Voices from the past? Articulating power and empire in the nineteenth century
22 February, 16.15 Topelia A 132
What did politicians sound like before they were on the radio and television? The fascination with politicians’ vocal characteristics and quirks is often connected to the rise of audio-visual media. But in the age of the printed press, political representatives also had to ‘speak well’ – without recourse to amplification.
Historians and linguists have provided sophisticated understandings of the discursive and aesthetic aspects of politicians’ language, but have largely ignored the importance of the acoustic character of their speech. The CALLIOPE (“Vocal Articulations of Identity and Empire”) project studies how vocal performances in parliament have influenced the course of political careers and political decision making in the 19th century. It shows how politicians’ voices helped to define the diverse identities they articulated. In viewing parliament through the lens of audibility, the project offers a new perspective on political representation by reframing how authority was embodied (through performances that were heard, rather than seen). It does so for the Second Chamber in Britain and France, and in dialogue with ‘colonial’ modes of speech in Kolkata and Algiers which, we argue, exerted considerable influence on European vocal culture.
In my talk, I’ll discuss the main methodological tenets of this project, and some (very preliminary) results and echoes from the archives.
Yamnaya Groups and Kurgans West of the Black Sea
30 November, 17.15, Topelia A 109
This presentation lends its title from an article I published in 2011 under nearly the same headline. To be realistic and honest, what I wrote then now seems lightyears away…
Genetics and ancient DNA have tied in since, highlighting the importance of Yamnaya in an ethnical, social and cultural upheaval covering all of Europe, surely the most important since the introduction of farming, and arguably one that the European Continent has never experienced thereafter. Over the last years, this new interest and understanding has led, in turn, to enhanced efforts to look into the Yamnaya west of the Black Sea, both in re-addressing old finds and triggering new digs. It also pushed further scientific analyses, and will do so even more in the future. These special circumstances also led all of us dealing with the third millennium to re-consider previous conclusions. In consequence, a completely new picture is about to emerge. I will present today this emerging picture, thus describing the state-of-the-art in late 2018, at the eve of my own ERC Advanced YMPACT project.
Constructions of desire and masculinity in ancient Roman wall paintings
19 October, 16.15, Topelia A 109
Three spaces of entertainment, three pictorial ensembles representing desire, three images of a beautiful youth offering a drink to the supreme god – his lover. How did images of Ganymede, the pin-up of homoerotic charm in antiquity, frame the Roman banquet where real life slave boys would play his role? How was the myth combined with and juxtaposed to other images of mythological desire? How did they work together in the construction of the norms of Roman masculinity? In this paper I explore the relationship between erotic mythological paintings and the ancient viewer’s erotic subjectivity in the context of a banquet. I argue that an image can be thought of as a performance participating in the performative production of gender. Viewers would have reflected it against the norm which the image would have contemporarily helped to construct. Since selfhood and the norms of desire were seen through the ideal of masculine, phallic control, it would have determined the framework for the viewing. However, the illusory nature of images would have enabled vicarious exploration of counter-normative possibilities, and the decorations might have played with this tension.
Analogue photo booths in Berlin: A stage, a trap, a condenser and four shots for kissing the person you love
28 September, 16.15, Topelia A 109
Why do analogue photos still fascinate young people? Why, for some purposes, might vintage technologies be considered more authentic than newer ones? And what is the contribution of old-school photo booths to Berlin as a city? In casting an ethnographic eye on analogue photo booths in Berlin via empirical data (participant observation and 60 interviews with users), this paper makes a case for the continued relevance of analogue technologies and practices in the contemporary digital age. The argument highlights the inconsistencies in the linear theories of media development and social change, thus pointing to a complex co-existence of actual and emerging technologies and practices. In this paper, I will also consider how the relationship between these old-school booths and Berlin is reciprocal, becoming part of the city’s scene, assembling people, displaying and materialising relationships, thereby providing an opportunity to be private in public and functioning as a cultural condenser, which simultaneously benefits from the local idiosyncrasy and contributes to making the city itself a place.
* * * * * * * * * *
Francisco Martinez, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher in Cultural Heritage at the University of Helsinki of and an associate editor of the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures and of Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society. He has edited several books, curated different exhibitions, and has been awarded a dozen of scholarships. For five years, he worked as a correspondent in Russia, Germany, Turkey, and Portugal, publishing over 550 articles and participating in 150 television programs. His monograph Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia. An Anthropology of Forgetting, Repair and Urban Traces will be published in 2018 by UCL Press.