Author Archive | Haidy Geismar

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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Creating African Fashion Histories

Via Helen Mears, Keeper of World Art, Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton

A conference hosted by Royal Pavilion & Museums, with the Sussex Africa Centre / University of Sussex, and the University of Brighton

 The Old Courtroom, 118 Church Street, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Coinciding with the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion, Fashion Cities Africa, this one-day conference will explore the possibilities and limitations of dress and fashion history to discuss current and past narratives in African fashion.

Panels will focus on the construction of African fashion histories; the role of African diasporas in the translation of African fashions; new directions in collecting and curating African fashion and the evolution of new platforms for the dissemination of African fashion.…

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Broken Stories

Adam Drazin, UCL Anthropology

How, when and why do people start to see something as”broken”? Do objects around the home just have two states, broken and working, or are there many other kinds of states they can be in? Clearly, the significance of many domestic objects is in relation to the projects of home which surround them and preoccupy the groups of people living together in a household. In some ways, household things are materialisations of projects, and ideas of being broken and fixed express this.

The Broken Stories project involved a group of Masters students on the UCL course Materials/Anthropology/Design at UCL working with Fixperts on issues of what kinds of fixing happen in the home, and what kinds of situations the Fixperts might get involved in.…

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Knowledge as Material Movement in Surfing and Anthropology

David Whyte, UCL Anthropology

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Unpacking at Duggie. Photo: David Whyte

“We’re probably going to surf Banna Strand, but the swell might still be a bit small, I just can’t decide.” Dylan slumps back into the passenger seat of my car and throws his phone momentarily from his hands. He has spent most of the journey with it held to his nose, furrowing his brow as he examines various surf forecasts from across the southwest coast of Ireland. Dylan is one of those people for whom finding good waves has become an obsession, and missing them an unthinkable tragedy. It is a cold October morning, and the swell from Hurricane Joaquin is forecast to make landfall along Ireland’s Atlantic coast around lunchtime.…

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Call for Papers and Visual Submissions: Photography and (con)text/Photography in Academic Research 8-9 September 2016

Via the Royal Anthropological Institute

 

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photography + (con) text’ is pleased to announce a call for papers and visual submissions for a conference on ‘Photography in Academic Research’ to be hosted by UCL Museum and Heritage Studies, Institute of Archaeology, in collaboration with RAI (Royal Anthropological Institute) and Birkbeck, Department of Politics.

‘photography + (con) text’ was set up with the aim of promoting the collaboration and exchange between social researchers and practitioners who use photography in their research and practice. This conference comes together to provide a space of exchange, stimulating dialogue between social researchers and practitioners who engage with photography creatively and critically. This conference will serve as a platform for photography; encouraging its uses, analyses and practices in social research, expanding the possibilities of photographic practice beyond its current observational and illustrative uses within academia.…

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