Anthropology – ritual and space on Vine

After the actions and events on May 1st, I created this Vine from Damon Dennis’ talk and discussion on anthropology, ritual and space.

Damon’s UCL PhD Thesis is available as download here  Migration & Metamorphosis -On the Power of the Insignificant in a Moroccan city

 Here are two interesting quotes from the abstract

…….a close analysis of everyday life has afforded new insights into the creation of relational stability and migrant well-being through little understood, seemingly insignificant, phenomena.


In all cases well-being in this new environment is found not in the extraordinary or the idiosyncrasy, but rather through normality. By amplifying and introspecting the connectivities that emerge from acts of calculation in the everyday, this thesis contributes at once to a burgeoning study of ethno-mathematics and to the study of well-being in anthropology, drawing attention to the relational nature of actions and their foregrounding in fragile social worlds.<script

 EDIT: June

I’ ve made a couple more following my broadcast on 13th June… this could become some new work..

Circus – I love it

I watched this documentary on Storyville. It is beautifully edited with lots of intercutting and the soundtrack is perfect. No voiceover, just one section of specifically recored audio which make it even more significant and moving. Sadly I don’t think there is any sound on this video displayed here.

Circus brings together many things for me  from autobiographical memory which I now realise on reflection and re-considering the theory, impacts on my practice significantly, as described below:

  • Personal memory of family. Ritual visits to Blackpool Tower Circus and the Zoo upstairs with my cousins and friends, and birthday parties.
  • Local vernacular culture, poetry and rhyme read outlaid (Stanley Holloway reading Albert and the Lion.
  • The predictable ( glamorous attendants, the Water Finale, Charlie Caroli) and the unpredictable ( Falls from the high wire,tricks that went wrong, lions, tigers and horses…Yes I’m that old!)
  • The ‘Season’ of circus that comes round again and again – circular, seasonal nature of it
  • The tradition of Circus culture which travels to a space and transforms it temporarily,
  • bringing together locals and travellers communities and then disappearing.
  • The exceptional skill and artistry of the performers within a vernacular setting.

The field below Crouch Hill, where I have been making work and site of camps for the Siege of Banbury Castle, has been transformed by the Big Top these last few summers with this circus :

I have not read a lot of Bahtkin but am aware of his classification into four categories which describe the carnivalistic sense of the world seen when the circus visit!

  • Interactions which bring unlikely people together and encourage free expression of themselves as a group.
  • Eccentric and other wise unacceptable behaviour is welcomed and accepted without consequence.
  • ‘Carnivalistic misalliances’: carnival  has a familiar and free format which allows  things that are normally separated to reunite — Good and bad , young and old, etc.
  • Sacrilegious events of ungodliness, of blasphemy, profanity and parodies on things that are sacred can occur without punishment, as part of carnival.

For Bakhtin,these categories are abstract notions of freedom and equality.

These creative theatrical expressions manifest life experiences as sensual ritualistic performances.

Bakhtin notes that the carnival was confined in time, not in space, penetrating  the house as well. You can see this demonstrated by the children and families acting out the ‘acts’ on the way home and carrying their ‘circus toys’ to use at home, telling the stories  of the magic  they have seen.

He states that is did not exist just in the public sphere or town square. But the town square and its adjacent streets were the central site of the carnival, for they embodied and symbolized the carnivalesque idea of being universal and belonging to all people.
A world upside-down’ is created in carnival and  carnivalesque literature where ideas and truths are endlessly tested and contested equally in any dialogue.

The authoritative voice of the hegemony is de-privileged  by mixing  “high culture” with the profane ( spoken by  alternative voices within carnivalized literary text )

Bakhtin believed that within the space of literature such as a novel  there is a  the site of resistance to authority and an a place where cultural, and potentially political, change can take place.

I see this evident in Magic Realism in particular and feel this links with my personal methodology of trying to create a non-linear narrative within a combined local/ global space ,with a carnivalesque attitude through impromptu, intimate  performative vernacular action which is underpinned by academic research and theory.

Edit: May 2016 My use of a tent was originally for practical reasons when working on Crouch Hill- as protection in bad weather.

It has relevance here with the Carnivalesque and elsewhere….from a political point of view. Other elements are also present see for e.g  May 1st 2016 #Crouch Hill #apreoccupation


Research Paper- The struggle and the ? resolution…….maybe

This is a short post about the process of writing of my Research Paper so I don’t forget it…

I started over the summer with reading, knowing I was trying to cover too broad a topic . I got hopelessly lost in a  journey through local and national history.But I don’t really have a very linear idea of time and struggle with key dates and Time Lines and so on. I ended up not knowing what I was writing about in terms of past or present …

Eventually, after my tutorial I rearranged the paper and decided it was not going to  be in a traditional format. I got hopelessly lost in a ‘geographical sense’  as well and so started to think about the geography of the places, and time.

I really felt a physical sensation of negotiation of territory a little like a ‘flaneur’ but of time rather than place .I had things of interest I was attracted to but no real sense of direction. Not good for the objective questioning of a research paper. I lost track of what it wa about and had to work that out at the end.

I’d discovered the paper on  archaeological palimpsest  and had a book by Tim Ingold.

I really like some of what he says; his  lecture talking about  Lines not Blobs!! makes me think of some of digital blobs the Midterm review.

so negotiating a territory of communities.

He’s thinking of Biological and ‘natural science’. Interesting as his father was a mycologist! and you can see/ hear that in his ways of thinking…. rhizomatous or mycelium....?? one and the same

Then I discovered some Doreen Massey and her perceptions of ‘geographical space’

 Space is the dimension of multiplicity 

 Space presents us with the dimension of ‘the other’

and then thinking about Simultaneity in philosophical and  relativity theory….. and synchronicity in the same terms and even Jungian stuff.

God if I’m not careful my brain will explode!!

So what was the paper about….?   I could give it no proper structure and that was before a proper reading of some of Doreen Massey and Tim Ingold !!!!

Rather late on in the research paper I was still thinking about

  • performance of individuals from the p.o.v. of Richard Schechner,
  • experienced embodiment ( handy references here perhaps?)
  • performativity,
  • performative text,
  • utterance and writing

 and how they all played a part in the overall methodololgy of the research for the paper and then

the methodology of the writing of it..

I think I managed to pull it all together but still really need to think about how the space and time thing work with the idea of community/ ecosystem, simultaneity and performativity…. and then….

What the hell I am going to make to explain it!

Gareth Polmeer recommended Robinson in Ruins which I had seen in part when I was with John Seth but felt not relevant to my practice…Jonathan Shapley had recommended it again I did watch it and will describe this later