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"This Is My Story"

The Reclaiming of Girls’ Education Discourses in Malala Yousafzai’s Autobiography

Rosie Walters

The cause of girls’ education in developing countries has received unprecedented attention from international organizations, politicians, transnational corporations, and the media in recent years. Much has been written about the ways in which these seemingly emancipatory campaigns reproduce historical discourses that portray women in former colonies as in need of rescue by the West. However, to date little has been written about the ways in which young women’s and girls’ education activists represent themselves. In this article I analyze I Am Malala, the autobiography of Pakistani girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai, written for her own age group. Using a feminist, poststructuralist approach to discourse analysis, it considers the way in which Yousafzai negotiates and challenges discourses around young women, Pakistan, and Islam. I conclude that a truly emancipatory understanding of girls’ rights would look not to the words and policies of powerful organizations but, rather, to young women themselves.

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Introduction

The Time of Epidemics

Christos Lynteris

The introduction to this special section of the journal argues that while it is widely accepted today that infectious disease epidemics are the result of long-term and complex social, ecological, economic and political processes, outbreaks are, more often than not, experienced on the ground as unexpected eruptions. This introduction defends the position that the dialectics between the evental and processual aspects of epidemics are good to think with anthropologically, and points to the consequences of this for an analysis of epidemic temporality in the context of emergent infectious disease discourse and intensifying biopolitical surveillance aimed at averting the 'next pandemic'.

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Lee Komito

The analysis of electronic versus paper documents, especially in the context of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), has often focused on affordances, issues of design and implementation, and work practices. Issues of culture are often understated in such studies. Yet, like any object of material culture, the use of paper files, as well as an aversion to electronic information sharing, is conditioned by the cultural and political background of a society. This article will suggest that the persistence of paper files in a section of the Irish civil service during the 1990s had much to do with issues of accountability and a cult of expertise, in which papers files, as material objects, were deployed on behalf of claims of expertise and power. This intertwining of power, politics and information is a feature of Irish society, and the discourse of expertise and power is a theme that permeates many aspects of Irish culture.

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Living History, Performing Coloniality

Towards a Postcolonial Ethnography

Sitara Thobani

The self-reflexivity of anthropologists entails engaging with the forceful critiques emanating from within the discipline with regard to its relationship to the colonial project. However, the question remains as to what a postcolonial ethnographic project might look like. That is, while anthropologists engage with critiques from postcolonial studies in theory, how might they do so in practice? I address this question in my article by examining contemporary performances of Indian classical and Contemporary South Asian dance in Britain. An historical analysis of the trajectory of Indian classical dance reveals an intimate relationship between colonial, Orientalist and Indian nationalist discourses. Investigating contemporary performances in the U.K. can thus provide a fascinating glimpse into how discourses of coloniality are reiterated in the present. Focusing on performative narrativisations of the dance's history and its constructions of an idealised femininity, I show how ethnographic research can usefully excavate contemporary practices to better understand the capacity of coloniality both to endure and transform in its contemporary articulations.

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Eckhardt Fuchs and Marcus Otto

Cultures of remembrance or memory cultures have constituted an interdisciplinary field of research since the 1990s. While this field has achieved a high level of internal differentiation, it generally views its remit as one that encompasses “all imaginable forms of conscious remembrance of historical events, personalities, and processes.” In contrast to this comprehensive and therefore rather vague definition of “culture of remembrance” or “memory culture”, we use the term “politics of memory” here and in what follows in a more specific sense, in order to emphasize “the moment at which the past is made functional use of in the service of present-day purposes, to the end of shaping an identity founded in history.” Viewing the issue in terms of discourse analysis, we may progress directly from this definition to identify and investigate politics of memory as a discourse of strategic resignifications of the past as formulated in history and implemented in light of contemporary identity politics. While the nation-state remains a central point of reference for the politics of memory, the field is by no means limited to official forms of the engagement of states with their past. In other words, it does not relate exclusively to the official character of a state’s policy on history. Instead, it also encompasses the strategic politics of memory and identity pursued by other stakeholders in a society, a politics that frequently, but not always, engages explicitly with state-generated and state-sanctioned memory politics. Thus, the politics of memory is currently unfolding as a discourse of ongoing, highly charged debate surrounding collective self-descriptions in modern, “culturally” multilayered, and heterogeneous societies, where self-descriptions draw on historical developments and events that are subject to conflict.

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Introduction

Beyond Orientalism; Texting the Victorian East

Julia Kuehn and Tamara S. Wagner

Thirty years after its publication in 1978, a reconsideration of Edward Said’s Orientalism invites a shift from contextual and colonial discourse analysis towards a renewed attention to ambiguities of form and structure. The central point of interest of this special issue, ‘Re-Imagining the Victorian Orient’, hinges upon close readings of canonical and noncanonical texts, side by side, in order to highlight the complexities of Victorian literary culture that earlier readings often threatened to deny. The analyses comprise discussions of travel writing as well as of fiction from the 1830s up to the 1920s, covering what is commonly considered the height of imperialism. What brings the essays in this special issue together is the project of opening up the question of the Victorian Orient as a concept and a literary topos, based upon, but also beyond the critical tenets of Orientalism. While this project is rooted in literary history and the history of representation, its main emphasis firmly rests on a ‘texting’ of the Victorian East: an emphasis on genre, aesthetics, and structural metaphors. This collection is held together by the places it foregrounds as much as by this critical redirection towards textual analysis. Divided into two parts, it reads women’s travelogues covering the Middle East, South, and South East Asia, comparing and contrasting them with the ‘notorious’ colonial novels of Dickens, Conrad, Kipling, and Forster.

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Katie Macentee

In the call for articles for this special issue on girls’ health, we highlighted that “[g]irls’ health is an ongoing and evolving issue with ties that go beyond medical analyses to include a wide array of social, educational, political, and environmental discourses (among others!).” Th at a number of different perspectives might contribute to or strengthen the interdisciplinary focus of an issue as crucial as girls’ health was important to me as guest editor. Th is issue demonstrates that the relationship of girlhood to health—sexual health, in particular—is of critical concern to us all. It is an area full of challenges and barriers, most of them, as is evident in this issue, understood and often expressed by girls themselves. The articles presented here point to the many perspectives from which to approach this topic. Girls’ sexual health is linked to an array of intersecting issues including the pedagogical influences of popular romance literature; the ways in which girls use blogs to construct counter narratives about their sexual identity; how girls’ increased inclusion in citizenship discourses can increase their capacity to address sexual objectification; what girls do to negotiate power within their heterosexual relationships; how barriers to water access in Africa can lead to the awareness of the risks—which range from being perceived to be promiscuous to being raped—that young women face; as well as how the (mis)management of menstruation can affect girls’ education. This issue points to the global and local specifics of sexual health, and to health more generally. Th e concerns discussed here are geographically wide-ranging: Cameroon, Lesotho, Australia, the United States, and Canada provide the settings—some urban and others rural. Th e authors present a wide range of methodologies from which they explore girls’ health: literary analysis; autoethnography; and participatory methods such as digital storytelling, mediamaking, listening to what young people have to say in various research paradigms, blogging, and photovoice.

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Social Movements and Social Policies

Political Challenges under Austerity in the UK

Gregory White

The economic crisis of 2007/2008 presented a challenge to the welfare state in the UK, and, more widely, across Europe. It also presented a challenge to many citizens, who were on the receiving end of the austerity agenda, and subsequent tightening of welfare spending. If nothing else, the financial crisis demonstrated the hegemony of economic theories prominent in neoliberal capitalism. As many academics and commentators have identified, however, the current period of instability is indicative of a systemic crisis. In addition to this analysis, the crisis also exposed the intricate and opaque links between western governments and the financial sector. During and after the crisis an eruption of activity in civil society galvanized many that had been directly affected by either the crisis itself—through loss of employment—or by the subsequent austerity measures imposed. This article aims to examine the current crisis affecting the welfare state in the UK, and social policy more broadly, and, begins to suggest how social movements are seeking to challenge the dominant discourses surrounding austerity politics. The article suggests some reasons as to why traditional forms of resistance and organization—such as the mobilizations of the trade union movement—have largely been unsuccessful in challenging such narratives. The article concludes by considering the shift from trade unionism in the UK to post-crisis social movements, and where an anti-austerity movement more broadly might develop further in pursuit of defending the principles of social welfare, and, ultimately, the welfare state.

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2012 Quebec Student Protests

Some Observations on Motives, Strategies, and Their Consequences on the Reconfigurations of State and Media

Audrey Laurin-Lamothe and Michel Ratte

The first part of this article reports the main events of the 2012 student protest in Quebec leading to the government’s adoption of Bill 12. It highlights the major ideological conflict generated through the liberal managerial mutation of the academic institutions as a key to understand more clearly the student’s claims. Rapidly, the standard strike was transformed into a massive mobilization that produced many protests and other forms of resistance. The response given by the government to these unprecedented acts of resistance was Bill 12, to be understood as a symbolic coup d’état with voluntarily disruptive media effects whose aim was to make people forget the massive rejection of a pseudo tentative agreement in relation to Higher Education reform. The bill was also supported through the abusive and twisted use by the government of a series of buzzwords, like “bullying” and “access to education”, which were relayed by the media. The authors also discuss the issues surrounding the traditional conceptions regarding the analysis of discourses, mobilizing Orwell’s concept of doublethink and the notion of selfdeception inherited form Sartre.

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Travel Writing and Cultural Terrae Incognitae

Ongoing Ethical and Theoretical Dilemmas

Corinne Fowler and Ludmilla Kostova

As a hybrid discourse cutting across generic and disciplinary boundaries and giving expression to diverse perspectives on a wide gamut of intercultural relations, travel writing has found itself at the centre of a widening field of intellectual inquiry. This special issue focuses on the ethical parameters of travel in a range of texts produced in a variety of historical and national contexts. While the topic is not strikingly novel, the editors and contributors to this issue nevertheless believe that their critical interventions engage fruitfully both with earlier interpretations and current theoretical paradigms. The six essays that comprise this issue concentrate on specific ethical dilemmas, neither attempting fusion into a coherent body of theory nor constructing all-purpose systems of classification, but preferring instead to tackle critical practices and preconceptions from a variety of competing perspectives. As early as 1985 Mary Louise Pratt defined travel writing as ‘one of the most polyphonous of genres’, thereby alerting scholars to its resistance to the ‘disciplined’ mediation of cultural differences (Pratt 1985: 141) and hinting at the futility of generalizing methods of analysis. Taking into account the distinctive features of the object of inquiry itself, the site-specific contributions to this issue are in tune with the anti-universalist thrust of most present-day critical practice.