An interesting dataset about the incredible trend of museum building:

Flammetta Rocco, the Arts Editor of the Economist, will discuss this development in a public lecture held on Monday, 24 November at LSE in London.

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: New Theatre, East Building




Monday 10 November at 10.00am

The event is free, but places must be booked.  To book tickets please go to



‘Polish Anthropology: An (Impossible) Overview’

Post-war Polish ethnography/ethnology, as the discipline was called until 1980s, underwent a complex intellectual trajectory. Its actual practice differed from stereotypical Western images about social sciences under communism. In the first period,  ethnography was definitely non-Marxist.  It did not have anything in common with dialectical materialism as a normative theoretical explanation. In the 1970 and 1980s, in reaction to the naïve realism and empiricism of ethnography, ethnologists began to search for methods of interpretation and of theory going beyond those positivist schemata. By the end of the 1980s, Polish anthropology formed a self-conscious discipline representing various theoretical orientations. In terms of disciplinary origin and academic affiliation, it was comprised of two major pillars, ethnological and sociological. The increasing pluralism of Polish anthropology since mid-1970s intensified after 1989. Changes in the discipline are currently a function of the external influences of the international community of anthropologists and its own internal dynamics. The diversification of paradigms is systematically increasing. This results in a sort of intellectual entropy and a creation of certain discursive monads. The paper attempts to find a unity and common denominators in diversity.



‘Post-socialist or post-agrarian? Conceptions of power and state in Poland’

Post-socialism is a very popular notion used by Western social scientists and commentators to describe the situation in former East Bloc countries. It is widely used by the researches affiliated with Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology e.g. Postsocialism, 2002, edited by Chris Hann. However, Katherine Verdery criticized it as continuation of Cold War rhetoric, while Michał Buchowski suggested it was a kind of orientalization of East-European countries (Buchowski 2006). (In similar vein Maria Todorova writes about balkanization of Balkans by Western writers (Todorova 1997).

Without undermining the usefulness of this notion, especially in comment made from a distant perspective, I would like to examine of this concept in relation to the fieldwork carried out by a Polish researcher in Poland, (understood as “doing anthropology at home”).My fieldwork was not done exactly at home (Warsaw) but in South part of Poland, in Podhaleregion. My informants were village people, with primary or vocational education, cultivating their small farms and working as seasonal workers in Poland and aboard. The research topic I worked on was local concept of power, state, nation, democracy, free elections, party system in politics.

Realized that for my informants rural farm worked as “source metaphor” in Turnerian sense (Turner 1975). They projected power relations known to them from everyday experience of rural farm life into the macro scale of the state.

Therefore, I came to the conclusion that rural, local concepts of power and state are rather post-agrarian, or post-peasant in terms of the world view of my informants, than post-socialist. (The term post-peasant was used by Geertz (1961) in 1960s and recently by Juraj Buzalka (2007). The impact of socialism was of course very important but rather in preserving images and concepts that had existed before as state socialism tends to separate  ordinary people from the sphere of politics (eg. Marody 1991) which results in hibernating the preexistence concepts and images.



‘The Anthropology of Borderlands and Transcultural Relations’

The issue of “borderlands” became an important field of interest for Polish ethnology and sociology even before the Second World War. In the 1930s, Józef Obrębski (a young disciple of Bronisław Malinowski) put forward a concept regarding the borderlands which anticipated subsequent treatments (though more celebrated and renowned) by the likes of Fredrik Barth and Anthony Cohen. This field of studies continued to develop with uneven intensity in the era of soviet communism, gaining new momentum in the last years of dictatorship, and then after 1989. Since this period of time the anthropology of borderlands has gained prominence in Poland. A number of scholars (e.g., ethnologists, sociologists, and social historians) have conducted investigations into the Polish-Czech, Polish-Ukrainian, Polish-Belorussian, and Polish-German borderlands. As of the late communist period, Polish anthropology of borderlands has begun to draw on Western anthropological theories. The now-outdated notion of the borderland underwent criticism, yielding to new conceptualizations which focus on complex individual transcultural interactions under the conditions of cultural diversity and unequal power relations.  New geographic areas of research have opened up. Polish anthropologists have researched interethnic and interreligious communities outside of Poland. The anthropology and sociology of state boundary zones have become a focal point of scholarly interest. Looking back on the changes in the Polish anthropology of borderlands and of transcultural relations, we may today discern attempts to reflect and critically assess such inherited concepts as “culture,” “society,” “group,” “nation,” or “ethnicity” as well as evaluate the political imaginarium of Polish national ideology. This criticism has, in turn, opened new avenues for ethnographic research and theorizing.




‘Anthropology and gender/queer studies in contemporary Poland’

Even though the “woman question” as well as female scholars contributed to Polish ethnology both in the pre-World War Two and in the socialist period of the 20th century, feminism-inspired approaches toward gender and sexuality were basically adapted in the discipline as part of the so-called “transitional process” in the 1990s. Those developments were to a great extent connected with parallel advancement in interdisciplinary gender (and later on queer) studies, which also tried to pick their way through the Polish academia.

However, due to historically determined specificity of the local anthropology, until recently the political was perceived by many as unacceptable in academic settings, thus gender and sexuality were mostly taken as obvious descriptive categories. The specific character of Polish gender/queer studies has not encouraged transdisciplinary cooperation with anthropology either. Both disciplines have been heterogeneous, but they have frequently constructed each other as entirely distinct epistemological universes. Although in the recent years shifts in anthropology and gender/queer studies have brought some improvement in this respect, they have resulted in other problems as well.

In the paper we investigate various scales of the process of dealing with diverse dimensions of that “awkward relationship” (Strathern 1987) by anthropologists working in the borderland of both disciplinary praxes. To this end, we analyze how over the last two decades specific strategies of identity formation and different meanings which such concepts as anthropology, politics, activism, gender and sexuality assumed have been working for and against cooperation between anthropology and gender/queer studies; what particular theoretical/political perspectives and problems have been shaped by their encounters; and how the discursive space in question has been influenced by local, regional and world-wide phenomena. The proposed approach aims not only to shed some light on the relations between anthropology and gender/queer studies in contemporary Poland, but also to contribute to similar discussions on a globally oriented level.



‘Engaged anthropology and public anthropology’

It is usually taken for granted that anthropology should be present in public debate. The fact is treated as so natural that the discourse on it takes place almost exclusively within the frameworks of the “how” and “where” to be present, as if the problem was merely “technical”. However, bearing in mind that anthropologists have inscribed in their discipline to question the obvious (“natural”), including commonsense truths generated by their professional culture, it’s important to answer the question why “public anthropology” should be “natural” component of the discipline. I’ll try to show that reflection on the “how”, in today’s cultural and institutional conditions must be adjourned, mainly because the involvement in public debate was disastrously combined with an engaged, applied and activist anthropologies. Such a view on public anthropology does not generate or multiply anthropological knowledge nor it brings any authority to the discipline. The fact is that engagement and applicability of scientific knowledge, or the fact that it could become a more or less adequate key for solving some short-term, practical problems (problems that dominate in a public debate), does not determine its value, nor disqualifies it from the public debate. If we were to use practical results as a criterion to judge the quality of work in the social sciences and humanities, we’d have to conclude that for the largest part this knowledge is of little value, because it simply does not solve problems considered socially important at the time. Public anthropology should rather abandon the paradigm of the socially useful knowledge. Anthropologists definitely should not be judged by how they promote social change, they also should not concentrate on influencing the public opinion. They should rather be judged by the effectiveness in stabilizing (by translation) the social and cultural spaces. Anthropologists also should not follow the public debate to influence the public opinion; they should rather do their own thing: create conditions for efficient communication of our knowledge, and point out problems which are important from “anthropological point of view”, and try to convince the public that these problems are also important for them.



‘A second-hand periphery: Poland’s road to planetary urbanization’

With the rise of “plantetary urbanization” and shifting of the epicenter of urban growth from the West to the Global South, there is an urgent need to “reassemble the urban”, as Sasskia Sassen put it. Most vocabulary in global “urban studies” was forged on the basis of the European and North American experience of urbanization. Under this paradigm, Eastern Europe was conceptualized as “under-urbanized”, while the Global South was deemed “over-urbanized”. This, however, assumes the West is the yardstick of “normal” urbanization. This talk will try to re-conceptualize Eastern Europe’s place in the landscape of post-occidental urban studies by drawing a number of comparisons with cities from the Global South – an exercise that within the West-centered paradigm would seem impossible or even outlandish. Poland is no longer in a process of a “transition” from socialism to capitalism, or a “semi-periphery” of the West. Rather, with the center of the global economy shifting South, Poland’s fundamental place in the new world order has changed. The talk will describe the local consequences of this fundamental re-Orienting – in both socio-economic and intellectual senses.



‘Anthropology and Memory: memory and oblivion of Jewish Warsaw’

In Polish anthropology, more theoretical reflection on memory has arisen only recently and in our discipline, the question of memory is closely related to the one of cognition.. Memory has been discussed either as a source of knowledge, or as a particular cognitive procedure, together with narrative and interpretation, or the two fundamental processes of knowledge production in anthropology. However, it is the notion of postmemory that has proved particularly useful for anthropological studies and analysis. It has been applied in researching memories of recent past which resulted of extreme importance for understanding many current issues. Postmemory becomes a notion indispensable for understanding their meaning, for recognizing identities or reconstructing attitudes and beliefs.

Two centrally situated Warsaw districts of Muranów and Mirów are populated with buildings constructed after WWII, when in several stages (late 1940s to early 1970s) the area of the former Ghetto of Warsaw (existing in 1940–1943) was rebuild. For over 40 years following the war there were very few material expressions of memory of the events that had taken place there during WWII, or of the mostly Jewish inhabitants of the Northern District of the pre-WWII Warsaw.

However, the last two decades have witnessed great number of commemoration activities, taking both immaterial and material form. Material interventions in the space of both districts (different kind of monuments and commemorations, Museum of History of Polish Jews but also elements of the city information system providing historic data on streets and their names) provide an interesting insight into the dynamics of construction of memory and oblivion, and their role in a memory struggle fought over the city space and over the imagination of its inhabitants. The presentation will reflect upon oblivion and memory of the Warsaw Jewish past, with a stress on activities of Museum of History of Polish Jews and its core exhibition scheduled to open in October 2014.



‘Engagements and Disengagements in Contemporary Polish Anthropology’

I will focus on the developing tradition of different forms of engaged anthropological scholarship and practices and consider the challenges that accompany the advancement of this paradigm in contemporary Polish anthropology. In the last two decades we have seen modest, but consistently growing interest among students, academic and non-academic anthropologists in projects that explicitly include public engagement in their scope. While the specific forms of these anthropological engagements are very varied, the important distinctions between them go largely unnoticed by the critics. While on one end of the spectrum we observe strictly applied forms of anthropological practice, whereby anthropologists get involved in projects that are sponsored by and consumed by specific institutions, we also see emergent efforts by contemporary academic anthropologists who develop subtle and theorized forms of engagement as an integral dimension of their academic research and/or writing, which they often share with public at large. This public sharing of anthropology extends from collaborative forms of field research to activist, media and policy interventions.  In the context of contemporary Polish anthropology, this form of engaged academic scholarship is being actively developed for example by feminist, environmental, urban and educational anthropologists. Underlined by search for theoretical excellence and ethical integrity, engagement in the work of these researchers is an integral element of their deep research practice into situated knowledges, which has resulted in innovative theoretical and ethnographic scholarship. It is this tradition of engagements by Polish academic anthropologists that will constitute the focus of my paper. I will also draw on the debates between its proponents and critics, to illuminate the challenges and contributions that these researchers make to the development of contemporary Polish anthropology.

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom

4-5 November 2014

School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester

A two-day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference hosted by the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, in partnership with the Migration Museum Project.

Museums Alive! 2014 seeks to explore the notion of museums as living organisms. Museums, like living beings, do not live in isolation; rather, they are embedded in complex ecosystems.

Museums are occupied and given life by people. They are constantly evolving, directly affected by the changes around them, as well as effecting and acting as catalysts for change.

Multiple questions emerge from this context. Museums Alive! — Exploring how museums behave like living beings, organised in partnership with the Migration Museum Project, will be the sixth conference developed by the PhD community at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, and follows last year’s highly successful Museum Metamorphosisconference.

The conference programme is still being organised. One event already scheduled takes place on the day before the conference itself:


Day One Programme: Tuesday 4 November

8 am Registration and refreshments

9 am Introduction and welcome, Ryan Nutting, Conference Manager

9:15 am Opening remarks, Professor Simon Knell

9:45 am Keynote address, Dr Suzanne MacLeod

10:30 am Susan Pearce

11:30 am Refreshments

Session 1: Creating Museum Identities

11:45 am Keeping Memories Alive! Elif Çiğdem Artan, Bibliothek der Alten team, Frankfurt History Museum, Germany

12:05 pm Living in Dr Johnson’s House, Laura Carter, Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, UK

12:25 pm Museums and Oil Sponsorship, Jessica Holtaway, Goldsmiths, UK

12:45 pm Session 1 Question and Answer Session

1:15 pm Lunch

Session 2: Living Museums

2:00 pm Body, Mind, Spirit (Workshop), Alex Woodall, University of Leicester, UK

3:00 pm Agents of Change, Dr Hannah-Lee Chalk, Manchester Museum, UK

3:20 pm Museums at Night, Sara Wear and Dr Jon Radley, Warwickshire Museum, UK

3:40 pm Community Engagement in a Time of Financial Cuts, Laura Crossley, University of Leicester, UK

4:00 pm Session 2 Question and Answer Session

4:30 pm Closing Remarks and Reception

6:00 – 8 pm Conference Dinner at Parcel Yard

Day Two Programme: Wednesday 5 November

8:30 am Registration and refreshments

9:00 am Welcome, Ryan Nutting, Conference Manager

9:15 am Keynote presentation, Sophie Henderson, Director, Migration Museum Project

Rapid Fire Presentations, each of them is no longer than 5 minutes.

10:00 – 10:30 am

– Museums in the Organic Web: a Visual Perspective, Cristiano Agostino, recent graduate of University of Edinburgh, UK

– Are commercial exhibitions a competing species? Katie Murray, University of St Andrews, UK

– Exhibiting Europe? Perspectives from the Art Museum, Laura Kugel, London School of Economics, UK

– Yet another narrative, Elena Tognoli, Artist, UK

10:30 am Rapid Fire Question and Answer Session

11:00 am Refreshments

Session 3: Museum Environments

11:15 am Murderabilia Museums: Bringing Death to Life through Exhibitions of Violent Crime, Jack Denham, University of York, UK

11:35 am Alive & Clicking: Situating the Popular Music Museum within Network Society, Kathleen Pirrie Adams, Ryerson University, Canada

11:55 am Grown or made? How does change happen in museums? Helen Wilkinson, University of Leicester, UK

12:15 pm Session 3 Question and Answer Session

12:45 pm Lunch

Session 4: Museums as Laboratories

2:00 pm Enjoy the Silence (Workshop), Gill Hart, Head of Education, the National Gallery, UK

3:00 pm The multicultural pill for the recovery of the European Ethnological Museums, Fabien Van Geert, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

3:20 pm Social organisation of experiments in museum: notes on interaction with hands-on exhibits, Alisa Maximova, Higher School of Economics, Russia

3:40 pm Session 4 Question and Answer Session

4:00 pm Plenary/Closing Remarks

4:30 pm Informal Drinks/Networking session (School of Museum Studies)

Conference dinner

Along with the Conference we would like to invite you to join us for the conference dinner, which is to be held on 4 November atParcel Yard, a reasonably priced restaurant near our School and the train station (48a London Road, LE2 0QB). If you are interested in attending the dinner, please view the menu and complete the survey here by 17 October so the restaurant staff can prepare food in advance and serve you better. Please note that the cost of the dinner is not included in the registration fee and needs to be paid at the restaurant.


100 Stories of Migration Exhibition 24 June – 13 February, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm

100 Stories of Migration is the result of a partnership between the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies and theMigration Museum Project. The photographic exhibition and accompanying media explore and pose questions around the ways in which migration affects us all.

Irish Family emigrating to Canada, photo © Science and Society Picture Library, 1966

100 Stories of Migration grew out of a photography competition led by the Migration Museum Project with The Guardian newspaper. A selection of the photographs, from both professional and amateur photographers, have now taken up home in the Museum Studies Building for seven months. The exhibition focuses on the stories reflected in these photographs.

Muslim Shaadi © Kajal Nisha Patel, 2010

We all have our own stories of migration, whether it is the story passed down regarding our family’s heritage or our experiences of interacting with or getting to know new members of our community. These stories inform our individual views and help shape the public policies and broader social debates around this topic.

Crossdisciplinary frameworks for studying visitors’ experiences with digitally mediated museum exhibits

Start: Nov 24, 2014 4:00:00 PM

Location: Room 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Studying visitors’ experiences with digitally mediated museum exhibits

Theano Moussouri & Eleni Vomvyla will give the eighth seminar in the Term I Institute of Archaeology Research Seminar series highlighting current research at the Institute on 24 November.


Theano Moussouri and Eleni Vomvyla will present insights on the methodology as well as preliminary findings from pilot studies conducted with family groups at the Cocoon and Treasures Galleries at the NHM and the Digital Kids (Video Games) family event at the V&A. Combining analytical and methodological approaches from motivation, multimodality and embodied interaction, Moussouri and Vomvyla will show that visitors’ motivation and socio-cultural experiences influence interaction and meaning making around digital museum exhibits. Furthermore, the speakers will discuss how research methods focusing on embodied interaction and multimodality can delve into types of engagement that self-report methods alone cannot reveal and vise versa.

10.30am – 4.30pm Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Old Courthouse Lecture Theatre
Brighton Museum

For the past year, museums in the South East have been exploring their storerooms, looking for a new understanding of their ethnography collections. As part of the ACE-funded ‘Uniques Project’, 5 partner museums undertook an extensive regional collections review and community engagement project. Bexhill Museum explored their African Collection, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery investigated their Baltic Costume Collection, Horsham Museum looked at their Asian Collection, Maidstone explored their diverse ‘Blackburn’ Collection and the Powell Cotton Museum found out more about their Angolan Collection. The project enabled the five partner museums to increase access and knowledge of unidentified, underused and under-researched ethnographic holdings in the region.  Selected objects are chosen for public displays at each of the museums with accompanying online displays and collections resources for visitors. Project blog:

The initiative includes a symposium exploring ‘Making better use of Ethnographic Collections in the South East Region.’ This event is intended for all those curating ethnographic collections, providing information about interpreting the artefacts. It is an opportunity to gain an insight into the ‘Uniques’ project and share skills about cataloguing, documenting, conserving such objects and engaging broader audiences in museum ethnography.

Symposium speakers:

Ms. Julia Cort
Community Learning Manager, the Horniman Museum

Dr. Inbal Livne
Collections Manager at the Powell Cotton Museum

Ms. Helen Mears
Keeper of World Art, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Mr. Len Pole
Museum Consultant, Ethnography Collections (Uniques Project Ethnography Specialist)

Dr Veronica Sekules
Deputy Director and Head of Education and Research Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, UEA

Ms. Kirstie Williams
Organic Conservator, University of Cambridge Museums

To book a place contact Project Manager, Rachael Heminway Hurst:


Len Pole and Yvonne Cleland examining a spear at Bexhill Museum

An interesting article about the Sleuk Rith Institute in Cambodia:

Site of healing and reconciliation or Bilbao effect in dark tourism?


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