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'The poet remained alone amidst the corpses of words . . .'

The Deportation Poetry of André Ulmann and Maurice Honel

Gary D. Mole

In an article entitled ‘Témoignage du camp et poésie’, published in 1948, the former deportee Robert Antelme, author of the now classic deportation text L’Espèce humaine, identifies what he sees as the respective problems of prose and poetic testimonies. The prose account, claims Antelme, in its supposed stark objectivity, all too often reads like some abstract accusatory act, a photograph that may provoke fear and trembling, but from which lessons cannot be explicitly learnt. Poetry, on the other hand, would run the risk of fleeing the reality of the camps, of allowing it to be only glimpsed through melodic counterpoint or nostalgic themes, thus enveloping the reality in a mist of words but never really penetrating it. In fleeing prosaic description, then, poetry would risk falling into obscurity.

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'Elementary, my dear Djuna'

Unreadable Simplicity in Barnes's Creatures in an Alphabet

Daniela Caselli

‘From the rue St. Romaine to Patchin Place, the caped and cloched Djuna Barnes cut a striking figure in Paris and Greenwich Village of the 1920s and 1930s. Contemporary writers and artists praised her style, feared her tongue; she was a beauty, but a talented, acerbic and powerfully intelligent one.’ Djuna Barnes is the attractive, mysterious, sexually daring American expatriate who led the glamorously bohemian life of Parisian cafes in the thirties; her figure, impressively clad in a black cape, keeps gliding down Parisian rues and New York alleys alike. An eccentric character, who produced a sui generis and almost forgotten masterpiece – Nightwood – and survived her previous mythical self as a hermit in a studio flat in Greenwich Village until the early eighties. At the end of her life she wrote a ‘slight’ work, a ‘bestiary’ called Creatures in an Alphabet, a sad ending of a great, if unorthodox, literary career.

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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The Shaping of a Community-Building Discourse among Israeli Pagans

Shai Feraro

This article charts the recent development of Modern Paganism in Israel (1999–2012) and analyzes the discourse maintained by Israeli modern-day Pagans when discussing questions of organization and of religious-political rights. As such it deals with the complexities of identifying oneself as a (Jewish-born) Pagan in Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people. I argue that although Israeli Pagans may employ a community-building discourse, they constantly fear the perceived negative consequences of public exposure. They see the bond between (Jewish) religion and the state in Israel as a main factor in the intolerance and even persecution that they expect from the government and from Haredim (“ultra-Orthodox” Jews). The result of this discourse during the first ten years or so of the presence of Modern Paganism in Israel can be seen through the metaphor of a dance, in which participants advance two steps, only to retreat one.

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The End of Arrogance, the Advent of Persuasion

Public Art in a Multicultural Society

Henri Beunders

In Western societies, the boundaries of the freedom of expression had traditionally been expanding, while the boundaries of religion and 'good morals' had been receding. Since the last decade however, this expansion has slowed down, come to a halt, and ultimately reversed. In Europe, anxiety over the expression of protest through violent means has steadily caused governments to abandon the traditional, seemingly limitless adherence to freedom of expression. Political fear over controversy has come to dominate the climate of commissioning public art. In a polarized world, the debate on what is tolerable has taken on an acute urgency. The art world itself no longer has an answer. After a half-century of autonomy, it has succeeded in demolishing its own authority by ridiculing every aspect of external criticism. The only solution now will be a new form of dialogue with all stakeholders involved.

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Douglas Farrer

This article traces the connections between death and the afterlife as configured through the Malay martial art silat in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Riau Archipelago. The practice and performance of silat are addressed here through aspects of non-material and material culture, including ritual, dance, jewelry, symbols, and art. Silat is designed to transform physically and spiritually the silat practitioner and to remove the fear of death and dying. This transformation is partly accomplished by summoning (berseru) the shadows of the 'potent dead'. However, the contemporary medicalization of death may preclude the possibility of a 'noble death'. To illustrate the disjuncture of 'deathscapes', I compare the agonizing death of a silat master to the cemetery ordeal of his son.

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Living from the Nerves

Deportability, Indeterminacy, and the 'Feel of Law' in Migrant Moscow

Madeleine Reeves

While deportability has elicited interest as a legal predicament facing migrant workers, less attention has been given to the way in which this condition of temporal uncertainty shapes migrants' everyday encounters with state agents. Drawing on ethnography among Kyrgyzstani migrant workers in Moscow, I show that in conditions of documentary uncertainty 'legal residence' depends upon successfully enacting a right to the city and the personalization of the state. Alongside fear and suspicion, this space of legal uncertainty is characterized by a sense of abandon and awareness of the performativity of law. I explore 'living from the nerves' as an ethnographic reality for Kyrgyzstani migrant workers and as an analytic for developing a more variegated account of state power and its affective resonances in contemporary Russia.

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Joyce Dalsheim

What do secular, left-wing Israelis living inside the Green Line have in common with religious, right-wing 'settlers'? Despite their conflicting positions, I argue that there is a depth of commonality that fuels the hatred and intolerance between these groups. This article aims to reveal a positional unity that appears as conflict, difference, and disunity. Resituating the apparently incommensurable discourses, I contend that this discord is best understood within the context of a society that is continually struggling with the outcomes of its settler origins and ongoing settlement activity. The focus is on the arguments between the two groups concerning uses of the past, which serves as a reference from which to demonstrate that the desire, particularly among the secular, to differentiate rather than identify is located in a fear of what today's settler activity reveals about the Zionist project in a broader sense and what it therefore stands to potentially undermine.

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Girls, Power and Style

Social and Emotional Experiences of the Clothed Body

Emilie Zaslow

Drawing on ethnographic research with a diverse group of teen girls, this article asks how play with style is understood and enacted. By positioning girls' everyday transactions with style beside their engagement with style in media, this article demonstrates that girls live with a cultural discordance between the girl power media discourse of style as choice, power, and resistance, and the reality of their own, often disempowered, experiences with style. Bound by the promise of upward social mobility, the fear of losing status, and the risk of remaining in the low income and middle class communities in which they were raised, the girls in this study feel regulated and, at times, hurt by the required performance of the clothed body.

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Paying the Price of War

Narratives of Trauma of Iraqi Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Jordan

Laure Bjawi-Levine

The occupation of Iraq and the ensuing sectarian violence have created an Iraqi refugee community, estimated at 700,000 to 1 million, which Jordan has hosted for several years. Residing for the most part in Amman's low-rent neighbourhoods, many Iraqis have overstayed their visas and live in fear of deportation. Marginalised both economically and socially, and forgotten by the U.S. and the international community, poverty-stricken Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers suffer not only from the traumatic experience of sectarian persecution and their escape from Iraq, but also from the stress and fatigue of their long-lasting transit to nowhere. Their narratives show a profound distress and a struggle for survival that is both psychological and economical, since their (il)legal status as 'guests' denies them the possibility of obtaining work permits.

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Gerrit K. Roessler

This article examines Ulrich Horstmann's science fiction radio play Die Bunkermann-Kassette (The Bunker Man Cassette, 1979), in which the author frames fears and anxieties surrounding a potential nuclear conflict during the Cold War as apocalyptic self-annihilation of the human race. Radio, especially radio drama, had a unique role in capturing the historical imaginaries and traumatic experiences surrounding this non-event. Horstmann's radio drama and the titular cassette tape become sound artifacts that speak to the technological contexts of their time, while their acoustic content carries the past sounds into the present. In the world of the play, these artifacts are presented in a museum of the future, which uses the possibilities of science fictional imagination and speculation to create prosthetic memories of the Cold War. The article suggests that these memories are cyborg memories, because the listener is a fully integrated component of radio technology that makes these memories and recollections of imagined events possible in the first place.