Thursday, July 17, 2008

Diary for 17th July to the 23rd July 2008

THURSDAY 17TH JULY - Out of the forest

This afternoon I'm going to learn a little more about the Kayapo people, who live in Brazil. The Kayapo have a long-standing connection with anthropology, and they came into the news this week when they were visited by the team from the BBC television series 'Amazon' (who also made the series 'Tribe'). They are well-known for their battle in 1989 against a proposed dam that would have flooded their lands. At the time, they were working on a pioneering ethnographic film project with the American anthropologist Terence Turner, in which he was trying to encourage the Kayapo to make their own films about their lives. The project is much discussed on Visual Anthropology courses in debates around authorship, and the control over images that are created of indigenous peoples. You can read more about it here, as well as the new campaign the Kayapo are having to wage against another dam project at the moment.

FRIDAY 18TH JULY - The Iron Men

The 'Encore' Season from the London International Documentary Festival, organised by anthropologists Patrick Hazard, continues this week at a new venue - the British Museum. Showing this evening at 18.30 in the Stevenson Lecture Theatre is the award-winning Ironeaters, which depicts the lives of workers in Southern Bangladesh, who spend their days dismantling huge cargo ships that are no longer needed as functioning vessels. It should be a fascinating exploration of issues of labour and globalisation, as well as a look at economic migration - since many of the shipyard's workers travel from north Bangladesh because it is the only work they can find. Tickets cost £3, or £2 for students, and they can be purchased online.

SATURDAY 19TH JULY - One and Other

As I have mentioned before on the blog, the artist Anthony Gormley (the man behind the Angel of the North) is heavily influenced in his work by his undergraduate studies in anthropology at Cambridge University. And this has perhaps never been more evident than in his latest commission which was recently unveiled, as the occupant of the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square, with his work 'One and Other'. For 100 days, a different person will occupy the space for an hour at a time, with the aim of providing a showpiece of the diversity and interconnectedness of London's populace. You can watch a clip of Anthony Gormley talking about the work here, as well as read more about how his work is anthropological in this article by anthropologist Hugh Brody, who sees his endeavour as "a search for an end to alienation", which could also reasonably be applied to the work of anthropology in some ways...

SUNDAY 20TH JULY - View from the Valleys

As I mentioned on last week's blog, the new series of Wales Observed begins today on BBC Radio Wales, drawn from the archives of Massobs - the 'everyday anthropology' organisation. The first episode is taken from the diary of a teenager preparing to leave school in 1937, and his thoughts on what the future holds. It is an early example of how anthropologists - or related bodies at least - were beginning to look at their own societies for knowledge of how we live, as well as traveling to far-flung locations (as is the stereotype often held of anthropology). The show is airing at 12.3o, but remember it will be available on 'listen again' for seven days afterwards if you miss it first time around.

MONDAY 21ST JULY - Weeping over a wedding

A great chance today to see a fantastic anthropological film, and all in the eminent setting of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 'Every Good Marriage Begin with Tears' won the RAI Film Prize at last year's Ethnographic Film Festival, and tells the story of an East London Muslim girl and the unraveling of her arranged marriage with a Bangladeshi man. It also follows her sister's trip to Bangladesh for a marriage of her own, and all the misgivings that go with it. The film examines the differences in attitude between different generations of a Bangladeshi family, as well as exploring that perennial question - the meaning of love. The RAI are busy tracking down the film's director to host a discussion after the film, and will also provide refreshments during the screening. The event is scheduled to begin at 18.45 and entrance is FREE, you can find directions on their webste here.

TUESDAY 22ND JULY - Resisting conformity

This evening I'm off to the opening night of a two-day film festival being held at The Flea Pit in East London called Persistence Resistance. It's a showcase of films from India that deal with socio-political issues, and today in particular the focus is on borderlands -so issues of the nation state played against local identity, as well as a couple of films about the metropolis - and its associated diaspora of identity, with the screening of the renowned portrait of Mumbai, '7 Islands and a Metro'. The motivation behind the festival is also interestingly to bring the spectator into dialogue with the films' subjects, rather than being a detached outsider, similar to any involved anthropology. The screenings start at 17.00, and entrance costs £5 for the night, or £8 if you plan to attend tomorrow as well.

WEDNESDAY 23RD JULY - Feeling Horniman

Felling restless come Wednesday, so I'll be down in the gardens of the anthropological Horniman Museum, dancing with the Nzinga Ensemble. They will be performing and demonstrating the Kweyol dance, which originates in Africa and is based on fertility and good fortune rituals. There will be the oppportunity to learn, listen and also partake for the more nimble amongst you. The session, like the rest of the Museum, is FREE to attend, and lasts from 14.00 until 15.30 with a break in the middle.

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