Trinketization gets a museum treatment…

HKW | Sharon Macdonald, Tony Bennett & Arjun Appadurai – THING

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, Martin Franken, Maya-Ausstellung 2007
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, Martin Franken, Maya-Ausstellung 2007
Museums stage objects as testimonies of specific narratives. How do these museum things articulate the global order and supplant alternative narratives? What meanings do they adopt in the context of the dynamics of globalization and decolonization? At one of the last events at the Dahlem location of the Ethnologische Museum, Arjun Appadurai, Tony Bennett and Sharon Macdonald will explore the “thing”: its subtexts, its tenacity and its political dimension.

Using selected objects from the collections, three experts probe the narrative styles of “things.” Arjun Appadurai, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, examines the migration of things and asks how they become legible as bearers of aesthetic knowledge. Tony Bennett, Research Professor in Social and Cultural Theory at Western Sydney University, presents the evolution of seeing in museums and the fixation on the viewer’s perspective. The cultural anthropologist Sharon Macdonald, Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität, combines the two theoretical approaches with the latest developments in Berlin’s museum landscape. How do things become signifiers in the museum space? How do societies handle problematic aspects of cultural heritage? What processes of learning and unlearning are necessary in order to decipher hegemonic narratives and geopolitics?

Tags: Art Thing

Begging Wars: Nottingham Police’s dodgy Prince tribute 

update 1 October 2016 – banned by the advertising standards agency. Took long enough, and only 4 out of 5 of them were banned, dunno what the other one was, but think whoever thought this whole lot up ought to get a free ride to the job centre

Source: Begging Wars: Nottingham Police’s dodgy Prince tribute 

Grunwick +40 – 22.7.16

Event not to be missed:

Grunwick and Lucas 40 Years On: Union Rights, Workers’ Control
Screening of The Year of the Beaver and The Lucas Plan, with discussion and brief talks by Kierra Box (Grunwick 40) and Solfed.

22nd July 7pm at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, E1 (nearest tubes Whitechapel, Aldgate East.)

Organised by Breaking the Frame, Grunwick 40 and North London Solidarity Federation. FREE/donation.

1976 was a high tide of workers’ struggle and the year it all began to change. Giving the lie to racist and sexist myths that Asian women were submissive and would work for a pittance, workers at the Grunwick plant in Willesden rallied the left behind their struggle for the right to join a union. At the Lucas Aerospace arms company, the Shops Stewards’ Combine Committee took the fight to the bosses, with their workers’ Alternative Plan for socially useful production.

In 2016 we are still facing the fiction of ‘foreigners taking our jobs’. In the face of climate change and militarism, we again need industrial conversion, from fossil fuels and Trident to renewables, and to stop the bosses replacing our jobs with robots. Join us for 2 films and discussion, showing how workers’ rights and ideas are crucial to facing those challenges.

First words

The first four words of chapter one volume one in Marx’s Capital are ‘The Wealth of Societies’, surely echoing, as Spivak notes, Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. ‘In the rational plan for socialism’, however, ‘there is no room for nationalism’ (Spivak 2008:100).

This is Marx’s own copy:


trashed film paragraph on Reagan-Arnie-Trump

I dunno where else to dump this, which will now not be used in a review I was writing on regional film traditions:

Yet here is a topic ripe for serious comparative consideration if one, as necessity needs must, thinks across to the USA where a movie star became president, another became state governor – and only missed his ultimate ‘I’ll be back’ moment of becoming president because he was ineligibly born in Europe. Presently a real estate mogul is republican frontrunner on a virulently crazy platform of thinking Jesus wants him for a sunbeam (hat-tip Gore Vidal), his finger itching to blow immigrants, Moslems, Mexicans, Ruskies and whoever else to kingdom come. Reagan was a comic actor after all, Schwarzenegger a muscleman, or mechanical robot – his nuanced performance as a machine is itself interestingly dialectical. There are, nevertheless, distinct kinds of heroes in the social films – the robin hood character, the working class hero, the prince among fools – such that affection can build upon identification of repeated performance in such roles. Reagan did not benefit from the monkey movies perhaps, but the muscle man for California makes a certain Sky-net sci-fi sense.


The pseudo-dominant hype that comes alongside ontological thinking: a kind of extension of postmodernism’s apolitical arabesques, which then moved into the digital. This most likely reflects a lack of political consequence amongst the wider left in the metropolitan centres. Spare time on their hands, fairly comfortable economic circumstances, and no practical occupation, meant speculations and flights of fancy with ‘radical’ inclinations but no connection to expressed political needs or mobilisation. A theoretical dominance that treads water in the flow of cultural politics.

  • part of a gripes version of a future essay/chapter/book that will be rehearsed online here or on
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