Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Diary for 13th March to 19th March 2008

THURSDAY 13TH MARCH - For the love of logic

It is often said that business and pleasure should be kept as far apart as possible, but tonight I'm planning to mix them up a little by attending a public lecture at the London School of Economics entitled 'Logic and emotion in Chinese economic life'. It's being given by Charles Stafford, based on his experiences in Taiwan and China, and should provide an interesting insight into how a look at the emotions can help us understand business decisions that you might normally assume are made from a purely financial point of view. It is a good example of how anthropology tries to take a 'holistic' - or all-encompassing - view of society, not just concentrating on one aspect. The talk lasts from 18.30 until 20.00 in the Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House and entrance is on a first come, first served basis. For more information you can contact or call 02079556043.

FRIDAY 14TH MARCH - All white tonight

Come Friday night I'll be resting up my party feet and staying in to watch a documentary that's part of the 'White' season currently on BBC2. The series of films examines how the white, working class community can often feel marginalised in 21st century Britain. This evening's film is 'All white in Barking', directed by Marc Isaacs, and looks at the effect high levels of immigration have had on an area of East London, and the tensions that have arisen between long-standing residents and the new arrivals. Areas of cross-cultural comparison are of particular interest to anthropologists and Isaacs is renowned for his sensitive and balanced handling of such areas. The film begins at 21.00 on BBC2 and you can also listen to a couple of radio discussions on the issue on Nightwaves (Radio 3) and You and Yours (Radio 4).

SATURDAY 15TH MARCH - An excuse to travel

A continental treat this weekend as I'm off to Paris for the start of the Festival International Jean Rouch 2008, which honours the famous anthropological film-maker with over a week of ethnographic films. The first day includes highlights from a recent film festival in Romania, and sees the showing of three films - 'The Last Peasants' from English director Angus Macqueen, about three Romanian families all affected in different ways by migration. Rouch himself was famous for his deeply experimental approach to film-making, for example having his subjects comment reflectively on the film as part of the action, so the festival should be full of many interesting screenings. The festival lasts until 24th March, with sessions beginning at 10.30 and 14.30 most days. It takes place in the Jean Rouch room at the Musee de l'homme - for more information see the contact page here.

SUNDAY 16TH MARCH - The right to roam

Does anything brush out the Sunday morning cobwebs more than a bracing stroll in the English air? Or maybe you'd just rather be lying in bed... Either way you might be interested in the event I'm attending today - it's 'ROAM: A Festival of Walking' at Loughborough University. Held over three days - Saturday until Monday - it is a get-together of artists and anthropologists to examine walking and its role in society. Artists (for example Tim Brennan) and anthropologists (such as Sarah Pink) will follow on from a weekend exhibition of work with a seminar on Monday that attempts to answer questions that you've probably never considered. For instance: "What might walking as art tell us about how walking an be understood as a way of participating in power relationships?" Let's hope they don't just 'ramble' on about nothing. The event is FREE but places are strictly limited to 40 people so make sure you contact or 01509 222960 if you're interested in attending.

MONDAY 17TH MARCH - The Aliens are coming

On Monday I'm heading off to the Barbican in London to check out a new exhibition - the 'Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art'. Labelled one of the year's 'zaniest shows', the premise is that a group of anthropologists from outer space have come to earth hoping to understand contemporary art - to do so they use an unusual method of artifact classification. The exhibition is meant to parody the now much-criticised approaches that early anthropologists took to non-western art and how we often presume we understand another culture, not realising that we are only seeing things from our own perspective. The collection is open daily until mid-May and entrance costs £8; you can also listen to audioguides about the exhibits, and read an article about the exhibition here.

TUESDAY 18TH MARCH - Morbid curiosity

Today I'm planning to listen again to an episode of Thinking Allowed from Radio 4 that was broadcast last week. It focused on death rituals in contemporary Britain and the USA, and featured two academics who have recently published books on the subject. One of them, Sheila Harper, is a phD anthropology student in the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath, and has undertaken ethnographies of how 'ordinary' people deal with death and mortality. They will be discussing whether we can still deal with the physicality of death, as well as how the way we mourn has altered over the years. You might be interested to know you can also sometimes study the Anthropology of Death on undergraduate courses...whatever floats your boat I guess.

WEDNESDAY 19TH MARCH - Highlighting humanity

On Wednesday I'm heading off to the ICA for a look at some of the films in this year's Human Rights Film Festival. It lasts until the 20th March and aims to highlight the work of film-makers that draws attention to those suffering or combating injustice across the world. One of the films showing today is 'The Greatest Silence' which takes an in-depth look at the difficult subject of rape in the Congo, interviewing women across different strands of the conflict. Nowadays, anthropologists are often involved in campaigns to protect the human rights of people around the globe, and they research issues that are directly related to such campaigns. The film begins at 19.30, costs £7 for students and is followed by a Q&A with the director.

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