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Magdalena Rodziewicz

Abstract

The rising popularity of ‘white marriages’, relationships between a man and a woman who live together but are not married, has caused a commotion in the Iranian public sphere in the last few years. The debate includes state institutions and religious circles, who feel anxious about the change in gender relations among Iranians, but also academics who elaborate on the causes and consequences of the phenomenon. An important aspect of this controversy concerns legal issues, since according to Shiite law any intimate relationship of an unmarried couple is considered illegal. This article analyses this key aspect of the ongoing dispute and attempts to elaborate on the question of how the gap between people's expectations and desires and the legal capacity of Islamic rulings is addressed in contemporary Iran.

Open access

Natural Resources and their Units

Necessary Measures of Resourcefulness in a Norwegian Fruit Landscape

Frida Hastrup

Abstract

Dating back to medieval times, fruit cultivation in Hardanger in western Norway is rooted in what is portrayed as a perfect microclimate naturally yielding the best apples in the world. However, the viability of the comparatively minute Norwegian fruit trade is continuously threatened by competition from outside, spurring all kinds of initiatives and policies to make it sustainable. The Norwegian fruit landscape, in other words, is both the natural and perfect home of world-class fruit and a site for continuous, often state-driven interventions to make it so; indeed, the perfection of the place accentuates the need to do what it takes to make it thrive. The necessary means to accomplish such viability, however, make up a complex terrain, as the resourcefulness of the Norwegian fruit landscape is ‘measured’ according to very different units.

Open access

Nathalia Brichet

Abstract

This article explores the emergence of a Greenlandic mineral resource landscape against the background of the current establishment of an industrial ruby mine in Greenland. Anthropological fieldwork combined with a close reading of scientific reports, articles, and geological assessments about Greenlandic gemstones show a recurrent feature, namely that Greenlandic minerals get scaled and valued in ambiguous ways. This ambiguity is telling of a type of Danish (post-)colonial activity, even if such geological mapping was and is motivated by a dream of welfare, development, and economic sustainability shared by Danish experts and Greenlandic politicians alike. An overall point is to argue that the very practice of describing mineral resources also configures their perceived value and posits a yardstick by which to measure their potential.

Open access

Emma Findlen LeBlanc

Abstract

This article examines Syrians’ narratives about the network of Sharia Committees (Hay'āt al-Sharia) that emerged as the most pervasive and popular legal project during the ongoing civil war. Many Syrians formerly excluded from political power, especially working-class Sunnis, envision the Sharia Committees as a revolutionary space for realising self-determination, where sharia is articulated as a democratic legal process embedded in its ostensibly inherent pluralism, flexibility, anti-authoritarianism and conception of justice as reconciliation and public good. By reviving a historically recurrent vision of sharia as radical democratic practice, Syrians attempt to extricate sharia from its entanglements with efforts to govern. The Sharia Committees thus represent a creative effort to reclaim democracy from state control while challenging rigid, rule-oriented understandings of sharia.

Open access

Research Methodology in Kurdish Studies

Interactions between Fieldwork, Epistemology and Theory

Mehmet Orhan

Abstract

Kurdish studies are generally defined and conducted according to a topic or geographic location, namely, within the Middle East. Research procedures used to handle different issues as well as develop concepts and hypotheses have become important, since most of the current theories lack practical approaches when conducting studies on the Kurds. Relying on specific examples, published sources as well as the author's personal fieldwork and insights, the article establishes a critique of bias, problems and solutions in research goals and methodologies in the field of Kurdish studies. The article underlines the importance of problem-oriented research, notably addressing the questions who, where, when, how and why. Furthermore, it shows the way in which the personality of the researcher, as well as the fluctuations and constraints encountered during the fieldwork, influence the methodology. Finally, it emphasises the practical and theoretical challenges dealt with by the researcher due to the political aspect of the Kurdish question, which encompasses orientalist, imperial, or national interests.

Open access

Marcos Farias Ferreira, Máiréad Nic Craith, Markéta Slavková, Linda M. Mülli, Mariann Vaczi, Annika Lems, and Işıl Karataş

Open access

Azim Malikov

Abstract

The Kazakhs, Turkmens, Tajiks, Qaraqalpaqs, Uyghurs and Uzbeks in Central Asia share some distinct sacred lineages – Sayyids and Xojas – some of which appear in two or more of these ethnic groups. In the article, I will analyse some data on the history and identity of Islamic sacred lineages of Samarqand, compiled during ethnographic research of the population and archival materials. I will analyse the stories of the representatives of sacred families about their past, as well as published narratives. The analysis of the sources shows that despite the preservation of the historical family library, a secularised society and the Soviet-era education influenced the views and the identity of sacred families.

Open access

Thule as Frontier

Commons, Contested Resources, and Contact Zones in the High Arctic

Kirsten Hastrup

Abstract

Located in Northwest Greenland, the Thule region is a remarkable frontier zone. This article focusses on the undecided nature of the frontier in both time and space. The article explores the unstable ground upon which ‘resources’ emerge as such. The case is made in three analytical parts: The first discusses the notion of commons and the implicit issue of spatiality. The second shows how the region's living resources were perceived and poses a question of sustainability. The third centres on the Arctic as a ‘contact zone’; a place for colonial encounters and a meeting ground between human and non-human agents.

Open access

Frida Hastrup and Marianne Elisabeth Lien

Abstract

This article outlines the thematic section's main anthropological interventions and introduces the inherently ambiguous notion of welfare frontiers, implying allegedly benign practices of resource development. Through ethnographic analyses from Iceland, Norway, and Greenland, it shows that Nordic Arctic landscapes become resourceful through careful crafting, entangled with practices and ideals of nation-building, egalitarianism, sustainability, good governance, and a concern for liveability for legitimate citizens. Further, the authors suggest that seeing natural resource development as linked to specific welfare state projects, with attention to the sometimes colonizing aspects of such practices, specifies and captures the current era, bringing the Anthropocene back home.

Restricted access

Soheila Shahshahani

As from this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East, we are planning a new section, open to all readers, to share their academic experience in the Middle East. For those of us working in the region, anthropology has been a difficult field to get established and to contribute its share to the academia of the Middle East and from there to the academia and the public in the Middle East, and to the world of anthropology at large. We have had a variety of difficulties, as you will see in this text, and when we mention them, we realise anthropologists in some other countries far and wide have had similar experiences. Here, we propose to open an arena for expression and discussion with the hope of facilitating the road for younger anthropologists. In doing so, we shall not be pointing the finger at any one person or academic institutions, but wish to adopt a more comprehensive and holistic approach in addressing and solving our problems, and suggesting some solutions.