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Designing a New Method of Studying Feature-Length Films

An Empirical Study and its Critical Analysis

Jose Cañas-Bajo, Teresa Cañas-Bajo, Eleni Berki, Juri-Petri Valtanen and Pertti Saariluoma

Measuring viewers’ experiences of films has become a critical issue for filmmakers because all kinds of audiences now have access to new releases from all over the world. Some approaches have focused on the cognitive level of the experience, while others have emphasized the structure of films. Additionally, some have used quantitative objective methods to examine audience reactions to short film sequences, while others have applied qualitative approaches to study feature-length films. However, an integrated method that combines the features of these approaches is needed. In this article, we describe a new method that combines quantitative and qualitative data to study viewers’ experiences of different structural features of films. This method involves an online subjective response mechanism that can be used to capture and measure the experiences of different target audiences as they watch movies of different lengths.

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Dis/working with Diagrams

How Genealogies and Maps Obscure Nanoscale Worlds (a Hunter-Gatherer Case)

Nurit Bird-David

Standard diagrammatic tools in ethnographies, locational maps, and kinship trees are supposed to help make fieldwork and its findings intelligible to readers. This article explores how, to the contrary, they obscure locals’ lived worlds and the fieldwork process when they are used cross-culturally and cross-scalarly in studies of minuscule indigenous societies, anthropology’s traditional study subject. I draw on my experience of producing and using these visuals, from fieldwork through to writing ethnography, in my work with foragers who live in South India in order to show the effect of these diagrammatic tools on our understanding of nanoscale communities and their intimate worlds.

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Distributing Responsibilities in an Agricultural Ecosystem

Insights from the Lake Naivasha Water Basin in Kenya

Gaële Rouillé-Kielo

This article explores the responses to acknowledged anthropogenic transformations of Lake Naivasha in Kenya, whose ecosystem is considered to have been disturbed by the intensification of agricultural uses of natural resources (notably land and water) over the last half century. It examines the ways in which a “payments for environmental services” (PES) project has been implemented, reflecting the rationale of ecological modernization. This article aims to challenge the environmental narrative that supports the project by revealing its oversimplifications. Empirical data demonstrates how the environmental issues addressed by the project are embedded in historically inherited land trajectories. This in turn forces us to reflect on the necessary question of responsibility, an issue at the heart of the debate since the emergence of the Anthropocene concept.

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Doing bizness

Migrant smuggling and everyday life in the Maghreb

Line Richter

Drawing on extensive fieldwork among Malian migrants and connection men, this article investigates the sociality of facilitating migrant journeys and illegal border crossings in the Maghreb. Dominant discourses portray smugglers as participating in highly organized networks of unscrupulous people taking advantage of innocent migrants. I counter such narratives by zooming in on West African migrants involved in the facilitation of illegal border crossings. This bizness consists of ensembles of temporary practices and relations embedded in everyday life with linkages to historical and regional practices of brokering and hosting. This perspective invites us to move conceptually from focusing on different (stereo) types of smugglers to considering smuggling practices; to make sense of the phenomenon, we need to pay less attention to fixed social positions and more to the transient social poses adopted by those involved.

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Doing Gender Research as a 'Gendered Subject'

Challenges and Sparks of Being a Dual-Citizen Woman Researcher in Iran

Rassa Ghaffari

This contribution is based on the difficulties, challenges and stimuli faced during the months of field research conducted in Tehran for my PhD dissertation on transformations of gender roles in Iran. Therefore, it means to rethink the three main issues I faced during my ethnography in in a context characterized by peculiar social and cultural dynamics: the difficulties and advantages related to my condition of a woman who works on a topic full of nuances and complexities; my ‘accented identity’ as a researcher born and raised abroad but Iranian by affiliation; and the methodological and epistemological implications and dilemmas arisen in attempt to apply techniques and theories learned mainly within the Western academia.

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Dr. Dolittle, I Presume

A Reflection on the Reputation of Richard Lynch Garner

Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Richard Lynch Garner’s is a curious case in the history of the fragility of fame. Born in 1848, the explorer, zoologist, specimen hunter, and pioneer in linguistics, animal ethics, and primatology inspired at least one fictional character: the mysterious, offstage Dr. Johausen, the ape fancier who disappears from his jungle hide in Jules Verne’s missing-link fantasy Le Village aérien (Radick 2007: 124). If, as I presume for reasons that will become clear, Garner may also have contributed to the making of Hugh Lofting’s imperishable hero, Dr. Dolittle, it is perhaps surprising that no literary researcher, as far as I know, has ever undertaken to study him. For a brief spell in the early 1890s, around the time of a then-renowned (and soon to be notorious) expedition that he undertook to Fernan Vaz in French Gabon, Garner was one of the most celebrated men in the world—such that satirists had only to allude to him in the certainty that readers would know whom they meant (Radick 2007: 84–85, 123, 136–137). Yet he died in poverty in 1920 (at about the time of the publication of the first Dolittle book).

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Dynamics of Multidimensional Interaction

The Beijing Upheaval of 1989 Revisited

Rilly Chen and Fei Yan

This article provides a multidimensional approach to understanding the interactional dynamics of political contention. By reexamining the highly influential case of the Beijing student movement in 1989 with newly published memoirs from top party leaders and central student figures of the movement, we show more clearly that the escalating conflict between the government and protesters and their nuanced interplay grew, developed, and took on its own identity as the process evolved. It was the increasingly boisterous divisions within both the Communist Party and the student body itself, coupled with their close interactional relationship and interdependence, that resulted in a violent outcome that neither party had envisaged or intended. This finding suggests that multidimensional interactions may have triggered causal processes that escalated both the scale and the influence of the mobilization.

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Each Female Fan Has Her Own Story

Three Fandom Autoethnographies

Tamar Rapoport and Efrat Noy

This article advocates autoethnography as a critical feminist methodology for using personal testimony to investigate women’s experience and performance of fandom The article’s centerpiece is an analysis of the personal testimonies of three women—researcher-fans of different ages—of a fan-owned club Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem. In addition to revealing women’s gendered-based experiences and the different ways in which women acquire and perform fandom, their personal stories prove valuable for exposing the gendered regime of the football field. Moreover, they reveal how women who are not fluent in the hegemonic language of fandom make their way in the fandom field as they seek their own voice and position in it. The analysis suggests that women’s participation can disrupt the hegemonic masculinity of fandom and challenge its established boundaries, thereby problematizing accepted definitions of the authentic fan.

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John Ireland and Constance Mui

We are thrilled, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Sartre Studies International, to publish for the first time in English (thanks to Dennis Gilbert’s initiative and perseverance) two interviews on theater given by Sartre to Russia’s oldest continually running theater journal, Teatr, whose first issues date from the 1930s. Six years apart, these two interviews give us the flavor of Sartre addressing a Soviet audience, in early 1956, just before Russian tanks rolled into Hungary and then again in early 1962, as France negotiated its exit out of the disastrous Algerian War. While these interviews intersect at times with remarks made by Sartre in interviews and lectures during the same period in France (the need for theater to become a truly popular forum, the importance of Brecht as a model of politically engaged theater, etc.), the tone of the two interviews (the first in particular) is different, as Sartre seeks to connect with a socialist audience. These interviews also break new ground. Discussing contemporary playwrights, Sartre demonstrates, for example, his familiarity with Kateb Yacine and Algerian theater. More unexpectedly, addressing Russian readers, Sartre offers a much more positive assessment of Jean Vilar’s Théâtre National Populaire than he ever formulated in France. In short, beyond their content, these interviews help us appreciate even more the importance of the situation shaping Sartre’s pronouncements at any given moment.

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Benjamin Abrams and Giovanni A. Travaglino

This issue of Contention is definitively international, featuring data and cases from dozens of countries including Rwanda and China. We are proud to be a journal sought out by scholars working on diverse non-Western cases as well as by those conducting ambitious international analyses. As editors, we firmly believe that an interdisciplinary journal is best served by also being international, and as the journal continues to grow, we are looking to turn our attention toward building editorial teams featuring excellent scholars from around the world. We hope that the variety of international cases in our pages will one day be mirrored by a similarly international community of authors, reviewers, and editors.