Tag Archives | Theory

First RAI Photo Salon

Haidy Geismar,  UCL Anthropology and Chair of the R.A.I Photo Committee

On December 8, 2016, the Photography Committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute convened its first Photo Salon. A meeting of minds for those interested in the intersections of anthropology and photography, a group of photographers and researchers (and photographer-researchers, and researcher-photographers) convened, with wine, to show images, and talk. Taking a Pecha Kucha format, each participant was asked to bring one image and speak for just three minutes. Below is a smattering, a smorgasbord, of some of the images that were presented, short statements by the researcher/photographers can be accessed by entering slide show mode. 

We hope to hold the salon as a yearly event and also look forward to publishing some of these images in expanded essay forms in our online journal, Anthropology and Photography.…

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Mundane Objects: Materiality and non-Verbal Communication by Pierre Lemonnier

Haidy Geismar, UCL

The latest issue of Hau has a symposium on Pierre Lemmonier’s latest book, Mundane Objects, with commentary by Bruno Latour, Chris Ballard, Tim Ingold, Paul Graves-Brown, Susanne Küchler and a response by Pierre Lemmonier. The series of comments essentially sum up a “state of the art” comment on material culture theory, which Tim Ingold pithily sums up to date:

Perhaps there is something to be said for going back to the anthropological debates of the 1960s and 1970s on such themes as symbolic condensation, the distinction (or lack of it) between ritual and practical-technical actions, and how to do things with and without words. Arguably, our understandings have not been much advanced by subsequent approaches to material culture, for example by treating it as a system of signs whose meanings could be read off from the objects themselves, by entering them as candidates for social life but only as tokens of exchange among human beings, or by focusing on their consumption at the expense of their production.Nor—and here I agree wholeheartedly with Lemonnier—is there anything to be gained from leaving the heavy lifting to such philosophical juggernauts as “agency” and “materiality.” Most agency-speak is as tautologous as the functionalism it replaced: where before, if the presence of a thing has effects (and it would not be present if it did not), these effects were attributed to its functioning, nowadays they are attributed to its agency.

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