Thursday, February 21, 2008

Diary for 21st February to 27th February 2008

THURSDAY 21ST FEBRUARY - Stories from the streets

This afternoon I'm back down at Pocketvisions at the British Museum for the screening of 'Flowers don't grow here anymore' which tells the stories of a few of the one million children that live on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine. The film uses their experiences to examine the transformation from communism to capitalism in the country after the fall of the Soviet Union. Filmed over 4 months, it is a good example of a film-maker taking time to form a relationship with the contributors, and presenting a society from a bottom-up perspective. The director waited a long time before filming anything, and in that sense her approach borrowed from anthropology. The film is followed by a Q&A and you can view a trailer of the film here. It begins at 16.00 in the Stevenson Theatre and entrance is FREE.

FRIDAY 22ND FEBRUARY - Women on screen

On Friday I'm going along to another film showing, this time part of a new mini festival - 'Women's Cinema from Tangiers to Tehran', which runs until 2nd March. This evening Sama - The Trace, tells the story of a young Tunisian woman's attempts to escape the male-dominated society that she has been brought up in, despite her love for the country and her culture. The film begins at 18.15 at the Cine Lumiere, or it is showing again at the Cambridge Picturehouse on 1st March at 14.30. The festival is showing a mixture of fictional films and documentaries in London and Cambridge, all exploring the role and representation of women from Morocco to Iran - you can see the full programme here.

SATURDAY 23RD FEBRUARY - Urban anthropology

Today I'm going to have a look at at a magazine that's relatively new to the (online) shelves - it's called Stimulus Respond, and aims to look at everyday life from a fresh, unusual perspective. Anthropology has always been central to the magazine's ethos, and indeed it's strapline is "for the urban anthropologist". It contains written and photographic features on a different theme each issue, normally really broad topics such as 'man/woman' or 'animals', but approached in lots of interesting, very specific ways. The magazine is published online every two months, and occasionally in the shops - all the back issues are viewable on the website.

SUNDAY 24TH FEBRUARY - Getting down on the dance floor

Something completely random today - I'm planning to make myself feel a bit better about my own dancefloor moves by watching the first ever 'Dance your PhD' contest which was recently held in Vienna. The link to anthropology is that one of the judges was none other than an Austrian anthropologist and expert in the origins of dance, whilst the winning dance, which you can view online here, was about the fieldwork of an Oxford-based archaeologist and was based around the capture of an antelope in hunter-gatherer society. If the displays of academic action get you inspired, then you might be pleased to know you can study for an MA in Dance Anthropology at the University of Roehampton, or try reading an introductory text on the subject, 'Anthropology of Dance'.

MONDAY 25TH FEBRUARY - Uniting against boredom

On Monday I'm down at the Bath Literature Festival for a morning talk and workshop involving Jenna Bailey, author of 'Can Any Mother Help Me?', a book based on an archive of letters written by women from the Cooperative Correspondence Club. The club began in 1935 when a young woman wrote to a popular magazine about her boredom and loneliness and received hundreds of replies - these written relationships endured for several decades, so the event and book should be an interesting insight into women's everyday experiences of society. You can book online here. Interestingly, the book was published in collaboration with Massobs, the 'everyday anthropology' organisation that I have mentioned before on the blog.

- Getting the look

This Tuesday I'm planning to check out a funky little website run by an anthropology PhD student in London, Philomena Keet. Her research examines street fashion in Tokyo, and she has just published a book on the subject which is informed by some of her anthropological thinkings - 'The Tokyo Look Book'. Also on the website is a blog about her research and related events - sometimes there are late notice seminars she will be talking at for those of you who are interested in the subject. Another interview with Philomena is available online here.

WEDNESDAY 27TH FEBRUARY - The buildings of Kazakhstan

On Wednesday I'll be heading down to SOAS in London for a talk being given by Catherine Alexander, an anthropologist based at Goldsmiths University. Dr Alexander's work generally focuses on the relationship between citizens and the state, and today she will be speaking on the 'Changing Urban aesthetics in Almaty, Kazakhstan'. Kazakhstan is particularly interesting from this perspective, because of the enormous changes to its economy since the end of the Soviet Union. Be aware that the talk may not be suitable for absolute newcomers to anthropology, and you should email Dr. Adam Chau beforehand on if you wish to attend.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lucy Special: Street Fictions and Realities@the Foundling Museum, 7th March


Hi Everyone,
I'm posting a special one-off message to Anthropologist About Town to let you know about some special Lucy events I'm running in March and give you the chance to book some free tickets before everyone else!!

s part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2008 (7-16 March) Lucy is running a special Childhood Exeperiences on Film series of FREE anthropology-related events designed for the general public.

The series kicks off with a late night event at London's Foundling Museum on the 7th March (think short films by visual anthropologists, Hogarth and Gainsborough paintings, interesting people and a free glass of wine (or elderflower cordial if you're under 18)) and is followed up a series of more intimate film screenings at the Royal Anthropological Institute (10th-12th March) looking at life in boarding schools. All events are free but you need to book a place by calling 0207 387 0455 or emailing

Full details are below!! Hopefully see s
ome of you there!

Street Fictions and Realities: C
hildhood experiences on film @ the Foundling Museum

Friday 7th March: 6.30pm-9.30pm
The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ

An evening of doucumentary short film screenings by visual anthropologists, exploring the experiences of children in India, Ethiopia, and Malawi, separated from their parents and finding imaginative ways to create homes for themselves. Plus: a free glass of wine and the chance to explore the art galleries and collections of the Foundling Museum, Britain's original home for abandoned children (normally £5 entry)

The films will be screened in the picture gallery (left) with plenty of time of explore the museum. Doors open at 6.30 and the first film will be
screened at 7pm.

Films to be screened:
Street Fictions (2002)
Malawi, 32 mins, Filmmaker and anthropologist: Dominic Elliot

combining their own dramatic reconstructions and real life observation, this film tells the story of the Malawian children who run away from their homes in search of a better life on the streets of Blantyre. As the children act out a fiction based on their own experiences, we also follow the work of Macdonald, a social worker whose hope it is to return them to their homes

Ravi and Bhajay (2002)
India, 26 mins, Filmmaker and anthropologist, Rachel Webster

An intimate and uplifting exploration of the lives of street children Ravi and Bhajay as they survive together on the streets of Mumbai. To get away from it all they visit the holy city of Vijan with the filmmaker. Despite being offered jobs and schooling if they stay in Vijan, the attraction of the streets is too great and they choose to return to Mumbai to be among their friends.

Room 11: Ethiopian Hotel (2007)
Ethiopia, 21 mins, Filmmaker and anthropologist: Itsushi Kawase

This film aims to capture a sense of the life of children living on the sreets of Gondar by witnessing the interaction between 2 children and the filmmaker. Although it is about the children's life on the steets, the entire film was shot in the filmmaker's room in the Ethiopian Hotel.

Upstairs at the RAI Film screenings: 10-12 March

Childhood Experiences on Film
continues with a series of intimate (max 20 people) evening film screenings exploring boarding school life. Screenings take place at the Royal Anthropological Institute, 50 Fitzroy Street, London, W1T 5BT. Unfortunately there is no wheelchair access at this time.

Monday 10th March: 6.30-8.30pm

Dorothea Gazidis and Kim Longinotto. 59 mins

A rarely seen classic by Kim Longinotto takes a dark look at the boarding school she ran away from as a teenager. Preceed by short film "The Good Ol'Days" by students from Greenwich Community College.

Tuesday 11th March: 6.30-8.30pm

David MacDougall, 100 mins

Filmmaker David MacDougall follows a group of new boys during their first term at the "Eton of India," capturing their conflicts and friendships, jokes and loneliness. Preceed by short film "Talk of the Trade" by students from Greenwich Communtiy College.

Wednesday 12th March
: 6.30-8.30pm

David MacDougall, 77 mins

MacDougall continues his exploration of school life at the progressive Rishi Valley School in India founded by the philiosopher Krishammurti. Preceded by short film"Anglesea Road: Mini Somalia" by students from Greenwich Community College.


I'd love to tell as many people outside of "academic" anthropology as possible about these events as they are, like anthropologist about town, especially designed for people new to the subject. I have lots of fliers and posters at the RAI Office (50 Fitzroy Street, W1T 5BT, nearest tube: Warren Street/Great Portland Street) so if anyone would like to volunteer to distribute a bundle in places like coffeshops and galleries I would be very grateful! Just: