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Far from Tranquility Base

Gender and Russianness in For All Mankind's (Not So) Alt Cold War Universe

Roshanna P. Sylvester

Abstract

The Apple+ television series For All Mankind imagines an alternative history in which the Soviets beat the United States to the moon and the Cold War space race never ends. Gender politics and associated dynamics are central to the action. This article explores plotlines involving two fictional cosmonauts: the first woman on the moon and a male crew member stationed at the Soviet's lunar base. It finds that FAM reinforces Cold War tropes, anxieties, and “us vs them” formulations. FAM's writers miss the opportunity to probe the complexities of gender and personhood in the late Soviet era. Instead of encouraging more nuanced thinking about “the Russians,” FAM's universe perpetuates Cold War sensibilities that promote competition and conflict on Earth and in space.

Open access

Following a Deep-Sea Channel

Sensory Landscape and Experiential Knowledge in Science-Making on a Research Vessel

Ramona Haegele

Abstract

Little is known of deep-sea channels and their role as an effective carbon sink. How do scientists approach the deep sea, and which are their strategies to generate knowledge? To answer these questions, my research focuses on knowledge production processes along the Northwest Atlantic Mid-Ocean Channel (NAMOC) during a research expedition in the Labrador Sea. The research is conceptually guided by approaches of science and technology studies and new materialism. Methodologically, the study employs multi-sited ethnography and uses multi-modal materials including participant observation and semi-structured interviews with representatives of the research vessel's crew and scientists. The findings shed light on the usually unseen practices of science-making. Sensory landscapes as well as experiential knowledge were identified as two modes of following, researching, and knowing the NAMOC.

Open access

The Hau of the Article and Dividual Authors

Reimagining Authorship in Anthropology

Luther Blissett

Abstract

Despite repeated calls for change, social and cultural anthropology is still dominated by single-authored works. I consider two thought experiments that might disturb the status quo in interesting ways. Anthropologists could publish anonymously, treating ourselves in the same way as we treat our anonymised informants, for example, using pseudonyms. Alternatively, we could treat our colleagues in the field not only as equals but also as co-authors. Both these options have implications concerning the ‘dividual’ author (perhaps now thought of as an ‘auth’), and involve rethinking the ‘hau’ of publication.

Résumé

En dépit d'appels répétés pour une évolution de nos pratiques, l'anthropologie sociale et culturelle est toujours dominée par l'auctorialité au singulier. Je considère ici deux expériences de pensée qui peuvent perturber le status quo en la matière de façon intéressante. Nous pouvons ainsi publier anonymement, nous traitant ainsi de la même manière que nous traitons anonymement nos informateurs, par exemple avec l'usage de pseudonymes. Alternativement, nous pouvons traiter nos collègues sur le terrain non seulement comme des égaux, mais également comme des co-auteurs. Ces deux options ont des implications en ce qui concerne l'auteur « dividuel » (qu'il faut peut-être désormais penser comme un « auth »), ce qui implique de repenser le « hau » de la publication

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Howdy Comrade

Continuity/Familiarity of Cold War-Era Tropes of Russian, East European, and Soviet Womanhood in Early Twenty-First-Century Popular Culture Artifacts

Linda Beail and Lilly J. Goren

Abstract

American and Western audiences have long come to understand Soviet and Russian womanhood, and thus US womanhood, from representations in popular televisual texts. While there is a long history of popular culture presenting the “othered” women of Eastern Europe, for example as temptress “Bond girls” during the Cold War, these narratives have continued onscreen into the twenty-first century. We examine the myriad representations from both the Cold War and post-Cold War period, noting the typical narrative constructions that focus on femme fatales, psychological and sexual trauma, and economic precarity, and how these have continued in contemporary popular culture to shore up notions of Western cultural and political superiority. The characters and the situations in which they find themselves, as spies, assassins, and double agents, continue to send messages about danger and dominance regarding both gender and geopolitics.

Open access

Introduction: Ritual Performance and Religious Identity

Reshaping Traditions in Contemporary MENA and its Diasporas

Paulo G. Pinto and Liza Dumovich

Abstract

Tradition is a multifaceted concept and a term with contested meanings. It is usually understood as an unchanging collection of artefacts passed down from generation to generation, where continuity between past and present is expected and assumed. Scholarly studies, however, have shown that tradition is continuously produced and ‘invented’ in order to cope with the present and to imagine a possible future. The articles in this special issue explore different ways in which tradition is imagined, articulated and produced in different religious contexts, in which Islam serves as a focus for reference or contrast. They show that a specific Islamic tradition can undergo profound transformations to the point of losing its connection with Islam, both at the individual and at the social or communal levels.

Open access

Islam as the Problem, Christianity as the Solution

Rupture and Continuity as Missionary Method for the Conversion of Iranians

Ana Maria Gomes Raietparvar

Abstract

This article analyses Christian missionaries working on converting Muslim Iranians to Christianity. Their methods are based on a logic of rupture and discontinuity with Islam, presenting Christianity as the solution to a moral-political crisis of Iranians in the Islamic Republic. Anti-Islam is the focus of this conversion discourse. In a transnational Christian network formed by Iranians and non-Iranians, the evangelical missionaries work with methodology that breaks and dialogues with society and the local culture of their target audience, presenting evangelical Christianity as an alternative for Iranians. This research was carried out based on participant observation in missionary groups and Christian churches for Iranians, via digital media and face-to-face, contributing to the understanding of the conversion of Muslims to evangelical Christianity.

Open access

Laziness and Stinginess

The Negative Efficacy of Care and the Dynamics of Kinship in the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela

Olivier Allard

Abstract

Care, in lowland South America, is an ethical practice that is constitutive of kinship relations. Drawing on the case of the Warao, an indigenous people of Venezuela, I complicate this link between care and kinship in two interrelated ways: first, by focusing on the impossibility of perfect care (the particularising orientation of care makes neglect inevitable); and second, by acknowledging that kinship must not only be made, but also unmade. Both strands of this argument contribute to an effort to show that the dark side of the care/kinship nexus is relationally productive. Since kinship relations are constituted by the memory of past acts of care and nurture, quarrels that arise from reciprocal accusations of laziness and stinginess trigger dynamics of separation with long-term implications. Care is remembered but its limits are also acknowledged, especially at death, and such reflexivity contributes to its properly ethical character.

Résumé

Dans les basses terres d'Amérique du Sud, le souci des autres (ou care) est une pratique éthique constitutive des relations de parenté. En m'appuyant sur le cas des Warao, un peuple autochtone du Venezuela, je complexifie ce lien entre care et parenté de deux manières interdépendantes : tout d'abord, en soulignant l'impossibilité de prendre parfaitement soin d'autrui (le souci des autres représentant une attention aux besoins spécifiques de personnes particulières, il est inévitable qu'il conduise à en négliger d'autres) ; ensuite, en reconnaissant que les relations de parenté doivent être créées mais aussi rompues. Les deux volets de cet argument représentent une tentative de montrer que le côté obscur du lien entre care et parenté est productif sur le plan relationnel. Dans la mesure où c'est la mémoire des actes nourriciers et de soin qui fonde les relations de parenté, les disputes suscitées par des accusations réciproques de paresse et de mesquinerie déclenchent des dynamiques de séparation qui ont des implications à long terme. On se souvient du care mais on reconnaît aussi ses limites, en particulier lors de la mort des personnes concernées, et cette réflexivité contribue à son caractère proprement éthique.

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Lion of Love

Representations of Russian Homosexuality and Homophobia in Netflix's Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Catherine Baker

Abstract

Alexander Lemtov, the Russian antagonist of Netflix's 2020 musical comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, embodies and dramatizes contentions over Russian homophobia, disavowals of homosexuality in Russian entertainment, and the construction of LGBTQ+ equality as a defining value of ‘European’ space which have surrounded the real-life Eurovision Song Contest since the mid-2000s. An assertively-heterosexual sex symbol in public, Lemtov in private exemplifies the trope of the closeted gay entertainer whose performances of machismo allow him to hide his admiration for the male body in plain sight. His depiction could potentially open space for exploring how other queer male Russian entertainers have historically negotiated homophobia but is constrained within a liberal sexual geopolitics that demands further recontextualization following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Open access

Mehir (Dower), Gifts of Gold, and Intimate Economies of Marriage in Istanbul

Burcu Kalpaklıoğlu

Abstract

Islamic mehir practices (dower) and other financial arrangements during a marriage reveal how marriage, gender and religion are understood and reconfigured in Istanbul today. Drawing on religious women's narratives of mehir and gifts of gold, this article examines the complex interplay between economic transactions and intimate marital relationships in Istanbul, as well as the relation between my interlocutors’ practices of mehir and wedding gifts and their sense of propriety. It suggests that women's ways of understanding and practising economic marriage transactions are ambivalently shaped by intimate entanglements of religion, nuclear family, conjugal love, secular civil law, and reputation and honour. Women uneasily navigate the ambivalences of the intimate sphere as they make decisions and engage in practices related to economic marriage transactions.

Open access

Migrant Souls

Reincarnation, Religious Authority and the Transformations of Druze Identity in Minas Gerais, Brazil

Paulo G. Pinto

Abstract

This article analyses the reconfiguration of religious identity in the Druze community in Minas Gerais, south-eastern Brazil, which was formed by the arrival of immigrants from Lebanon in the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. The immigrants created ethnic and religious institutions destined to maintain Druze identity and its Islamic character. However, the transmission of religious knowledge to the generations born in Brazil was fragmentary and imperfect. Nevertheless, Druze identity was maintained by many and completely recreated in the religious context of Catholicism and Spiritism, while the connection to Islam faded away. The analysis focuses on how religious authorities and the belief in reincarnation were the main elements that allowed continuity in religious identity together with the transformation of tradition.