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Interpreting a Tatanua Mask

Bruno Haas, Philipp Schorch, and Michael Mel

Abstract

This article introduces the art historical method of functional deixis into the study of material culture in anthropology. Functional deixis begins with a thorough empirical description of communicative effects—visual and embodied—produced by a material thing on the beholder. It then proceeds by tending to a kind of formalisation that enables us, on the one hand, to sharpen our intuitive reaction to the thing and, on the other, to obtain detailed knowledge about the ways material things produce significance. Here, the method is applied to a tatanua mask originating from present-day Papua New Guinea and currently housed at the Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde in Leipzig, Germany. Based on a thick description, we propose an in-depth interpretation of the mask as a complex response to a fundamental injury, articulating a symbolic expression of grief (left side) with an iconic expression overcoming grief (right side) after a passage through a real word expressed through the front of the mask. In doing so, the article offers a tool to study with rather than a text to read off.

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Making Space for Jewish Culture in Polish Folk and Ethnographic Museums

Curating Social Diversity after Ethnic Cleansing

Erica Lehrer and Monika Murzyn-Kupisz

Abstract

Looking beyond Poland's internationally lauded new Jewish museums, this article asks how Jews are represented in longer-standing folk and ethnographic museums whose mandates have been to represent the historical culture of the Polish nation. How have such museums navigated growing internal pressures to incorporate Jews and reconsider the boundaries of “Polishness” alongside external pressures to rethink the function and approach of ethnographic museology? Based on three museums that have taken three different approaches to Jewishness—what we call cabinet of Jewish curiosities, two solitudes, and ambivalent externalization—we assess the roles played by inherited discourses and structures as well as human agents within and beyond the museum. We illuminate how social debate about the character of the nation (and Jews’ place in it) plays out in museums at a moment in their transition from nineteenth- to twenty-first-century paradigms and how a distinctively Polish path toward a “new museology” is emerging in conversation with and resistance to its Western counterparts.

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Meeting Reports

Sheila K. Hoffman, Conal McCarthy, and Billie Lythberg

25th ICOM General Conference. International Conference Center, Kyoto, Japan, 1–7 September 2019 by Sheila K. Hoffman

Interaction, Integration, and Flow. Researching the Museum in the Global Contemporary, Shaanxi Normal University, Xian, 15–20 September 2019 by Conal McCarthy

‘Amui ‘i Mu'a: Ancient Futures Conference Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, Tonga, 7–12 October 2019 by Billie Lythberg

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Reviewing Oceania

Nicholas Thomas, Adrian Locke, Noelle M. K. Y. Kahanu, Simon Jean, and Lagi-Maama

Curating Oceania at the Royal Academy of Arts by Nicholas Thomas

An Internal Response to Oceania from the Royal Academy of Arts by Adrian Locke

“Exhibiting Oceania” : Conversing with the Curators (or Truth-Telling in Real Time) by Noelle M. K. Y. Kahanu

Océanie in Paris by Simon Jean

Oceania Catalogue by Lagi-Maama

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A “Safe Space” to Debate Colonial Legacy

The University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Campaign to Return a Looted Benin Altarpiece to Nigeria

Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp and Chris Wingfield

Abstract

In February 2016, students at Jesus College, Cambridge voted unanimously to repatriate to Nigeria a bronze cockerel looted during the violent British expedition into Benin City in 1897. The college, however, decided to temporarily relocate Okukor to the University's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This article outlines the discussions that occurred during this process, exploring how the Museum was positioned as a safe space in which uncomfortable colonial legacies, including institutionalized racism and cultural patrimony rights, could be debated. We explore how a stated commitment to postcolonial dialogue ultimately worked to circumvent a call for postcolonial action. Drawing on Ann Stoler's and Elizabeth Edwards's discussions of colonial aphasia, this article argues that anthropology museums risk enabling such circumvention despite confronting their own institutional colonial legacies.

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“[W]hat Beauty in Oriental Art Means”

Asian Arts, Soft Diplomacy, and New Zealand Cultural Nationalism—The Loan Exhibition of Oriental Art, Christchurch, 1935

James Beattie and Louise Stevenson

Abstract

This article presents new historical research on Asian art—particularly Chinese art—in New Zealand through the examination of the content and reception of the Loan Exhibition of Oriental Art, which was held in Christchurch from May to June 1935. It situates the exhibition within the context of Depression-era New Zealand, examines the place of Chinese art, in particular, in the developing cultural nationalism of New Zealand of this period, and highlights the role of one local connoisseur in the making of the exhibition. Moreover, the article's focus on the southern hemisphere fills a gap in global histories of Chinese art exhibition in this period.

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Anthropological Perspectives on Two Documentary Films on Women in the Middle East

Esther Hertzog

Abstract

In this essay, I refer to two documentaries demonstrating some common features of male violence against women in the Jewish and Palestinian societies in Israel. Abeer Zaibak Haddad's film about ‘honor killing’ illustrates the profound threat on girls’ and women's physical safety. Yael Katzir's film is about Jewish women's struggle for religious rights. It is argued that being subjugated to patriarchal control, both Arab and Jewish women are denied fundamental rights. This understanding implies that, despite basic differences in socio-economic conditions and civil rights, women's oppression is present in cultures that are perceived as ‘modern’ and ‘advanced’ just like in those that are perceived as the opposite. Both films point to the failure of the state to ensure women's rights and safety and to women's compliance to men's oppression.

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Book Reviews

Estella Carpi, Sandy F. Chang, Kristy A. Belton, Katja Swider, Naluwembe Binaisa, Magdalena Kubal-Czerwińska, and Jessie Blackbourn

THE MYTH OF SELF-RELIANCE: Economic Lives Inside a Liberian Refugee Camp. Naohiko Omata. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. 194 pages, ISBN 9781785335648 (hardback).

DIASPORA'S HOMELAND: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration. Shelly Chan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. 280 pages, ISBN 9780822370420 (hardback), 9780822370543 (paperback).

NONCITIZENISM: Recognising Noncitizen Capabilities in a World of Citizens. Tendayi Bloom. New York: Routledge, 2018. 222 pages, ISBN 9781138049185 (hardback).

PROTECTING STATELESS PERSONS: The Implementation of the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons across EU States. Katia Bianchini. Brill Nijhof: Leiden, 2018. 382 pages, ISBN 9789004362901 (hardback).

HOPE AND UNCERTAINTY IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN MIGRATION. Nauja Kleist, and Thorsen Dorte, eds. New York: Routledge, 2017. 200 pages, ISBN 9781138961210 (hardback).

THE IMPACT OF MIGRATION ON POLAND: EU Mobility and Social Change. Anne White, Izabela Grabowska, Paweł Kaczmarczyk, and Krystyna Slany. London: UCL University Press, 2018. 276 pages, ISBN 9781787350687 (open access PDF).

UNLEASHING THE FORCE OF LAW: Legal Mobilization, National Security, and Basic Freedoms. Devyani Prabhat. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 225 pages, ISBN 9781137455741 (hardback), ISBN 9781349928118 (paperback).

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Boundaries and Margins

The Making of the ‘Golden Cage’

Eirini Chrysocheri

Abstract

This article focuses on the Greek community of Alexandria, a socially and territorially bounded Diaspora entity that articulates a sense of connection to place through claims of a historically continuous socio-spatial connection to both Egypt and Greece. Through analyses of visual material collected and produced during fieldwork, I explore the spatial and social boundaries of the community before and after Nasser's 1952 revolution and highlight discontinuities in the narratives and imaginings of the city articulated by different generations. Studying the creation of new borders, I reveal how restriction to, and isolation within, the ‘golden cage’ of Greek areas is both willingly embraced and a source of frustration. I conclude by outlining how spatial and ideological boundaries overlap and how they are shifted and defended by Greek and non-Greek inhabitants of the city.

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The Changing Portrayal of Dancers in Egyptian Films

Three Roles in the Career of Tahia Carioca (1946, 1958 and 1972)

Carolina Bracco

Abstract

This article examines the projected image of dancers in Egyptian cinema. The historical background includes the last period of the Farouk monarchy, the revolution of the Free Officers Movement and the Nasser regime, ending with Nasser's death in 1970, when a new social and political era started blossoming. I consider the socio-political changes and their cultural repercussions as part of a dialectic relationship that affects the portrayal of dancers in three films: The Lady's Puppet (1946), My Dark Darling (1958) and Pay Attention to Zuzu (1972). By examining Carioca's roles in these films, I argue socio-political changes in Egypt have been projected on the image of the dancer while also changing it: she is first seen as a working woman, then as an evil woman and finally as a marginalised woman.