Author Archive | Graeme Were

Peter Goodenough Scholarship in Anthropology

The University of Queensland Anthropology Museum seeks a doctoral candidate who is a Papua New Guinean citizen to work on the Museum’s PNG Collection. The successful applicant will build a project around an aspect of local and national identity in PNG embodied in material and/ or visual culture. The applicant will have access to the Museum Collection and will gain experience in museum curation and collection management as part of their studies. Among its 24000 accessioned items, the Museum holds more than 4000 artefacts and art works created by people living in PNG and 1700 photographs taken in PNG by missionaries, colonial officials and
other visitors. Much of this material dates from the early and mid twentieth century.
Interested in applying or require additional information?…

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Islands of Escorts

Graeme Were, UCL
For those with wistful memories of the Mk 1 and 2 Ford Escort – motoring classics – then the following article on the BBC website will revive fond memories. It did for me: the third and final car I bought in 1990 was a secondhand Mk 2 Ford Escort, sky blue with imitation chrome wheels. It got stolen twice though both times I recovered it undamaged, albeit stereo system missing. I think the car thieves used a duplicate set of keys each time, which was a bit alarming.
In any case, my point is that the article – on the BBC Magazine website – is worth reading for enthusiasts of far-away British colonial outposts, and most interestingly, Ford Escorts.…

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Gadgets at school

This article on the BBC Technology website presents some of the latest gadgets designed for use in schools. It shows some of the new devices used for administering student attendence, interactive teaching and immersive teaching environments. As the school classroom becomes increasingly technologically sophisticated, how much do we really learn at school anyway? And what is wrong with the trusted ruler, compass and blackboard? Surely, these are questions to be asked by anthropologists.
Graeme Were, UCL

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A History of the World in 100 Objects

BBC Radio 4 recently kicked off a new series on the collections of British Museum called A History of the World in One Hundred Objects. The programme, written and presented by BM director Neil MacGregor, aims to tell the entire history of the world in a 100 15-minute episodes focusing on key objects in the BM’s permanent collections. Each episode will concentrate on one ‘thing’ in the museum, explore its context and significance in the culture that produced it, together with its collection history and interpretation.
More about the series can be found by clicking:
Editorial Comment: If the story of the world can be told in 100 objects, maybe the BM can start thinking about giving back some of its 7 million or so objects it has in its collections.

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Lecturer in Anthropology, University College London

Applications are invited for a Lectureship in Anthropology. The postholder will be responsible for contributing to teaching foundation and specialist courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in Material and/or Visual and/or Digital Culture and will be expected to take on administrative duties in the Department.
The start date for the postholder is 1st September 2010.
The successful applicant must hold a PhD and be able to demonstrate a strong record of research and publication. Applications from qualified candidates specialising in any area of the world are welcome.
For more information and how to apply:

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How Does it Matter?

Reviewed by Ian Wedde
Material Culture and Technology in Everyday Life: Ethnographic Approaches. 2009, edited by Phillip Vannini, New York: Peter Lang Publishers. 256pp. ISBN 978-1-4331-0301-8.


One way to write a review of this book is to treat it as a material object suitable for ethnographic study within the social field of Material Culture and Technology Studies in Everyday Life – where, for our convenience, ‘everyday life’ here encompasses the daily practices, social constructions, actor networks, epistemologies, semiotics and narratives of those whose profession is the academic study of material culture and technology.
The tautological and even solipsistic implications of such an approach are not resisted by the volume itself. If anything it invites this approach, and its compliance provides the ethnographic reviewer with a place to start.…

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A Roof with a View

Peter Oakley, Doctoral Research Student, UCL Material Culture
Whilst assisting at a SWLLN workshop this summer I was intrigued by a problematic feature of the heritage site hosting the event. Tyntesfield House, a National Trust property, is currently undergoing extensive conservation, necessitating the erection of a second roof over the entire structure. Until recently standard Trust policy was to close such a property to the public until conservation had been completed. At Tyntesfield it was decided to not only keep the house open as far as practicable, but also to build a observation tower out of scaffolding up to the top of the Victorian roof, allowing visitors to view the work being undertaken. The observation tower had been completed and opened to the public before the second roof covered adjacent parts of the old building.…

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Call for Papers: Wrapping and Unwrapping the Body – Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives

A conference hosted by the Institute of Archaeology, UCL,
31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY,
20 – 21 May, 2010

This conference will bring together archaeologists and anthropologists to discuss the concept and practice of wrapping and unwrapping the body. Through this we hope to:
• To develop the idea of wrapping materials and wrapping as a process in archaeology.
• To develop a better understanding of cross cultural conceptions of the human body through understanding wrapping in particular time and space settings.
• To allow an exchange of ideas between archaeology and anthropology.
Conference Abstract
Wrapping the body, whether through clothing, in burial or other transforming processes, requires malleable materials that envelope the body. Such materials have properties and efficacy that act on the body or the perception of the body; they may be textiles, fibres, skins, feathers, fur, clay or thin metals.…

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To Dispose or Not to Dispose…

Graeme Were, UCL
Those of you interested in how to dispose of unwanted museum objects, I read this creative, purposeful and probably profitable approach to post-deaccessioning, passed on to me by Brian Durrans of the British Museum.
I also understand that UCL Museums and Collections intends to hold a temporary exhibition on the theme of disposal at UCL in October 2009. It is the result of a two year survey of the entire collections held across various sites at the university. More later.

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Call for papers: “Wrapping objects”

TAG 2009, Durham 17th -19th December
Abstracts, maximum 200 words including title of paper, name of speaker(s) and institution(s) to be sent to the session organisers by 30th September 2009. Individual papers are expected to specify the contribution they are making to archaeological theory. If you would like to discuss your idea for a paper first, please get in touch with the session organisers:
Susanna Harris, or Laurence Douny
Session Abstract: “Wrapping Objects”
Archaeologists are able to identify objects that have been wrapped, but what is the significance of wrapping? As a cultural and technical act, wrapping may be used to conceal and reveal, camouflage or highlight, transform and exhibit, conserve and preserve. Wrapping and unwrapping objects can be investigated as intentional acts that change the object in a physical, transforming and symbolic process.…

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