist Christopher Pinney at Goldsmiths University. He will be talking about the use of Karni Bharni images of salvation - or 'soteriology' - in Indian governance, and the power such depictions of punishment can have in society. It is a good example of the ways in which politics, religion and culture overlap to affect social imaginings and customs. The talk begins at 17.00 in the Small Hall Cinema and everyone is welcome.

FRIDAY 14TH DECEMBER - What is anthropology all about?

This Friday evening I'm going along to the annual Huxley lecture held at the British Museum. Anthropologists are asked to give the lecture in recognition of their achievements in the field, and this year the speaker is Professor Adam Kuper, from Brunel University, talking on 'Changing the Subject'. It promises to look at the role of anthropology today, and the challenges it needs to address in order to continue being an important part of society. The event begins at 18.00 in the Stevenson Lecture Theatre and entrance is FREE.

SATURDAY 15H DECEMBER - Pocketvisions wraps up for Christmas

This afternoon it's time to bid farewell to Pocketvisions for the year down at the Roxy Bar & Screen. At 15.30, they will be showing 'Avenge but One of my Two Eyes' by Avi Mograbi about the cycles of violence in Israel and Palestine. The film has one several awards across the world for its unflinching portrayal of events, and you can read an interview with the director here. It will be followed by the Pocketvisions Christmas get-together at 17.00 for the chance to mingle with all those involved in the organisation.

SUNDAY 16H DECEMBER - The Art of Fishing

This Sunday I'm settling in to listen again to a programme from Radio 4's Women's Hour that was broadcast recently about a project that is documenting women's role in fishing communities in north England. There is a more than a touch of ethnography about the project, and it's a great insight to a little-known corner of society. As it happens, one of the first ethnographic films was also made about fishing - this time mainly about men - and you can watch it online. It's called The Drifters by John Grierson, the so-called godfather of documentary in the UK.

MONDAY 17TH DECEMBER - How to film...

On Monday I'm going to check out a film that has been posted on Google Video about ethnographic film-making. It contains many contributions from anthropologists about the ethics and challenges posed for anyone trying to combine anthropology and film, including figures such as Robert Gardner, Lucien Taylor, and Paul Henley who runs the MA in Visual Anthropology in Manchester. The documentary covers such issues as whether the film-maker should observe or participate, and is a useful introduction for getting to grips with the issues at stake. For more information, you could also have a look at this website, which has newsletters about the latest developments and publications related to visual anthropology.

TUESDAY 18TH DECEMBER - Feeling sleepy

Christmas is coming, and that, according to my traditions and customs, means a lot of sleeping. To get in the mood, today I'm off to the Wellcome Collection's current exhibition about that very subject. Sleeping and Dreaming includes contributions from artists, scientists, film-makers and historians, and takes an in-depth look at sleeping across cultures. One of the sections that looks particularly interesting is the about how economic and social change are affecting our sleep patterns, for example resulting in the invention of the 'power nap'. The exhibition runs until March 8th 2008, is open daily (except Monday) until 18.00 and entrance is FREE.

WEDNESDAY 19TH DECEMBER - Inside the mind of a shopper...

I'm signing off for a bit of a break today, so there'll be no blog for a couple of weeks, but I've heard talk that there will be more activities than ever for an Anthropologist about Town come 2008.

In the meantime, if you're struggling with the retail overload that always occurs at this time of year, why not have a look at some anthropological analysis of shopping and what it means. Danny Miller has written a Theory of Shopping that sees it as a ritual process, or a 'technology of love' - think of it that way and it might help the endless queues and emptying wallet seem more bearable!