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Editorial

New Beginnings

Matthew P. Romaniello

Our new volume begins with a departure. Tatiana Argounova-Low, following a long term as an associate editor, has left the journal to focus on other projects. We owe her a great debt of thanks for all her work for the journal, which included numerous translations over the years. Most recently, she and Jenanne Ferguson translated the entirety of our last issue on “Indigenous Methodology in the Study of the Native Peoples of Siberia.” The project was an enormous undertaking. We know that Tatiana’s contributions will continue to be valuable for the field and for Sibirica and wish her the best with her future endeavors.

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Editorial

Dislodging Girlhood?

Claudia Mitchell

I am very grateful to Barbara Brickman, the guest editor of this Special Issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal for her term “dislodging girlhood” in the context of heteronormativity. Repeatedly in this issue Marnina Gonick’s pivotal question, “Are queer girls, girls?” (2006: 122) is cited. In the 13 years since she posed this question, we have not seen enough attempts made to address it. To mix my metaphors I see this issue of Girlhood Studies as helping to break the silence and simultaneously to open the floodgates to a ground-breaking collection of responses to Gonick’s question. Given the rise of the right in the US and in so many other countries, queer girls— trans, lesbian, gender non-conforming, non-binary to mention just a few possibilities—are at even greater risk than before. Girlhood Studies has always been concerned with social justice, so this special issue is a particularly important one in our history. It is also worth noting that many of the articles are written or co-authored by new scholars, signaling an encouraging trend in academic work that has social justice at its core. I thank Barbara Brickman, the authors, and the reviewers for their history-making contributions to the radical act of dislodging girlhood.

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The Eisenstein-Vygotsky-Luria Collaboration

Triangulation and Third Culture Debates

Julia Vassilieva

This article analyzes the unique historical collaboration between the revolutionary Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948), the cultural psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934), and the founder of contemporary neuropsychology, Alexander Luria (1902–1977). Vygotsky’s legacy is associated primarily with the idea that cultural mediation plays a crucial role in the emergence and development of personality and cognition. His collaborator, Luria, laid the foundations of contemporary neuropsychology and demonstrated that cultural mediation also changes the functional architecture of the brain. In my analysis, I demonstrate how the Eisenstein-Vygotsky-Luria collaboration exemplifies a strategy of productive triangulation that harnesses three disciplinary perspectives: those of cultural psychology, neuropsychology, and film theory and practice.

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Fanfic’ing Film

Queer Youth Cinema Reclaims Pop Culture

Andrew Scahill

Fairy Tales Film Festival 2018, Calgary Queer Arts Society, Youth Queer Media Program

For the study of youth in cinema, we, as scholars, must always remind ourselves that most images we analyze are created by adults representing youth, not by youth representing themselves. As such, they represent an idea of youth—a memory, a trauma, a wish. They are stories these adults tell themselves about what they need youth to be in that moment. Coming out becomes the singular narrative of queer youth, and positions adulthood as a safe and stable destination after escaping the traumatic space of adolescence. The stories in these films provide important moments for adult queers to “feel backward” (2009: 7) as Heather Love says, and to process the pain of a queer childhood. And for young people exploring their sexuality, these stories are essential for at-risk youth who feel hopeless, trapped, or alone.

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The Far Eastern Railway in the 1930s

Relations and Reactions to the Repressions in the USSR

Elena Gnatovskaya and Alexander Kim

This article evaluates the relationship among the railroad staff of the Far East during the most dramatic events in the political life of the country at that time—repressions. As a rule, Russian academic literature indicates that few workers perceived the Soviet state’s mechanisms of pressure negatively. This article demonstrates that the railroad staff’s position was far more diverse than traditionally argued, which is a result of the broad variety of social groups working for the railroad in the Far East. The article demonstrates this diversity of opinions by focusing on those events that affected a significant number of railroad workers.

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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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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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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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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.