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Migratory Practices: exchanges between anthropology, art, craft and design

5th - 6th September 2006, Manchester Metropolitan University


The relationship between anthropology and art has been the focus of a number of initiatives in recent years. In Britain, what began as local interventions into the anthropology and art debate have recently achieved a new sense of consolidation through the staging of several international symposiums, such as the Fieldworks conference at the Tate Modern (2003), larger research projects and publications, most recently, Contemporary Art and Anthropology edited by Arnd Schneider and Christopher Wright (Oxford: Berg). However these initiatives have been more focused on the relationship between anthropology and fine art, leaving the full spectrum of contemporary practice within craft and design out of the interdisciplinary debate. It is therefore the aim of this symposium to redress the balance and to explore the range of relationships between anthropology and art, craft and design.

The symposium has been initiated by an Arts Council, British Council, AHRC and MIRIAD funded project called Here and There, which is a series of artists’/makers’ exchange residencies taking place during 2006-7 in Australia, Bangladesh, Britain, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Information on these events can be found on

The symposium is in partnership with Visiting Arts.

Keynote Speakers

  • Tim Ingold, Professor of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
  • Moira Vincentelli, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Curator of Ceramics at the University of Wales

>  Full list of speakers and paper abstracts.

Symposium topics

This symposium aims to bring together artists, makers and academics engaged in ethnographic study and cultural investigation. Over the course of two days we will explore the relationships between anthropology, art, craft and design practices. Presentations are invited on topics related to the areas outlined below. Contributions in the form of academic papers, artists’ talks or other formats (please specify) are welcomed.

Extending the debate
A dialogue between contemporary art and anthropology has emerged over the last ten years. Has craft and design practice been equally involved in this and if so, has it had to transform to embrace social agendas and action in the field? Are there differences in the ways that art, craft and design have drawn on and been drawn to anthropology, and vice versa? What can we learn from asymmetries of involvement between the different practices?

Making and ethnography
Cross cultural study has been a consistent feature of many makers’ practice since at least the late nineteenth century, but this activity has had little critical acknowledgement. When makers study culture can their research be thought of as a kind of ethnography and on what basis can this be decided? For example, can a ceramic piece convey ethnographic knowledge in itself, rather than as a means to the production of more conventional forms of knowledge, such as text?

The use of the term ‘field work’ has become a phrase applied to contemporary artistic practice. This seems to align it to traditions of empirical research and taxonomy in the sciences. Is this term adequate to indicate what artists - and anthropologists - are doing ‘in the field’? How do the processes of representation, presentation and analysis of field notes differ between contemporary artistic practice and contemporary anthropological approaches to fieldwork?

The ethics of anthropological and artistic production
Anthropological practice has been concerned with evolving a methodology that is ethical. This may appear to differ from some artistic practice in which methods are used to expose issues through mechanisms that in themselves appear unscrupulous. Does this also apply contemporary craft and design practices? Does an apparent difference between anthropology and artistic/craft practice create a polarisation that frustrates any hope of inter-disciplinarity?

Symposium Conveners

Dr. Jane Webb and Dr. Amanda Ravetz

Migratory Practices

Conference Registration Form and Prices

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The completed form should be sent to Jane Webb (Migratory Practices)

Department of Contemporary Arts
MMU Cheshire
Hassall Road
United Kingdom.

Tel: +44 (0) 161 247 5392
Fax: +44 (0) 161 247 6377

Caravan Gallery

On September 6th/7th, the Caravan Gallery will be parked outside MMU's Business School in Aytoun Street as part of the CIRM Conference 2006 . The gallery will be open to the public on these days. For more details about the gallery visit


Accommodation is not included in the conference price. For Manchester Accommodation see

Alternatively there are a limited number of student study bedrooms belonging to the university available. These can be booked until 21 August 2006 at £21 + VAT a night.

Location and Travel

The conference will take place in the Geoffrey Manton Building located on the Manchester Metropolitan University's city centre All Saints Campus.

Conference Poster

Migratory Practices Conference Poster Available to download and print.

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