Tag Archives | materiality

Notes from the Forest: Engaging with a hunter’s world of materials

Thorsten Gieser, Lecturer in Anthropology, Department of Kulturwissenschaft, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany

gieser-field-dressing-roe-deer

A winter’s day, in a forest in central Germany. At dusk, more than fifty hunters and beaters stand around the ‘gallow’, a wooden structure with a long beam on which the dead bodies of hunted game are hung after they have been field dressed. A small group of hunters play their horns and the eerie melodies of ‘Sows dead!’ and ‘Halali!’ fill the air, accompanied by the occasional dog who howls along. It is the end of a hunting day. After several hours on the beater’s track, I feel exhausted and tired. My boots and my trousers are smeared with blood and mud. Although I washed my hands briefly in icy water, there is still dried blood under my fingernails and in the lines of my skin.

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Digital Materialities: Design and Anthropology, Edited by S. Pink, E. Ardevol, and D. Lanzeni

Zachary Hecht, UCL Digital Anthropology

 

I must admit, this review has been a long time coming. I was given Digital Materialities and asked to review it many months ago. I proceeded to read it immediately, but writing the review, well not so immediately. At the time, I had been in the process of exams and dissertation fieldwork. Several of the book’s chapters were very useful while I was working through concepts for my own work. Since reading this book, I have moved to another country and read several other books and articles. Yet, importantly, I had been given a hard copy of the book and it managed to make it across the ocean with me—sitting in my suitcase, underneath my belongings, until I finally got around to unpacking.…

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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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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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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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Photography: Between Anthropology and History

Photography: Between Anthropology and History

Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

20-21 June 2016

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @PHRC_DeMontfort

Conference hashtag #PHRC16

PHRC16 Provisional programme

Keynote speakers:

Professor Steve Edwards (Open University, UK)

Dr Wayne Modest (National Museum for World Cultures, Leiden, The Netherlands)

On the occasion of Professor Elizabeth Edwards’ retirement, the 2016 PHRC Annual International Conference will address themes from her complex and wide ranging scholarship on the cultural work of current and historical social photographic practices. Thus, Photography: Between Anthropology and History aims to showcase scholarship driven by engagements with research methodologies that informed the material and ethnographic turns in the study of photographic history, and opened up a variety of innovative critical spaces for the re/consideration of photography and its history.…

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The Beach – A Frontier of Nostalgia

by Duane Jethro

The beach is a place of waste and ruin. Rotting seaweed, stinking dead seals, cracked and crushed shells, deflated bluebottles, fat blobs of translucent jellyfish melting away in the sun. All the finished, broken things spewed out by the ocean.

In early January, estate agent, Penny Sparrow’s comments about Durban’s beaches surfaced in the muck and foam of social media. In a choppy Facebook post, she complained bitterly about black South Africans who swamped the city’s beaches over the festive season break. Allowing these “monkeys” access to the beach ‘invited huge dirt and trouble and discomfort to others’ she cawed. They only “pick drop and litter”. A mob of animalistic black bodies on the beach soiled Penny Sparrow’s romantic ideas of a pristine public space of white leisure.…

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The Anti-Camera

Christopher Pinney, UCL Anthropology

I recently came across M.N. Srinivas’ observation that his enthusiastic engagement with photography, during his fieldwork in Mysore in the late 1940s, earned him the nickname “chamara man”. He notes that in Kannada chamara denotes whisks made of the long hair from a yak’s tails used by servants to keep flies away from Rajas and by priests to preserve the purity of icons.

In the Madhya Pradesh village where I have worked intermittently since 1982 you will hear echoes of the metaphor that informs the South Indian description of Srinivas as “chamara man”. For instance, Jagdish Sharma, the pujari of the Krishna temple once joked that my video camera embodied “yantra, mantra, [and] tantra”, yantra being the design (“made in Japan”), mantra being the information it stored, and tantra being the magic of technology (its “mashinari”).…

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