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Trespass into the Liminal

Urban Exploration in Estonia

Francisco Martínez and Patrick Laviolette

This article outlines narratives of trespass. It analyses relations between the personal and the social in abandoned urban physical surroundings. Grounded in our own duo-auto-ethnographic encounters with off-limit places, the research examines the classic notion of liminality through a set of prisms that are less than orthodox. It does so by stressing the formative and transformative possibilities of those threshold spaces that often get bypassed, surpassed or trespassed. Through a series of vignettes describing moments of urban exploration in different parts of Estonia, our implicit aim is to unsettle such conceptual categories as risk and adventure, material decay and transgression. Explicitly, we argue for revisiting storytelling tropes such as the flâneur or the stalker, freeing them up from their respective leisure and pastime associations.

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Women and Carnival Space

Gender and Carnival in a North Aegean Island Community

Regina Zervou

This article focuses on gender relations through the performance of carnival rites in a North Aegean island rural community. Based on qualitative research, it approaches the women’s use of public space during carnival and the changes under the influence of women’s emancipation since the 1970s. The percentage of women, especially young girls, participating in carnival rites has risen dramatically over the last decade. However, not all carnival public spaces are equally open to women. The article examines the way women try to impose their presence on the strictly male universe of the carnival space and especially the marketplace, the traditional and timeless core of the carnival rites, where only men can pronounce the obscene carnival language, fruit of the kafeneion male discourse and the reactions of the male community to the novelties brought by feminism into the village.

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Women and Gender in Short Stories by Rabindranath Tagore

An Anthropological Introspection on Kinship and Family

Nandini Sen

This article examines female protagonists in Rabindranath Tagore’s stories and novellas – specifically Charu (A Broken Nest, 1901), Mrinal (The Wife’s Letter, 1914), Kamala (Musalmani, 1941), Anila (House Number 1, 1917), Chandara (Punishment, 1893) and Boshtomi (Devotee, 1916) – from a social anthropological viewpoint, focusing on gender and time-based kinship relations. Here, kinship is defined as an extension of familial relationships to the community (common ethnic-social life, locality and religion) in such a way as to achieve progressively higher levels of social integration and extensive social networks through marriage alliances and lines of descent. Studying how the characters placed the universality of family and kinship structures into question, I argue that parameters of kinship organisation need to be redefined, with plurality and difference as the basis of inquiry rather than universality.

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Alessandro Testa (2014), Il carnevale dell’uomo-animale

Le dimensioni storiche e socio-culturali di una festa appenninica

Angelika Dietz

Alessandro Testa (2014), Il carnevale dell’uomo-animale: Le dimensioni storiche e socio-culturali di una festa appenninica (Napoli: Loffredo), 610 pp., Pb: €34.50, ISBN: 978-8-875-64675-2.

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The Anthropology of Literature in France

Birth and Becoming of a New Field of Studies

Laurent Sebastian Fournier and Jean-Marie Privat

In this article we present the ongoing theoretical discussions concerning the relations between anthropology and literature in France. We recall the historical relationship of a part of French anthropology and the world of literature. We then try to show how the anthropology of literature began by using the model of the anthropology of art, mainly concentrating on literary works as individual creations specific to the style or the cosmology of a given writer. We explore a new perspective on the analysis of the social and symbolic meanings of literary worlds, putting the emphasis on what is called ‘ethnocriticism’ in France. In order to understand better the influence of literature and literary motives on contemporary cultural practices, and to grasp the relation of literary works with the outside world and with everyday life, we propose to build up a comparative approach of literary works and rituals. Through different novels or other literary works, we address possible developments of contemporary anthropologies of literature in France.

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Blood and the City

Animal Representations and Urban (Dis)orders during the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ in Istanbul and Khartoum

Alice Franck, Jean Gardin, and Olivier Givre

Abstract

Based on comparative fieldwork studies of the Muslim ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’, this article questions the places, shapes and stakes of ritual animal death in the urban space. The examples of Istanbul (Turkey) and Khartoum (Sudan) illustrate different but comparable perceptions, practices and management of a ritual event simultaneously associated with religious traditions and confronted with deep transformations in urbanised and globalised societies. Between ritual normalcy and controversial practice, sacrifice in the city is not reducible to a religious matter but addresses at once spatial, social and cultural issues, informed by economic and political stakes. Through a ritual performance and its manifold aspects, the article explores the multiple and evolving representations of the place and role of animals (and their death) in an urban context.

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Bernard Faye

Abstract

Regarded as an animal of the past and supporting the eternal image of the ‘ship of the desert’, the dromedary camel is facing deep changes in its rearing system, causing significant changes in human relationships. A somewhat idealized virtuous animal among the nomad with which it shares the rough life of deserts, it becomes only one cog in the intensification process of settled production systems where it needs to better express its potential of production to avoid the risk of being marginalized, its utilitarian function becoming predominant. However, the urbanized Middle East likes to remember the virtues of the animal and its products, the dromedary returning this animal idealized for a weekend where the city dweller looking over its lost emotional proximity, rather than the economic benefits of its products.

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Donner la mort au gibier sur le territoire sacré de la Mecque

Une vieille controverse (VIIe-VIIIe siècles)

Hocine Benkheira

Abstract

The Qur’ân (5, 95) prohibits hunting for pilgrims at Mecca. If they do not observe this prohibition, they are obliged to sacrifice an animal. Through the analysis of the casuistry of this prohibition during the early Islamic period, we try to understand its meaning. We put forward that the prohibition means that wild animals are under the protection of the god of the Ka’ba.

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Every Dog Has Its Day

New Patterns in Pet Keeping in Iran

Anahita Grisoni and Marjan Mashkour

Abstract

In the perspective of human–animal relationships, considered a social change marker, pet dogs in modern Iranian society constitute a form of acculturation that started under the former regime and perpetuates, if not intensifies, nowadays. At first glance, this acculturation form seems to be directly borrowed from Western patterns, but this article shows the peculiarities of the adaptation models to the Iranian context. This work, based on individual, semi-structured interviews with dog owners aims to study the subjective representations of pet dogs and the acquisition and cohabitation material conditions with this animal, within the context of a changing contemporary Iranian society.

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Fair Exchange

Utilisation of Working Animals (and Women) in Ancient Mesopotamia and Modern Africa

Jill Goulder

Abstract

Modern sub-Saharan African studies on the recent adoption and impact of working-animal use provide valuable ethnographic insights for archaeologists into early exploitation of this new resource in antiquity. The systematic use of working cattle and (often forgotten in models) of donkeys constituted a key factor in the burgeoning of complex societies in fourth- and third-millennium BC Mesopotamia. Modern analogy indicates that models should include the economic importance of year-round utilisation of working animals and strategies for achieving this, including user training and animal hiring and lending. Another key finding is that the situation of women, commonly culturally constrained worldwide from handling cattle, is greatly ameliorated by the availability of donkeys, which can empower them in terms of income and status.