Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Diary for 24th April to the 30th April 2008

THURSDAY 24TH APRIL - Breaking taboos

Following on from last week's lecture on sex workers in the UK (at Goldsmiths College), I thought I would listen again to this interesting piece from Radio 4's Woman's Hour all about 'Sex in Zanzibar'. It looked at how the mixture of African and Arab cultures there has affected the way women talk about the subject. Intriguingly, although sex used to be publicly taboo, 'godmother' figures existed behind closed doors who would talk frankly to young women about the birds and the bees. It's a good example of an important area of society - and therefore of ethnographic importance - that is often especially hard to understand, but which can be enormously beneficial when it is. Sex - and by extension kinship -is an integral part of many first year anthropology courses - for an example module see this one from LSE.

FRIDAY 25TH APRIL - Futures in anthropology

If you're excited by the thought of studying anthropology at university then you might be interested to read about the London Anthropology Day 2008. Now an established event at the British Museum in London, on 10th July it welcomes A-Level students - as well as university representatives - from all over the country to experience a day of interactive workshops, lectures and film screenings. Last year over 200 people attended, and this year promises to be even more popular with seventeen universities coming along and talks on everything from India dance performance to tracking gorillas in Africa. Bookings are now open, and filling up fast - you can find out more about the day itself and book your FREE place online at the event's website. You can also view a short film made about the 2006 day here.

SATURDAY 26TH APRIL - Cooking and culture

Tuning into the radio again today for last week's Thinking Allowed, which discussed a couple of pretty fascinating topics. First up, social scientist Andrea Tonner was talking about her recent research into why people buy the cookery books they do. Apparently it's related much more to the lifestyles that different celebrity chefs represent, rather than the actual recipes they dish up. After that, a well-known anthropologists from London School of Economics, Henrietta Moore, reveals the impact she believes globalisation has had on local identities and cultures. For more information on food and anthropology - a growing subfield - you could look here, whilst to listen to some other debates involving Professor Moore, visit her webpage here.

SUNDAY 27TH APRIL - It's a wrap

Today is the last chance to see the excellent 'Wrapping Japan' exhibition at the Horniman Musuem in South East London. Whether it's to cover up, protect, accentuate or decorate, the collection explores the importance of wrapping in Japanese culture, where a wide variety of materials are used to encapsulate both people and objects. You can see examples of the exhibits on show, such as the fisherman's coat displayed on the left, on this special webpage. If you miss the last day, there is also a book to go along with the collection available from the museum for a few weeks yet. The Horniman opens from 10.30 to 17.30 daily and admission is FREE.

MONDAY 28TH APRIL - What's on your iAnth?

Anthropologists are sometimes - perhaps unfairly - criticised for failing to adapt to more modern forms of communication. And while it is true that digital methods of ethnography have yet to convince many academics in the field, there are lots of projects out there that do embrace modern technology, as I often try to highlight on the blog. Perhaps not suitable for absolute newcomers, but worth a listen for most interested young anthropologists, are the range of podcasts now on offer from the Society for Applied Anthropologists. They recently posted the audio from their annual meeting, where they discussed how anthropologists can have a more important role in public life. You can see more examples of previous podcasts as well as seeing what's up next on the website. If you search on the i Tunes, there are also several other interesting podcasts available - for example 'Visual Anthropology Weekly' and an 'Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology'.

TUESDAY 29TH APRIL - Maximum City

Tonight I'm going to Asia House in Central London, the cultural centre for all things related to the continent. Showing tonight is a film from last year - 7 Cities and a Metro - all about Mumbai (aka Bombay), in India, that examines how its intersecting cultures, languages, generations and classes live and work alongside one another. Its mixture of different film styles makes it similar to many works of visual anthropology, using whatever means available to reflect the atmosphere and social make-up of a place. It is also a good example of the complexities of 'urban' anthropology. You can study cities on many anthropology undergraduate courses - a far cry from the traditional rural image of the subject. The film starts at 18.45 and entrance costs £8 or £5 for students.

WEDNESDAY 30TH APRIL - Speaking or burping?

Neanderthals were in the news last week, with the reports that an American anthropologist believes he can represent the way the letter 'e' was spoken 30,000 years ago. Using latest technology, Robert McCarthy has reproduced the burp-like sound by studying the vocal tracts of ancient fossilised skulls. His findings are important in the sense that they suggest Neanderthals spoke, rather than simply grunted, with each other. You can make up your own mind by listening first to the Neanderthal, and then the contemporary, version of 'e'. I'm hoping one day they might come up with something a bit more substantial, in the meantime you might enjoy this speculative article about class differences in Neanderthal society...

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