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In conversation with – Lidija Burčak, MA Visual Anthropology alumnus

I value a good story that keeps the audience awake, I don’t want to bore them.

We caught up with Lidija Burčak who graduated in MA Visual Anthropology last year and to find out what she has been up to since graduating and how her film ‘Broken Skin’ has made its way around the festival circuit.

Before Goldsmiths, you have lived and worked in UK, Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, could you tell us more about what you did before studying MA Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths and has this inspired your visual practice?
I had a lot of different jobs during my twenties because I was searching for something creative that was meaningful to me. At the same time, it was difficult to get into such job because I started my professional career with a vocational education in a Swiss insurance company. After a few internships in media companies and jobs in factories and offices, I decided to go back to school. The Swiss education system allows people to catch up on an academic degree. My plan back then was to study abroad. I was interested in cultural, social issues and how knowledge is generated through visual means. During my studies, I got into the film industry as I had the chance to do an internship as a script supervisor. You can learn a lot about filmmaking and the work on set. I started realising that I wanted to make films in a very personal way but at the time I didn’t have the courage.

Being born in 1983, the time I spent growing up in front of the TV has had a large influence on my visual practice, I watched a lot of films and TV shows. I was able to challenge this common visuality through my film studies in Zurich and Berlin, where I acquired knowledge on film theory and analysis. I was introduced to auto-ethnography and the films of Agnès Varda, which opened up a whole new world for me. But also my jobs in different offices and workplaces influence my visual practice. How people share ideas and visions, how they tell you how their weekend was and what upsets them is beautifully diverse. I didn’t know at that time that these were precious lessons about storytelling.

It was clear to me that Goldsmiths would be an interesting decision. Also because it has a history of visual anthropology that challenges images and the way we see.

Why did you choose to study at Goldsmiths and take our course?
During my studies in Zurich, I was reading Stuart Hall which helped me personally with questions of identity being a child of Yugoslav immigrants in Switzerland. Having working-class parents forced me to read and think about these kinds of issues. It was clear to me that Goldsmiths would be an interesting decision. Also because it has a history of visual anthropology that challenges images and the way we see. At that time I didn’t know that it would be a very fertile ground for my creativity as well. We didn’t have lessons on the creative practice (I don’t know if that exists any-way?), the course was great on an academic level in anthropology but how do you make an interesting film, what do you film and how do you edit? Not having lessons in that area was highly creative in a painful way, I remember that some tutors told me that I will appreciate that process in a few years time.

Since graduating last year, your film Broken Skin has won awards and has started to make its away around the festival circuit. Could you tell us more about these awards and achievements?
The film festival world is a weird industry but I wanted to bring my film to an audience. I found a website that helps you to evaluate your chances to get into festivals called Festival Whizz. Its uses algorithms but there are also real people behind it who watch your film and discuss your strategy. To give you some numbers: I applied to 60 film festivals all around the world which cost me £725 for admission fees. Some of the festivals invite you, pay your ticket and organise accommodation and some festivals offer you a 50% ticket reduction to your own award ceremony, which was funny to hear. No one talks about these things, why not? I found it very interesting. I told myself: this is the first film I did and I will do the whole thing to find out what is really important to me and to check out the scene. Also I could afford it because I had a job. It is great when you have an audience for your film and you can actually discuss the topic and share your experience of the process.

It is great when you have an audience for your film and you can actually discuss the topic and share your experience of the process.

Can you talk to us about Broken Skin, what inspired you to direct a film about skin and more specifically psoriasis?

Photo: ©Renato Csatich

I’ve been a psoriasis-affected person more years than I’ve been an anthropologist. My relationship with this disease was full of fear and helplessness. I tried a lot of things to heal, as many people do. You get into a vicious cycle. But before I came to London I started a therapy which finally helped me: I detoxed my body in a natural way. I was very slowly on my way to heal. I realised that hearing from many doctors “you will have this forever” and “there is nothing we can do” influenced my way of thinking enormously. So from an anthropological point of view, this looked like something interesting to explore. How are stories around a disease told and how is it visually represented? Consequently, what is this doing with me? Who is an expert and who is not? It was interesting to relate to other stories and to find out that I am not alone, which seems obvious today. My goal then was to find images that would not spread fear but could explore psoriasis on different surfaces.

I chose auto-ethnography as a research method because it allowed me to move back-and-forth between my own experience and the accounts of other psoriasis-affected people to find out new ways of relating to this disease, also personally. It was a parallel exploration of this topic which is also visible in the narrative structure of the film. I know that auto-ethnography is being criticised for not being a valuable research method for example because it is supposed to be too narcissistic. However, this method resonates with me especially in order to examine psoriasis where, in my opinion, the self and the relationship to the self is at its core. I think that I worked ethically and honestly. I am a fan of auto-ethnography because it allows me to change and cultivate my personal perspectives not just as a researcher but as a person. I value a good story that keeps the audience awake, I don’t want to bore them.

What is next on the horizon for you?
I need a lot of time to reflect on the last two years and I don’t want to get stressed otherwise I’ll get my psoriasis symptoms back. Some people who watched Broken Skin told me that they could have watched it longer, that the film is too short and has therefore a dense structure. I just started playing with the thought to make a longer version.

If you could give our Anthropology students one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Something very technical: Keep your project and timeline in your editing programme in a clear order, I didn’t do it from the beginning, a lesson I learned along the way. You might still need to work on it or correct something (for a festival for example) months later after you finished it. This helps to access your work in a clear way especially when you are already working on something new.


And two personal things that I discovered: fearful topics have a very interesting potential for personal and creative growth, and I get much more things done if I don’t strive for perfection. That doesn’t mean that the work is not good.

Lidija’s film ‘Broken Skin’ has been nominated for a Grierson Award in the category of Best student Documentary, winners will be announced on 14th November 2019 


Wales Youth Forum on Gambling

On Thursday 27th June, the first youth forum on gambling was held which featured global experts, interactive discussions, debates, professional sports personalities and academic researchers, including Professor Rebecca Cassidy from the Department of Anthropology, all with the aim of engaging with a younger generation on the topic of gambling. Watch the video which captures activities from the day.

In the media
Watch a snippet on ITV news Wales which discusses the forum (8 minutes and 30 seconds).


Last week the GRACE  team held its end of project conference in Utrecht, Gender and Cultures of In/Equality in Europe:  Visions, Poetics, Strategies.  Led by Dr Suzanne Clisby, Senior Research Fellow and co-director of the sister project GlobalGRACE, based in anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, the GRACE project brought together fifteen EU funded doctoral researchers from across Europe to investigate what equality means and the ways various cultures of equality are made and remade in the European context today. These studies range from the examination of documentary cinema, theatre, poetry slams and science fiction, to disability politics and trans visual poetics, Islamic feminisms, Syrian women’s diasporic writing, the experiences of women in boxing, and the analysis of the role of social media and reproductive health apps in social change. Together, these studies provide a unique lens through which we can think about the processes and practices, as well as the challenges and dilemmas, that create, enable and contest cultures of in/equality.

Prof J Neil C Garcia, University of the Philippines, delivering GRACE conference key note response

Marking international women’s day, the end of project conference not only brought together scholars and activists from across the world to interrogate and challenge equality discourses and practices but also to celebrate the launch of an exhibition and a feminist smartphone app curated and designed by the GRACE researchers at CASCO Art Institute –  The exhibition, entitled Footnotes on Equality, may be visited via its online platform – – and the app, Quotidian, may downloaded from Play Store – or the App Store.

The GRACE project also saw the launch of What is Left Unseen, at Central Museum, Utrecht, that seeks through new forms of exhibition making to, ‘expose the white male gaze that, for centuries, has determined what and how we see in the museum’

What is Left Unseen is part of the Museum of Equality and Difference (MOED) ––  that also emerged out of and is inspired by the GRACE and GlobalGRACE projects and that brings together ‘artistic perspectives on equality and difference that strive for social change’.

Hairy Connections

Goldsmiths anthropologist, Emma Tarlo, joined forces with designer Alix Bizet and children from Sen8 for an afternoon exploring the world of hair. The afternoon began with a visit to the exhibition, Material Contemplations in Cloth and Hair, at the Constance Howard Gallery, curated by Emma Tarlo and Janis Jefferies. The children enjoyed feeling different types of hair (yak, dog, cat, camel and human!) and had fun trying on hair nets and testing the amazing strength of human hair rope. They saw images of hair work in India and China and learned about how hair is recycled in those countries before going on to join Alix Bizet for a hands on workshop where they learned to make felt from human hair. It was a lively, loud and enjoyable collaboration for all involved!

Emma Tarlo, has also curated an exhbition, Hair! Human Stories which will avilable to see at The Library Space in Battersea from 7 June 201. More informaiton about this can be found on the departmental events page.



On the Ground at Grenfell

On Monday 29th January 2018, Alice Elliot, Department of Anthropology, organised a special film screening of On the Ground at Grenfell which was followed by a Q&A with 3 of the filmmakers, Samiah Anderson, Swarzy Macaly, and Nendie Pinto-Duschinsky. On the Ground at Grenfell is a film made by 9 young people, all of whom are survivors, local residents and volunteers.

At the time of Grenfell, Stowe Films (a collective of filmmakers who met at The Stowe Youth Club 10 years ago) were making a film about the closure of the youth club when the Grenfell Tower broke out in fire, causing 71 deaths and leaving many injured and homeless. The fire directly affected members of the team therefore, they began recording testimonies of survivors, residents and volunteers, reporting and capturing unedited recordings of the atmosphere after the fire. It became the filmmakers mission to capture what the media were failing to- to give a voice to survivors and give recognition to the true heroes following on from events that took place after the fire.

To find out more about this project please visit –

The Department would like to give special thanks to all of the filmmakers and participants of the documentary and to Samiah Anderson, Swarzy Macaly, and Nendie Pinto-Duschinsky for joining us for the screening at Goldsmiths.

Beyond Myself – Exhibition Launch

On Sunday 3rd December the exhibition, Beyond Myself- Filipino migrant’s investments in Philippine futures launched at Goldsmiths, University of London. The launched involved talks, collaborative discussions and performances. Thank you to those who joined us and to our special guests who were:

His Excellency, Ambassador Antonio M Lagdameo who was accompanied by Second Secretary and Consul, Rommel Romato, Professor Patrick Flores (Vargas Museum, UP Diliman), Councillor Jimi Adefiranye and his consort Sandra, Professor David Oswell, Pro-Warden Research & Enterprise, Goldsmiths, Councillor Obajimi Adefiranye, Chair of Lewisham Council, Mr Rafael Maramag of Kanlungan Filipino Consortium and Ms Cielo Esperanza of Filipino Domestic Workers Association

Beyond Myself is an exhibition which stems from community-based art events and collaborative methodologies of exhibition making and research to raise and address questions about the welfare of Filipino migrants in London and Hong Kong and their contributions to national development in their home country.

Participating Artists and Artistic Organisations

  • Nathalie Dagmang, London & Manila
  • Members of the Migrant Domestic Workers Organisation in London
  • Guhit Kulay, Hong Kong
  • Migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong
  • Voices of Women Media
  • Carpelita B.Carag and Rowena E. Brioso, Hong Kong
  • Jorge B Vargas Msuseum

This exhibition stems from the AHRC Funded project Curating Development: Filipino migrants’ investment in Philippine futures. The project is based on partnerships between academic institutions and third sector organisations in and across the UK, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The three academic partners are Goldsmiths, University of London, Department of Anthropology– Mark Johnson, Principal Investigator and Gabriela Nicolescu, Research Fellow, Keele University – Deirdre McKay, Co-Investigator and The University of Hong Kong- Maggy Lee, Co-Investigator.

Our non-academic partners are Susan Cueva and Rafael Joseph Maramag from Kanlungan, a London based charitable consortium consisting of six Filipino community organisations working for the welfare and interests of the Filipino community in Britain and Lenlen Mesina and Lucinda Pike, from Enrich, the leading Hong Kong charity promoting the economic empowerment of migrant domestic workers.

Marla Asis from the Scalabrini Migration Center in Manila is our final partner whose organisation acts as an important bridge between migrants, researchers, third sector organisations and policy makers in the Philippines in advocating for migrant rights and welfare.

Beyond Myself is open to the public and will be running until 31st January along the Kingsway Corridor in the Richard Hoggart Building

Photos and videos from the launch:

Caribbean Film Club

The Caribbean Film Club invites students, staff and the public to explore the richness of Caribbean cultures through a series of feature films and documentaries. Focusing on diverse contexts and themes, from erotic tourism in Haiti to Santeria religions in Cuba, the series offers insight into the creativity and complexity of the region.

All welcome! A £1 entrance fee is requested towards the Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund

For more info contact: Dr Adom Philogene Heron (Social Anthropology)

Room: RHB 342, Goldsmiths 

Time: 6pm

Week 4 – Wednesday 25th October

Life and Debt (2001) by Stephanie Black [Library 330.97292 LIF]

Documentary look at the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture. It examines the economic and social situation in Jamaica, and specifically the impact thereon of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies. Its starting point is the essay A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid.

Week 5 – Wednesday 1st November

La Fuerza del Tambor [the power of the drum] (2006) by Alfredo Calvo Cano [Library 789.1 FUE]

A vibrant example of how the African spiritual and musical traditions have survived in Cuba, “The Power of the Drum” features live public religious ceremonies, interviews with practitioners of the African religions, and drumming demonstrations.

Week 6  – Wednesday 8th November

The Lunatic (1991) by Lol Crème

The story of a village madman, Aloysious, who has the amazing ability to talk to anything, including trees, cows and cricket balls. Aloysious meets Inga, a German nymphomaniac, who uses her ‘pum pum power’ to capture his heart.


WEEK 7 – Wednesday 15th November

Heading South (2005) Laurent Cantet [Library 791.43744 HEA]

Three white women – Ellen, a university professor from New England; Brenda, a housewife from Georgia; and Sue, a blue-collar Canadian – travel to a Haitian resort in search of erotic pleasure. Hoping to escape from dissatisfaction and loneliness, the women repeatedly hire handsome local men for casual sex. But, when Brenda begins to develop feelings for one of the men, Legba, the sudden appearance of honest emotion throws the trio into turmoil.

WEEK 9  – Wednesday 29th November

Dancehall Queen (1997) by Rick Elgood and Don Letts [Library 791.43731 DAN]

Marcia, a Jamaican single mother and street vendor raising two daughters disguises herself for a dance contest, pits her enemies against each other and goes on to become queen of the dancehall.

WEEK 10 – Wednesday 6th December

Rockers (1978) by Ted Bafaloukos [Library 791.437 ROC]

Horsemouth, a rastaman form Kingston, sets himself up in business selling records around Jamaica on his lion of Judah motorbike. But when gangsters steal his bike things start to turn nasty. As tensions build, Horsemouth and friends plot to end the gangsters’ reign of terror and restore justice to the people of Kingston.

Week 11 – Wednesday 13th December

Pressure (1976) by Horace Ové [791.43731 PRE]

Focusing on a single family, Pressure examines the tensions that emerge between first and second generation West Indians in London. British-born youngest son, Tony, finds himself negotiating between the respectable Trinidadian world of his parents and his own explorations of a black political identity. 

We look forward to you joining us!

Curating Development- Autumn Term Seminar Series

Click on poster to make full screen

Curating Development, the Department of Anthropology’s autumn term seminar series will be running from 4th October – 13th December, 3pm-5pm.

Development is a highly contested term and set of processes, but at some level presupposes the possibility of social change and the material enhancement of people’s welfare and wellbeing. We ask, how might artistic, visual and curatorial practices and events contribute to development and/or provide a fora and platform for critical social and political engagement and interventions with these processes?

This seminar series is sponsored by the AHRC and Research and Enterprise Committee at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Free entry all welcome!

Full speakers list:

4 October – RHB 143

Si se puede- new narratives of indebtedness through protest art

Maka Suarez, National Education

University, Ecuador

11 October – RHB 143

The art of post-development: seeing

from the South

Macarena Gomez-Barris, Global South Center, Pratt Institute, New York

18 October – RHB 143

Tropenmuseum in a time of post-development

Wayne Modesto, Tropenmuseum &

VU University Amsterdam

1 November – RHB 143

Photographic encounters: creative engagement with migration in Morocco

Sébastien Bachelet and Laura Jeffery,

University of Edinburgh

15 November – RHB 143

Sink or swim:  participatory videos directed by

domestic workers, refugees/asylum seekers, and ethnic minorities in Hong Kong

Vivian Wenli Lin, Voices of Women Media and Julie Ham, University of Hong Kong

22 November – RHB 304

Curating development:  Filipino migrants’ investments in Philippine futures

Mark Johnson, Goldsmiths, Deirdre McKay, Keele University and Gabriela Nicolescu, Goldsmiths

29 November – RHB 143

The developmental: aesthetic and ethic in Philippine curatorial work

Patrick Flores, Jorge B Vargas Museum,

University of the Philippines

6 December – RHB 143

Curating the Dharavi project, Mumbai

Ben Parry, Bath Spa University and

Vinod Shetty, Acorn Foundation, India

13 December – RHB 143

Excavating an archive: interrogations, tactics and strategies in the development of a long-term photographic project

Paul Halliday, Goldsmiths

For more information please visit the departments event page 

Welcome all new postgraduate students!

Welcome all new postgraduate students, thank you coming to your inductions and joining us in the Anthropology garden for a sunny picnic! Here are a few snaps!

Spotlight on student: Hermione Russell, MA Visual Anthropology

Still from Hermione Russell’s film ‘India Hope: A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Woman’










Following a competitive submission period, Hermione Russell’s film ‘India Hope: A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Woman’, has been selected to premiere at the 75th anniversary of Listen to Britain 2017 on 17th September at the BFI Southbank, shortly to be followed on BBC4 on 24th September at 9pm.

Hermione’s film is a portrait of a 24 year old female poet and artist with Down’s Syndrome.  Through the affecting and sometimes brutal honesty of her words we encounter a young woman who refuses to be contained within the moniker of a syndrome. In listening to these words we encounter an alternative perspective, which invites us to consider the value of both our differences and our similarities.

For more information please visit BBC website and Wingspan Productions.