Author Archive | Haidy Geismar

Anthropology and Photography

Anthropology & Photography (ISSN 2397-1754) is a new open-access RAI publication series edited by the RAI Photography Committee. Emerging from the international conference of the same name organized by the RAI at the British Museum in 2014, the series will highlight and make available to the widest possible audience the best new work in the field.

We are eager to solicit new contributions from anthropologists and practitioners which could be visual, textual, or somewhere in between.

Guidelines for submission:

Texts should be on average 4-6,000 words, normally with anything up to 30 images. We are interested in the intersections of text and image, and the capacities of the visual to convey anthropological ideas or participate in anthropological debates. We are also interested in supporting publications that are primarily visually based and are interested in the potential of the anthropological photo-essay or extended documentary project.…

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Object Lessons: the story of material education in eight chapters

Press release:

Duration: September 16, 2016 – January 16, 2017
Opening: Thursday, September 15, 7 p.m.

Milanese Mosaic Pastes, Cabinet of Factory Products, c. 1800, Collection Technical Museum Vienna, Photo: A.-S. Lehmann / Jars From a Teaching Aid Kit On Paper Fabrication, Lehrmittel-Verlag F. Rausch c. 1920, Collection Werkbundarchiv, Photo: A. Herrmann
If you know how to fabricate a candle from fat or a pen from a fishbone, you can survive in prison. If you know how blood reacts to lemon juice, you can remove stains. If you know why polylactide is more sustainable than polyethylene, you can change the world.

Today, knowledge about materials, their origins, and processing is more valued and desired than ever before. At the same time, such knowledge is specialized, concealed, and the domain of experts.

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Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities

International Symposium at the Center for Advanced Studies (CAS), LMU Munich, 9–11 February 2017

Convened by

PHILIPP SCHORCH AND MARTIN SAXER

Call for Papers Deadline: 31 October 2016

This symposium aims at collectively thinking through connectivity and materiality. Our starting point is simple: things that move and thereby connect or, the other way round, connections made through things are central to anthropology’s concerns. From the Kula Ring to the journeys of museum objects, from the travels of empire-founding Buddha statues to the logics and logistics of shipping containers, connectivity and materiality are interwoven in various but particular ways. Somewhat akin to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, we take connectivity and materiality not as defined properties of some-thing but as two interrelated modes in which an entity is, or rather is becoming, in a world.…

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Things that Make Us

Via The Institute of Making

Zoe Laughlin of UCL’s Institute of Making has a new podcast, Things That Make Us. Following the model of Desert Island Discs, each week, Laughlin interviews someone asking them to chose five things that they feel have shaped and moulded their lives and practice. The first two weeks interview the artist, Cornelia Parker, and food critic and journalist, Jay Rayner.

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Digital Ontologies

Hannah Knox, Department of Anthropology, UCL

Last year, someone made the observation at a workshop I was attending, that no single person knows how a contemporary computer works. The rapid development of computing over the past 70 years, the interconnectivity of the internet, and the layers of programming needed to make digital devices function, mean that digital technologies have gained a kind of distributed autonomy, divorced from the understanding or expertise of any individual person or group of experts. One response to this complexity has been to argue that if we want to understand digital technologies as material culture, we should not really concern ourselves with how these technologies come into being, but should simply look at how they, like other forms of material culture, are understood and deployed in everyday life.…

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Book Review: My Life with Things: The Consumer Diaries by Elizabeth Chin

Haidy Geismar, UCL Anthropology

My Life With Things: The Consumer Diaries by Elizabeth Chin, 2016. Duke University Press.

My Life with Things is an engaging, quirky, auto-ethnography detailing key moments of Elizabeth Chin’s life, focusing especially on her passionate relationship with commodities and processes of consumption (from shopping in thrift stores and on eBay through to her obsessions with home decoration). Narratives and diaries written over several years present Chin’s anxieties, desires, and needs as they are emerge in relation to shopping for clothes, for her home, and for her daughter. These are interspersed with a tracking of the personal and familial relationships of Karl Marx. The central argument, that the personal is political, that materiality matters, and that political economy is a sensorium of lived experience as well as a systemic process of the book builds upon Peter Stallybrass’ beautiful essay, Marx’s Coat (1998).…

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On Miniatures: a dialogue

In a new series of postings, we draw two research projects on miniatures together in dialogue:

Miniatures Matter

Jonathan Walz

Jonathan Walz is an anthropologist who practices archaeology in eastern Africa and the western Indian Ocean. This contribution arises from his long-term interest in representations of archaeology and Africa and previous explorations of miniatures, often overlooked by archaeologists more typically drawn to monuments. The tendency to miniaturize impacts the form and substance of practices, materials, and the eventual effects of things on humans in the endless entanglement of material, agency, subjectivity, memory, and affect. Postage stamps collapse of multiple symbols into proximity motivates metonymy and the exchanges and contests among bundled ideas rooted in the negotiated political landscape of the public and nation-state.

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Call for Papers: Museums and Their Publics at Sites of Conflicted History

Via Barbara Kirschenblatt Gimblett

Museums of history face a particular challenge in societies that have experienced conflict and violence in recent memory and radical geopolitical and ideological change, not to mention socio-economic and technological challenges. Multiple and rival historical perspectives characterize the dynamics of public memory in these societies. Differing narratives of the past are told either in parallel, or appear in open conflict with each other, while memories still hidden and silent await their midwives for their public articulation at the right juncture.

We would like to invite both scholars in various disciplines (anthropology, sociology, history, memory studies, museology, political science), and museum professionals, including curators and museum educators, to join us in discussing the role of museums in negotiating contested histories in relation to their publics.

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Care on Display

Via Gabriela Nicolescu, Goldsmiths College
Thursday 23 June 2016 06:30pm – 08:30pm,

Film screening and discussion

Care on Display

Care on Display brings together documentary and artistic films by anthropologists interested in the subject of care for the elderly and for people suffering from dementia. The screenings, which will be followed by a discussion, aim to investigate how films explore notions of access and visibility of ‘care’ as ethical concerns and the intersection between care in the context of material and visual culture and care for the elderly as a subject to be put on display.  How to make visible something which is so private and very often perceived as immaterial?

This film series is conceived to continue a seminar series that Dr Gabriela Nicolescu organised in Goldsmiths, Economies of Care and Social Reproduction, in the autumn of 2015, with support from both Goldsmiths and the Wellcome Trust.

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Call for Papers: Visual Anthropology and The City

Via Barbara Knorpp, UCL Institute for Archaeology/Museum Studies

Photo: Paola Catrica

Photo: Paola Catrica

Photo: Paola Citric

Photo: Paola Catrica

Visual Anthropology and the City is a one-day-symposium at UCL, which brings together anthropologists, filmmakers, and artists and organised by the Institute of Archaeology, Department of Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY in collaboration with the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) on Friday 14th October 2016.

Urban anthropology has fascinated journalists, photographers and policy makers  with the emergence of the Chicago School since the 1920s.  Ethnography and long-term research facilitated deeper insights into the everyday lives of urban neighborhoods that were often associated with violence, crime and housing problems. Cinema and photography have also since their inception engaged with the urban, and their development is deeply entwined with that of the modern metropolis.…

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