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The Absent Stone

Sandra Rozental, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Cuajimalpa,
Mexico City
La Replica
The Absent Stone (2013) is a documentary film that combines contemporary ethnographic filmmaking, animation and a wide range of found footage and archival visual materials to tell the story of the largest single-stone sculpture in the Americas, and how it was transported from a village in the Texcoco area to one of Mexico City’s busiest streets. In 1964, the sculpture, which archaeologists believe to be a pre-Columbian rain deity, was forcefully removed from Coatlinchan following military intervention. Using national patrimony laws to justify the extraction, the state repurposed the 167-ton carving as a monument marking the entrance of the newly-built National Anthropology Museum. The engineers and architects in charge of the feat were stunned when the sculpture’s arrival resulted in one of the most abundant rainfalls the city has ever seen during its alleged dry season.…
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New Open Access Series: Anthropology and Photography and open access initiatives from the Global Social Media Impact Study

Haidy Geismar, UCL

The movement towards open access has continued to gain momentum in the social sciences, and in anthropology, with important new journals such as Hau; and new movements to develop alternative publishing collectives afoot. I have just stepped down as editor of the Journal of Material Culture where we are moving a little slower. We have committed to ensuring that there is at least one open access article per issue, and Sage has a very generous Green archiving policy which allows the accepted version of an article to be made available immediately. However, Sage owns both the title and the back issues of the journal which makes a transition to fully open access more of a decision to form a completely new title.…

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Guggenheim Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

Via Guggenheim.org

This month, the Guggenheim Museum is proud to donate 100 images of artworks to Wikipedia, including selections from the museum’s collection by Edgar Degas, Paul Klee, and Vincent van Gogh. Join us at the Guggenheim to add information about these artworks and artists to Wikipedia, the world’s largest free source of knowledge.

The event is an opportunity to explore the history of the Guggenheim’s collection, the impact of these works within the artistic movements of their time, and their legacy and influence on future artists. Using these 100 images as a starting point, we invite you to help enhance the scholarship and understanding of key artists and works in the museum’s collection.

The program will begin with an overview of the Guggenheim’s founding collection and its development by Natalia Lauricella, Curatorial Assistant, Collections and Exhibitions, followed by a presentation by Wikimedia NYC president Richard Knipel about the impact of donating images of artworks to Wikipedia.…

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Cyclone Pam – Support Vanuatu

Haidy Geismar, UCL

As I’m sure you are all aware, last week Vanuatu was devastated by Cyclone Pam, battering the country with winds of over 270 mph. The storm knocked out the country’s telecommunications and transport infrastructure and now, just a few days later, it is estimated that more then 70% of the population are left homeless, without adequate drinking water, and without food. The long term prospects for food security are also bad as most of the garden crops that people live off have been destroyed. President Baldwin Lonsdale has announced that the storm had “wiped out” recent development and that “everything” would have to be rebuilt.

Vanuatu is the place that I have worked as an anthropologist since 2000.…

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Collecting Collections and digital ways of knowing

Haidy Geismar, UCL

Talpa sp, Mole, Adult, Z2754 UCL Grant Museum of Zoology, © 2014 UCL. CC BY-NC-SA license.

Talpa sp, Mole, Adult, Z2754
UCL Grant Museum of Zoology, © 2014 UCL. CC BY-NC-SA license.

 

Last term I taught parallel undergraduate and Masters seminars exploring the creation of knowledge systems in museums and the effects of shifts towards the digital on the organization of knowledge and museum epistemologies. All the students had to create a project that digitally presented a series of objects, drawn from across UCL Museums and Collections and created a new digital collection environment. The project aimed not to create an online exhibition but to think about the potentials, and limitations, of digital representation and modes of organization for creating knowledge about both specific objects and from the collecting together of different objects.…

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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

 …

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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.…

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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.…

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

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.…

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

These items belonged to a family of four who spent a night in the mountains before arriving in El-Qaa in the northern region of the Bekaa Valley. Their new home was a makeshift tent on agricultural land. Rent was covered by working in the fields for the Lebanese farmer. The children grabbed the teddy bear and soft toy. The mother grabbed a box that she knew the torch was in. All the other items just happened to be in the same box. Even though some of it is useless, such as a TV remote, they could not bring themselves to discard it.

These items belonged to a family of four who spent a night in the mountains before arriving in El-Qaa in the northern region of the Bekaa Valley. Their new home was a makeshift tent on agricultural land. Rent was covered by working in the fields for the Lebanese farmer. The children grabbed the teddy bear and soft toy. The mother grabbed a box that she knew the torch was in. All the other items just happened to be in the same box. Even though some of it is useless, such as a TV remote, they could not bring themselves to discard it.

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.…

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