Open Access (free)
Design and material culture in Soviet Russia, 1960s–80s
Author: Yulia Karpova

The major part of this book project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 700913.

This book is about two distinct but related professional cultures in late Soviet Russia that were concerned with material objects: industrial design and decorative art. The Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is broadly recognised to have been Russia’s first truly original contribution to world culture. In contrast, Soviet design of the post-war period is often dismissed as hackwork and plagiarism that resulted in a shabby world of commodities. This book identifies the second historical attempt at creating a powerful alternative to capitalist commodities in the Cold War era. It offers a new perspective on the history of Soviet material culture by focusing on the notion of the ‘comradely object’ as an agent of progressive social relations that state-sponsored Soviet design inherited from the avant-garde. It introduces a shared history of domestic objects, handmade as well as machine-made, mass-produced as well as unique, utilitarian as well as challenging the conventional notion of utility. Situated at the intersection of intellectual history, social history and material culture studies, this book elucidates the complexities and contradictions of Soviet design that echoed international tendencies of the late twentieth century. The book is addressed to design historians, art historians, scholars of material culture, historians of Russia and the USSR, as well as museum and gallery curators, artists and designers, and the broader public interested in modern aesthetics, art and design, and/or the legacy of socialist regimes.

Open Access (free)
Theatre and the politics of engagement
Author: Simon Parry

This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.

Open Access (free)
Beyond the burden of the real
Paul Henley

As an Author of ethnographic films, Robert Gardner developed a praxis that was not only very different from that of Jean Rouch but also one that was at odds with some of the central tenets of contemporary anthropology as an academic discipline. The ultimate purpose of his film-making was not so much to discover what other ways of life might mean to those who lived them but rather to explore what those ways of life signified for him personally in existential or aesthetic terms. In sharp contrast to Rouch who returned faithfully to West Africa

in Beyond observation
Open Access (free)
Roslyn Kerr

book, Actor-Network Theory (ANT), was designed as a methodology to examine scientific practices and technological change while acknowledging the complex and multiple strands that affect change, including human and non-human actors. The earliest uses of ANT involved the examination of the processes of producing scientific knowledge, with detailed ethnographic practices revealing a complex network of factors that produce science (see, for example, Latour, 1987 , 1993b ; Latour and Woolgar, 1979 ). In this book, it is

in Sport and technology
Recent films of David and Judith MacDougall
Paul Henley

As originally conceived by Colin Young and subsequently worked out in practice by David and Judith MacDougall and various other film-makers, the praxis of Observational Cinema in its classical form involved very much more than observation: not only was it a particular ‘way of seeing’, it was also a particular ‘way of doing’ ethnographic film-making. Central to this praxis, as described in earlier chapters, was a collaborative relationship with the subjects, the adoption of an ‘unprivileged’ perspective in both shooting and editing, and a low

in Beyond observation
Open Access (free)
Melanie Giles

This chapter will review the lives and deaths of individuals who end up in the bogs: evaluating the competing arguments for their fate, from accidental death to suicide, burial, murder, execution and sacrifice. It will explore the lives they lived, from unique insights into diet, disease and personal appearance, to mobility, origin and status, which can be gleaned from their remains. Who were they? What life had they lived up until this point? This chapter will discuss new evidence that some bogs were used in later prehistory as part of the mortuary process, using the preservative powers of its waters and temporary immersion to slow time before final burial. The chapter seeks to temper the classical authors’ accounts of barbarism or sacrifice within a wider appreciation of the motives and mindsets of later prehistoric communities, often facing considerable periods of environmental change or political unrest. It will normalise the apparent brutality we see in the bog bodies alongside other wetland and dryland remains, arguing that they represent one end of a spectrum of violence deployed as a strategy of control: using the ethnography of violence to understand – if not to excuse – the violence we witness in these remains.

in Bog bodies
The revival of Lucanian wheat festivals
Lorenzo Ferrarini

This chapter is entirely composed of a photo essay, which includes photographs made between 2005 and 2020. It focusses on the revival of wheat rituals, which often involve offerings of ears of wheat dedicated to a saint or the Madonna. The photo essay connects this phenomenon with, on the one hand, processes of touristic promotion and heritagisation, and, on the other, with the shifting meanings acquired by the agricultural past in Basilicata, which give wheat festivals an aura of authenticity and nostalgia. The text and images go behind the scenes of the preparation of these rituals, tracing the way that past ethnographic research can be mobilised in a local context to validate the authenticity of a festival, or showing how people experience the emotional power of their association with the agricultural past through activities, skills and sensations that evoke it directly. This chapter, in addition to underlining the social functions of identity- and community-making that wheat festivals still perform, suggests that their protagonists have taken up a conscious and active role in representing their heritage, often appropriating stereotypes and exoticist depictions.

in Sonic ethnography
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The bridge, the fund and insurance in Dar es Salaam
Irmelin Joelsson

intricate skills, ujanja , a Swahili concept cleverly describing a sort of trickster intelligence, an ability to turn things around. But urban life is also formed, as my ethnography would soon reveal, by the negotiation of connections and of anticipation. Before long, a theme would surface that cut through my initial engagements and let the study diverge unexpectedly. ‘I'm doing it for the connections,’ Yahya, a teacher, asserted. 1 ‘We don't have insurance here, you see, we make connections and

in African cities and collaborative futures
Open Access (free)
Identities and incitements
Saurabh Dube

important distinctions recognized in earlier scholarship. Rather, recent ethnographies and histories have revealed that the conflicting interests and the contending visions of empire of differentially located interests and actors several times drove a single colonial project. At the same time, distinct colonial projects could draw upon each other’s models and metaphors, while imbuing them with varied and contrary

in Subjects of modernity
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Ontologies of connection, reconstruction of memory
Jeremy C.A. Smith

talents of Polynesian and Micronesian mariners maintained contact between islands and within separate societies. With common Austronesian linguistic roots, communication between and amongst Polynesians and Micronesians generally presented few barriers. Regular and organised visits between islands supported exchanges, as well as communication. Exchange and ritual events, such as the Kula, were simultaneously economic, spiritual, strategic and societal. As represented in Malinowski’s ethnography and Mauss’s reviews in The Gift, the Kula and like rituals incarnated

in Debating civilisations