Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Diary for 7th February to 13th February 2008

THURSDAY 7TH FEBRUARY - Don't forget to remember

This afternoon I'm going along to the screening of 'A City without memory' that is being held by Pocketvisions at The British Museum. It is about the city of Messina, in Sicily, which was largely destroyed in 1908 by a massive earthquake. As a result, it is often said that the city has no memory. Anthropologists have frequently explored how and why memory (and forgetting) are important in the creation of cultural beliefs and practices - for example you can study it as part of your anthropology degree at Sussex University. (You may also be intersted in a blog about cultural memory that you can find online here.) The film should be a fascinating real-life example of the social importance of memory - it begins at 16.00 in the Stevenson Theatre, entrance is FREE, and it is followed by a Q&A with Dr Eleanor Chiari, who teaches on the MA in Cultural Memory at The Institute for Germanic and Romance Studies.

FRIDAY 8TH FEBRUARY - Skyscraper anthropology

The other week I spotted an article in The Financial Times that attempted an anthropological analysis of the big investment banks, and what sort of 'culture' existed within their buildings. Written by an ex-anthropology student, it talked about how some organisations included different tribe-like factions, whilst others had a much more cohesive make-up. Today, I thought I would investigate a little further how anthropology and business mix - nowadays many companies employ anthropologists to help their business - see this article for more information, or listen to this archived Radio 4 'Shop Talk' programme. It may well be a career path that you're not aware of so makes for interesting listening...whether it is what anthropologists should be doing is at the heart of the debate....

SATURDAY 9TH FEBRUARY - Indian music comes to town

On Saturday I'm off down to the Horniman Museum in South London to check out their new exhibition 'Utsavam: music from India' which includes sounds, film, instruments and objects from the four main language groups of the country. There are also a series of events running alongside the collection for the next 2 months ranging from traditional kathakali dance performances, to Gatka sword dancing! You can also watch a filmic introduction to the exhibition here. Utsavam runs until the end of March and entrance is FREE.

SUNDAY 10TH FEBRUARY - Selling like hot (rock) cakes

Today I am going to make sure I book a sought-after ticket for an talk being given next week by the writer Jay Griffiths. She will be discussing her latest book 'Wild: An elemental journey' which describes the periods of her life she has spent living amongst indigenous peoples - and how their relationship with nature affects their cultures and identity. She also argues that an awareness of the 'wild' is essential to our well-being as human beings, and the talk itself is partly to raise awareness of the fight to keep industrial developers away from the indigenous Dampier rock art site in Australia. The event is being held at the Royal Geographical Society on the 19th February and begins at 19.00 - you can book online here, or over the phone on 0207 730 5344. What is more, tickets are exclusively £10 to readers of Anthropologist About Town - so mention this when you book, and you're pretty much a VIP...

MONDAY 11TH FEBRUARY - Shopping for film

On Monday I'm heading down to the Riverside Studios, on the shores of the Thames, to catch the drama-documentary 'Tina goes Shopping'. It tells the story of a Leeds lady who shoplifts to order for the residents of her housing estate, and is part of a series of films that tread the boundary between fiction and documentary, many of which are studied on visual anthropology courses. The director, Penny Woolcock, has often said she is inspired in her work by anthropology, as you can read in the Forman lecture she gave in 2004 to the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology in Manchester. The film starts at 19.00 and admission costs £6.50 for students.

TUESDAY 12TH FEBRUARY - Stories from Iraq

This afternoon, I'm going along to a seminar being held by the Centre for Life History Research at the University of Sussex that is looking at the life stories of some of Iraq's women and their sense of identity and memory. It is being held in collaboration with the everyday anthropology organisation Massobs, and will be led by Dr Nadje Al-Ali, from the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS. She has recently published a book, 'Iraqi Women: Untold Stories', and bases a lot of her research in social athropology. The seminar lasts from 12.30 until 1.55pm, in the Pevensey Building 1 2A2; for more information, you can email the Life History Centre staff on or


On Wednesday I'm going to the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford to listen to a lecture about the 'material, visual and virtual world of Tibet', entitled The Tibet Album. It's being given by Clare Harris, who specialises in the visual culture of the area, and has launched the 'Tibet Album' project, which provides an online record of how the Tibetan people have been photographed over the years, and also how they have been recorded by British visitors in particular. The lecture is being held in the new extension to the building and begins at 18.15 - there are drinks available from 17.45 and entrance is a voluntary donation of £2.

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