I recently reconnected with a series of photos I took from my rooftop in Dakar, Senegal. Month by month, at the syncopated pace of construction, the view of the infamous and holy island of Yoff was obstructed. Block by block, walls and floors were erected. The wind found new obstacles on its way to cool down streets. The concrete jungle was growing, accompanied by the rhythms of builders’ sweaty choreography. The skyline is transforming, and the horizon becoming an urban luxury.
2023. ‘Why do you fall in love? Why do you worship Vishnu and Shiva?’Decolonising Collecting through the Visual-Material Cosmos of a Nation’s ‘Interior Designers’. Third Text, 181 (2), 262-284
Ciotti Manuela 2023. Make no mystique! Collectables’(dis)appearances in a transoceanic perspective. Third Text 181
A private museum originally from Sweden just opened a branch in Berlin. It is housed in a landmark former art squat, a memory of an era whose destruction sent ripples across the Berlin community (read more here) , and stands in contrast to the myriad community-ran alternative art spaces across the city. Here in the photo, an advertisement for the museum posted at Kottbusser Tor, at the heart of Berlin’s working class and migration trajectories, in the proximity of an established community museum and numerous BIPOC-owned art and culture spaces.
Pierre is currently on fieldwork in Dakar, in the midst of the rainy season. The ambient air is hot and humid, and sporadic flooding can make daily life challenging. Fresher air is giving some rest only early in the morning. This soothing moment offers beautiful sunrises playing with clouds and birds’ songs coming from secret nests hidden in concrete walls. Time stops before the hectic day starts.
We wish you a good and fulfilling new academic year!
Pierre Wenzel participated in the 9th European Conference on African Studies in Cologne, right before summer break in June 2023.
The conference on “African Futures” was the opportunity for Pierre to present some results from his ongoing fieldwork on construction sites in Dakar, Senegal. The panel he participated in was brought together by Armelle Choplin and Emilie Guitard on “The cities yet to come? Alternative Urban Futures in Africa”. Entitled “Planning on Pinterest, building in Dakar”, his presentation asked how social media are contributing to shaping the imaginaries and form of Dakar and participating in building the ordinary city of tomorrow.
The cultural and social anthropologist Manuela Ciotti has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant. In the ANTHROFUTURE project, Ciotti is looking at the future of anthropology from the perspective of the art world, focusing geographically on the global South. The grant is endowed with around two and a half million euros. The programmes of the European Research Council (ERC) are intended to enable and advance basic-oriented pioneering research with high innovation potential.
The anthropology of the future: An art world perspective
The project ANTHROFUTURE shifts the focus of the anthropology of the future to the pandemic-induced acceleration of the future into the present. The project identifies the art world – historically featuring a high degree of experimentalism, a strong future-orientation, and, particularly in emerging markets in the global south, an openness to risk and speculation – as a crucial site for ground-breaking anthropological knowledge on the future. The pandemic forced the art world to quickly develop innovative digital solutions to replace physical events; the result is a new, fully integrated physical and digital system. While pre-pandemic scholarship on the art world largely focuses on institutions, professionals and activities as physical phenomena, there is no scholarship on this new digital-physical infrastructure.
This project further acknowledges the global south as the most vital site for modeling the future by situating its research in India and Pakistan as active and mutually entangled art world locations. ANTHROFUTURE introduces three novel modes of inquiry: 1) systematic research on the digital-physical art world as an ethnographic site for the study of the future; 2) innovative multimodal methodologies for studying the future that combine in-person, digital and visual ethnography, large-scale social media data harvesting, and artist subprojects; 3) analytical and theoretical advancements on the future as a time zone in comparative terms and across the regional contexts.