Sunday, 9 March 2014

From Serieteket to scientific archaeology

This weekend saw the International Women’s Day that is a big mimosa-laden celebration in Italy, where this year Giulia Bongiorno suggested that state would start to pay for housewife’s for their housework – a payback for the all work they do in order to keep the country running, children fed and husbands in ironed shirts. As Barbara Ellen suggested in the Guardian, there is a danger this is and will be what women are supposed to do as opposed to both men and women support to do care work...

Nevertheless, the comics library Serieteket organised together with some of the embassies in Stockholm a French comics festival. In the similar manner as a week earlier, when I heard Brian Talbot talk, I just needed the toilet in the Kulturhuset, but walked about inside near the main entrance and sat down. I did wander in and out – it was the best sunshine around for weeks and boy I need fresh air after all this sitting at the computer – but was so impressed I returned for more this morning for brunch. Yesterday we were entertained with the theories about Ottocar’s Sceptre depicting Romania (they do like their country to feature in all main cultural genres these Romanians), although I could name a couple of Balkan pre-WWII kingdoms that could have merged in modelling Syldavia. Nevertheless, Romania had a big pavilion in the Paris World Exhibition in 1937, so this is plausible. For me the most interesting events were about this Sunday morning.

First Marguerite Abouet was telling about Aya de Youpogon, the comic she writes about a teenage girl and her friends in a specific neighbourhood in the capital of Ivory Coast. It was made an animated film lately and it competed in the latest César Awards, even if it did not won. She was a revelation as was her cartoon Akissi, short comic stories about a small African girl being naughty and mischievous – and sometimes just unlucky and things happening. It has actually been translated into English, but I have now a signed copy in Swedish.

The day continued interestingly with a discussion about comics publishing between Julie Delporte (Canada) and Xavier Löwenthal (Belgium). Comics publishing is absolute niche, so they are hit by all the latest trends quickly. Crowdfunding is apparently so last decade and self-publishing is in. However, what they are actually doing is holding money earning ‘second jobs’ and concentrating more on the things they really want to do – on real paper and a book-shaped 3D print. Somehow sounds familiar and probably nearer home in most archaeologist households in these days of vanishing humanities funding and rumours about university cuts... Amazing thing was that we were about six to listen to this. Where were all those hipster publishers of Stockholm to get the latest whiffs from the world?

EUROEVOL's self image

This week’s absolute archaeological highlight was a ‘postseminarium’ in the Tennstoppet restaurant. We were only a few, but the food was good, company was good and the discussions flew effortlessly. I had lost the plot during the second half of the Kevan Edinborough’s talk about the EUROEVOL project while thinking how they had used C14 datings as proxies for the amount of human activity in Europe by collapsing all the dates from a site into one from every phase. Thus, they practically were plotting sites with potentially more precise datings than most of the pottery dates (not always, though). However, when contemplating this, I lost the other half Kevan was more interested in on the new research on the knowledge transfer. Mathematical, yes. Exciting, yes. As existing as the discovery that sugars may be used to recognise different food stuffs and that certain cheese and its making process can go back to the Stone Age I heard about a day earlier. Riveting stuff. Not all archaeological, but new ideas, influences and knowledge of the world bucket loads.

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