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European Bodies?

Class and Gender Dynamics among EU Civil Servants in Brussels

Paweł Lewicki

Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork between 2007 and 2011 in Brussels, this article shows how visual markers, class distinctions and classification of gender performances come together to create a ‘Euroclass’ among European civil servants. These markings, distinctions and classifications are denoted on bodily hexis and body performance and evoke stereotypes and essentialised representations of national cultures. However, after the enlargements of the EU in 2004 and 2007 they also reveal a postcolonial and imperial dynamic that perpetuates the division into ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe and enables people from old member states to emerge as a different class that holds its cultural power firm in a dense political environment permeated by networks.

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Class Conflict in Ancient Mesopotamia

Between Knowledge of History and Historicising Knowledge

Reinhard Bernbeck

In this article I provide a critique of historiography in Near Eastern archaeology and argue that forms of narrating the past are by necessity always political in nature. Current writing styles have a bias towards the upper classes of the past. I use this insight to elaborate on new ways of writing that shift the focus to different subjects of history. As a case study, I analyse discourses about evidence from fourth millennium Mesopotamia. Finally, I point out some alternative ways to approach historiography by asking new questions about old topics.

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Aygen Erdentug

The Santa Claus figure, the Christmas tree and decorations that are associated with this Christian holiday have been adopted by liberal consumers in Turkey, a Muslim country. These Turks envisage Santa Claus, in his trademark red suit, as a gift bearer on the occasion of New Year's Eve. This societal development has consolidated the cultural distance not only between the upper and lower classes but also between the established middle class and the flourishing, new conservative middle class. In protest, the religiously conservative have produced sombre 'alternative gatherings' to remind Turks of their Muslim heritage.

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Matteo Benussi

The ‘halal movement’ is an orientation predominantly mobilised by urban youth and by the emerging urban middle class in Tatarstan. It articulates a cosmopolitan, universal Islamic discourse, explicitly separates ethnicity and Muslimness, and stages religion as an ethical issue, tied neither to a nation nor to a theological doctrine.

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Maria Sabaye Moghaddam

Zâr denotes a class of spirits, the illness that they cause when descending upon a person and the ritual that is necessary to pacify the spirits and secure the alleviation of the patient's symptoms. The ritual involves holding a ceremony where incense, music and movement play a role in appeasing the Zâr to provide relief for the patient. This article, based on field studies carried out in 2007-2009, provides a current account of Zâr practices in Bandar Abbâs and Qeshm Island in Iran.

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Didier Gazagnadou

In this article, the author investigates, from an anthropological point of view, why many Iranian women (and even some men) resort to rhinoplasty – that is, surgery to alter the appearance of the nose – for cosmetic purposes. When did this phenomenon begin in Iran? Which social classes and ages are concerned? What is the relationship between this practice and Iranian society in general? Is it the result of foreign cultural influences? What comparisons can be made with other cultures? Born of a micro-sociological case, these interrogations address the anthropology of Iranian society, which, like many others, has been engaged for several decades in an ‘exchange process’ that today is commonly known as globalisation.

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Mariages et alliances matrimoniales à Ispahan

Permanence et changements d'une génération à l'autre

Mohiadin Vatani

It is the marriage records - from 1920 and later - of modest, working-class people living ordinary lives in Ispahan, Iran, that form the basis of this study. Not one of the various transactions engaged by (and for) marriage is properly intelligible within a social context if considered outside of the family. Nor are insights into matrimonial practices possible without a proper assessment of the hierarchy of events surrounding the marriage and the social processes and domestic groups concerned. For this reason we are led to place a certain number of marriages within the social and historical contexts that produced them from 1920 to 2008.

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From the 'Unseen' to the Visible

Transformations in Women's Kinship Practices among the Urban Middle Class in Fes, Morocco

Rachel Newcomb

For the middle class of Fes, Morocco, the traditional resources provided by kinship practices remain an important form of economic and social support in an increasingly globalised world. Women's significance in kinship networks not only highlights women's changing role in the Moroccan public sphere, but also indicates the flexibility of kinship principles once applied primarily to men. As more women have entered the public sphere for reasons of economics and education, the possibilities for their social networks have widened to include both relatives and non-kin.

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Nose Aesthetics

Rhinoplasty and Identity in Tehran

Sara Lenehan

Tehran currently hosts one of the largest rhinoplasty markets in the world, and rhinoplasty is the most sought after cosmetic surgery in the country. This article examines whether the rhinoplasty trend reflects a shift in Iranians' attitudes towards their ethnic and cultural identity. It is argued that fashion and beauty norms in Tehran are certainly informed by globalised images, but these are mediated by Iranian moralities of prestige, image consciousness and class awareness. Thus, while many of the persons interviewed described 'Iranian noses' as aesthetically inferior to 'European noses', their statements were not necessarily coupled with a desire to negate Iranian identity.

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Epilogue

Mapping the Topography of Oppression

Jenny White

During today’s crisis in Turkey, victimhood authorises oppression, oppressors see themselves as victims and the oppressed are not only the poor, but educated middle classes. Citizen and state are imbricated in the same political and discursive fields where people mobilise against one another, some moving up and others down, creating unexpected landscapes of victimisation and oppression that do not fit comfortably in literature that analyses ‘politics from below’. How do we conceptualise this in a way that respects people’s understanding of their coordinates in a complex landscape of power? This article interrogates some basic assumptions of this literature, including the impact of the observer’s position and the oppression/resistance framework, replacing it with a model of politics as a shared horizontal topography of action across a terrain of values.