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Maxmillian Julius Chuhila, Veena Das, Alex Pillen and Knut Christian Myhre

This issue inaugurates the First Book Symposium as a feature in the pages of Social Analysis. Instead of including ourselves among the journals that devote a section to book reviews in their regular issues, as we have done for many years, we feel that a more focused approach is better suited to our goal of exploring the potentials of anthropological analysis. Adopting from other journals the format of the book symposium, in which a single book is subjected to sustained critical engagement by relevant scholars, we devote it in particular to discussion of books by first-time authors. Our aim is, on the one hand, to give a platform to scholars who are not already widely known and established and, on the other, to acquaint our readers with ideas and analytical approaches that are fresh.

Knut Christian Myhre, Returning Life: Language, Life Force and History in Kilimanjaro (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018), 336 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. eBook. eISBN 9781785336669.

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Ted Nannicelli

Welcome to the first issue of our first three-issue volume of Projections. We begin this issue with a truly exciting collaboration between a filmmaker (and scholar), Karen Pearlman, and a psychologist, James E. Cutting. Cutting and Pearlman analyze a number of formal features, including shot duration, across successive cuts of Pearlman’s 2016 short film, Woman with an Editing Bench. They find that the intuitive revisions that Pearlman made actually track a progression toward fractal structures – complex patterns that also happen to mark three central pulses of human existence (heartbeat, breathing, walking).

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Gabriel Josipovici

Three Figures

David Herman

This article explores three central figures that recur in Gabriel Josipovici’s critical writing. All three are essentially solitary. First, there is the creative figure – the artist, the composer, the writer – alone in their study or studio. Second, there is a curiously impersonal figure, more elusive, harder to pin down. Not the writer or artist but an anonymous figure walking down the road, Wordsworth’s solitaries in The Prelude and Paul Klee’s Wander-Artist. And, finally, there are Jewish figures, especially from Kafka and the Hebrew Bible. What are these bare, elusive anonymous figures doing in Josipovici’s writing? Why do they come up so often, throughout his work, from the mid 1970s to the present? And are they lifeless or are they full of life, deeply human, rooted in history and literature?

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Howard Cooper

There are many approaches to reading the Hebrew Bible, from the pietistic in both Jewish and Christian traditions to the scholarly. Gabriel Josipovici’s approach is not about seeking the reductive ‘meaning’ of a text, but encouraging readers into an open relationship with the text in order to preserve the ambiguities and mysteries that adhere to such texts. Joseph’s encounter with an unnamed stranger in Genesis 37 is used as an illustration of this approach. Standing ‘face to face’ with the text requires humility, and trust in the storyteller.

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Gabriel Josipovici at 75

A Celebration and Personal Contribution

Jeremy Lane

This article, as a tribute to Gabriel Josipovici, describes his impact on the author over many decades, initially as his teacher and thesis supervisor, later as colleague and friend at the University of Sussex. This impact included broadening his knowledge of contemporary French literary critics and of writers engaged with criticism, and opening up European dimensions to otherwise insular English academic approaches to literature. A study of Josipovici’s novel Migrations (1977) shows how it manages to explore the many dimensions of the condition of migrancy, even though held here within the bounds of a novel that is tightly packed but opens into a whole world.

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A Generative Theory of Anticipation

Mood, Intuition and Imagination in Architectural Practice

Christopher Stephan

In this article, I argue that anticipation unfolds within a range of experiential modalities. Because moods and emotions, intuitions and imagination, among other forms of experience, can all appear as disclosing something about the future, anticipation is heterogeneous. Building on work in phenomenological anthropology and philosophy, I offer a generative phenomenology of the range of anticipatory experience, arguing that some forms of experience are relatively more implicit while others may prove more salient and offer more explicable forms of anticipation. As anticipation emerges in time, the more implicit experiential modes such as mood and intuition operate as antecedents to more explicit ones such as imagination. Turning to apply these ideas to ethnographic materials from my fieldwork among architectural design teams in San Francisco, I demonstrate how attentiveness to this gradient of anticipatory experience allows us to account for anticipatory experiences as they unfold through time.

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Sara Van Belle

In this article, I set out to capture the dynamics of two streams within the field of global health research: realist research and medical anthropology. I critically discuss the development of methodology and practice in realist health research in low- and middle-income countries against the background of anthropological practice in global health to make claims on why realist enquiry has taken a high flight. I argue that in order to provide a contribution to today’s complex global issues, we need to adopt a pragmatic stance and move past disciplinary silos: both methodologies have the potential to be well-suited to an analysis of deep layers of context and of key social mechanisms.

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Guest Editorial

Queering Girlhood

Barbara Jane Brickman

In their new groundbreaking study reviewed in this special issue, The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) are Creating a Gender Revolution (2018), sociologist Ann Travers details the experiences of transgender children in the US and Canada, some as young as four years of age, who participated in research interviews over a five-year period. Establishing a unique picture of what it means to grow up as a trans child, Travers offers numerous examples of daily life and challenges for children like, for example, Martine and Esme, both of whom sought to determine their own gender at an early age: Martine and her family recount how at the age of seven she responded to her upcoming appointment at a gender clinic by asking if the doctor would have “the machine where you walk in as a boy and walk out as a girl,” while Esme’s story begins in preschool and leads to the care of a “trans-affirmative doctor” (168) from the age of six and the promise of hormone blockers and estrogen at the onset of puberty. Although Travers’s work is devoted to and advocates for trans children as a whole, its implications for our understanding of and research into girls and girlhood cannot be understated. What does it mean to “walk out” of that machine in the doctor’s office “as a girl?” What happens when you displace the seemingly monumental onset of puberty from its previous biological imperatives and reproductive futures? How might feminist work on girlhoods, which has sought to challenge sexual and gender binaries for so long, approach an encounter with what Travers calls “binary-conforming” or “binary-identifying” (169) trans girls or with the transgender boys in their study who, at first, respond to the conforming pressures of adolescence very similarly to cisgender girls who will not ultimately transition away from a female identity?

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Gabriel Josipovici

It takes time to look at an image. He spreads the paper flat on his desk and leans over it to try and get a better view of the small black and white photograph in the top right hand corner which has caught his attention.

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I’m No Princess

Super Hero Girls Together

Lucy I. Baker

DC Super Hero Girls (DCSHG) is a trans-media franchise that includes not just screen media texts but a wide array of themed merchandise aimed at a multi-generational market. I argue here that key components of the franchise present a queered version of girlhood that critiques femininity as a gender role while presenting femaleness as encompassing a variety of signifiers, acts, and presentations that can be read as queer (particularly by the so-called big girls in the audience). This is evident in the representation of queer relationships that exist in the sexualized zone of the canonical material, allowing the DCSHG characters to inhabit a liminal proto-queer space between homosocial/gender non-conforming and lesbian that is considered more appropriate for young girls. I examine the way in which the DC Super Hero Girls franchise rejects and reforms familiar elements of comics, super heroism, and princess culture to create that space for girls.