UCL Ethnography Collection, Ph. Kaberry Fund, Waapi Saaki (Big Yams ceremony)

Dr. Ludovic Coupaye on UCL Ethnography Collection

We are very pleased to introduce you to a set of six videos following an interview conducted during the first term of academic year 2016-2017 with Dr. Ludovic Coupaye, lecturer at UCL Anthropology. Specialised on the Pacific area, Dr. L. Coupaye explores the history, production, uses and meanings of artefacts produced in this area investigating objects kept in UCL Ethnography Collection.

In the first video, Dr. L. Coupaye starts explaining how he got interested in Pacific Arts and more specifically in the Sepik Area of Papua New Guinea where he did his field work, and then, in the second video, expounds how diverse the material culture of this area is. He then interprets four objects:
– a knife produced in the Bismark Archipelago (North of Papua New Guinea)
two masks produced by the Abelam people from the Sepik area
a grass mat from Santa Cruz Islands (North of Vanuatu archipelago)

UCL Ethnography Collection, Ph. Kaberry Fund, Waapi Saaki (Big Yams ceremony)

UCL Ethnography Collection
Ph. Kaberry Fund
Waapi Saaki (Big Yams ceremony)

Dr. L. Coupaye starts focusing on the concrete dimension of those objects, the materials and techniques employed in their process making. Starting from there, he investigates what this materiality embodies in terms of values and relationships between people. In the collection, for conservation purposes, the materiality of objects is primordial, but it is indeed crucial to ask yourself about their context of creation, their uses and meanings before becoming museums objects.

In the last video, Dr. L. Coupaye set out his point of view about ethnography collections and museums, their relationship with communities and concludes with new challenges for Anthropology of Art and material culture’s study.

Thank you very much to the team of volunteers who worked very hard on this project:
Gabriela Aguillar Leite, from São Paulo University, Master student, UCL Anthropology Research internship
Gustav Joncus, Undergraduate student, UCL Anthropology
Heidi Chan, Undergraduate student, UCL Anthropology
Anuschka Korstian, Undergraduate student, UCL Anthropology