Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Diary for 6th December - 12th December 2007

THURSDAY 6TH DECEMBER - The end of the Voyage

Today I want to attend the final day of the Voyages European documentary festival that has featured on the blog for the last couple of weeks. The season ends with a couple of films at the Goethe Institute in West London. At 19.00, the Danish film 'In a soldier's footsteps' is showing, about a Ugandan exile seeking to stop his long lost son from repeating his father's past as a paramilitary fighter. It is followed by 'The First Day' from Poland which follows the first day at school for a group of people from rural Siberia. The children have to travel to the city by boat or plane to receive their education, so it should often an unusual an fascinating new perspective on issues of migration. Tickets for the double bill are £7, or £5 for students.

FRIDAY 7TH DECEMBER - Museum by night

Tonight I'm heading to the Pitt Rivers Museum for their annual 'Winter Warmer' which allows visitors the opportunity to spend a few hours exploring their vast range of anthropological exhibits by torchlight. The night runs from 19.00 until 23.00, includes a complimentary glass of mulled wine and is a rare opportunity to explore the venue outside daytime hours. And if going out into the gloom's all too much for you, then why not explore the collections online, courtesy of a great 360° photographic feature on their website. You will need to provide the warm drink, of course.

Otherwise, if you're in London then there is a film showing at 18.00 at the Khalili Lecture Theatre in SOAS called 'Jashn-e-Azadi' (or 'How we celebrate freedom') looking at issues of freedom and resistance in Kashmir. The director will be present to answer questions and you can find out more on the organisers' website here. Entrance is FREE.

SATURDAY 8TH DECEMBER - Getting up to speed with Nigeria

On Saturday I'm really looking forward to attending a one-off event in the Khalili Lecture Theatre at SOAS showcasing the ethnographic films of Frank Speed, whose work was principally based in Nigeria between 1956 and 1983. The day begins at 9.30 and includes a combination of screenings and discussion by anthropologists, ranging from sickle cell anaemia via Kingship rituals to traditional theatre. The event, which is FREE, ends at 18.00 with a drinks reception. It is already booking up fast, so you must reserve a place beforehand at the British Academy's website, or by contacting the organisers on 020 7969 5238 or at

SUNDAY 9TH DECEMBER - Rouch remembered

I missed the chance yesterday to attend a day of screenings and discussion about the ethno-fiction of Jean Rouch at Birkbeck University (if you're reading this before Saturday you can email for more details or to book a place), so today I'm making sure to go along to the Institut Francais for a double bill of his films. At 16.00 on Sunday La Pyramide Humaine is showing, and then at 18.00 it's the famous Les Maitres Fous. A ticket to watch both films costs £9, or £7 for students - and admission is FREE. The events are being held in connection with the release of a new book called Building Bridges: the cinema of Jean Rouch and his very influential style of ethnographic film-making.

MONDAY 10TH DECEMBER - Travel into the world of anthropology

On Monday I'm going to listen again to the Radio 4 programme Excess Baggage that was broadcast on Saturday, and featured anthropologists Joy Hendry. She will be talking about anthropology and travel, which is a topic that comes up in her work at Oxford Brookes University on representations and cultural display. If this is a subject that particularly interests you, then you might want to consider ordering this collection of essays on the subject. Incidentally, Excess Baggage is presented by Sandi Toksvig, who studied anthropology at university.

TUESDAY 11TH DECEMBER - A life of devotion

This Tuesday I'm off to a screening of 'Kings with Straw Mats' by Ira Cohen, a portrait of sadhus at the enormous Hindu celebration, Kumbh Mela, which occurs every 12 years. Sadhus devote their lives to meditation in pursuit of spiritual liberation, often leaving behind all material concerns. This film was made over twenty years ago, and follows the sadhus' journeys towards enlightenment and solitude. They have been the subject of much anthropological thought over the years, not least in the films of Michael Yorke, and you can view a clip of his 'Holy Men & Fools' here. The film begins at 19.30 at the October Gallery in central London and tickets cost £6, or £4 for students. There is also an accompanying exhibition of Ira Cohen's artwork that should be well worth checking out beforehand.

WEDNESDAY 12TH DECEMBER - Art across cultures

On Wednesday, I'm going along to the last of the SOAS 'Migration & Diaspora' screenings for the term. Showing today at 13.00 is 'In and Out of Africa' made by anthropologists Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Taylor about a Nigerian African art trader and his travels across the world from Ivory Coast to the USA. It looks at the way in which we value art objects across different cultures, something which is especially important to students of visual anthropology. The screening is, as usual, in the Khalili Lecture Theatre at 13.00 and admission is FREE. You can also now read Cross-cultural Filmmaking - Barbash and Taylor's important study of the process - online

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