Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Diary for 26th June to 2nd July 2008

THURSDAY 26TH JUNE - More than a bookworm

Tonight my plan is to head over to West London for a night called Book Slam. It's a heady combination of literature, music, performance and all things cultural, and it's run by author and ex-anthropology student Patrick Neate. Every month Book Slam plays host to a variety of authors and other artistic types who give their insights on the world. This week, the main attraction is author Patience Agbabi, who will be reading extracts from 'Bloodshot Monochrome', her new book of poetry that looks at cross-cultural issues in East London. To learn more about Pat Neate's own writing, and perhaps gain an indication of how anthropology links into his own work, have a look at his website here. Book Slam start at 20.00 at Neighbourhood Bar, and tickets cost £6 for students, £8 full price.

FRIDAY 27TH JUNE -Look to the heavens in Wales

The long-awaited Wales Anthropology Day is upon us today, as flagged on the blog in the last few weeks. The day is an enticing blend of workshops about the many different options of study for the budding anthropologist, and is being held at the University of Wales in Lampeter. It's still not too late to sign up for the day, which runs from 9.30 until 16.30 and is FREE to attend. Highlights include workshops on the impact of body-paint, costume, and 'bling' attire on our identity, as well as a rare session on 'cultural astronomy', which looks at magic and astrology in contemporary society. The University of Wales actually has a specialist unit, the Sophia Centre, set up to study cosmology, and how humans have, and still do use the sky to tell stories about their existence. Spell-binding stuff..

SATURDAY 28TH JUNE - Ted is the new black

If it's mental stimulation you're looking for, then you can't go far wrong with the video website TED (standing for Tecnology, Entertainment, Design). It has a huge range of talks by inspiring intellectual and public figures on a wide array of subjects, including some directly related to anthropology. For example, there's a couple of talks on there by Wade Davis, an activist for indigenous communities who trained as an 'ethnobotanist', as well as one by paleoanthropologist Zerensey Alemseged on the discovery of the ancient skeleton Selam (related to Lucy by the by...) and what she can tell us about humanity. Almost all the talks are limited to under 20 minutes so you can even get your brain stimulation in the time it takes to eat breakfast...

SUNDAY 29TH JUNE - Leaving a mark(er)

There's another Pocketvisions Encore selection of intriguing ethnographic documentaries screening today at the Roxy Bar & Screen near London Bridge. As usual, the showings are divided into two sessions, with films this week about attempts to suppress the coca trade in South America, ice harvesting in the Andes and also a re-working of an old, classic documentary. The latter film in question is Chris Marker's 1960 'Description of a Struggle' about the young state of Israel - which has been reworked into Description of a Memory, interweaving present-day footage of Israel with archive from Marker's film. Chris Marker's work is often studied on visual anthropology because his poetic approach to subjects is similar to the way some ethnographic film-makers have attempted to use film as a more expressive way of representing other societies than through words. The films are showing from 15.00 until 18.30 and one £3 ticket gets you into as much of that period as you like. Tickets can even be purchased online here.

MONDAY 30TH JUNE - Religion & Iraq in Glasgow

On Monday I'm off to a final Refugee Week exhibition (several were mentioned on the blog last week) up in Glasgow at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. 'Life after Iraq' is a collection of photographs and writing by two Scottish journalists, Angela Caitlin and Billy Bragg, and contains images of Iraqi exiles in both Syria and Scotland. It's another chance to understand better what life is like for those living at the margins of society. Whilst at the museum I'm also going to check out the rest of the collections which contain information on all the world's major religions - the cross-cultural comparison of religion and ritual is often studied by anthropologists. The exhibition is open from 10.00 until 17.00 daily, and runs until the end of October - admission to the museum is FREE.

TUESDAY 1ST JULY - Tibet and the diaspora

I'll be down at the ICA in central London today for the start of a mini-season of films called 'Through an Exile Lens: Thoughts & Imaginings of Tibet'. The week-long collection of films includes pieces about young people growing up in Tibet, as well as various perspectives from those living in exile in India. It's interesting to the anthropologist because the subject matter revolves around people trying to create, or retain, a cultural identity in the face of state repression or ignorance, and therefore touches on all sorts of relevant issues from ethnicity to nationalism to religion. Particularly look out for 'Youth, Disapora and the Search for Identity' on later in the week, about several different young Tibetans living in India. If you're interested in the area, then you might also like to check out anthropologists Alan Macfarlane's website 'Digital Himalaya' - an online ethnographic record of the region.

WEDNESDAY 2ND JULY - Violence on the radio

Today I'll be listening again to Thinking Allowed which this week concentrated on the rituals and 'micro-dynamics' of violence. Speaking on the programme will be American sociologist Randall Collins who argues that humans are biologically predisposed away from violence and that it is in fact brought on by the situations they are caught up in. Since violence occurs in almost every society, anthropology has a strong interest in the whys and wherefores of the subject. Indeed, you can study it as a specialist degree, for example on the MA in Anthropology of Conflict,Violence and Conciliation at the University of Sussex. There are also several other web resources out there, for example this brief youtube discussion and this selection of writing. Peace out.