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"We Are Not Dead Souls"

The Good Petroleum Fairies and the Spirits of the Taiga in Subarctic Siberia

Dominique Samson Normand de Chambourg

Through the example of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug–Yugra, which has become one of the country’s main energy hubs (accounting for 62 percent of Russian oil production) and a pioneer in matters of native rights, this article sheds light on what is at stake in the Siberian taiga of the early twenty-first century between two worlds that, over the years, have variously clashed, assisted each other, and ignored each other. Based primarily on fieldwork carried out between 2013 and 2018, as well as on interviews with local cultural and economic actors, the article outlines a local aspect of a history in movement that is still to be written.

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The Weatherman

The Making of Prepared Farmers and the Postcolonial Predictive State in Kenya

Martin Skrydstrup

This article explores weather forecasting as an emergent technology of governmentality through a detailed ethnography of the ways in which the relationships between weather and crops are rendered knowable in a two-day “participatory scenario planning” (PSP) workshop in Naromoru in the Central Highlands of Kenya. Farmers were “made into meteorologists” and developed their preparedness for hazards, impacts, opportunities, strategies, and responsibilities within the context of facing El Niño. The ethnography targets seemingly novel ways of preparing farmers for El Niño. I argue that the PSP served two principal functions: (1) to redistribute responsibilities of the farmers themselves by making them into “meteorologists”; and (2) to integrate “scientific expertise” with “local knowledge” to generate public trust in the metrological institutions of the postcolonial predictive state.

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Hélène Périvier and Rebecca Rogers

This article considers how women adopted a “scientific” statistical language at the end of the nineteenth century to draw attention to their role in the moral and social economy. It explores in particular the messages contained in La Statistique générale de la femme française, a series of eighteen murals that the moderate feminist Marie Pégard sent for exhibition at the Woman’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The article begins by considering the place statistics held in France in the final decades of the century within the context of universal exhibitions. It then examines Pégard’s choice of quantified categories of social analysis to convey a sustained argument about the comparative weight of women in a modernizing French economy. The article seeks to understand how contemporaries read and interpreted the graphs, and how this mode of rendering visible the issue of women’s work played into the politics of an emerging feminist movement.

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Fieldwork at sunset

Visual representations of anthropology online

Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins and Hannah Gould

Most institutional anthropology departments have a website, to tout credentials, attract students, and offer information. These websites also take up the visual task of disciplinary representation, but their images have skipped the scrutiny that is necessary and overdue. Th is article analyzes online images of sociocultural anthropology across one hundred high-ranking universities worldwide. We show how, online, a discipline defined by diversity becomes readily reducible to “exotic” geographies and objectified “others.” While the urban serves as an unattractive foil, frequent images of children recall charity campaigns. Such visual tropes—which comprise a significant, public interface for anthropology—are not just awkwardly dated but also do disservice to ambitions for public anthropology. Change, we suggest, must begin at (the) home(page).

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The Academic Reserve

Israel's Fast Track to High-Tech Success

Gil Baram and Isaac Ben-Israel

Why is Israel world-renowned as the ‘start-up nation’ and a leading source of technological innovation? While existing scholarship focuses on the importance of skill development during Israel Defense Forces (IDF) service, we argue that the key role of the Academic Reserve has been overlooked. Established in the 1950s as part of David Ben-Gurion’s vision for a scientifically and technologically advanced defense force, the Academic Reserve is a special program in which the IDF sends selected high school graduates to earn academic degrees before they complete an extended term of military service. After finishing their service, most participants go on to contribute to Israel’s successful high-tech industry. By focusing on the role of the Academic Reserve, we provide a broader understanding of Israel’s ongoing technological success.

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'Archive Man'

Stephen Poliakoff and the Archive

Elizabeth Robertson

The writer-director Stephen Poliakoff’s thematic concerns with history and memory have repeatedly returned to the archive as a site of discovery. Poliakoff’s use, and exploration, of archives in his work has coincided with a marked rise in mainstream cultural engagement with archives for personal use, as well as an archival turn in literary scholarship. This article explores the different types of archive and archival material found in Poliakoff’s dramas for stage and screen, mapping the topography of public and private archives in his work, in turn revealing the commentaries these dramas are making about how we create and use archives, and who and what they are for.

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Moisés Orfali

This discussion of the processes of Spanish acculturation among Moroccan Jews deals with influences that Spanish Jews brought to Morocco both before and after 1492, especially their regulations establishing a considerable improvement in the status of Jewish women and restrictions on expenditure on the occasion of family celebrations. In accordance with the Valladolid Takkanot (1432), they forbade the wearing of certain jewellery and the display of valuable finery. These social and ethical-religious measures also expressed a concern not to expose property and people to the envy of non-Jews. The megorashim (newcomers from Spain) spread the Castilian custom of ritual slaughter of animals for consumption. The re-Hispanisation of the Judeo-Spanish language (Ḥaketía) was consciously considered among the descendants of the megorashim as part of their Spanish identity and collective memory.

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Luke Brunning

Value monists and value pluralists disagree deeply. Pluralists want to explain why moral life feels frustrating; monists want clear action guidance. If pluralism is true, our actions may be unable to honour irredeemably clashing values. This possibility could prompt pessimism, but the ‘avoidance approach’ to pluralism holds that although values may conflict inherently, we can take pre-emptive action to avoid situations where they would conflict in practice, rather like a child pirouetting to avoid the cracks on a pavement. Sadly, this view is hostage to epistemic problems and unforeseen consequences and is liable to generate timidity. It rests on the intuition that honouring values in action is more important than doing so in other ways, but this is a premise we have reason to reconsider.

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Becoming an Agricultural Growth Corridor

African Megaprojects at a Situated Scale

Serena Stein and Marc Kalina

Agricultural growth corridors (AGCs) have begun proliferating across the actual and policy landscapes of southeastern Africa. Cast as an emerging megaproject strategy, AGCs combine the construction of large-scale logistics (i.e., roads, railways, ports) with attracting investment in commercial agribusiness and smallholder farming. While scholars have long attended to spatial development schemes in the Global South, literature on the rising AGCs of Africa’s eastern seaboard has only recently shifted from anticipatory to empirical studies as policy implementation reaches full force. The article reflects on a new crop of studies that confront the problem of tracing policy imaginaries to the people, places, practices, and ecologies shaped by AGC schemes. In contrast to scholarship that accepts corridors as given entities, we explore directions for research that interrogate the grounded yet provisional becoming of these megaprojects. At such sites, the return of high modernist development logics encapsulated by the corridor concept may be questioned.

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Between Conflicting Systems

An Ordinary Tragedy in Now-Capitalist Albania

Matthew Rosen

‘Business as usual’ in contemporary Albania takes place between different and conflicting systems of meaning and value. Drawing from ethnographic material collected in Tirana, Albania, this article examines the complexities of social and economic life in a city where distinct moral economies routinely clash with the capitalist principle of profit. Starting from the ethnographic impulse to learn how two local booksellers made sense of the contradictory systems of meaning operating in their everyday lives, the analysis shows how a grinding of discordant value systems produced the more general paradox of an ‘ordinary tragedy’.