Archive | Notes from the Field

Becoming HIV: disease as agency

Ellie Reynolds, University College London
The following is an exploration of the materiality and meaning of HIV positive semen for a group of gay men who engage in two behaviours: bugchasing and giftgiving. Bugchasing is the desire for, and active pursuit of, HIV infection; giftgiving is the attempt to infect others with HIV. Central to these behaviours is the ‘conversion’ ritual where HIV positive giftgivers attempt to infect HIV negative bugchasers. The bugchasers, during the ritual, are considered to be both feminine (in their behaviour and in the ‘bottom’ (insertee) role they take during sexual intercourse) and female (where maleness is defined as the ability to act upon and transform another).
Bugchasers are said to be ‘impregnated’ by the masculine and male giftgivers when they are infected.…

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African Memories

Marta Rosales ESCS and CEMME FCSH/UNL, Professor Filomena Silvano CEMME FCSH/UNL (scientific coordinator)
Domestic consumption practices, colonialism and transcontinental migration experiences of a group of Portuguese and Goan families.
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This project aims the study of the domestic consumption practices of a restrict group of families of Portuguese and Goan origins that share a common biographical past: an inter-generational lived experience in Mozambique (during the colonial period) and a forced migration out of Africa to Portugal and Brazil after de Mozambican independence. Theoretically, the research intends the development of an approach that allows the integration of material culture and consumption studies to the discussion of a significant phenomenon that had a critical impact on the Portuguese recent social history – the forced migration of diverse social groups out of the Portuguese former African colonies.…

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Brazilian Jeans

Mylene Mizrahi
mylenemizrahi@terra.co.br

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Here in Rio a very popular genre of party are the funk balls, that happens on weekend nights, most of the time in sport courts in clubs that are kind of decadent. Each of these parties gather thousands of youngsters, coming from their homes up on the hill, where the favela slums are localized. The girls and boys who take part care a great deal about their personal appearance, specially when they go out to dance. I have been studying these parties since 2002 with my principle focus being on their clothes.
What has become known as “ brazilian jeans” is a representative garment of the wardrobe of the girls who come to the funk balls, and in fact it was really a style that was created by them, because it was their appropriation of these jeans, and their wearing them to funk balls, that really gave them life.…

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Material Visualization of Sustainability

Christine Chastain, UCL

In the 1970s, in the small town of Falmouth, Mass., USA, an experimental, sustainable
community was formed called Alchemy. This project was funded by government grants
and allowed its members to explore such exotic concepts like hydroponic vegetable
growth, composting, contained, sustainable systems, etc. Members were so busy
and engaged that someone forgot to submit a government grant and the community
folded without the necessary financial backing.

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Hilda and Earle bought one of the remaining dilapidated greenhouses from this
project and decided to revive the vision their own way. Both Hilda and Earle
are landscape architects and proud owners of the thriving business, Good Works.
They have managed to create a delectable visual feast of their sustainable lifestyle
aspirations using materials they either create, grow or that are indigenous
to the area of Cape Cod.…

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The Materiality of the Funeral of King Tupou IV of Tonga

Dr. Fanny Wonu Veys, Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Metropolitan Museum of Art
In September 2006, I worked closely with the Tonga Traditions Committee, whose employees were recording the best they could all the events pertaining to the funeral of King Tupou IV. King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV of Tonga, the fourth king in the modern dynasty of Tongan rulers died after forty-one years of reign on 10 September in a New Zealand hospital. Through genealogy, Tupou IV embodied the three royal lines of Tu’i Tonga, Tu’i Kanokupolo and Tu’i Takalaua.

 
   

   

 

 

   

   

Thursday 21 September 2006. Catholic schoolchildren bring
dozens of cakes for presentation
Monday 18 September 2006. People from Niuatoputapu prepare
to enter the palace grounds with barkcloth, fine mats, and a basket.
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Hoarding and Disposal in Tokyo

Fabio Gygi, PhD Student, Anthropology, University College London and University of Tokyo
My project is concerned with accumulation of things, attachment to things and with what psychiatrists call ‘hoarding’. My initial interest was whether by reformulating a psychiatric concern with deviance in terms of material culture, a broader understanding of the relationships people entertain with their possessions could be gained. Hoarding seemed to be an appropriate subject, because a) it required understanding of seemingly irrational behavior (feeling attached to things others consider as ‘rubbish’) and b) because recent anthropological concepts of ownership, possession and attachment and their influence on how we think about things, minds and selves could be put to the test (and put to the test they are…).
While hoarders in psychiatric literature are often described as ‘cannot throw things away’, my fieldwork among inhabitants of gomiyashiki in Tokyo (lit.…

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Fake Branded Clothing

An Exploration of Its Presence in a European Periphery

Magda Craciun, PhD Student in Material Culture, University College London  e.craciun@ucl.ac.uk
ordinary socks in turnu magurele.jpgA widespread phenomenon, re-production is morally and legally contested and combated, culturally derided, and socially dismissed as belonging to the lower social strata. I am interested in approaching it in its everyday complexity, by focusing on the lives of objects, and meanings and consequences of their presence; on practices, and preoccupations of people living in the vicinity of these objects; on institutions these objects bring together; and on the trans-national routes along which these clothing items move.

In order to grasp as much as possible of this complexity, I have designed
a multi-sided ethnography, choosing as field sites Istanbul (the main regional
producer of fakes); “Europa” market on the outskirts of Bucharest (considered
the source of 80% of the counterfeited goods on the Romanian market); and Turnu
Magurele (a provincial town in south Romania, chosen for its typical clothing-scape,
in which “Europa” clothing predominates).…

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Materialising Democracy

Mukulika Banerjee, Anthropology, UCL
This week, reportage of the mid term US elections seems to devote almost equal coverage to the Democrat re-capture of the Congress and the close race to finish in the Senate as it did to malfunctioning electronic voting machines. Indiana and Ohio were singled out for the most unreliable machines and Florida was reported to have reverted to paper ballots. Thus, who people voted for seems to be hinge crucially on how, literally, they cast their vote. The materiality of the voting process, namely ballot boxes, counting procedures, polling stations do not usually feature in election analysis, but when they do, we can assume that something is either wrong or novel. In the case of the US elections, it was both.…

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