Monday, May 16, 2011

Lucy's Diary May 2011

I’ve been away bodding about another town so a last-minute entry kicks us off, heading up London’s offerings, as the first tantalising delicacy is already going on! As always, it’s all free unless otherwise stated.

School of Oriental and African Studies: 

‘Endangered Languages Week’ (until 14th May)

This event seeks to navigate the geographies, social places and cultural influences as well as fragilities of the huge number (over half) of global languages currently threatened with extinction. Including opportunities to familiarise yourself with them through lectures, discussion, demonstration and exhibition and display in arts and media materials, this fascinating week promise to leave no aspect of ‘meeting a language’ unturned. The presentation of SOAS MA student’s London Language Landscape’ and the Brunei Gallery’s hosting of a range of materials presented by organisations involved in language preservation sound particularly interesting. I’m certainly going to catch what I can, if nothing else to see if Cornish crops up. I’m not sure if it died already as the last I heard was that only one person spoke it, so it seems pretty likely!

City University London And London Centre For Arts And Cultural Exchange (LCACE):

Festival Of Music In Middle Eastern Cinema’ Saturday 14th- Friday 20th May

Umm Khultum (photographer unknown)
A collaboration between the Institute of Musical Research, University of London, Iran Heritage Foundation, Centre for Iranian Studies, SOAS and The Royal Anthropological Institute, this ‘mini-festival’ promises to be packed so full of stuff it’d give Glasto a run for it’s money (though more in guise of the annual Fes festival).  Celebrating Middle Eastern music past and present, traditional and emergent, a two-day conference and films featuring the sounds as well as experiences of Middle Eastern music are showing throughout the period at the Tricycle Theatre ( and the Khalili Lecture Theatre in the School of Oriental and African Studies (


Saturday 14th May and Sunday May 15th

Copyright:Susan Andrews
On the 14th (paid) there’s an ‘At Home in Japan’ study day exploring modes of living in the Japanese home, its’ influence over Western perceptions (and décor) and the everyday reality. A host of curators and Dr Inge Daniels (whose work informed the exhibition) provide the perspectives. On the following day, check out the free Anthropology of Space ‘taster day’.

Insight, University College of London:

Image from Insight website
Insight are running courses covering aspects of camera use and film-making, development, production, proposal-writing and funding, business, marketing and a 15-day documentary course. So, basically everything you need to know if you want to use camera’s to tell stories for reasonable fees and run by experienced industry professionals.

Radical Anthropology Group:
(Camden,Tues 6.15–9.00 pm May to July)
‘The Moon in Myth, Ritual and History’

Into their summer term already, the Radical Anthropologists are going beyond Pyramidiocy (in the best possible sense) by exploring ‘Lunarchism’ and lunatic influence across time and space on cultural activity by way of UK megalithic construction, Greco-Roman myth, and a contemporary moon-clock amongst the weekly treats. Plus, there’s an outing to Avebury to align with the lunar energies in the company of the ancient stones of Avebury around the summer solstice. All in all, the programme sounds like a healthy reconnection with the linkage between what has been and what is that it is possible to embrace and celebrate through the magnificently diverse and wonderfully idiosyncratic anthropological lens. It also sounds fun-count me in.

Moving out of London:

Mass Observation One Day Diary for Thursday 12th May 2011:
I mentioned last month that there was more going on with the Mass Observation bods and this is it-requiring none of the usual registration, we can submit a diary of our thoughts, activities and reflections on keeping the diary noting whether it’s a typical day and if not, say why. Be part of a fine modern tradition of making the everyday voice heard and kept for posterity; it could be said that things like MO paved the way for the proliferation of social networking phenomena driving contemporary communications within and understandings of social space. As it’s short on time, I thought I’d include the gist of the guidelines which are the diary must be in electronic form (emails or email attachments) and, to background the diary, include a brief self portrait (age, where you live, whether you are married or single, your present job or occupation if working and any other information that you think is important to record). Finally, a statement is needed for the diary to be added into the Archive which is below then submit it to  .Happy history-making!

“I donate my 12th May diary to the Mass Observation Archive. I consent to it being made publically available as part of the Archive and assign my copyright in the diary to the Mass Observation Archive Trustees so that it can be reproduced in full or in part on websites, in publications and in broadcasts as approved by the Trustees”.

(Deadline 19th May)

Help the project to challenge the notion that video could become inaccessible and self-indulgent by providing some fantastic visual anthro ethnographic material and show exactly anthropology in film can disprove these criticisms and what it can achieve! Mail a link to a video online or attach a video to the above address for submission.

‘Churches’ (until 15th September)

Copyright: David Spero
David Spero’s photographic view takes in the churches that have colonized the unconsecrated land of buildings never intended for this purpose which, through their change of use, materialize the question of transformation, blurring and subversion of the boundaries and delimitations regarding social and sacred space. Stripped of overt external signs associated with faith spaces related to expressions of power and symbolism, do these buildings still look like their counterparts in industrial estates, houses, pubs, cinema’s and shopping parades or does the addition of the church boards and purpose start to effect some change-at least in perceptions? I’m going to take a good look next time I’m up North as I think it may be a hard one to call...

University of Oxford, Lady Margaret Hall 25th May:
Tel: 01865 271529 or e-mail:

‘Out of the Harem: Arab Revolutions and the end of Patriarchy’

Delivered by Dr May Yamani, this sounds a must for those like myself interested in Arab- and Muslim-influenced cultures. The timely feast of political, cultural and social issues promised in the provocatively-titled lecture comes hot on the heels of recent and ongoing change in the ‘Arab Spring’. I'm looking forward to delivery of some challenging and salient information to current debates, particularly how a relationship between revolution and patriarchy’s end is outlined. While I wait to go and find out, I can wonder what 'Hijabi Barbie' (pictured) take on it will be-after all, is she in or out of 'the Harem'? ;)

‘Dialogue Among Civilisations’ (Opening Thursday 12th May 6 - 8pm, until 27th May)

‘Blombos: We Are All South African’
Bruce Rimell, 2009
Returning (whoops, sorry, too many good things happening in Yorkshire-world!) check out the 15 works created in an international collaboration between artists and poets from 35 countries. These form the basis for a new initiative by Art for Humanities in Durban whose aim is to create worldwide dialogue regarding issues of inequalities and prejudice. Through creative dialogues, the organisation intend to renew commitments to tolerance, harmonious co-existence and human rights. It’d be interesting to see how this laudable ambition works (and looks) in the pieces displayed and what kind of a start it has got off to but as I can’t make this one, it’s be good if anyone out there can give the anthropological once-over and report back.

Lucy Special: RAI's Anthro of Sport Photo Contest-take a look at the results!

As you know, toward the end of last year the RAI’s Education Outreach Programme ran a competition to get great anthropology of sport pictures from anyone handy with a camera. The categories included the body, identity, and globalization, and the competition generated 230 wide-ranging, fascinating and dramatic entries from a truly global 24 countries. The great response meant that lots of young people not only engaged with the Programme but in doing so have had the opportunity to share their work, get actively involved with anthropology and be a part of activities to do with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The body of work produced enables both participants and those looking at the images to be involved in reflecting upon on the anthropology of sport, sharing and communicating ideas between anthropology and sports, media, and the arts. Not bad for a photo competition! Take a look at and join the conversation.

Plus, if you get inspired to do something similar, check out the ‘My Street’ competition at the RAI Film Festival site. Instead of still shots, this is a call for film submissions. It’s a great opportunity to ‘have a go’ at some visual anthropology and make your world ours by capturing the activities, conversations, observations, impressions that make up your street or neighbourhood. The premise couldn’t be simpler-or more anthropological as it relates to all sorts of areas of anthropological interest, particularly the Anthropology of Space and Home, Material Cultures, Urban Anthropology, Visual Anthropology to name a few-in fact, the sky’s the limit and the pavement the place! The competition closes at the end of the month and, in addition to films being streamed online, the winning entry will be screened-putting your home well and truly on the map. I’m looking forward to seeing the stories behind the streets and way more than Google Maps could ever reveal!

Lucy Special: RAI 12th International Film Festival Anthropologists on film

There’s a whole strand in this year’s festival concerning anthropologists on film-from those rather famous ones like Levi-Strauss (‘Claude Lévi-Strauss, Return to the Amazon’ Marcelo Fortaleza Flores 2009) and their activities and experiences in the field to those behind the camera considering the nature and reality of the fieldwork endeavor itself. Essential stuff for both budding and fledged anthropologist alike as it’s good to reflect on where the discipline has been to know where it can, and is, going. The radical shifts during disciplinary development can be seen through the leaps forward and mis-steps of pioneers, players and the simply passionate alike.

Films to look out for include the story of the first ethnographic film made (‘The Masks of Mer’ Michael Eaton 2010) plus those concerned with direct interventions and engagements of anthropologists within environments, whether restoring and recreating historic homes in new space (‘Further Lane’ John M. Bishop 2011) or embedded with the US army (‘Human Terrain’ James Der Derian 2010). The ‘experimenter effect’ of the ethnographic venture is explored intimately in films addressing the deep interrelationship and effect of researchers and the communities they work with, both positive and negative. Deep bonds inspiring new forms of ceremony and celebration are found regarding Frembgen in Pakistan (‘The Red Sufi Martin Weinhart 2010), Francois and Stern in Motalava, (‘The Poet’s Salary’ Eric Wittersheim 2008), and Rouch in West Africa (‘I Am a White African - Farewell to Jean Rouch’ Bernd Mosblech 2008). In contrast, the perspective from within the Yanomamo tribe of Chagnon’s work illustrates when things go wrong. By exploring the work, perspectives and debate generated by this controversial project, the very nature of the anthropological project itself is considered (‘Secrets of the Tribe’ José Padilha 2010).

Follow the festival preparations and commentary by those involved, including film-makers, in the Facebook group