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Judith Inggs

This article explores the development of girl characters in works for children and young adults during Perestroika. First, it examines established heroines from the Soviet era, such as Elli in Volkov's Volshebnik izumrudnogo goroda [The wizard of the emerald city], and then goes on to examine the depiction of female protagonists and characters in works written during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The conclusion is that although there was a clear demand for new heroines and a new role model for girls, writers did not succeed in providing strong, independent female characters with a sense of agency. Instead, the Soviet preference for male protagonists continued, with females often being portrayed stereotypically as weak and ineffectual.

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The Kids Are All Right But the Lesbians Aren't

The Illusion of Progress in Popular Film

Vicki L. Eaklor

The film The Kids Are All Right, centered on a lesbian couple and their two teenage children, was released in 2010 following a media blitz selling it as a groundbreaking film. Many queer viewers (like this author) eagerly awaited this supposed step forward in lesbian representation, only to be disappointed once again by mainstream stereotypes and tropes. This article takes a close look at the film against the backdrop of lesbian images and themes in “Hollywood“ films, particularly in the last twenty years, and argues that continuities, while sometimes more subtle, override the illusion of progress in portraying lesbians. Finally, there is speculation about why genuine change in mainstream film may be impossible under current societal and economic systems.

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The Other French Exception

Virtuous Racism and the War of the Sexes in Postcolonial France

Nacira Guénif-Souilamas

Twentieth-century France invented for itself an "exception" that successfully preserved the French culture industry. Postcolonial France is experiencing another "French exception" that renders a "virtuous racism" commonplace and legitimates the discrimination that expresses this racism by identifying the undesirable "new French" as scapegoat figures. Four gender-specific stereotypes strengthen the belief that there is a form of sexism exclusive to the segregated neighborhoods of the suburbs that are inhabited primarily by French people of immigrant and colonial descent. Associated with the central figure of the garçon arabe are the beurette, the veiled Muslim French woman, and the secular Muslim. The article argues that the model of abstract, universalist France has become one of a fundamentalist republicanism that plays diverse expressions of otherness and singular identities off of one another in order to preserve a soft regime of oppression.

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Ethnicity without labels?

Ambiguity and excess in “postethnic” Rwanda

Laura Eramian

Following the 1994 genocide, the government of Rwanda embarked on a “deethnicization” campaign to outlaw Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa labels and replace them with a pan-Rwandan national identity. Since then, to use ethnic labels means risking accusations of “divisionism” or perpetuating ethnic schisms. Based on one year of ethnographic fieldwork in the university town of Butare, I argue that the absence of ethnic labels produces practical interpretive problems for Rwandans because of the excess of possible ways of interpreting what people mean when they evaluate each other's conduct in everyday talk. I trace the historical entanglement of ethnicity with class, rural/urban, occupational, and moral distinctions such that the content of ethnic stereotypes can be evoked even without ethnic labels. In so doing, I aim to enrich understandings of both the power and danger inherent in the ambiguous place of ethnicity in Rwanda's “postethnic” moment.

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Larissa Titarenko

There is a stereotype that such former Soviet republics as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are totally Orthodox. However, this statement is not entirely correct, as part of the population in these countries belong to many different churches, while a large part have rather eclectic religious and para-religious beliefs. In the case of Belarus, a major part of the population belongs to two Christian confessions, Orthodox and Catholic, while many other confessions and new religious movements also exist. Religious pluralism is a practical reality in Belarus which has the reputation of the most religiously tolerant post-Soviet country. Contemporary laws provide the legal basis for the tolerant relations in the country, and there is a historical tradition of religious tolerance in Belarus. Research data from the EVS studies and national surveys are used.

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Polycarp Ikuenobe

This article examines Nnamdi Azikiwe’s idea of mental emancipation as the intellectual foundation for his political philosophy. Mental emancipation involves re-educating Africans to adopt scientific, critical, analytic, and logical modes of thinking. Azikiwe argues that development must involve changing Africans’ intellectual attitudes and educational system. He argues that Western education, through perpetuating negative stereotypes and engendering ‘colonial mentality’, has neither fostered critical and scientific thinking, nor enabled Africans to apply their knowledge for development. Mental emancipation would enable Africans to develop self-confidence, and the critical examination of superstitious beliefs that have hindered Africa’s development. I show that Azikiwe’s ideas have been recaptured by African philosophers like Bodunrin and Wiredu, regarding their critique of aspects of African tradition and prescription for how African philosophy can contribute to development.

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Ingeborg Majer-O'Sickey

As host of the 2006 soccer World Cup in June and July 2006, Germany was suddenly full of different Germans, waving millions of black-red-gold mini flags and wearing their (and others') national colors with abandon. Was this show of nationalism a new kind of trans/national patriotism? Most certainly, the national enthusiasm exhibited in Germany had nothing whatsoever to do with past demonstrations of patriotism. With the focus on the country as host to world soccer aficionados, the world also learned of a multicultural Germany that has existed for the last fifty years or so. It learned that it is not always successful with its social and economic problems, and that the desire for national unity is sometimes difficult to fulfill. Quite correctly, the national media described Germany as joyous, generous, and open-minded hosts. In the foreign press, too, the old stereotypes were broken down.

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Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

How is it possible to reconcile what I learn in the field with what I teach for a living? This paper shows how an answer seems to have formulated itself in practice. The reconciliation is fractured. The problem could have been more easily solved if I had decided to ‘teach’ (transcode for academic use) what I learned in the field. I hope you will work out from what follows why this is not an option for my stereotype of myself, why that solution would have been more a part of the problem, for me, than this incoherence. I give you the dilemma, as its reconciliation. The first section is about what I learn in the field: other women. The second about how that has changed what I teach for a living: literary criticism.

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Hamlet through your legs’

Radical Rewritings of Shakespeare’s Tragedy in Japan

Kaori Ashizu

This article discusses four Hamlet adaptations produced in twentieth-century Japan: Naoya Shiga’s ‘Claudius’s Diary’ (1912), Hideo Kobayashi’s ‘Ophelia’s Testament’ (1931), Osamu Dazai’s New Hamlet (1941) and Shohei Ooka’s Hamlet’s Diary (1955). Though differently motivated, and written in different styles, they collectively make something of a tradition, each revealing a unique, unexpected interpretation of the famous tragedy. Read as a group, they thoroughly disprove the stereotypical view that Japan has generally taken a highly respectful, imitative attitude to Western culture and Shakespeare. Hamlet has certainly been revered in Japan as the epitome of Western literary culture, but these adaptations reveal complicated, ambivalent attitudes towards Shakespeare’s play: not only love and respect, but anxiety, competitiveness, resistance and criticism, all expressed alongside an opportunistic urge to appropriate the rich ‘cultural capital’ of the canonical work.

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To Dream, Perchance to Cure

Dreaming and Shamanism in a Brazilian Indigenous Society

Waud H. Kracke

Drawing on his extensive psychoanalytic ethnographic work among the Parintintin Indians of Brazil, the author discusses the place of dreaming in Parintintin shamanism. In this culture, dreams are spiritually significant, and there are traditional modes of interpreting them. While dream interpretation was formerly the province of shamans, even ordinary people are considered to have the capacity to use dreams to predict events and sense feelings directed toward them. The article deals primarily with the dreams of an informant who was not a shaman but had an intense interest in this practice. Because his birth had not been 'dreamed' by a shaman, he was not considered to be one; nevertheless, he experienced in dreams the cosmic journey of a shaman. While the informants' dreams manifest yearnings in what could be considered stereotypical forms, the author finds that they do express personal meanings and reflect intimate, unconscious wishes.