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Addressing the Irrational Drivers of the Climate Crisis

Surplus Repression and Destructive Production

Diana Stuart, Brian Petersen, and Ryan Gunderson

Abstract

An increasing number of scientists have illustrated how economic growth is an underlying driver of the climate crisis. This article examines how associated levels of excess work, production, and consumption repress human flourishing and drive global warming. Drawing from the work of Herbert Marcuse and André Gorz, we discuss the irrationality of a system of excess work, production, and consumption in terms of unnecessary human repression and environmental destruction. In the context of the climate crisis, this system becomes even more irrational as it threatens the habitability of Earth for humans. We examine work-time reduction and related sufficiency measures as a rational response to the climate crisis.

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Algae Openings

How the Bloom Boom in the United States and Mexico makes Environmental Protection Actionable

Laura Otto and Carly Rospert

Abstract

Humans have always lived with and around algae. At times, algae enable life, and at others, render life difficult. This article examines two sites suffering from atypical—and potentially harmful—algae blooms: Lake Erie in Ohio (USA) and the Riviera Maya (Mexico). Referring to ethnographic fieldwork, as well as to newspaper articles, policy papers, and online fora, we demonstrate how the narratives around algae have changed over time and shed light on how changes in these narratives opened the discussion of wetland repair and coastal integrity. We argue that conceptualizing algae as the “unwanted” unifies people, brings them together, and makes the treatment of lake eutrophication and coastal protection actionable.

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The Americans and “Sleeper Cells” of Russian Intelligence in America

A Story Behind the TV Show

Sergei I. Zhuk

Abstract

In June of 2010, a Canadian couple, Donald Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, was arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as the KGB “sleeper agents.” These KGB agents (Andrei Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova) lived in Canada since 1992, and in the United States since 1999, working for the Russian intelligence as “a sleeper cell” of the Russian spies. This story became an inspiration for the American TV show The Americans (2013–2018). Using the reviews of this TV show from the United States and Russia, the interviews with the real participants of the events of 2010 and with the retired KGB officers, the KGB documents from the SBU Archive in Kyiv, Ukraine, this article is an attempt to study how the special KGB/FSB operations in the USA, portrayed in one American TV series became an object of fascination and “fictionalization” on the both—American and Russian—sides of the geo-political conflict.

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Becoming an Abla

Homemaking and the Shaping of an Ethical Self among Women in a Turkish Muslim Community in Brazil

Liza Dumovich

Abstract

This article analyses the performance of homemaking and religious practices of six Turkish Muslim women who made hicret (migration) to Brazil, focusing on the domestic space of their shared apartment. Their reasons to migrate combine personal motivations and a sense of responsibility to spread the world view of the Turkish Islamic movement of which they are participants. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, I explore their everyday practices in the production of an ideal Muslim self and the making of a home in order to understand the effects of the community's domesticities on their individual trajectories. The analysis shows that the performance of those everyday practices produces a moral and affective bond to the movement and its religious leader, conditioning home to a specific spatial and moral structure.

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Charlatans and Fraudsters

Spiritual Healing and the Discourse of Piety and Order in Egypt

Sohayla El Fakahany

Abstract

This article delves into the intricate interplay among state institutions, belief systems, dominant discourses and alternative spiritual healing practices in Egypt. It scrutinises the challenges encountered by individuals seeking spiritual healing within a societal framework shaped by educational and religious institutions, social norms, media and the law. Employing a multidisciplinary approach that integrates social anthropology, discourse analysis and cultural studies, the research sheds light on the regulations and limitations imposed on individuals by state-generated discourses, compelling adherence to prescribed rules and belief systems. The analysis explores how power hierarchy and dominant institutions, which categorise certain practices as disordered due to their ritualistic nature, are challenged by practitioners persisting in their work and seekers continuing to pursue these services.

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Civilizing Russia's “Barbarous Kingdom”

Gender and Violence in Hulu's The Great

Marjorie Hilton

Abstract

The Hulu series The Great, an ahistorical satire of the eighteenth-century Russian Empire, set at the courts of Peter III and Catherine II, doubles as a critique of contemporary politics and culture. Created for Anglophone audiences with little knowledge of history, but aware of stereotypes of Russia as a despotic, dysfunctional backwater, the show's appeal rests on the love-hate relationship between Peter the bro-emperor and the “girlboss” empress Catherine, as well as the expectation that Catherine, ultimately, will “have-it-all.” This article examines the gender dynamics structuring Peter's and Catherine's narrative arcs and argues that Catherine's trajectory from naïve, self-declared enlightened European princess to skilled, pragmatic ruler undermines Peter's attempt to liberate himself from an outdated model of masculinity.

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Far from Tranquility Base

Gender and Russianness in For All Mankind's (Not So) Alt Cold War Universe

Roshanna P. Sylvester

Abstract

The Apple+ television series For All Mankind imagines an alternative history in which the Soviets beat the United States to the moon and the Cold War space race never ends. Gender politics and associated dynamics are central to the action. This article explores plotlines involving two fictional cosmonauts: the first woman on the moon and a male crew member stationed at the Soviet's lunar base. It finds that FAM reinforces Cold War tropes, anxieties, and “us vs them” formulations. FAM's writers miss the opportunity to probe the complexities of gender and personhood in the late Soviet era. Instead of encouraging more nuanced thinking about “the Russians,” FAM's universe perpetuates Cold War sensibilities that promote competition and conflict on Earth and in space.

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Following a Deep-Sea Channel

Sensory Landscape and Experiential Knowledge in Science-Making on a Research Vessel

Ramona Haegele

Abstract

Little is known of deep-sea channels and their role as an effective carbon sink. How do scientists approach the deep sea, and which are their strategies to generate knowledge? To answer these questions, my research focuses on knowledge production processes along the Northwest Atlantic Mid-Ocean Channel (NAMOC) during a research expedition in the Labrador Sea. The research is conceptually guided by approaches of science and technology studies and new materialism. Methodologically, the study employs multi-sited ethnography and uses multi-modal materials including participant observation and semi-structured interviews with representatives of the research vessel's crew and scientists. The findings shed light on the usually unseen practices of science-making. Sensory landscapes as well as experiential knowledge were identified as two modes of following, researching, and knowing the NAMOC.

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Howdy Comrade

Continuity/Familiarity of Cold War-Era Tropes of Russian, East European, and Soviet Womanhood in Early Twenty-First-Century Popular Culture Artifacts

Linda Beail and Lilly J. Goren

Abstract

American and Western audiences have long come to understand Soviet and Russian womanhood, and thus US womanhood, from representations in popular televisual texts. While there is a long history of popular culture presenting the “othered” women of Eastern Europe, for example as temptress “Bond girls” during the Cold War, these narratives have continued onscreen into the twenty-first century. We examine the myriad representations from both the Cold War and post-Cold War period, noting the typical narrative constructions that focus on femme fatales, psychological and sexual trauma, and economic precarity, and how these have continued in contemporary popular culture to shore up notions of Western cultural and political superiority. The characters and the situations in which they find themselves, as spies, assassins, and double agents, continue to send messages about danger and dominance regarding both gender and geopolitics.

Open access

Introduction: Ritual Performance and Religious Identity

Reshaping Traditions in Contemporary MENA and its Diasporas

Paulo G. Pinto and Liza Dumovich

Abstract

Tradition is a multifaceted concept and a term with contested meanings. It is usually understood as an unchanging collection of artefacts passed down from generation to generation, where continuity between past and present is expected and assumed. Scholarly studies, however, have shown that tradition is continuously produced and ‘invented’ in order to cope with the present and to imagine a possible future. The articles in this special issue explore different ways in which tradition is imagined, articulated and produced in different religious contexts, in which Islam serves as a focus for reference or contrast. They show that a specific Islamic tradition can undergo profound transformations to the point of losing its connection with Islam, both at the individual and at the social or communal levels.