Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Diary for 20th March to 26th March 2008

THURSDAY 20TH MARCH - Dancing with the enemy

Powerful artistic or cultural expression is often most apparent in societies where there is trouble and repression, and the film showing at Pocketvisions this afternoon seems to be a good example of that. 'Belarusian Waltz' tells the story of a performance artist from Belarus, Alexander Pushkin, who uses his art to protest against the political regime in the country, a nation renowned for its questionable approach towards human rights. You can also check out some clips from the film on the website here. It begins at 16.00 in the Stevenson Theatre at the British Museum, is followed by a Q&A with the director, and entrance is FREE.

FRIDAY 21ST MARCH - The Naga are leaving

Next to last chance to see the 'An Image of Nagaland' exhibition at SOAS in London today, so I'm heading down there to look at the impressive collection of photographs on display from the Hornbill Festival of 2000. That year was the first time in many years that the Naga people from Northern India were able to celebrate their identity, so the photographs represent an important cultural document in their own right, as well as providing a fascinating insight into Naga folklore. The exhibition is open until 17.30 in the Brunei Gallery and admission is FREE...but tomorrow is the last day so make sure you don't miss out.

SATURDAY 22ND MARCH - Indigenous music on your doorstep

Saturday night plays host to a great event at The Synergy Centre near London Bridge where there will be a night of indigenous music and film. The evening will feature an incredible array of music - from Ghanaian drummers to Bolivian dancers and West Papuan singers. It's a really rare opportunity to see such a variety of indigenous music live, and also to learn about the often similar struggles of different indigenous peoples around the world - something anthropologists frequently write about. The evening begins at 21.00 and runs all night - entrance is £7 for students and all profits go to charity - you can book tickets online here.

- Chinese culture on film

Today I'm going to check out the listings for the latest film festival to come to town, 'Spotlight Beijing'. Running as part of the 'China in London' project, there will over a dozen films about Chinese culture and society showing at the ICA in central London. You can view the whole programme on the ICA webpage here. Highlights include 'The Old Barber', about an eighty year-old man's reflections on the changes to Beijing over his lifetime cutting hair. For another view on an aspect of China in London, you could also watch 'We Keep Quiet' about London's Chinatown. It was made by one of last year's visual anthropology students from Goldsmiths University.

MONDAY 24TH MARCH - What are we?

The statement that has perhaps had British anthropologists up in arms more than any other in recent history was Margaret Thatcher's claim that 'There is no such thing as society'. 'No such thing as society' is also the name of a new exhibition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Wales, made up of photographs from around the UK intending to take a light-hearted view of the constraints British culture can place on our behaviour. It ranges in subject matter from Liverpudlian holiday-makers to conflict in northern Ireland, and encourages us as viewers to take a new perspective on our own lives, something anthropology also often tries to do. The collection runs until 27th April, and is open daily in Gallery One.

TUESDAY 25TH MARCH - The makings of a city

Tonight I'm going to try and catch the beginning of a new public lecture series that's running in London for the next couple of months. 'London behind the Scenes' will comprise eight weekly discussions about the East End, at which experts will debate subjects ranging from multiculturalism to tourism and regeneration. This evening's talk is all about how a 19th century 'ghetto' became 21st century 'cool'. 'The Making of the East End' will examine how and why the area has changed in terms of identity and perception of that identity. The talks in the series are all FREE, and held at Vibe Lounge on Brick Lane, between 19.00 and 21.30 - you can book a place online here.

WEDNESDAY 26TH MARCH - The importance of dance

Given that I've never quite mastered the art of dancing I was particularly interested to learn about an ethnographic film that has just been released all about one community's dancing and its importance in their culture. 'Dancing from the Heart', clips of which are viewable on youtube here, is about the Tewa Dancers of San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico and examines the role dance has in expressing and preserving their identity. You can also read an interview with the dancers here, as well as learning more about why dance is an important sub-field in anthropology here.

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