Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Diary for 8th May to 14th May 2008

THURSDAY 8TH MAY - Addressing dress

This evening I'm going along to the annual Malinowski lecture at the London School of Economics, which this year is being given by Emma Tarlo, an anthropologist from Goldsmiths College, London. Dr Tarlo's research has focussed on issues of dress and the role of clothing in society, including long periods spent in India - see her book Clothing Matters for more information. Currently, however, she is doing important work on Muslim dress in Europe - or what she calls "an anthropology of appearances". Her work questions stereotypical viewpoints that claim religious dress is a threat towards social unity and progress with a more considered, and community-based, understanding. The talk begins at 18.00 in the Hong Kong lecture theatre - entrance is FREE and open to all.

FRIDAY 9TH MAY - Champagne supernovas

Dubbed 'The Professor of Indie Rock', Wendy Fonarow is an American anthropologist who has just published a book all about the UK indie music scene, and the rituals she has observed during many nights of gig-going. Sounds like hard work! Her book, entitled 'Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Rock Music' makes many fascinating claims, from comparing Glastonbury mud baths to Papua New Guinean ritualised suffering, to the sexualised way in which screaming fans are represented. On the book's website you can listen to interviews with Wendy, as well as some slightly random Norweigian footage on the subject, and there's also a myspace page for up-to-the-minute information. Crowd surfing will never be the same again.

SATURDAY 10TH MAY - Longinotto on screen

There's a relatively rare chance to see one of famous director Kim Longinotto's documentaries today, as 'Hold me tight, let me go' is screening at the National Film Theatre - it's part of a weekend of film highlights from the London Film Festival last year. Longinotto's style of film-making uses a high degree of observation, and she's also very concerned what her contributors think about how they've been portrayed, as you can read in this interview. You can also watch some of her other films such as 'Divorce Iranian Style' here. 'Hold me tight...' is showing in the NFT2 at 18.20 - tickets will set you back £8.60.

SUNDAY 11TH MAY - You are never alone...

Anthropologists generally study groups of people, since more than one person is normally considered necessary to create a social happening. But you'd be wrong in thinking that the lives of individuals are not important, especially when they have remained outside mainstream society for some time. So when I was listening to a Radio 4 programme last week abut a daleswoman from the North Pennines, I started thinking about the issue of solitude and loneliness. The programme featured a woman who had lived in rural poverty for much of her life until a TV crew arrived to make a film about her in the 1970s - a kind of 'first contact' that dramatically changed her life. The effects of such encounters are ones anthropologists must always bear in mind when setting out on fieldwork, however remote or not the situation, so it's well worth a listen. You might also want to check out an introductory book that addresses similar issues such as 'What does it mean to be alone?' - in each chapter of Questions of Anthropology a difficult but important issue is tackled.

MONDAY 12TH MAY - Spartacus plays Jabba the Hutt

Spartacus Chetwynd must be one of the most unusually-named people with an anthropological background, so it's no surprise to learn that she is gaining a bit of a reputation in the art world. As you can read from this recent newspaper article, her work borrows substantially from anthropology in its attempts to subvert cultural 'cliches', albeit in a slightly offbeat way! For example, one performance she put on aimed to move away from the 'orientalist' representation of Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars, and instead present him as a smooth ladies' man...You can currently see some of her work at the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art at the Barbican - an alien's eye view of worldly life. The exhibition runs until May 18th and entrance costs £6 for students, £8 full price. For more information on her wider work as an artist you can view her entry at the Saatchi Gallery.

TUESDAY 13TH MAY - Going on a summer holiday?

In theory, an outsider might think anthropology and tourism have lots in common. Thankfully, in most cases, the practice is somewhat different, but the two endeavours still have several things that link them - not least their interaction with issues of globalisation. Which explains why tonight I'll be heading along to a lecture in Brick Lane's Vibe Bar in East London all about 'Tourism, Leisure and Mobility' in the world today. As well as discussing the whys and wherefores of tourism's links to climate change, Dr Jim Butcher will also be discussing the social impacts of eco-tourism in contrast to package holidays - his perspective is a challenging and arguably controversial one, as you can see from on of his books. For more specific information on anthropology's links to tourism, then you might also want to take a look at this introductory guide.

WEDNESDAY 14TH MAY - Thinking of Iran

This evening I'll be at SOAS in London for an evening focusing on contemporary, popular Iranian culture. On show will be a series of short films recently made in collaboration with noted Iranian film-maker Rakhshan Bani-Eternad by a group of young film-makers, some of whom have a background in visual anthropology. The films start at 17.00 in Room G3 of the Russell Square Buildings and entrance is FREE. Also, beginning at 17.30 are a couple of seminars entitled 'Framing Muslims' that will explore the representation of Muslims in British society, and the problems surrounding Islamophobia. Again, the event is open to all and entrance is FREE -make your way to the Faber building for this half of the evening.