Archive | May 2015

Material matters: Making and marking power in the Sudans

Hatfield College, Durham University
27-28 May 2015
This workshop aims to bring together scholars on eastern and north-eastern Africa to discuss new research into visual and material cultures in Sudan and South Sudan. With grand designs for a national museum and archive in South Sudan, and worldwide collections of Sudanese objects coming under greater scrutiny, many researchers are now interrogating modern and mobile objects of art and artifice, including photographs, polling cards, clothes and
This workshop will put these new strands of thought on Sudan in the broader intellectual context, inviting a cross-section of academics and practitioners working in diverse periods and disciplines, and aiming to encourage new
approaches to ideas of power and control.

Speakers include Sarah Longair and Nicholas Badcott of the British Museum, and papers include studies of Mahdist material culture, the politics of the jallabiya in post-colonial Sudan, the evolution of identification and state paperwork in South Sudan, and a “show and tell” panel of initial research on the Nzara Agricultural Scheme in South Sudan, The Vigilant newspaper, and photograph albums of South Sudanese ex-displaced women.

We warmly welcome students, postgraduate researchers and academics from all disciplines. The two days will include a tour of the designated special collection the Sudan Archives at Durham University, and a reception at the Oriental Museum. Student travel bursaries may be available on application, although we would be grateful if attendees would apply to their own institutions in the first instance.

10-11 Registration, tea and coffee
11-12:30 Power dressing
Pageantry and Politics: the Mahdist Jibba Considered Katie Hickerson, University of Pennsylvania / UCL
Hasan al-Turabi: The Jallabiyya and the Politics of Post-Colonial Manichaeaism Willow Berridge, Northampton University
12:30 Lunch
1:30-3 Marking out the state
The materiality of colonization – the evolution of identification in South Sudan Ferenc David Marko, Central European University
Documenting land in the early Condominium Tom Allen, Durham University
3 Tea break
3:30-4:30 Panel discussion: the ethics of objects
5:30 Tour and reception at the Oriental Museum
Thursday 28 May
9 Tea and coffee
9:30-10:30 Show and tell
Sarah Marriott TBC
Justin Willis The Vigilant newspaper
Nicki Kindersley Photograph albums of returned displaced Southern Sudanese women
10:30 Tea break
11-12:30 Mobile objects, mobile meanings
Shifting meanings and claims to authority: parallel stories of viti vya enzi from East Africa to London Sarah Longair, British Museum
A transfer of power: manipulating Mahdist material culture in late nineteenth century Britain Nick Badcott, British Museum
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:30 Visit to the Sudan Archives special collection, with a display of Sudanese and South Sudanese artifacts.

This workshop has developed from the “New research on the new Sudans” seminar in November 2014, and is funded by Durham University’s Grey College and Hatfield College, as part of Durham’s Sudan Studies Programme. For further information, please contact Nicki Kindersley, the convenor, at


Structures of Feelings

structures of feelings-2CVAC’s Francisco-J. Hernández Adrián is participating in a workshop held at the Royal College of Art on Friday 15th May 2015. He will be presenting on ‘Children in Waterscapes: Scenes From the Films of Lucrecia Martel, Óscar Ruiz Navia and Carlos Reygadas’.

Details of the full programme are available on the RCA website.

Off the Grid

Researchers from Durham’s Geography Department have been collaborating with film company Soul Rebel Films to produce a documentary of life on the Bangladeshi Island of Sandwip with the arrival of solar powered electricity and lighting entitled ‘Off the Grid’ (dir Meghna Gupta)

The small, impoverished community on the island is sustained by remittances from those who have migrated to cities and to work on ships across the globe. Now with this money some residents are installing solar power to bring light after dark. The film shows what happens when electricity moves from being generated by expensive diesel generators to renewable solar power. The film tells the story of the effects of this on especially the women and the connection through to opening new experiences by powering other digital media. It also tells the limits of the new lighting in addressing the structural marginalisation of the community and women within it. Illustrating how darkness closes around them in the Bay of Bengal with only four hours stored electricity, the film is beautifully shot and accompanied by the haunting vocals of Sohini Alam.
Based around fieldwork by Durham researcher Raihana Ferdous the film offers an insight into the potent appeal of electricity for lighting in remote and poor places. It also shows how solar power seems to offer a clean and green solution to meeting that demand – and yet then has limits in what it can deliver. She and the director of the film discuss its making here:

Eleanor Wright/Sam Watson Continuous Material

Exhibition in Durham Castle April 27 – May 9


Ralf Brög Issolation (JV_Malkunst), 2015 Screenprint within custom designed display sculpture

Continuous Material is an exhibition by Eleanor Wright and Sam Watson incorporating the work of six invited collaborators: Eric Bainbridge, Paul Becker, Ralf Brög, Aleksandra Konopek, Sini Pelkki and Josh Wilson.

Watson and Wright present an exhibition that explores Durham Castle’s historical and cultural narratives, evidenced by countless stories and physical alterations. The castle has gone from fortress to comfortable college; Continuous Material asks what it means to preserve a cultural landmark, especially one that has gone through centuries of immense political and religious upheaval and social change.   The exhibition features a number of new and existing works by Wright and Watson and their invited artists that function between sculpture, photography, architecture, literature and curation.

Part of the show involves the commission of a new text based work by the artist Paul Becker – The Opposite of A Pulpit – based on a series of real and fictional walks through Durham, where the artist lived, partly in secret, between 2008/9.

On Friday May 1st, Becker will lead a walk through real and imaginary, personal and fictional spaces and events related to his time living in the city and to the artist Ian Breakwell and the Durham Cathedral Artist’s Residency (1983-2011). The walk will begin at 6.30pm on Framwellgate Bridge and will stop at various points throughout the city, ending up at Durham Castle at 7.30pm when refreshments will be served at the public open evening of the exhibition.

During the exhibition in addition to the regular Castle guided tours, 3 special tours incorporating the show and conceived by Wright and Watson entitled ‘Friendly Takeovers’ will take place on 30th April, 2nd May and 9th May, all at 4.15pm.

These special tours are bookable via the Castle tour website:

This exhibition was sponsored by University College and CVAC and was commissioned by Dr Hazel Donkin, Please feel free to contact her with any queries at

The show featured in The Guardian’s list of the week’s new exhibitions: