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The Genetic Commons

Resisting the Neo-liberal Enclosure of Life

Stephen B. Scharper and Hilary Cunningham

The notion of a ‘genetic commons’ is a broad-based, multi-faceted response to a particular constellation of technological, cultural, economic, political, ethical, and legal developments of the past three decades. Prompted principally by advances in biotechnology and the heretofore unprecedented patenting of life forms, the genetic commons movement seeks to critique and resist the commodification and commercialization of ‘nature’ and to establish a cosmological and political space outside of, and protected from, neo-liberal capitalist processes.

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This edition of Theoria encompasses an examination of the character of historical enquiry, critical encounters with contemporary perspectives in political theory, reflections on religion and the state, an exploration of the implications of the commodification of time and work and an examination of the role of human rights in the contemporary international context. In this it extends discussion of themes that have come to define the coherence and unity of the journal as an editorial project.

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Sacred Landscape, Healing Landscape

“Taking the Waters” in Tunka Valley, Russia

Katherine Metzo

This article examines the sacred mineral springs in Arshan, Buriatiia. These springs have been inscribed as sacred due to their medicinal properties and are marked as sacred through rituals and material offerings. Residents lament the loss of healing, and implicitly sacred, strength of Arshan. The author argues that the sense of loss is due to the medicalization of healing in Tsarist and Soviet times and from the commodification of this type of sacred site through bottling and tourism.

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Zeynep Kılıç and Jennifer Petzen

This article invites scholars of race and migration to look at the visual arts more closely within the framework of comparative race theory. We argue that within a neoliberal multicultural context, the marketing of art relies on the commodification and circulation of racial categories, which are reproduced and distributed as globalized racial knowledge. This knowledge is mediated by the racial logic of neoliberal multiculturalism. Specifically, we look at the ways in which the global art market functions as a set of racialized and commodified power relations confronting the “migrant“ artist within an orientalizing curatorial framework.

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Silvia Rief, Antonino Palumbo, John Craig, Dorothy Sheridan, Barry Stierer, and Gabriela Edlinger

Myra H. Strober (2011): Interdisciplinary Conversations. Challenging Habits of Thought

Review by Silvia Rief

Hans Radder (ed.) (2010): The Commodification of Academic Research: Science and the Modern University

Review by Antonino Palumbo

Gabriela Pleschová (ed.) (2010): IT in Action: Stimulating Quality Learning at Undergraduate Students

Review by John Craig

Les Back (2010-11): Academic Diary, http://www.academic-diary.co.uk/

Sally Fincher, Janet Finlay, Isobel Falconer, Helen Sharp and Josh Tenenberg (2008-11): The Share Project, http://www.sharingpractice.ac.uk/homepage.html

Review by Dorothy Sheridan and Barry Stierer

Sabine Hikel (ed.): Leaving Academia: Offering Resources for Academic Leavers and Accounting for the Phenomenon of Brain Drain in Academia, http://www.leavingacademia.com/

Review by Gabriela Edlinger

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Liz Morrish and Helen Sauntson

This special issue sets out to investigate a number of areas of concern, regarding gender and sexuality, which are identifiable in the current British higher education environment. We argue that current dominant 'neoliberal' discourses, which emphasise the commodification of higher education in the U.K., function to set limits upon 'equality'. While these discourses often suggest a widening of opportunities within higher education, with an emphasis upon unlimited individual freedom and choice, the lived experience can be rather different for women and sexual minorities. This issue explores the impact such discourses are having upon gender and sexuality identities and practices in the academy.

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Searching for a New Way of Thinking about Society

A Noospheric Social Quality Orientation for Development toward Sustainability

Vyacheslav Nikolayevitch Bobkov and Nikolay Vyacheslavovich Bobkov

Abstract

The currently accepted global wisdom holds that the most important and decisive challenge for humankind is to reach sustainable circumstances; societal, geophysical, and biophysical. However, there is little readiness to go beyond the inherited fundamental assumptions of a “modern industrial capitalist market society.” This is oriented on the commodification and marketization of natural and cultural resources for making profit. Seen from a Russian perspective, this article argues that this approach causes a destruction of sustainable living conditions. The social quality approach, the Russian interpretation of quality of life approach, and the noosphere paradigm of global societal development offer space for considerations that questions the dominant socioeconomic and financial societal practices not only on the phenomenological level. Instead, the authors name gnoseological, ontological, and axiological prerequisites of sustainable global societal development. This will contribute to the wider and diverse debates on what can be called people’s humanistic socialism.

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Boone W. Shear and Angelina I. Zontine

Ongoing transformations of the university - from changing working conditions to issues of affordability and access, increasing 'accountability' measures and commodification of academic production - are increasingly referred to as university corporatisation and are unfolding within and concomitant to neoliberal globalisation. In this paper we outline some of these processes as they are occurring at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and explore the limitations and possibilities of a critical response mounted by a number of students and faculty in the Department of Anthropology. Drawing on ethnographic data and interviews with group participants, as well as our own experiences with the group, we describe and assess this project as a means to investigate and respond to neoliberal governance. Through this analysis we problematise conventional discourses and imaginings of university corporatisation and neoliberalism and explore the sometimes contradictory subject positions that complicate our efforts to respond critically to university corporatisation.

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Courtney Carothers and Catherine Chambers

This article draws on directed ethnographic research and a review of literature to explore how the commodification of fishing rights discursively and materially remakes human-marine relationships across diverse regions. It traces the history of dominant economic theories that promote the privatization of fishing access for maximizing potential pro ts. It describes more recent discursive trends that link the ecological health of the world's oceans and their fisheries to widespread privatization. Together, these economic and environmental discourses have enrolled a broad set of increasingly vocal and powerful privatization proponents. The article provides specific examples of how nature-society relationships among people, oceans, and sh are remade as privatization policies take root in fishery systems. We conclude with an overview of several strategies of resistance. Across the world there is evidence of alternative discourses, economic logics, and cultures of fishing resistant to privatization processes, the assumptions that underlie them, and the social transitions they often generate.

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Sebald's Ghosts

Traveling among the Dead in The Rings of Saturn

Simon Cooke

W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn ([1998] 2002), originally published in German in 1995 as Die Ringe des Saturn: eine englische Wallfahrt [An English Pilgrimage], recounts a walking tour of the English county of Suffolk. As the narrative weaves through an array of histories, memories, dreams, and textual and visual forms, it creates an East Anglian arena for a world tour of death, destruction, and atrocity: the traveler attempts to unearth skulls, examines paintings of autopsies, spends time in graveyards, incorporates photographs of Nazi death camps, and patterns it into a work of sublime elegy. Is Sebald, then, the ultimate "dark tourist"? Or, as this article proposes, is it through an insistence on the omnipresence of death and the interconnections between different sites of trauma and the everyday that Sebald's work, while in one sense embodying a thanatological impulse, also powerfully resists the commodification of the thanatouristic attraction?