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The Anti-Help

Accusations, Mutual Help and the Containment of Ugly Feelings in the Gusii Highlands, Kenya

Teodor Zidaru-Bărbulescu

Africanist scholarship and anthropological literature on envy offer a jaundiced take on the ugly feelings that can arise in the wake of increasing scarcity and inequality. Proposing an inductive approach that attends to the performativity of words and feelings, this article explores how a Gusii ideal of containing the expression and escalation of ugly feelings influences collective mutual help arrangements. It elaborates on local concerns with the ‘anti-help’, or the confrontational side of help where ugly feelings can be voiced, named, elicited or concealed. In doing so, the article tracks how containing the anti-help structures the relationship between language and emotion, while also acting upon inner experience and affording a political order where a variety of ugly feelings runs the risk of being reduced to envy.

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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’.

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The Bible, Hayden White, and the Settlements

Teaching Religious Zionist History in the Postmodern Era

Roy Weintraub

In recent decades, the impact of postmodern approaches to history teaching has triggered an extensive worldwide debate that accommodates diverse and contrasting voices. This article examines how the education system of Religious Zionism, one of the most important ideological movements in Israel, copes with this issue. This inquiry, which is based on Peter Seixas’s conceptualization, analyzes the system’s history curriculum, its latest textbooks, and an array of lesson plans. The analysis reveals a complex method of coping with postmodernism, including the adoption of clearly postmodern attitudes at the declarative level and the neutralization of their influence in practice.

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Veronica Davidov

This literature review of biomimicry and related models of treating nature as a meta-resource on a mega-scale integrates concepts of resources and abundance. Biomimicry, which lies at the intersection of biosciences and industrial design, is a praxis for drawing on designs and processes found in nature and using them as inspirational sources for technologies. Environmental anthropology often focuses on processes such as extraction and commodification that position nature as governed by an economy of scarcity with its existential state characterized by attenuation. The paradigm of biomimicry, on the other hand, construes nature as an infinitely renewable and generative mega-resource and meta-resource, one that is governable by an economy of abundance rather than scarcity. This literature review analyzes intellectual and epistemological trends and frameworks that have served as precursors to and have emerged around biomimicry across disciplines that treat the paradigm of biomimicry as a highly variable epistemological object.

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Avi Shilon

Ehud Olmert, In Person [in Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: Yedioth Ahronoth Books, 2018), 896 pp. Hardback, $42.00.

Avi Gil, The Peres Formula: Diary of a Confidant [in Hebrew] (Modi’in: Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, 2018), 368 pp. Hardback, $28.00.

Ehud Barak, My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018), 496 pp. Hardback, $29.99.

Anshel Pfeffer, Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu (London: Hurst, 2018), 432 pp. Hardback, $36.95. Kindle, $19.99.

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Blaming in the Boom and Bust

Greed Accusations in an Australian Coal Mining Town

Kari Dahlgren

In Australian mining towns like Moranbah, relationships between labour, capital and the state have long been defined by struggles over housing amidst cascading cycles of boom and bust linking global commodity markets to local real estate. Most recently, the emergence of ‘fly-in-fly-out’ labour arrangements, partially in response to rampant real estate speculation, have challenged mine workers’ rights to housing and community. Focusing on the schadenfreude that accompanied the public vilification of one failed, small-time real estate speculator as a case study who is contrasted with the figure of the Cashed-up-Bogan, this article shows how accusations of greed are mobilized to political effect. While greed’s tendency to emerge discursively as an accusation might make it seem like an attractive critical discourse, its putative connections to embodiment and the visceral give it an individualizing tendency that allows it to be wielded more easily against persons than institutions, undermining broader structural critiques.