On Scanning Fluff

Haidy Geismar, UCL

kp_ucl_print_NrthLdgeA3

I’ve been working on a paper for a workshop on “Transforming data: drawing otherness into data debates” next week. I will be talking about one of  my current research projects, Te Ara Wairua – Pathways of the Intangible. In collaboration with Kura Puke and Stuart Foster of Massey University and Te Matahiapo Research Organization in Aotearoa New Zealand we have been exploring how digital technologies can connect to a Maori Korowai (cloak) held currently in the UCL Ethnography Collections.

Together we are developing a critical perspective on the ways in which digital technologies can, or cannot, be used to connect communities to far away collections. We all have different interests and investments in the project, and these have generated different research questions.… Continue Reading

Survivor Objects

“Survivor Objects” considers the meanings of material objects that have been tempered by trauma. By bearing historical witness, such objects can come to hold a privileged place in cultural memory and, as a result, play a powerful role for present-day communities. The symposium features faculty, graduate students, curators, and conservation specialists from across the country.  Please see the full program for panel and paper topics.

Details are available on the website

 … Continue Reading

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Craft Museum: Ideals and Practice

March 13, 2015, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Keynote: Sir Christopher Frayling, former Rector, Royal College of Art

Paper submissions from senior and emerging museum professionals, scholars, and educators are invited for this symposium, which will examine the role of the craft museum in modern culture. Coinciding with the renovation of the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian’s national craft museum, this program seeks a lively dialogue on craft’s institutional mission, and the execution of programming devoted to the collection, conservation, presentation, and study of craft. The issue of how to interpret the field of craft in a museum setting is increasingly urgent as the boundaries of its teaching, practice, reception, and the discipline’s very definition shift dramatically in the first quarter of the 21st century.… Continue Reading

RAI Horniman Museum Collecting Initiative (2014-2015)

As part of Collections People Stories: Anthropology Re-Considered, an Arts Council England (ACE) funded project taking place at the Horniman Museum, 2012-2015, we are seeking PhD Students or Postdoctoral Fellows, who plan to carry out fieldwork in 2014-2015 to make small collections for the museum.

Deadline: 30 September 2014

Collections People Stories: Anthropology Re-Considered is undertaking a detailed review and documentation of the Horniman’s Anthropology collections, highlighting the range, scale and importance of both its stored collections and those on display. The project sets out to investigate new and innovative ways of collections research, engagement and interpretation. It will facilitate academic and community consultation and debate, to both unpack the legacy of the anthropology collections and unlock their values for communities and visitors today.… Continue Reading

EASA review

Theodoros Kyriakides (a doctoral candidate in the anthropology of illness at the University of Manchester) provides a blog review for Savage Minds of the recent 13th Biennial EASA conference, held at Tallinn University in Estonia from 31 July to 3 August.

Over at the Allegra site, one can find some recent interviews with EASA President Noel Salazar as well as the co-chairs of the conference’s scientific committee, Carlo Cubero and Patrick Laviolette. A visual archive of the conference has also been collated.

 … Continue Reading

Best of Material World: Digital Media

Since the Material World Blog began, the digital media landscape changed dramatically. In social media terms, we have moved from Friendster, MySpace and Orkut to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, with a range of other digital, mobile and social media becoming embedded within many people’s everyday lives around the world. These transformations resulted in an increasing number of posts that explored the changing relationships with digital media and made visible the materiality of the digital worlds. In my review of the best of digital media on Material World Blog, five key themes emerged.

(1) The first theme clusters around questions of place and materiality with the growth in digital media. These include Jean-François Blanchette’s wonderful post analysing bits and the software history  as well as Toby Wilkenson’s examination of the consequences of google earth for our relationship to place in a time of google earth. Graham H.… Continue Reading

Best of Material World Blog: Landscape and Place

Patrick Laviolette (EHI, Tallinn University, hosts of EASA2014)

In terms of providing reflections on the material dimensions of place and landscape, here are some links to what I feel have been amongst the more provocative postings on the blog over the years. Many of the authors to the links below implicitly, or sometimes even explicitly ask: how do we depict our spatial experiences through the digital medium of blogging?

In Feb 2007, Graeme Were put up a piece simply entitled ‘Footpaths‘ by Kate Cameron-Daum. It is an eye-catching post which stirred my own curiosity on methods of walking, particularly in the countryside. Similarly, Peter Oakley’s observations at Tyntesfield house in A Roof with a View, reflects upon the postmodern condition of a heritage site standing below some scaffolding.… Continue Reading

Made in Palestine

Christopher Pinney, UCL

[Please note: this  post was written before the intensification of the current Israeli offensive on Gaza]

I decided to transgress the BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) injunction and attend a conference on ‘The Photographic Imagination’ in Tel Aviv in June 2014 for several reasons.  The two central ones concerned, firstly, the Apartheid analogy. Having taught a short course at the University of Cape Town in 2000 it was quite apparent that there were many courageous dissident academic intellectuals that had been a key element of the resistance during the 1980s and earlier. Collaboration with them would have been quite different from buying South African produce. The second reason has an element of illogicality, which is repeatedly pointed out to me: Syria.… Continue Reading

Best of Material World Blog: Museums, Exhibitions, Archives, Memorials

– Compiled by Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center) 

Since its inception, Material World has treated museums and archives not only as repositories of material culture, but as material culture–that is, material products as well as producers of culture and social memory. As institutions, they are sites of collection and exhibition, acts that have their own material and materializing dimensions.

Here are some of our favorite posts about museums, exhibitions, archives, and memorials:

Graeme Were reviews the Musée du Quai Branly a year after it opened.

Anna Weinrich examines two permanent museum exhibitions in Australia featuring Aboriginal culture and collections by a foundational anthropologist, testing out the new museology against the politics of Aboriginal voice.

Diana Young discusses her curatorial efforts to enliven museum collections in dialogue with Aboriginal artists.… Continue Reading

“We left when the bullets were falling like rain:” Syrian refugees’ illustrated stories

Earlier this year, artist George Butler spent several days in the refugees’ ‘tented settlements’ of northern Lebanon. His portraits of the people – and the often random possessions they brought with them when they fled their homes – tell their own poignant tales. Picture captions by Nick Rice.

Read the full story and see more images in The GuardianContinue Reading