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A French place without a cheese

Problems with heritage and identity in northeastern France

Paola Filippucci

In France, the classic produit du terroir, the local product that with its mix of skill and raw materials embodies the distinctive tie between people and their terroir (soil), is cheese. Thus, when inhabitants of the Argonne say that it “does not even have a cheese”, they imply that it lacks a patrimoine (cultural heritage). On the other hand, they do make passionate claims about 'being Argonnais', conveying a marked recognition of, and attachment to, a named place in relation to which they identify themselves and others. Focusing on this paradox, this article will highlight certain assumptions regarding the definition of cultural heritage found in public policy.

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Sexual imbalance in frontier communities

Siberia and New France to 1760

David N. Collins

Eminent historians in Canada have contended that pioneer societies often experience marked sexual imbalance in their early stages, having far fewer women than men. Certain Soviet historians tended to deny the existence of such a problem in Siberia. Since the two regions match each other in many ways (they enjoy similar geographical conditions, were settled by European peoples at roughly the same historical period for analogous purposes and were both governed in a centralised military/bureaucratic fashion), an investigation was undertaken into the reasons for Canadian and Soviet disagreements over the issue. Concentrating on the period of earliest exploration and settlement, before large-scale British immigration, the study predominantly compares Russian settlement in Siberia with its French equivalent in New France. Data from both sides make it quite clear that in the early stages there were fewer women than there were men, that the imbalances were overcome during a century or more in regions where agriculture was possible, but persisted in more northerly territories or unstable military zones. The sources from which women came were: interbreeding with indigenous peoples, government attempts to provide women for male settlers and rapid natural increase, with the probability that more female than male offspring survived. Clear parallels exist between the Siberian and Canadian experience, despite the cultural, economic and political differences. Soviet denials of an early imbalance seem to have been dictated by a need to prove that the USSR had never experienced colonialism of the type characteristic of the European empires.

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The Anthropology of Literature in France

Birth and Becoming of a New Field of Studies

Laurent Sebastian Fournier and Jean-Marie Privat

In this article we present the ongoing theoretical discussions concerning the relations between anthropology and literature in France. We recall the historical relationship of a part of French anthropology and the world of literature. We then try to show how the anthropology of literature began by using the model of the anthropology of art, mainly concentrating on literary works as individual creations specific to the style or the cosmology of a given writer. We explore a new perspective on the analysis of the social and symbolic meanings of literary worlds, putting the emphasis on what is called ‘ethnocriticism’ in France. In order to understand better the influence of literature and literary motives on contemporary cultural practices, and to grasp the relation of literary works with the outside world and with everyday life, we propose to build up a comparative approach of literary works and rituals. Through different novels or other literary works, we address possible developments of contemporary anthropologies of literature in France.

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The Veil and Muslim Women in France

Religious and Political Aspects

Aref Abu-Rabia

The right of Muslim schoolgirls in France to wear the veil (hijab) raises questions concerning the meaning of the veil for Muslim women. The debate about Muslim dress codes and whether Islam belongs in Europe has become a critical issue. The debate that began about the veil in Islam has evolved into a large discussion about Islam itself: as a religion, the Islamic movement in France and the relationship between Islam and fundamentalism. The purpose of this article is to examine some definitions of the hijab and its meaning in the context of the Qur’an, and to analyse some of the understandings of the hijab, as articulated in the late twentieth century by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. It also explores the nature of Muslim reactions in France as well as their tensions with the surrounding society, as a result of the French ban on wearing the veil in public schools.

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Meike J. de Goede

In January 1942, André Grenard Matsoua died in a colonial prison in French Equatorial Africa (AEF) from bacillary dysentery—or so the French authorities told his followers. 1 Matsoua had been the leader of the Société Amicale des Originaires de l

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Gwyn Williams

This paper explores the rights-based cosmopolitanism of French anti-GM activists and their challenge to the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations. Activists argue that genetic modification, patents, and WTO-brokered free trade agreements are the means by which multinationals deny people fundamental rights and seek to dominate global agriculture. Through forms of protest, which include cutting down field trials of genetically modified crops, activists resist this agenda of domination and champion the rights of farmers and nations to opt out of the global agricultural model promoted by biotechnology companies. In so doing, they defend the local. This defense, however, is based on a cosmopolitan discourse of fundamental rights and the common good. I argue that activists' cosmopolitan perspective does not transcend the local but is intimately related to a particular understanding of it.

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Cartographies of Communicability and the Anthropological Archive

Civil War Executions and the Harvard Irish Study

Brigittine French

This article traces ideological constructions of communication that enable powerful actors to determine what counts as silences, lies and surpluses in efficacious narratives about violence (Briggs 2007) in order to elucidate occlusions regarding legacies of the Civil War in the Irish Free State. It does so through a precise triangulation of multiple competing and overlapping narratives from unpublished fieldnotes, interviews, published ethnographies and other first-person accounts. The inquiry highlights social memories of the Irish Civil War that have been 'assumed, distorted, misunderstood, manipulated, underestimated, but most of all, ignored' (Dolan 2003: 2). The article argues that the excesses of the anthropological archive make the recuperation of a multiplicity of collective memories possible through a linguistic anthropological perspective that enumerates the kind of erasures at play in contentious memory-making moments, highlights polyvocality in metapragmatic discourse and tracks the gaps in entextualisation processes of historical narratives about political turmoil.

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'0 Feet Away'

The Queer Cartography of French Gay Men's Geo-social Media Use

Dominique Pierre Batiste

Why do gay men utilise geo-social media applications such as Grindr and Scruff? Social media scholarship describes technological mediations and changes to social space and communities; however, there are theoretical gaps concerning what geo-social technology means for gay men. I suggest that gay men's ability to see other gay men, via geo-social media, reveals the queer cartography of any geographical location. This re-mapping of social space proves the public sphere less heteronormative than purported, cultivates community between gay men who may initiate face-to-face contact utilising geo-locative technology, and allows gay men to interact with one another outside of specifically gay spaces. This research is based in Toulouse, France, and adds to scholarship concerning French gay men's resistance to heteronormativity. This research also holds global significance concerning subjugated communities' uses of geo-social technology in their resistance against dominant cultures.

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Sezin Topçu

This article adduces evidence of the central role played by scientists in the 1970s and “lay persons” in the post-Chernobyl period in the production and legitimation of alternative types of knowledge and expertise on the environmental and health risks of nuclear energy in France. From a constructivist perspective, it argues that this shift in the relationship of “lay persons” to knowledge production is linked not only to the rise of mistrust vis-à-vis scientific institutions but also, and especially, to a change in the way they have reacted to “dependency” on institutions and to “state secrecy”. Counter-expertise is constructed as a politics of surveillance where alternative interpretations of risk are buttressed by a permanent critique of the epistemic assumptions of institutional expertise. The identity of “counter-expert” is socially elaborated within this process.

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Variants of Frontier Mimesis

Colonial Encounter and Intercultural Interaction in the Lao-Vietnamese Uplands

Oliver Tappe

Lao-Vietnamese upland frontier before and during French colonial administration. I will explore processes of interaction and the manifold entanglements between lowland empires and different upland societies. Mimesis is first of all a way to create