Author Archives: Patrick LAVIOLETTE


About Patrick LAVIOLETTE

Dept. of Social & Cultural Anthropology, Tallinn University, Estonia

Jacques Le Goff [1924-2014]

Born on January 1st 1924 in Toulon, historian Jacques Le Goff has died on 1 April in Paris aged 90. He took up a teaching position and eventually headed up the Paris based School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). He was one of the main proponents of ‘New History’, inspiring a shift in historical research from an emphasis on political figureheads and mata-events to social memory and historical anthropology.

le GoffThroughout a long career in higher education and public broadcasting, Le Goff transformed views of the Middle Ages from a dark and backward time to a period that set the building blocks for modern Western civilisation.

Outside the lofty towers of academia, Le Goff hosted a weekly history programme on the public radio station France Culture. He also constibuted as an historical advisor on many films, including the 1986 adaption of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose featuring Sir Sean Connery.

Le Goff was editor-in-chief of the highly respected Annales, the mantra journal for historians concerned with long-term social research. His many books included works on Middle Age intellectuals, bankers and merchants, a biography of King Louis IX and a seminal work on the introduction of the concept of Purgatory.

As a junior researcher in Prague, Le Goff witnessed the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948. Throughout his life he was a frequent commentator on current events, as a committed pro-European and devout agnostic humanitarian.

Awarded the prestigious Dr. A.H. Heineken prize for history a decade ago in 2004, Le Goff was praised with the words “By transforming our view of the Middle Ages, you have changed the way we deal with history”. At the time the jury described him as “without doubt the most influential French historian alive today”. Sadly the comment is no longer quite accurate but the influence of his work will certainly endure.

See for a more complete obituary.

Yuri Vella’s celebrated at Tartu World Film Festival

The University of Tartu has recently hosted its XI annual Maailma World Festival of Documentary Film (March 15-22). The event opened with a session to honour the career of the Siberian filmmaker, reindeer herder and environmentalist Yuri Vella [1948-2013] In memoriam: Filming and Being Filmed.


The festival session dedicated to Vella’s memory included documentary tributes from his closest filmmaker friends — those who have been on his camps numerous times and whom he called whenever he needed a camera. Olga Kornienko lived not very far from Yuri’s place and specialises in filming the native people of the Khanty-Mansi area. Vella often asked her to be present at some of the significant moments in his life in order to record it. Liivo Niglas, while living in Estonia, has always been receptive to his calls. These filmmaker friends of Yuri Vella and their materials kicked off the festival with a discussion focusing on Yuri and on the relationship between his oeuvre and their own documentary styles.

Stephan Dudeck, anthropologist at the Arctic Centre of the Univ. of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland has written an obituary to mark the passing of his friend, teacher and mentor.

Y Vella




Stuart Hall [1932-2014]


Recent obituaries for the late doyen of cultural studies, who also greatly influenced material culture studies, Professor Stuart Hall, have appeared in the Jamaica Observer and the Guardian.

A founding member of the New Left Review, Professor Hall is probably best known in the UK as an inaugural member of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University when, in 1964, he accepted the invitation of its Director Professor Richard Hoggart to join as the Centre’s first research fellow. Hall himself became Director of CCCS a few years later in 1968.

Born in Kingston Jamaica, Hall fled for the UK in 1951 to take up a Rhodes scholars fellowship at Merton College, University of Oxford. He famously abandoned his thesis on Henry James to become an activist in London and during a CND march in 1964, met what would become his life long partner, historian Catherine Barrett. The couple moved to Birmingham and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

CCCS itself had a limited lifespan, being closed down more than a decade ago in 2002. But the students and spirit of cultural studies have lived on to prosper beyond the wildest expectations of its founding intellectual ‘radicals’. This year, a 50th anniversary project in the History Dept. at Birmingham University, funded by the AHRC, celebrates the various legacies of CCCS.


Absence, Presence, Distance

At the end of January ’14, the Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts hosted its fourth international Winter School at Tallinn University. The event, entitled Absence, Presence, Distance: Ways of Seeing the Past, featured such prominent speakers as Zymunt Bauman (Leeds), Mieke Bal (Amsterdam), Victor Buchli (UCL), Francois Hartog (EHESS, Paris), and Miri Rubin (QM London) amongst others.

In addition to public lectures, film screenings and multi-media exhibitions, this winter school included student seminars and workshops, guided visits throughout the city’s medieval and post-industrial landmarks as well as some fine dinning and plenty of drink.

Over 120 postgraduate students were involved in a week’s worth of discussion intended on revisiting the traditional distinction between absence and presence. They discussed and debated how far from an object or event we need to be to see it clearly. And they considered what it actually means for something or someone to be situated in historicity — located, either singularly or simultaneously, in the past, the present and the future.





CfP, EASA 2014

13th EASA Biennial Conference
Collaboration,  Intimacy  &  Revolution
– innovation and continuity in an interconnected world

Dept of Social & Cultural Anthropology, Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn Univ. Estonia
31st July – 3rd August, 2014

Call for Panels now open and  closes on December 9.

Call for Films closes: 13 Jan 2014

Call for Laboratories closes 27 Feb 2014

Call for Papers opens 27 December and closes 27 Feb  2014

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The Fieldwork Playlist: A Research Soundtrack

Inter-disciplinary conference exploring the place of music in the making of research.

Music is evocative of meaning and memories tied to people, places and particular events, powerfully bringing them into the present, yet its role in the making of research pathways is rarely foregrounded. This inter-disciplinary conference hosted by the Goldsmiths Anthropology Department compiles a ‘Fieldwork Playlist’ to explore the place of music in the research process, across the social sciences. Evolving from the mix-tape, the playlist is a form of communication through the assemblage of songs. The format is straightforward – one song from each contributor, and the story behind its significance for their research.

Strauss Playlist




















“Things” Comparing Material Cultures 1500-1900

Sessions held at CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT , Room SG1 (Ground Floor), Wednesdays, 12:00 to 14:00

23rd October: Reconstructing Things: From Colourful Clothes to Paintings and Pigments Professor Ulinka Rublack, History Faculty, Cambridge and Dr Spike Bucklow, Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge

6th November: Housing Things: Reconstructing the Interiors of the Soane Museum and the Watts Gallery Tim Knox, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and Dr Nicholas Tromans, Curator of the Watts Gallery

20th November: Carved Things, Carved Identities: Early Modern Luso-African Ivories and the History of African combs Dr Sally-Ann Ashton, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and Professor Jean Michel Massing, History of Art, Cambridge

4th December: Things Between Places: Artefacts from Oceania and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director and Curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge and Dr Anita Herle, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge

CfP: The Subversive Stitch Revisited – The Politics of Cloth

29-30 November 2013

Venue: Sackler Centre for arts education, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Keynote Speakers include: Professor Griselda Pollock, University of Leeds

The Subversive Stitch Revisited: The Politics of Cloth will explore the legacy of Rozsika Parker’s groundbreaking book, The Subversive Stitch: embroidery and the making of the feminine (1984)[i] and two landmark exhibitions from 1988[ii] that developed Parker’s ideas. It will consist of a one and a half day event held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and an online resource that will include documentation of all contributions. The event will be dedicated to the memory of Rozsika Parker, who died in 2010.

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Igor Kopytoff [1930-2013]

A number of prominent anthropologists have passed away in recent weeks, perhaps most notably, George W. Stocking [July 13th, aged 85], Keith Basso [Aug. 4th, aged 73] and Igor Kopytoff on August 9th.

With his major contribution ‘The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process’, in Arjun Appadurai’s groundbreaking The Social Life of Things (CUP, 1986) Kopytoff in particular deserves special recognition on this blog. Based at the University of Pennsylvania for over 50 years, his field research as an Africanist was truly wide ranging, with interests in economic anthropology, cultural property, religion and political culture. He was a  Consulting Curator in the African Section of the University’s Museum.

Amongst his numerous achievements and accolades, he acted as a Consultant to President Kennedy’s Task Force on the Congo in 1961; was Associate Editor of American Anthropologist from 1966‑70; and was Visiting Professor at the University of Montreal over the year 1983‑84.

An obituary by Allison Steele has appeared in the online digital newspaper



The End of Ruined Memories

Ruin Memories: A Portfolio.

The Ruin Memories project has now come to an end. The portfolio series concluded their  various projects and accumulated the results of each contribution, now available on their website. Each was launched during the Fridays between May and July 2013. These presentations were as follows:

24 May | Alfredo González-Ruibal “Forgotten Battles. Ruins of the Spanish Civil War
31 May | Bjørnar Olsen “Abandoned Childhood: Sarnes Internat
7 June | Mats Burström “Treasured memories: Tales of buried belongings in wartime Estonia
14 June | Elin Andreassen, Hein Bjerk “Managing the scars of terror
21 June | Gavin Lucas “Concrete Modernity
28 June | Timothy Webmoor “Entropic Chic and Proximate Ruins

More details available from |