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Narratives of Development

An Anthropological Investigation into Narratives as a Source of Enquiry in Development Planning

Taapsi Ramchandani

The Chaguanas Borough Corporation in Trinidad and Tobago is currently the fastest-growing borough where economic development is complemented by investment in residential, commercial and infrastructural programmes. In tandem with the local government, an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) sought to understand the sociohistorical context within which economic growth has taken place to inform the IGO’s development plans for the area. This article focuses on local narratives collected in 2013 as part of a historical case study that reveals a complex relationship of citizens to the state within the context of a post-colonial, multi-ethnic society. Using an interpretivist framework of narratives as language, metaphor and knowledge, I examine how narratives reflect the lived experience of economic development as a confluence of history, ethnic identity and neoliberal ideas of entrepreneurship. Their inclusion as a source of enquiry in development planning will ensure that exogenous intervention remains holistic, equitable and informed by historical institutions of social practice.

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Máiréad Nic Craith and Bernadette O'Rourke

Within the field of anthropology, there is a comprehensive linguistic sub-discipline which deals with issues from semiotics and linguistics to identity and intangible cultural heritage. This special volume of AJEC emerged from our desire to explore that sub-discipline in a European context. From our perspective, it appears that many anthropologists in and of Europe engage with a variety of questions within the sub-discipline. However, these anthropologists are not necessarily located in anthropology departments. Furthermore, their expertise is not necessarily profiled in anthropological journals. This is in sharp contrast with the U.S.A. where the significance of language in the field of anthropology is more clearly defined and profiled.

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The Editors

The treatment of cultural difference and diversity by French-speaking cartoonists has changed radically over the last few decades, as four articles in this special issue demonstrate. What has not changed since the nineteenth century is the centrality of these themes to comics, which have been a globalizing medium in a shrinking world throughout the period. French-language comics are exemplary of these transformations, insofar as France was a major imperialist power during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Moreover, France has long been home to ethnic and religious minorities, and was a major center of immigration during the twentieth century. These socio-historical trends have left a huge imprint on comics within France itself, but the French also exported the form along with their language to most of their colonies, which has given rise to (post-)colonial traditions of cartooning in French-speaking regions across the globe.

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Jane H. Roberts

While Putnam's communitarian conceptualization of social capital has significantly influenced our understanding of community cohesion, the concept of social capital is highly contested. Questions have been raised about the ways in which agency and power operate in a community's sense of connectedness. Within this critique, little attention has been paid to the conceptualization of cultural identity when framed in dominant constructions of social capital. This paper contends that Bourdieu's critical perspective on social capital is better placed to examine the complex relationships between multiple, conflicting and overlapping positions of cultural identity with a sense of belonging. In addition, a Bourdieurian analysis acknowledges that the dynamic relationships of habitus, capital and field produce multiple identities associated with conflicting notions of connectedness which are contextually contingent. The paper argues that ethnography is best placed to offer a different perspective to de-contextualized data, and supports any examination of identity and belonging as best viewed within the context in which such concepts develop and are situated.

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Romanticizing Difference

Identities in Transformation after World War I

Nadia Malinovich

This special issue explores the theme of essentialist discourses about languages, human collectivities, and human diversity during the interwar years, outside of explicitly racist or antisemitic perspectives.

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Hilary Pomeroy

Readers of the autumn 2010 issue of European Judaism, devoted mainly to literature written in Ladino, the most usual term today to denote the vernacular language of Sephardi Jews (Judezmo, Hakitía or the neutral academic term Judeo-Spanish are also used), will be well aware of the perilous position of this once flourishing language, for it is on the verge of extinction. Sadly, many of the articles in this issue reinforce that depiction of Ladino’s precariousness today, for despite the growing interest in Ladino language and literature it is no longer a language of daily communication.

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Matthew P. Romaniello

Russian imperialism continues to leave a strong imprint on indigenous cultures across Siberia, and throughout the Russian Federation and the post-Soviet republics. Imperialism is invasive and persistent, and it might be impossible to escape its consequences. In 1986, African novelist and postcolonial theorist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o published his influential essay collection, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. One of his arguments is that no postcolonial subject could be free from the constraints of imperialism until she or he succeeded in freeing the mind from the trap of an imposed (and foreign) language. Ngũgĩ’s experience was based on his own life growing up in Kenya, but his lesson is as applicable to Siberia as it is for East Africa. For indigenous Siberians, language and education are at the forefront of the ongoing postcolonial struggle to maintain their cultural identities in modern Russia.

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Kristina C. Marcellus

In this report, I outline and provide examples of an approach to using an international edition of an introductory sociology textbook to facilitate cross-cultural learning and critical thinking skills in an EFL (English as a foreign language) environment at a small engineering university in the United Arab Emirates.

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Hilary Pomeroy

On behalf of all those of us working to promote the diffusion of Ladino studies, I would like to express our gratitude to Jonathan Magonet and the board of European Judaism for this opportunity to bring to a wider public the language and literature of those other Jews, the Sephardim.

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'Tensile Nationality'

National Identity as an Everyday Way of Being in a Scottish Hospital

Nigel Rapport

This article reports on research undertaken in a Scottish hospital on the theme of national identity, specifically Scottishness. It examines the ways and extents to which Scottishness was expressed in the workplace: as a quotidian aspect of individual and institutional identity, in a situation of high-pro file political change. The research was to situate nationality as a naturally occurring 'language-game': to explore everyday speech-acts which deployed reference to nationality/Scottishness and compare these to other kinds of overt affirmation of identity and other speech-acts when no such identity-affirmations were ostensibly made. In a contemporary Scottish setting where the inauguration of a new Parliament has made national identity a prominent aspect of public debate, the research illuminates the place of nationality amid a complex of workaday language-games and examines the status of national identity as a 'public event'.