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Why Draw Flowers?

Botanical Art, Nationalism and Women's Contribution to Israeli Culture

Shahar Marnin-Distelfeld and Edna Gorney

Abstract

Botanical art and illustration, presented alongside scientific descriptions, were at the heart of Jewish national projects during the British Mandate in Palestine-Israel and following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Looking back, we recognised three prominent women artists who contributed widely to many such botanical projects: Ruth Koppel, Esther Huber and Bracha Avigad. This study aims to investigate the plant images these three artists have created. We will do so by using the approach of visual anthropology while focusing on two main aspects: the connection between botanical illustration and national identity, and the link between botanical art and gender. This study is the first to demonstrate that botanical art in Israeli culture has been gendered, with women doing most of the work, in agreement with findings from Western culture.

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Wind of Change

Separating Heads and Bodies in Eastern Europe

Tanel Rander

Abstract

What remains of the Soviet identity for those who grew up in an empire that started in the Baltic sea and ended in Kamchatka? What kind of post-Soviet cultural combos have been produced afterwards? Was it bizarre to listen to Led Zeppelin and Nirvana while being targeted with nuclear missiles from the West? In a retrospective way and engaging with the collective memory of his home country, Estonia, the author reflects on different narratives of Europeanisation, shame and peripherality and the way local people embodied them.

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Women's Uprising in Poland

Embodied Claims between the Nation and Europe

Jennifer Ramme

Abstract

In 2016 a legislative proposal introducing an abortion ban resulted in female mass mobilisations. The protests went along with frequent claims of Polish as well as European belonging. Next to this, creative appropriations of patriotic symbols related to national movements, fights and uprisings for independence and their transformation into a sign of female bodily sovereignty could be observed all over the country. The appearance of bodies needs to be looked at in relation to the concrete political context and conditions in which bodies materialise (). Bodies are in this sense always relational, but they also depend. The article argues that the constitution of ‘European bodies’ can serve to empower people exposed to and oppressed by nationalist biopolitics. In such cases a ‘European body’ might be constituted in distinction to the nation/nationalism and its claim of ownership on female bodies (the ‘national body’) and by performing multiple belongings extending national belonging.

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Dreams from Beyond as Politics from Below

The Social Life of Dream Stories within the Hizmet-AKP Conflict in Turkey

Ida Hartmann

Building on ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul in 2015, this article traces how certain people within the Hizmet community drew on dream stories to understand and manoeuvre within the escalating falling-out with the AKP government. It suggests that, in this context, dream stories were circulated within the community to reframe the conflict against the horizon of the afterlife but prevented from spilling into the wider public sphere out of fear that Hizmet critics would use dream stories to denounce the community as a threat to Turkish republican tradition. The article thus proposes to see the social life of dream stories as a ‘politics from below’ through which relations between the religious and the political refracted and notions of national and religious belonging were negotiated and contested.

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Epilogue

Mapping the Topography of Oppression

Jenny White

During today’s crisis in Turkey, victimhood authorises oppression, oppressors see themselves as victims and the oppressed are not only the poor, but educated middle classes. Citizen and state are imbricated in the same political and discursive fields where people mobilise against one another, some moving up and others down, creating unexpected landscapes of victimisation and oppression that do not fit comfortably in literature that analyses ‘politics from below’. How do we conceptualise this in a way that respects people’s understanding of their coordinates in a complex landscape of power? This article interrogates some basic assumptions of this literature, including the impact of the observer’s position and the oppression/resistance framework, replacing it with a model of politics as a shared horizontal topography of action across a terrain of values.

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Expanding Religion and Islamic Morality in Turkey

The Role of the Diyanet’s Women Preachers

Chiara Maritato

Despite scholars’ tremendous interest in the dynamics of Turkish laicism, little to no attention has been paid to the actors and the practices through which Islamic morality is propagated among society every day. This article investigates the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet)’s policy that has been increasing the number of women working as preachers since 2003. To what extent and how does the employment of the Diyanet’s women preachers affect the way in which religion and Islamic public morality grow and are spread in Turkey today? What specifically is women’s contribution in this respect? Drawing on an ethnographic observation of the Diyanet’s women preachers’ activities in Istanbul mosques, the article outlines how they contribute to reshaping Turkish laicism while diffusing Islamic morality in the public space.

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Inheriting and Living the Political

The Leftist Youth Subculture in Istanbul

Lorenzo D’Orsi

This article, based on ethnography conducted in Istanbul, focuses on the experience of the political among young, far-left Turkish militants and young adults whose parents belong to the ’78 revolutionary generation. It shows how their ‘red youth subculture’ is imbricated with family, solidarity and generational bonds. Through the analysis of ritualised political practices such as the May Day parades, the feeling of nostalgia for a never-lived past, political meetings and the role of politics in families, it argues that the experience of the political is irreducible to a set of strategies and ideas: it consists of affections, corporeal sensations, embodied knowledge, aesthetic choices and material culture, which all contribute to substantialise relationships with the state, forms of intimacy and practices of distinction.

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Introduction

Rethinking Power in Turkey through Everyday Practices

Élise Massicard

In an increasingly authoritarian Turkish context that precludes any serious chance of making tangible political gains, challenging common conception of ‘the political’ may expand our understanding of power dynamics. Attempting to track power relations outside the most official, legitimate, conventional and formalised forms of politics provides alternative and sharper insights into how the political is being reframed and how actors retain, uphold, perpetuate or transform their capacity for agency. In an interdisciplinary perspective, but drawing mainly on anthropological literature and methodology, the issue addresses four questions – both empirically in the Turkish case and more conceptually: politicisation, visibility, social stratification and domination.

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Lawyers against the Law

The Challenge of Turkish Lawyering Associations

Joakim Parslow

Despite increasing subordination of the judiciary to executive authorities, Turkish cause lawyering associations are more assertive than ever in their defiance of forced closures and legal persecution. Why would activist lawyers ‘play the game’ of law when the legal system is being undermined? Focusing on the historical genesis of Turkey’s oldest activist lawyering association, the Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (ÇHD), I argue that Turkish legal activism results from not just clashing political causes but also the strategies attorneys are forced to adopt to effect change within an authoritarian-corporatist structure designed to constrict their activities. The ÇHD and similar groups are not merely extensions of the formal juridical order; they also constitute a grassroots engagement with the law that refuses to conform to the categories, narratives, procedures and ends of the state’s legal institutions.

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The Mahalle as Margin of the State

Shifting Sensitivities in Two Neighbourhood Spaces of Istanbul

Urszula Woźniak

The neighbourhood-based battles over norms and values in the ethnically diverse as well as sexual and gendered urban landscapes of the Istanbul neighbourhood (mahalle) spaces of Tophane and Kurtuluş reflect the complexity of the current political transformations that have been shaping Turkey as a whole and Istanbul in particular before and after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt. The analysis of the mahalle as the state’s margin reflects on how public moral talk, including the notion of ‘sensitivity’ (hassasiyet), reverberates in the making of public morality in both neighbourhood spaces. This article specifically focuses on the role of rumours in mediating ideas on behaviour deemed as in/appropriate in the mahalle as ‘moral territory’ and the mundane practices of self-appointed old and new ‘guards’ of the mahalle.