Week 2 //// The Anthropological Turn in Contemporary Art – Linda O Keeffe

Preparation for Week 2

The Anthropological Turn in Contemporary Art


To prepare for Week 2’s seminar, you should complete the following ‘set text’* reading assignment.

*To recap on what ‘reading’ a set seminar text involves at the University of Edinburgh, please consult the IAD advice on how to critically approach a seminar set-text.

Mandatory Reading:

All students should read the following three texts:

Schneider, A., & Wright, C. (2013). Ways of Working. In A. Schneider & C. Wright (Eds.). Anthropology and Art Practice (pp. 1–24). London: Bloomsbury Academic.  http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/10.5040/9781474214018.ch-001

Sansi, R. (2015). Introduction: After the Ethnographic Turn. In Art, Anthropology and the Gift (pp. 1–19). London: Bloomsbury Academic.  http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/10.5040/9781474214087.ch-001

Laine, A. (2018). Working with art and anthropology: An introduction. In Practicing Art and Anthropology: A Transdisciplinary Journey (pp. 1–22). London: Bloomsbury Academic. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/10.5040/9781474282383.ch-001


You will then read the text allocated to your breakout group:


Breakout Group Reading:

Each group will work through a different set-text.

You should only read one of the texts below. Read the text that matches your colour.

Green Group 🟢

Downey, A., 2009. An Ethics of Engagement: Collaborative Art Practices and the Return of the Ethnographer. Third Text, 23(5), pp.593–603. https://discovered.ed.ac.uk/permalink/f/1s15qcp/TN_cdi_crossref_primary_10_1080_09528820903184849 https://doi.org/10.1080/09528820903184849

Red Group 🔴

Sansi, R. (2017). The Idle Goddess: Notes about Post-Relational Anthropology and Art. In T. Fillitz & P. van der Grijp (Eds.). An Anthropology of Contemporary Art: Practices, Markets, and Collectors (pp. 196–210). London: Bloomsbury Academic. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/10.5040/9781350016439.0023

Yellow Group 🟡

Rutten, Kris, van. Dienderen, An & Soetaert, Ronald, 2013. Revisiting the ethnographic turn in contemporary art. Critical arts, 27(5), pp.459–473. DOI: 10.1080/02560046.2013.855513

Seminar Preparation for Week 2

Firstly, read all of the texts allocated to the class as a whole and then read those assigned specifically to your Breakout Group on your own, making notes on the texts as you go.

You may wish to use  your Course Blog for this since it is built into LEARN and easy to access and share.

Now, work through your Breakout Group Reading again, this time making notes of what you might regard to be key terms that belong to either the discipline of contemporary art or the discipline of anthropology.

Take account of which key terms seem to be most important. Make a list as you read. Which appear to be established disciplinary key terms; which disciplinary key terms are new or emergent?

Some of the key terms might simply be new to you since you are not yet familiar with them. Make a note of which ones are familiar and which are not.

From all of the new or emergent key terms, choose just one that you are drawn to.

Try to choose a key term that you think is relevant to both contemporary art and to anthropology.

Write a short explanation on why it is your chosen key term. Aim for no more than 100 words.


Working independently, you should prepare a 2min oral presentation on your key term definition (note that reading 100 words takes 2mins).

This is an “oral presentation” since it involves you speaking. You are not being asked to record this in advance and you really do not need any visual aids (so don’t make any). Keep it very simple.

You will present to your peer group when you meet next week.

Over the following week please also try to do the following:

Pickpocket Almanac:

A Pickpocket Almanac is a learning strategy developed by a curator based in San Francisco. It involves forming a learning group, then ‘piggy-backing’ resources that can be openly accessed in your community. A Pickpocket Almanac simply lists one or two resources (normally an event or talk) that everyone can easily attend. The group attend then have a common inquiry to discuss when they next meet as a group. Think of this as akin to a book club, but with, possibly, a more social or geographical dynamic.

This week, you should try to pickpocket an event ——-Need an Event


Full information on the event is available in the MA CAT Blog here:  https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/macat/2022/01/16/artandcare/ (link)

Seminar Blogging (Portfolio work):

Create a map of the keywords discussed in your group.

You do not have to map all of the keywords, try to pick your ‘top 3’ and focus on them.

Each keyword might have a short definition (based on what you can recall) and can have images or links to accompany it.

Add your own keyword into the mix; determining where to place it on the map.

You can draw the map or use something like Miro to create it. Once you make your map, add it to your blog (scan or copy+paste).


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