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Paperwork performances

Legitimating state violence in the Swedish deportation regime

Lisa Marie Borrelli and Annika Lindberg

Deportation regimes mobilise coercive state powers, but also entail extensive paperwork, the latter of which remains underexplored in deportation studies. Building on ethnographic fieldwork in border police units and a migration-related detention centre in Sweden, this article explores how bureaucratic practices of detecting, detaining and ultimately deporting people whose presence has been illegalised are enforced and legitimated through the use of paperwork. Paperwork, we argue, becomes the ‘signature of the state’ that enables state agencies to assert themselves as ‘rational’ actors, even when their own practices are ridden by dilemmas, inconsistency and sometimes arbitrariness. We show how the same documents that are meant to ensure fairness and accountability in bureaucratic processes may render state actions even more unreadable, and further serve to rationalise and legitimise intrusive, violent and discriminatory state actions. The article thus highlights the importance of considering the often-tedious paperwork as essential to the operation of coercive state powers, such as the detainment and deportation of illegalised persons.

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Tova Gamliel

The wailing of Yemenite Jewish women, as preserved in the Yemenite Jewish community in Israel, is presented as a case study for analysis of and comparison with other existing wailing cultures. The article uses a model of identities to examine anthropological conventions that interpret death rituals as rites of transition and crisis. A well-known function of wailing—as a bridge between life and death—is decoded in view of the model. The gender dimension of wailing is examined by counterposing and juxtaposing feminine wailing to masculine wailing at death events. The article describes the relative contributions of men and women to the stability of their community and analyzes the unique characteristics of the psycho-social power of women's wailing.

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J. Brandon Colvin

People are bad at recognizing liars. Data culled from several psychological experiments demonstrates that even the most well trained individuals – government agents, police officers, and so on – can barely succeed at a 50 percent rate. Lying and deception, however, are fundamental narrative elements in several film genres – particularly the detective film and the female gothic, genres that peaked in popularity in 1940s Hollywood. Considering their real-life lack of proficiency, how do viewers successfully spot deception in such films? Drawing on findings from a handful of experiments, this article brings cognitive psychological concepts to bear on two 1940s films: Out of the Past (1947) and Secret Beyond the Door (1948). The article claims that filmmakers, particularly actors, exaggerate, simplify, and emphasize deception cues to selectively achieve narrative clarification or revelation. This process reveals not only how viewers recognize deception, but how actors stylize real-life behavior in service of narrative and aesthetic priorities.

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Chants of Re-enchantment

Chamorro Spiritual Resistance to Colonial Domination

D. S. Farrer and James D. Sellmann

The Chamorro people inhabit an archipelago known as the Mariana Islands located in the western Pacific Ocean. Seventeenth-century Chamorros took ancestral skulls into warfare against the Spanish in the period of the Spanish conquest. The possession of such skulls manifested profound symbolic power. In the aftermath of the war, the survivors converted to Catholicism, amalgamating their ancient religious practices with that faith. Resistance through the centuries against Spanish, Japanese, and American colonial power has been anchored in Chamorro cultural continuity, albeit in an ostensibly fragmented and augmented form. A site of strategic US military bases, Guam now anticipates further military build-up. War magic and warrior religion are lenses that enable the study of colonial domination where the battle lines fault across military, economic, and political frames toward cultural fronts.

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Autonomy and the Spaciousness of the Social in Denmark

The Conflict Between Ungdomshuset and Faderhuset

Stine Krøijer and Inger Sjørslev

This article is concerned with the idea of societal 'spaciousness' and its relationship to individual and collective autonomy. These issues are analyzed in the context of the eviction of a self-managed social center of left-radical activists in Copenhagen and the protests and public debate that followed. The authors find that societal spaciousness in Denmark is metaphorically associated with a house or a limited physical space. People should limit themselves in public space, as in a house, to 'make room' for all. Because youngsters are not conceived of as fully fledged political subjects who are able to conduct themselves appropriately in public space, they become a group of special concern. The authors argue that space should be conceived as a dimension of social relations, and that sociality relies on a temporal assemblage of people, things, and imaginaries with space.

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Yang Liu, Thomas Malaby, and Daniel Miller

Scholarship has frequently struggled with several pairs of dichotomies as it has sought to understand the digital: real vs. virtual, authentic vs. mediated, openness (freedom) vs. closure (control), and community vs. network. In order to make conceptual headway without falling into these traps, we turn in this article to the concept of indexicality. We urge an account of the digital that sees it as a resource for social action, one with the capacity to reduce and abstract as well as to differentiate and proliferate, recognizing both of these as potential projects that social actors may undertake. We offer the operation of money as an instructive analogy for how we may identify both the abstracting and the specifying dimensions of the digital.

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Our Present Misfortune

Games and the Post-Bureaucratic Colonization of Contingency

Thomas M. Malaby

Anthropology is turning toward a new engagement with a central question of Weber: how do people come to understand the distribution of fortune in the world? Our discipline's recent examination of the uses of the past prompts us to ask how stances toward the future are both the product of cultural logics and the target of institutional interests. In this article, I trace the engagement with contingency in anthropology and social thought, and then compare the nonchalant stance toward the future found in Greek society with the different disposition of individual gaming mastery in the digital domain, such as in Second Life, but also in the longest-running Greek state-sponsored game: Pro-Po. These examples illustrate how games are increasingly the sites for institutional efforts both to appropriate creativity and to generate distinctive subjectivities.

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The 'Gendered Field' of Kaolinite Clay Production

Performance Characteristics among the Balengou

Ngambouk V. Pemunta

This article examines the 'gendered field' of kaolinite clay production and its integration into the local socio-cultural universe of the Balengou of the Western region of Cameroon. Kaolinite clay is produced and ingested mainly by women, especially during pregnancy so as to ensure that their children are born 'clean'. Used as a herbal additive, the clay is also believed to be imbued with sacred qualities and has a symbolic role in various communal rituals. Although geophagy—the practice of eating earth—is associated with harmful health effects, the various affordances offered by kaolinite clay as a valuable object of material culture constitute a specific entanglement of nature and culture. This study makes a modest contribution to the literature on the 'politics of value' and on the relationality of human/non-human interactions.

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Lars Rensmann

Despite several breakthroughs that indicate radical right parties' significant electoral potential, they remain highly volatile players in both Poland and eastern Germany. This is puzzling because radical right competitors can benefit from favorable politico-cultural conditions shaped by postcommunist legacies. The electoral markets in Poland and the eastern German Länder show low levels of affective party identification and low levels of political trust in mainstream parties and government institutions. Most importantly, there is a sizeable, yet largely unrepresented segment of voters who share salient counter-cosmopolitan preferences. They point to a “silent counterrevolution“ against globalization and cosmopolitan value change that displays substantive affinities to radical right ideology. Offering a transborder regional comparison of the four most relevant radical right parties and their conditions for electoral mobilization in Poland and eastern Germany, this article argues that the radical right's crossnational volatility-and often underperformance-in elections is mainly caused by internal supply side factors. They range from organizational deficiencies, leadership issues, and internal feuds, to strategic failures and a lack of democratic responsiveness. In turn, the disequilibrium between counter-cosmopolitan demand and its political representation is likely to be reduced if radical right competitors become more effective agents of electoral mobilization-or new, better organized ones emerge.

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Fiona Cullen

Much previous scholarly work has noted the gendered nature of humor and the notion that women use comedy in a different way than do their male peers. Drawing on prior work on gender and humor, and my ethnographic work on teen girl cultures, I explore in this article how young women utilize popular cultural texts as well as everyday and staged comedy as part of a gendered resource that provides potential sites for sex-gender transgression and conformity. Through a series of vignettes, I explore how girls do funny and provide a backdrop to perform youthful gendered identities, as well as establish, maintain, and transgress cultural and social boundaries. Moving on to explore young women and stand-up I question the potential in mobilizing humor as an educational resource and a site in which to explore sex-gender norms with young people.