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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.

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‘I’m Not that Kind of Doctor’

On Being In-Between in a Global Health Intervention

Erica Nelson

Within multi-disciplinary global health interventions, anthropologists find themselves navigating complex relationships of power. In this article, I offer a critical reflection on this negotiated terrain, drawing on my experience as an embedded ethnographer in a four-year adolescent sexual and reproductive health research intervention in Latin America. I critique the notion that the transformative potential of ethnographic work in global health remains unfulfilled. I then go on to argue that an anthropological practice grounded in iterative, inter-subjective and self-reflexive work has the potential to create ‘disturbances’ in the status quo of day-to-day global health practice, which can in turn destabilise some of the problematic hubristic assumptions of health reforms.

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Jeremy Schonfield

Progressive liturgists seek to introduce gender parity into the first paragraph of the Amidah by adding the names of the Matriarchs immediately after those of the Patriarchs. I argue that this misrepresents their marriages and the role played by the concubines. A more balanced understanding is made possible by distancing the names of the Matriarchs from those of their husbands, and inserting them in the form of a brief piyyut, composed of biblical citations, just before the concluding blessing formula. The proposed insertion reflects the agency displayed by the Matriarchs and alludes obliquely to the concubines. Account is taken of the appropriateness of the piyyut for use in traditional settings.

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An Inconvenient Expertise

French Colonial Sailors and Technological Knowledge in the Union Française

Minayo Nasiali

In the 1950s, French shipping companies began to replace their old fleet of steamships with new diesel ships. They also began to lay off sailors from French Africa, claiming that the changing technology rendered their labor obsolete. The industry asserted that African sailors did not have the aptitude to do other, more skilled jobs aboard diesel vessels. But unemployed colonial sailors argued differently, claiming that they were both able and skilled. This article explores how unemployed sailors from French Africa cast themselves as experts, capable of producing technological knowledge about shipping. In so doing, they shaped racialized and gendered notions about labor and skill within the French empire. The arguments they made were inconvenient, I argue, because colonial sailors called into question hegemonic ideas about who could be modern and who had the right to participate in discourse about expertise.

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International Cooperation, Transnational Circulation

Escape, Evasion, and Resistance in France, 1940–1945

Valerie Deacon

The rescue of downed Anglo-American aircrews in France during the Second World War highlights the transnational nature of this kind of resistance. From their training to their evasion, flight crews themselves experienced the Second World War without traditional national borders. Moreover, their successful rescue in Occupied France depended on the ability of civilian helpers to think transnationally and to operate with little regard for the nation-state. This article focuses on evasion training, rescue, and postwar attempts to honor civilians for their assistance to highlight these themes of transnational resistance.