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Andrea Zielinski

The word 'identity' actually means 'absolute sameness'. Here, one speaks of 'self identity' or 'social identity'. Sharon Macdonald describes social identity as 'allegiance to people, group and often, place and past'. With regard to this topic we would rather say that identity is the process of assimilating to a norm regarded as given and static.

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Sonia Sikka

This paper criticises the concept of culture as deployed within debates on moral relativism, arguing for a greater appreciation of the role of power in the production of a society's purportedly 'moral' norms. The argument is developed in three stages: (1) analysis of the relation between ideology and morality, noting that the concept of morality excludes self-serving moral claims and justifications; (2) analysis of the concept of culture, drawing attention to an ambiguity in its usage and to the hierarchical social structures within which the actual bodies of cultures are produced and reproduced; and (3) contention that (1) and (2) provide the basis for a radical and socially effective species of immanent critique: the exposure of existing norms and institutions purported to be morally justified as masks for the self-interest of elite groups.

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Editorial

African Philosophy and Rights

Motsamai Molefe and Chris Allsobrook

A useful way to approach the discourse of rights in African philosophy is in terms of Kwasi Wiredu’s (1996) distinction between cultural particulars and universals. According to Wiredu, cultural particulars are contingent and context-dependent. They fail to hold in all circumstances and for everyone (Wiredu 2005). Cultural universals are transcultural or objective (Wiredu 2005). Examples of cultural particulars include dress styles, religious rituals, social etiquette and so on. One example of a cultural universal is the norm of truth. One may imagine a society with different methods of greeting, dress, and raising children, but one cannot imagine a robust society which rejects the norm of truth as the basis of social practices.

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Francisca de Haan, Maria Bucur, and Krassimira Daskalova

This is the third volume of Aspasia, with a focus on the gender history of everyday life. The questions in which we were interested included: How have broad institutional frameworks – religious, social, economic, political, and cultural – related to the ways in which average women and men negotiated their gender identities, and, vice versa, how have (changes in) gender identities and relations influenced broader institutional frameworks? Our call for papers also asked more specific questions: How have assumptions of religious institutions about gender norms shaped the everyday religious practices and spirituality of laywomen and men? How have sexual norms impacted how women and men perform and negotiate their sexual identity in their daily lives? What changes did state socialism bring to women’s and men’s gender identities and daily lives, and how did that change over time?

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Reconsidering Politics as a Man’s World

Images of Male Political Leaders in France and Norway

Anne Krogstad and Aagoth Storvik

Researchers have often pointed to the masculine norms that are integrated into politics. This article explores these norms by studying male images of politics and power in France and Norway from 1945 to 2009. Both dress codes and more general leadership styles are discussed. The article shows changes in political aesthetics in both countries since the Second World War. The most radical break is seen in the way Norwegian male politicians present themselves. The traditional Norwegian leadership ethos of piety, moderation, and inward orientation is still important, but it is not as self-effacing and inelegant as it used to be. However, compared to the leaders in French politics, who still live up to a heroic leadership ideal marked by effortless superiority and seduction, the Norwegian leaders look modest. To explain the differences in political self-presentation and evaluation we argue that cultural repertoires are not only national constructions but also gendered constructions.

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Mimesis of the State

From Natural Disaster to Urban Citizenship on the Outskirts of Maputo, Mozambique

Morten Nielsen

This article explores the generative effects of the flooding that hit Mozambique in 2000. Flood victims from the country's capital, Maputo, were resettled in Mulwene on the outskirts of the city. Although initially envisaged as a 'model neighborhood' based on a set of 'fixed urban norms', it soon became apparent that the Mozambican state was incapable of realizing the project. These failures notwithstanding, residents occupying land informally in the neighborhood have parceled out plots and built houses by imitating those norms. Based on a Deleuzian reading of 'situational analysis', introduced by the Manchester School, the article argues that the flooding constituted a generative moment that gave rise to new and potentially accessible futures in which hitherto illegal squatters were reconfigured as legitimate citizens.

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Requiem for a Waria

Piety and the Political Potentiality of Ironic Experience

Sylvia Tidey

This article engages recent queries in anthropology regarding where to find openings for reimagining, recreating, or rearticulating a moral and political otherwise. I suggest we can find such openings in the political potentiality of ironic experiences—intensely unnerving confrontations with the discrepancy between accepted norms and cherished ideals, of which these norms fall short. Through a person-centered account of one of Indonesia’s most well-known waria (transgender woman), I demonstrate how an out-of-the-ordinary woman’s pursuit of a pious, ordinary life occasions a profound estrangement from common understandings of what it means to be Muslim. This, then, facilitates the possibility of reimaging religious and political orientations despite a national political context of growing incommensurability between Islam and non-heteronormativity.

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Boarding School for First-Grade Black Boys

Stereotypes, a Single-Sex Program, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Joseph D. Nelson and Sangeeta Subedi

Single-sex schooling for boys of color has become popular throughout the United States. Leaders and educators often consider these environments a school-based intervention to address adverse outcomes associated with Black boys. A contributing factor to these outcomes have been negative stereotypes of Black males related to Black masculinity norms, which developmental psychologists contend boys internalize during childhood. Interviews and observations were conducted over 12 months to describe a single-sex boarding program for first-grade African-American boys, affiliated with a coed independent school. Designed to facilitate boys’ positive identity development, the program’s mission and vision, educational philosophy, and schedule/programming will be primarily described from boys’ perspectives. The goal is to explore the merits of this single-sex intervention to ameliorate how Black male stereotypes and masculinity norms contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.

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A. James McAdams

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies in western democracies are turning increasingly to electronic surveillance tools in their efforts to identify and combat new terrorist threats. But this does not mean that they are equally equipped to undertake these measures. As the author shows by comparing surveillance activities in three countries—Great Britain, the United States, and Germany—the Federal Republic's more restrictive legal norms and institutions provide its government with much less freedom of maneuver than its allies.

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Afterword(s)

The Great Variety of Readers

David Scott Kastan

Pluralizing has increasingly become a norm of cultural criticism, offering a (literally, if not exclusively) nominal escape from totalization: ‘meanings’ not ‘meaning’; ‘histories’ not ‘history’; and, here, ‘literacies’ not ‘literacy’. The plural forms are neologisms perhaps (as my spell-checker insists), but they are also registers of a discomfort with nouns that imply a singularity of effect belied by the multiple activities and agents that produce it. They mark the scholar’s resistance to monolithic understandings of complex and various cultural phenomena.