28 September 2017

Call for papers: Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art

As part of the Art, Materiality and Representation conference to be hosted by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) at The British Museum and SOAS, 1st-3rd June 2018, we are pleased to invite papers for the following panel (Code P002) titled 'Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art'

Convenors: Max Carocci (Chelsea College of Art) and Stephanie Pratt (Independent Scholar and Curator)

Please provide a 250 word abstract proposal by 8th January 2018 to the following online form found on the panel page.

This panel addresses the role of artworks as ethnographic resource. Raising questions about the objectivity of images from fieldwork diaries to scientific illustration, it examines the accuracy of images as ethnographic documents and their reliability as forms of knowledge.

Papers should be around 15-20 minutes in length (with 3-5 mins for questions). The inclusion of multimedia, film, audio, or other elements as part of the presentation would be most welcomed.

Proposals should consist of a paper title, a (very) short abstract of <300 characters and an abstract of 250 words. 

Proposals will be marked as pending until the end of the Call for papers. Convenors will then be asked to make their decisions over the papers proposed to their workshop by 20 January 2018. Further details about the conference can be found here. 

Panel Long abstract:

Sketches, drawings, watercolours, and paintings have historically been used to illustrate ethnographies and fieldwork notebooks. In this panel we analyse how illustrations can be taken as potential objective forms of knowledge, and how they can inform new understandings of the ways in which anthropologists visualise evidence, or picture the realities they observe. The proposed session gives an opportunity to scrutinise the claims made for images/pictures as purveyors of data. This may reveal important facets of the processes involved in memory retrieval and the act of seeing/observing central to the anthropological method. The panel aims at examining what is the role of artistic illustrations in producing anthropological knowledge especially when no other means of visual recording are available. Highlighting the nexus between the witnessed and the rhetorical, the panel's focus is the relationship between visuality and narrative in constructing ethnography. Frequently only complementary to text-based evidence, images produced by anthropologists raise questions about their value, reliability, authority, and objectivity. Given that all images inevitably rely on conventions of representation, the quality of information in anthropological illustration is dependent on effective utilisation of the prevalent conventions by the maker and the consumer of the illustration. Studying of these conventions allows us to work with them, to assess how well anthropological information has been conveyed, but also to look beyond them at the surplus every image necessarily brings with it.

Papers should be around 15-20 minutes in length (with 3-5 mins for questions). The inclusion of multimedia, film, audio, or other elements as part of the presentation would be most welcomed.

Panel Title: Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art
Panel Short abstract:

The panel’s convenors are not only interested in papers which address art’s role in anthropological investigation in the wider sense, but also how professional anthropologists and non-professionals have undertaken to illustrate or study through visual expression World cultures in whatever visual manner this may have entailed at the time (including re-enactment and staging). They hope also to include papers which examine how non-anthropologists, artists, travel writers, curators and archivists, etc. have employed artistic and illustrative images in order to conduct their own work around the notion of anthropological illustration/demonstration. Topics which may fall under the remit of this panel might be, but are not limited to:
·      The role of the ‘expeditionary’ artists in constructing anthropological knowledges
·      Incidental illustrative imagery as found in the archive, e.g. museum accession records, diagrammatic and illustrative images used in online media, curator’s drawings, etc.
·      Auto-ethnographical image-making and the convergence of Western and non-Western artistic practices (e.g. North American Indigenous ledger art or Indian Boarding School artistic productions)
·      Modernist artists’ visual accounts of ethnographic materials and Modernist artistic interest in World cultures more broadly
·      Visual encounters in and through museums and/or exhibitions
·      Visual codes and the semiotics of representing ‘others’ cultures’
·      Amateur art with ethnographic content
·      Ethnographic sketches in field notes: their role in anthropological knowledge and artistic merit
·      Didactic illustrations with ethnographic content (e.g. textbooks, marketing, publicity, leaflets and posters)

·      Drawing elicitation as anthropological method, and the study of local visual idioms through graphic arts

26 September 2017

Call for papers: Redefining the curator, curatorial practice, and curated spaces in anthropology

Panel 064: Redefining the curator, curatorial practice, and curated spaces in anthropology
ConvenorsJaanika Vider (University of Oxford) and Katherine Clough (V&A Museum/Newcastle University)
The panel seeks to problematise, locate and define curators and curated spaces in contemporary culture and ethnographic museums in the light of an expanding notion of curation. Special attention will be paid to means in which it can harness the potential of material objects to perform and affect.
We particularly welcome 
-        papers from museum professionals involved in curating (broadly defined)/ engaging in innovative interventions that challenge preconceived ideas of what museums are
-        papers that explore the possibilities emerging from digital technologies 
-        papers that consider questions of curation from public engagement viewpoint
-        papers that engage with the concept of curatorial space
Panel abstract: Humanity’s capacity for producing an excess of material culture continues at fast pace, while the 'information age' society is also faced with managing unprecedented and accelerating data excess. The overwhelming task of selecting from this abundance has led Michael Bhaskar to suggest that 'we're all curators now' (2016: 3). The term 'curation' has become prolific in wider society, applied to an increasing range of cultural forms from festival line-ups to digital curated content. This poses the question of the meaning and role of the professional museum curator, particularly in ethnographic museums that have historically sought to collect everything from the everyday.
Collaborative curation in ethnographic museums and the conception of these spaces as 'contact zones' have increasingly rendered curators of these museums facilitators in cross-cultural conversation. Similarly, Hans Ulrich Obrist has positioned his own role in the Art World as a catalyst that 'brings different cultural spheres into contact' (2014: 24) emphasising relational values over reliance on individual curatorial expertise and subject specialism. 
We take the expanding notion of curation as a central discussion point to explore how broader conceptualisation of the curator and curated spaces can enhance understanding of our collections. In particular, we are interested in how curation can harness the potency and expectancy of photographs, objects and sound to make them 'talk' (Daston 2007: 221) with special reference to emerging digital technologies. We seek to explore how we may redefine the curator, professional practice and curated spaces to facilitate the making of anthropological knowledge and experiences.

To submit a proposal, please send a title, a short summary of up to 300 characters and an abstract of 250 words via the online form by 8 January 2018 at: https://nomadit.co.uk/rai/events/rai2018/conferencesuite.php/paperproposal/6132
Further conference details can be found at https://therai.org.uk/conferences/art-materiality-and-representation. Enquiries are welcome to emails below. 
Katherine Clough (K.Clough2@newcastle.ac.uk)