Conference, Lecture, MLAC events, Workshop

Events bulletin March 15-18 March

Tuesday 15th March


IAS Fellows’ Public Lecture: Dr Zoe Crossland, Columbia University – The Speaking Corpse: the dead body’s evidence and the forensic imaginary, 17:30-18:30, Birley Room, Hatfield College

The dead body is said to speak truthfully about its past. Popular texts about forensic investigations often describe skeletons as “witnesses from the grave”, or claim that bones can speak to those who are qualified to listen. In this lecture Dr Zoe Crossland explores how the evidence of the dead is imagined in mass-market novels and memoirs written by forensic anthropologists. Such texts allow a certain rhetorical and representational freedom that is not available to authors in professional venues. They often tackle questions of emotion, religion and morality, ghosts and animate human remains, themes that are not often treated in academic discussions. The mass-market books written by anthropologists are largely framed within familiar genre conventions and the forensic imaginary that is expressed through these texts is remarkably coherent, providing a rich source for understanding the attitudes and beliefs that are caught up in forensic work in North America. These popular texts reveal something of how the discipline has traditionally been imagined, and how the work of forensic intervention is authorized. They share an emphasis on the distinct status of the anthropologist as a specialist who enables the dead to speak, and in doing so show how the figure of the forensic expert works to negotiate the tricky and morally charged work of dealing with human remains.



Visual Evidence (Ghosts – the Evidence of Spirits) Public Lecture series: Dr Colette Balmain, Kingston University, London – Ghostly Sightings: hauntology and spectrality in East Asian gothic cinema,18:15, ER140

Drawing on the figure of the ghost in Japanese, South Korean, Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese cinema and the work of Derrida on hauntology, I explore how spectral haunting pushes the limits of Western understanding about East Asia while at the same time allows us insights into how [official] history manipulates and erases identities in the process of modern nation making. This nation building, is I suggest, on one hand an act of commodification in relation to the West whose nostalgic desire for a ‘traditional’ East, the East is more than happy to provide, while on the other hand provides a mechanism through which to disavow past atrocities, committed by both East and West. It is through speaking with ghosts that we can acknowledge our own complicity with such nostalgic and touristic representations of the ‘East’.

Wednesday 16th March

Cristóbal Ramírez – From Finchale to Compostela: The Camino de Santiago,13:00-14:00, ER141

Cristóbal Ramírez, the president of the Asociación de Periodistas del Camino de Santiago, will be giving a talk about the pilgrimage route to Santiago.The Camino de Santiago is the pilgrimage route to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain. Tradition has it that the remains of the apostle St. James are buried there after having been transported by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain and buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims from Britain and Northern European Countries would start their journey from Finchale Abbey in Durham County Council.

Thursday 17th March


Visual Evidence: Authority, Attribution and the Politics of Connoisseurship (ca. 1750 – 1900) Workshop,09:30-17:00, Senate Suite, University College (Castle)

In recent years, there has been an explosion of scholarly interest in the practices by which the fine-arts have been historically collected, classified and institutionally legitimized. In the process the historiography of art history has been dramatically revised. A host of studies have identified the elusive but pivotal role of commercial networks, dealers and critics in the maintenance and extension of ‘art worlds’. Dealers and critics acted as proxies for plutocrats and for governments at a time when the quest for prestigious artworks was a source of acute geopolitical competition. This workshop will explore the political, economic and juridical questions related to the authentication and ownership of works of art in the heyday of nation-formation, imperialism, globalization and world war. 

The period 1870-1920 was decisive in producing new forms of knowledge and a new politics surrounding works of art. Firstly, scientific and subjective procedures were proposed for identifying art and artists, with intense ideological significance being attached to matters of style and method. Secondly, the practice of art history was transformed by the expertise embodied in museums, university departments and the specialist art press on both sides of the Atlantic. Thirdly, new technologies of reproduction fashioned new ways of documenting art, changing the protocols for proof as well as the opportunities for deception. Fourthly, legislation governing cultural heritage evolved on both a national and international level, with fierce debate over plunder, preservation and restitution. Lastly, trade and contact with non-European civilizations created lively and exotic new collecting fields, whose contents and procedures had to be urgently defined. These structural trends together created an anxious and volatile environment, with inexperienced buyers, unscrupulous dealers, fragmented approaches, rivalries between national institutions, and a market flooded with frauds.This two-day workshop will be led by Thomas Stammers (History) but is open to scholars from all departments in the university. It will draw on the participation of resident IAS fellow for Epiphany term, John Brewer, and will feature a number of distinguished external speakers, including Flamminia Genari-Santori (Florence, Syracuse), Mark Westgarth (University of Leeds), Barbara Pezzini (Burlington Magazine), Francesco Ventrella (University of Sussex), Charlotte Drew (University of York) and Silvia Davoli (Strawberry Hill, London), and experts in the collecting of Islamic and Asian art, including Nick Pearce (University of Glasgow). As well as providing a forum for established and emerging scholars, the workshop will include contributions from local Durham collections, such as the Oriental Museum and the Bowes Museum. The workshop will be held in the Senate Room of University College (Castle) and the IAS seminar room on the 17th-18th March 2016. Attendance for members of the university will be free, but there will be a small charge for outside visitors. For further information please contact Dr Thomas Stammers:


Research Seminar – Language and Identity in post-Soviet spaces13:00-17:00, Russian World Centre (A29)

On Thursday, 17 March, the Russkiy Mir Centre is organising a research seminar on language and identity in post-Soviet spaces. The event will bring together scholars from Russia (Kazan Volga Region University, Russian Academy of Sciences) and UK (Loughborough University, University of Glasgow, Durham University) to critically discuss the diversity of intersections that language and identity might have, both within the Russian state as the declared successor of Soviet cultural politics (taking the case of Tatarstan as a particular example of quasi-national identity construction) and in other post-Soviet countries (focusing on case studies from Tajikistan, Estonia, and Latvia). The multidisciplinary scope of the seminar (sociolinguistics, media and communication, political and diaspora studies) will aim to present different methodological approaches to exploring the concepts of language and identity in the post-Soviet region. 


Annual Leslie Brooks Lecture: Professor Marianne Hirsch, Columbia – Small Acts: Mobilizing Memory Across Borders, 17:00, The Arnold Wolfendale Lecture Theatre, Calman Learning Centre

How can the memory of violent pasts be mobilized for a more progressive and hopeful future? This talk responds to the renewed monumentality we find in memory museums, memorials and commemorative rituals that perpetuate nationalism and ethnocentrism. Connecting the memory of the Holocaust with that of other histories of political violence, the talk searches for mobile and mutable artistic practices that can effect little resistances and small acts of repair. Professor Hirsch is William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Professor in the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Born in Romania, she was educated at Brown University. Before moving to Columbia, she taught at Dartmouth College. Hirsch’s work combines feminist theory with memory studies, particularly the transmission of memories of violence across generations. Her most recent book is The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust (Columbia University Press, 2012).


Caroline Yeldham – Sauces and New Growth: Medieval Food in Spring, 17:30, Joachim Room, St Hild & St Bede College

Medieval diet was constrained by two major factors, no matter how wealthy an individual was. The first was seasonal, preservation and storage were limited, so most food was eaten fresh, and in season. The second was religious, which imposed a weekly and annual pattern on fasting and therefore on feasting. The interaction between the two creates the dietary background to everyday life for saints, ecclesiastics and the laity. Consumption of meat and meat products was the first to be constrained by these religious demands. How people responded to these demands varied, and have often been discussed with humour today. However, there is no denying that fish, in various forms, was the most important replacement for fasting days. How people, especially cooks, dealt with these limitations, are reflected in the surviving recipe books. Green sauce was a very common sauce, frequently associated with fish consumption. This paper discusses how medieval people dealt with the limitations, with specific emphasis on the use of green sauce, and the changes in the recipes for this medieval stand-by.



Friday 18th March 

Accessing the Past: evidence of artefacts (Conference), Learning Centre, Palace Green Library

This conference, scheduled for 18 and 19 March 2016, draws together different innovative approaches to establishing and interrogating evidence from objects in order to foster multi and interdisciplinary debate and share knowledge of the cutting-edge approaches to interrogating artefacts practised within the University. It will be of interest to anyone concerned with objects, their significance and values, interpretation, degradation and care. The conference will open with the rare opportunity to inspect medieval manuscripts and see a demonstration of pigment analysis with Durham University’s Professor Andrew Beeby, (Chemistry) and Professor Richard Gameson (History). Other speakers include:

·       Professor John Chapman, Durham University (Archaeology): Towards an integrated theory of fragmentation: the fragmentation of place

·       Dinah Eastop, PhD, MA, FIIC, ACR Consultant in Conservation and Material Culture: Concealed garments and their biographies

·       Dr Sarah Semple, Durham University (Archaeology): Narratives in Stone: Reworked Roman Stone in Early Medieval Contexts

·       Deborah Cane, Hoard Conservation Project, The Staffordshire Hoard, Birmingham Museums: The Staffordshire Hoard

·       Dr Stefano Cracolici, Durham University (Italian, School of Modern Languages and Cultures): Travelling Canvases: Sacred Art from Rome to the British Isles in the Nineteenth Century

·       Gary Bankhead, Durham University (Archaeology): Analysing evidence from the bed of the River Elvet

·       Dr Craig Barclay, Durham University, Curator, The Oriental Museum: Communicating evidence in the museum

The programme consists of short presentations arranged around the following themes:

·       Evidence & the Biography of Artefacts – Creation, Use & Abuse, Discarding & Recycling, Present Day Cultural Values

·       Evidence Types: Analytical, Recovery Context, Cultural Associations

·       Evidence & Degradation: Making Meaning from Damage and Decay

·       Making and Communicating Meaning from Evidence

The presentations will be interspersed with mediated roundtables to debate the evidence obtained through different strategies including technical analysis, aesthetic and intellectual analysis and how such evidence is evaluated and communicated. 
The conference is open to academics and students from Durham and other universities and to members of the public.






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