Having for nearly a century lived a shadowy existence on the margins of mainstream ethnography, summoned forth only to play bit parts in some exemplary anecdote or illustrative vignette, over the last two decades the individual has emerged to take anthropological center stage. And not just the particular individual (the individual individual, so to speak)—the Nisa or the Tuhami (Crapanzano 1980; Shostak 1981)—but also the generic individual. Of course, the ethnographic foregrounding of individual individuals cannot be decoupled from a theoretical reconsideration of the generic individual, but it is the prominence granted the latter that marks a fairly decisive shift in current explanatory and interpretative paradigms (or at least rhetoric), so that nowadays it is commonplace to remind readers that the individual members of any society discussed are all “agents” actively engaged in “contesting,” “disputing,” “negotiating,” if not “creating” the social or cultural rules and norms to which they remain subject only in so far as those rules and norms may be incorporated into their own strategic pursuits.
Nexus of Complicity and Acts of Subversion in The Piano Teacher and Black Swan
Neha Arora and Stephan Resch
Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001) and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) are films about women directed by men. Both films unorthodoxly chart women artists’ struggle with the discipline imposed on them by the arts and by their live-in mothers. By portraying mothers as their daughters’ oppressors, both films disturb the naïve “women = victims and men = perpetrators” binary. Simultaneously, they deploy audiovisual violence to exhibit the violence of society’s gender and sexuality policy norms and use gender-coded romance narratives to subvert the same gender codes from within this gender discourse. Using Judith Butler’s and Michael Foucault’s theories, we argue that Haneke and Aronofsky “do” feminism unconventionally by exposing the nexus of women’s complicity with omnipresent societal power structures that safeguard gender norms. These films showcase women concurrently as victim-products and complicit partisans of socially constructed gender ideology to emphasize that this ideology can be destabilized only when women “do” their gender and sexuality differently through acts of subversion.
A New Epoch of Cosmopolitanism for Larger Freedom?
Since the mid-1990s, the international norms for global development have been redefined under non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs) critical e-mobilizations, powered by new media. International governmental organizations (IGOs) have been forced to make policy adjustments or concessions, resulting in new IGOs-NGOs policy regimes for consultative consensus building and for protecting people’s economic, social, and cultural rights (ESC) for enhancing social quality. This paper examines the emerging cosmopolitanism in the information age, focusing on NGOs’ advocacy networks, to understand the new media-enhanced participatory regime for global governance. It also illustrates a new form of social participation, as promoted by social quality theory, in the age of e-globalization and the information society. The paper has five parts. After outlining the globalization project threatening ESC rights, the second section examines critical engagements of NGOs and IGOs for human rights promotion. Parts three and four discuss, respectively, the struggles for ESC rights in shaping new ethics and norms for global development, and the variations of new social media mobilization. The paper ends with critical remarks on the project for larger freedom and human rights for all.
Valerie R. Friesen
In many parts of the developing world, sport is a non-traditional activity for girls, one which is being used increasingly by development organizations for the empowerment of girls and women. However, very little research has been done on the complex subjective perceptions and understandings of the participants themselves. The girls in this study were participants in an after-school program in Windhoek, Namibia, which combines academics and sport. I used discourse analysis to highlight issues of agency, power, and gender that emerge from their reflections on their sport participation. Girls' conversations often revealed acceptance and normalization of dominant gender norms but also a growing critical consciousness, and demonstrated the numerous ways girls resist, negotiate and engage with these discourses through their own perceptions of power, agency, and hope.
Based on a five-year ethnography, this article looks at Germany's citizenship reform of 1999 from the perspective of a population that is often at the center of attention: second generation immigrant drug dealers. While the reform had the potential to make a significant difference for this group, with respect to both their legal status in the country and perception of Germany, the findings of this article show that the reform did not have such an impact. On the contrary, the reform seems to have had the opposite effect, alienating the young men even more from Germany by keeping citizenship out of reach for them. While some have argued that in the light of supranational citizenship norms and the discourse of citizenship rights as human rights, national citizenship becomes increasingly unimportant as new forms of post-national citizenship gradually emerge, this does not seem to hold true for the young men of this study.
The debate in 1999 on how to finance the Italian party system centred
on two aberrations from the European norm that are linked to
the wider issue of the unfinished transition of the Italian political
system. The first of these aberrations is that the Italian political
class has yet to find a definitive remedy for the illegal funding of
the country’s political parties. Although public funding has been
envisaged since the law of 1974, subsequent legislation has
always been determined by circumstances and has never
addressed the real needs of parties. The second problem concerns
the control of three television channels by the state, on the one
hand, and of three further channels by a media entrepreneur and
political leader, Silvio Berlusconi, on the other. In the opinion of
many observers, this situation comprises an interweaving of interests
harmful to democratic pluralism.
Albert Murray's South to a Very Old Place
Carolyn M. Jones
In her essay, ‘Place in Fiction’, Eudora Welty describes place as identity.1 We put a poetic claim on, give a name to, a part of landscape that has put a claim on us. Place, therefore, is space to which meaning has been ascribed2 – as Scott Romine expresses it ‘a network of imperatives, codes, norms, limitations, duties, obligations and relationships’.3 As we name, therefore, we create, as Welty describes it, a crossroads, ‘a proving ground’.4 That place is the South, and the South is the ground of the novel. Yet, so often, as Barbara Ladd reminds us, place can become ‘something phantasmagoric … something longed lost and longed for … a locus of desire’ – a dream rather than a reality. Can place, she asks, function, become viable, dynamic and vital?
Margaret D. Lecompte
This article describes how different constituencies in a major research university tried to initiate change despite disagreements over common goals, norms and principles. The context was a culture war. The university administration wanted to impose a corporatising and privatising philosophy which it felt was crucial to preserving the university's academic integrity and its financial survival in a time of budgetary crisis. Faculty viewed these actions as serious threats to shared governance, faculty control over the curriculum, instruction and research, academic freedom and the faculty's constitutional rights. These forces played out in the firing and grievance cases of Ward Churchill and Adrienne Anderson, professors whose research and publications angered members of the political and academic establishment and galvanised protests pro and con from the media, conservative politicians and public intellectuals.
Jean-Paul Gagnon and Mark Chou
This general issue of Democratic Theory begins with an important contribution by George Vasilev (La Trobe University) that reflects on Chantal Mouffe’s notion of democratic agonism. Mouffe has, primarily as part of her critique of deliberative democracy, asserted that consensus necessarily creates exclusion. What is important is that democratic dialogue remains open-ended. For her this means that democrats should view themselves as adversaries rather than antagonists who bring discussions to a close. Vasilev critiques Mouffe’s assertion by arguing that she holds a one-sided understanding of consensus that creates a less credible form of adversarial politics. By crafting a “norm of consensus”, Vasilev thus demonstrates that consensus formation can ensure the very condition of democratic freedom itself. In doing this, Vasilev’s argument brings a fresh perspective to ongoing debates in deliberative and agonistic democracy.
Edward J. Woodhouse
Was the Hurricane Katrina disaster an aberration, or did it emerge from decision-making processes similar to those governing other public outcomes? Is it more reasonable to expect post-disaster analyses to lead to systematic learning and improved policy, or not to change very much? Most generally, what can be learned about appropriate expertise and usable knowledge from the Katrina experience? I argue that many of the same processes and institutions are at work to create vulnerable populations, design the built environment carelessly with respect to public values, place barriers in the way of preventive action, and make it difficult for experts to contribute to improved outcomes. No doubt there will be some hurricane-specific learning in Katrina's wake, such as more houses on stilts, but political influentials are unlikely to revamp the systemic norms, practices, and institutions that helped shape the disaster. Implications are discussed for interdisciplinary, problem-focused research and community service by scientists, engineers, and other experts.