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Postsocialist Mediterranean

Scalar gaze, moral self, and relational labor of favors in Eastern Europe

Čarna Brković

This article opens a conversation between anthropological studies of the Mediterranean and of postsocialism in order to propose the notion of a “scalar gaze” as an analytical approach useful for capturing veering practices in their social complexity. The article argues that favors (veze/štela, lit. relations, connections) in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina were a practice through which people fulfilled the demands of capitalist economy to be active, rather than a pre-capitalist excess that prevented “proper” development of the country into a neoliberal democracy. Zooming in and out and looking sideways between moral reasoning, internationally supervised structural changes of the job markets, and electoral politics, this article explores how the relational labor of favors reproduced moral selves, as well as hierarchy and inequality.

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Trading Futures

Sadaqah, social enterprise, and the polytemporalities of development gifts

Tom Widger and Filippo Osella

In this article, we explore what happens when idea(l)s of Islamic charity (sadaqah) and social enterprise converge within a low-cost public health clinic in Colombo, Sri Lanka. For both the clinic’s wealthy sponsors and the urban poor who use it, interpreting the intervention as a pious expression of care toward the poor or as a for-profit humanitarian venture meant extending different futures to the poor. The ambiguous temporalities of gifts and commodities anticipated by benefactors and beneficiaries involved in this challenges anthropological assumptions concerning the marketizing effects of neoliberal development interventions. Our ethnography revealed a hesitancy among the clinic’s sponsors, managers, and users to endow the intervention with a final interpretation, undermining its stated goal of promoting health care privatization and “responsibilization” of the poor.

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Jonathan A. Allan, Chris Haywood, and Frank G. Karioris

On the cover of this issue, we have another image from the Wellcome Collection. This image by ABIA (Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS/Grupo) is a not-for-profit organization mobilized in response to the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980's. The image is a reworking of the “Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo and was used as part of HIV/AIDS prevention advertising campaign.

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Andrew Sanders

Abstract

‘Happiness’, as we now commonly understand the term, is not something we should expect to meet in Shakespeare's work. When he employs alternative words – such as ‘felicity, ‘merry’ or ‘blessed’ – he rarely seeks to convey what latter-day readers might assume to be the concept of ‘happiness’ that we accept as an agreeable state of mind. Shakespeare's ‘happy’ seems to apply to circumstances rather than to a state of mind. His characters often appear to be luckier in their happiness rather than actual achievers of happiness. The idea that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is an essential part of the definition of the human condition (as in the founding documents of the American Revolution) may well owe far more to John Milton's use of the words ‘happy’ and ‘happiness’ and the common acceptance of ‘happiness’ as a socially and politically desirable condition.

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Air in Unexpected Places

Metabolism, Design, and the Making of an ‘African’ Aircrete

Michael Degani

Abstract

Aircrete is a lightweight building material with a number of remarkable qualities, including high compression strength, buoyancy and thermal insulation. Perhaps most strikingly, its lack of sand aggregate makes it energy efficient compared to concrete. While aircrete is regularly sold by various construction companies, DIY enthusiasts and technicians around the world are cultivating more home-brew, open-source methods. This article follows James, an American ex-security contractor and mining engineer, as he attempts to convert his own embodied legacies of imperial extraction into a pro-social business venture by designing aircrete machines and mixes for urban Africa. His adventures in aircrete typify an energy future in which an array of intriguing experiments and technologies intersect with a broader entrepreneurial effort to capture Africa's growing consumer markets.

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Albert H. Friedlander

An American Appreciation

Amy-Jill Levine

Abstract

The work of Rabbi Albert Friedlander is less known in US contexts than it should be, especially since it still has much to contribute to both Jewish communal relationships and dialogue between Jews and Christians. From the perspective of an American academic, this article focuses on his chaplaincy work in the context of competing forms of Jewish orthodoxy and orthopraxy; the impact of the Shoah on his understanding of and response to US racism; his approach to Jewish–Christian relations by celebrating accomplishment rather than bewailing what is left to be done; and his concern for reconciliatory rather than agonist learning in which one seeks insights even in work with which one disagrees.

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Ambivalent Sexualities in a Transnational Context

Romanian and Bulgarian Migrant Male Sex Workers in Berlin

Victor Trofimov

Abstract

In this article, I explore negotiations of sexualities among Romanian and Bulgarian migrant male sex workers in Berlin. After explaining the concept of sexual script, I argue that inasmuch as those sex workers work on the gay male scene but spend the rest of their daily lives within the broader Romanian and Bulgarian communities, they need to negotiate between the gay male and the heteropatriarchal sexual scripts, which are prevalent in these social spaces, respectively. I examine six strategies by means of which the sex workers surf the binarisms of the scripts and in so doing reveal the ambivalence and sociospatial situatedness of human sexuality.

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Berlin 1927

Intersections with Albert Friedlander

Susanne Kord

Abstract

This article outlines intersections between Albert Friedlander and two other Berliners of the 1920s: the Sass brothers, Berlin's most daring and beloved crooks, and the Jewish crime writer Walter Serner. It attempts to read their stories as ‘prayers’ or ‘poetry’ in Friedlander's sense.

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Ben Belek

Janet Carsten, Blood Work: Life and Laboratories in Penang, Durham, NC: Duke University, pp. 256, 2019.

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Federica Stagni and Daryl Glaser

Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine, by Noura Erakat. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019. 331 pp.

Race, Class and the Post-Apartheid Democratic State, edited by John Reynolds, Ben Fine. and Robert van Niekerk. Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2019. 396 pp.