Saturday, June 2, 2012

Belgrade, anthropologically

Belgrade's Ethnographic Museum seems like a suitable metaphor for the city itself - very grey and polluted and battered on the outside, and in fact extremely full of treasures and interesting bits within.  I went there after what proved to be a very lively - indeed compelling - tour of the city (memo to all tour guides - do what this young woman did, and give us narratives and jokes, not just plain facts).  And indeed I had the museum to myself - all three floors of it - stuffed full of costumes and fabrics and agricultural implements and mock ups of traditional peasant interiors.  I came away with a much better sense of everyday non-urban Balkan existence in the past (balancing the picture that our guide gave us of life during the time of the NATO bombing in 1999).

Shifting track completely - one of the very, very best things to come out of this trip, for me, has been the sense of team life - by which I mean the way in which the girls believe in each other, look out for each other ... I'm sure that I idealize that which I only observe, but it would be so good if academic departments functioned with even a third of the commitment that they have to a sense of joint enterprise. 

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