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Anthropology

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Sergei Eisenstein and the Anthropology of Rhythm

The exhibition Sergei Eisenstein: The Anthropology of Rhythm opened on September 19, 2017 at Nomas Foundation, Rome. Numerous documents from Eisenstein’s archives – The Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts (RGALI) and The National Film Foundation of Russian Federation (Gosfilmofond) – are exhibited for the first time, including notebooks, drawings, film footage and photographs. Curated by art and film historians Marie Rebecchi and Elena Vogman, in collaboration with the artist and typographer Till Gathmann, the exhibition will continue through January 19, 2018.   Here below is an excerpt from the introduction of the book Sergei Eisenstein: The Anthropology of Rhythm, published by NERO, Roma.     “Out of poverty, poetry; out of suffering, song.” This is how the anthropologist and writer Anita Brenner describes the unfolding of a corrido, a Mexican ballad. Literally “event of the time,” the corrido is an anonymous poetic genre that musically voices the lament of the day. Whether recounting a political or personal event, a catastrophe or a bad dream, corridos lend rhythm to the sorrows of life, equally “for the servants...

Respectable Memories: Postcards from South Africa

A Short History of South African Photography, by Rory Bester, Thato Mogotsi and Rita Potenza, is an exhibition hosted by Fotografia Europea XII at the Cloisters of St. Peter, Reggio Emilia, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the agreement (June 26, 1977) between Reggio Emilia and the African National Congress, and the centenary of the birth of Oliver Tambo (1917-1993), leader of the anti-apartheid movement and the ANC.   Chronologically ordered, it is a selection of images that traces the history of South Africa from the dominion of the British Empire to present day. The photographs come from archival collections (Die Erfenisstigting Archives, UWC Robben Island Museum Mayibuye Archive, BAHA, Transnet, Times Media, Independent Media Archive), museums (Museum Africa, McGregor Museum, Smithsonian Institution), and artists. It is notable how the authorship of individual photographers gains more and more importance as the show moves forward, progressing closer to the present day. This also marks a shift from a photograph that is historical documentation to one that is historical metaphor.   Jodie Bieber, The Silence of the Ranto Twins, 1995, Courtesy the Artist   It is a...

Culture and Anthropology: the Berlin Tradition

Christoph Wulf teaches Anthropology and Pedagogy at Freie University Berlin, where he is a member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Historic Anthropology, of the collaborative research center (SFB) on Performativity, of the center of excellence ‘Languages and Emotions’ and of the Graduate School  ‘InterArt Studies’. Wulf studied History, Pedagogy, Philosophy and Literature at Freie University and received his PhD at Marburg in 1973 where he also passed his habilitation in 1975. In the same year he was given a chair in Pedagogy at University of Siegen. As professor he returned to Freie University Berlin in 1980.   Wulf was a founder member and is one of the main exponents of the Berlin school of historical-cultural anthropology, which combined methods and research topics from different academic disciplines in a transdisciplinary and trans-cultural perspective; he is one of the world’s best known scholars in pedagogy and anthropology. His work in anthropology and pedagogical anthropology is considered as a milestone in the field. In particular, his studies on mimesis, performativity and rituals are important reference points for researchers.   Because of the...

Out of sight, out of mind

Back in 2004, during a period where my work largely dealt with architecture, I visited Asmara. Though that trip originally had nothing to do with the built urban environment, it became a turning point of sorts. For one, I was mesmerised by the city’s brick and mortar heritage - some 400+ modernist buildings from the 1930s and 1940s in various states of repair and disrepair. The biggest impact however, was that it left me with many questions; I found myself mentally circling around notions of memory, amnesia and heritage. In an effort to learn about that city’s history, I began a quest for sources on its Italian colonial past and architectural endowment. Asmara is home to one of the largest collections of buildings reflecting numerous Modernist movements, including Novecento, Art Deco, Rationalism, Futurism and Monumentalist architecture.   Given that significance, it seemed natural that such a remarkable city would be, or should be recorded in various bodies of knowledge. Ostensibly, it would be mentioned in dissertations, documented in glossy art books, and be part of innumerable intellectual discussions on architecture, or Fascist propaganda and nation-building. For instance...

Why Africa Why

Why Africa Why. And who am I to say? Why Africa Why? All I remember is a river I did not sail up, in search of who, Kurz, Marlon, who? And I do remember a few Masai, one in particular, riding with me a road in Kenya, and a lake with a European name it’s time to shed, perhaps, and a desert and dunes and things that are wider even than Africa, amazing as it sounds.   I don’t remember the Namibian desert and its dry mysteries of a distant hut without running water, because I’ve never visited it. And a lively Ivory Coast that runs only in my imagination along with a singing Senegal and a Congo I’ve read about in some brilliant short stories and Zan-zi-baaar and Mad-ag-as-caaar, being the most important scar, like the one on the face of African princes, from where? I don’t remember now. Malawi better than Malindi. Two people having an argument and you know the one who laughs and walks away first is the one who won it. Yes, booming voice and smile, Africa.   People lining the side roads of the little Africa I’ve seen, that dances away in my mind with the Africa I’ve read and heard and seen only on a screen and imagined and dreamt. For I know very little about this Africa, what do I...

Why Africa? Changing the Narrative of the World

Why Africa?  For many years lettera27 has been dedicated to exploring various issues and debates around the African continent and with this new editorial column we would like to open a dialogue with cultural protagonists who deal with Africa. This will be the place to express opinions, tell their stories, stimulate the critical debate and suggest ideas to subvert multiple stereotypes surrounding this immense continent. With this new column we would like to open new perspectives: geographical, cultural, sociological. We would like the column to be a stimulus to learn, re-think, be inspired and share knowledge. For the opening piece we asked our partners, intellectuals and like-minded cultural protagonists from all over the world to answer one key question, which also happens to be the name of the column: "Why Africa?". We left the question deliberately open, inviting each of the contributors to give us their perspective on this topic from their own context. This first piece is a collection of some of the answers we received, which aims to open the conversation, pose more questions and hopefully find new answers.   Elena Korzhenevich, lettera27   Here the column's introduction...