The secularity of the state is seen by 'authoritarian populist' religious conservatives as imposing a world-view that is out of touch with the deep religious commitments that guide their lives. In the process, authoritarian populists have taken on subaltern identities and claimed that they are the last truly dispossessed groups. To demonstrate their increasing power in educational and social policy, I situate a specific set of technologies—the Internet—within the social context of its use in this community. I focus on the growing home-schooling movement and suggest that to understand the societal meaning and uses of these technologies, we need to examine the social movement that provides the context for their use. I also argue that we need to analyze critically the kind of labor that is required in home schooling, who is engaged in such labor, and how such labor is interpreted by the actors who perform it.
Gender, Culture, and the Work of Home Schooling
Michael W. Apple
Struggles for recognition by biotechnologists in Norway
This article addresses the need to overcome theoretical weaknesses of both technologically and socially deterministic accounts of technological development. Technology does not simply 'impact' on local contexts, but nor does it act as a tabula rasa, subject to the free attribution of meaning by local social actors. Expanding on theoretical developments in the anthropology of art (Gell 1998) and gender and technology (Strathern 1988, 1999, 2001), the essay seeks to explore genetic technology as a social agent and as a technological 'index'. Examining a case of genetic technology regulation and innovation in Norway, the article argues that technology is best understood as an agent that is engaged with on an affective basis by those who interact with it.
Erin Moore Daly
This article explores the hidden, suppressed elements of New Orleans leading up to and immediately following Hurricane Katrina. The article is juxtaposed with excerpts from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities in order to provide a lens through which to ask questions not typically raised by government officials, city planners, and science and technology experts. This uncovers aspects of New Orleans that must not be overlooked in the rebuilding process. If policy, culture, and technology render aspects of New Orleans invisible, then only by revealing these aspects can one ascertain the truth of the city.
Phil Wood, Paul Warwick, and Derek Cox
Consideration of the physical environment in which learning takes place has become a growing area of academic interest over the past decade. This study focuses on the experiences and perceptions of academic staff and students who used three refurbished, and innovative, learning spaces at the University of Leicester. The results suggest that the physical environment can have an impact on the emotional and motivational experiences of students and staff. However, there is some suggestion that learning space development should not be at the expense of approaches to pedagogy which do not foreground the use of technologies.
The analysis of the users' experiences leads to the proposition of a theoretical model for the apt design of future learning spaces in Higher Education. The DEEP learning space framework outlines the need for careful consideration being given to dynamic, engaging, ecological and participatory (DEEP) dimensions within the twenty-first century learning space.
This article presents a long-term study of German waste management policies and technologies as they developed during the second half of the twentieth century. The postwar "waste avalanche" called for quick and crude political decisions. Unexpected environmental side effects prompted new governance and leads through six different stages of policies based on scientific models and advanced technologies—all of them controversial. The case exemplifies a typical condition of a knowledge society. Politics demands a reliable knowledge base for rational decision making. Science, however, supplies open-ended research and increases uncertainties. Turning the dilemma into an operational perspective, I suggest speaking of processes of real-world experimentation with waste. The transformation of waste from something to be ignored and disregarded into an epistemic object of concern is bound to experimenting with existing and newly designed waste sites as well as with socio-technical management systems. The study focuses on the development in Germany. Its general features, however, are characteristic for comparable industrial societies.
Timothy B. Leduc and Susan A Crate
This article is concerned with the way in which indigenous place-based knowledge and understandings, in a time of global climate change, have the potential to challenge researchers to self-reflexively shift the focus of their research toward those technological and consumer practices that are the cultural context of our research. After reviewing some literature on the emergence of self-reflexivity in research, the authors offer two case studies from their respective environmental education and anthropological research with northern indigenous cultures that clarifies the nature of a self-reflexive turn in place-based climate research and education. The global interconnections between northern warming and consumer culture-and its relation to everexpanding technological systems-are considered by following the critical insights of place-based knowledge. We conclude by examining the possibility that relocalizing our research, teaching, and ways of living in consumer culture are central to a sustainable future, and if so, the knowledge and understandings of current place-based peoples will be vital to envisioning such a cultural transformation of our globalizing system.
The Agency of the Dead at Spanish Mass Grave Exhumations
Jonah S. Rubin
In August 2011, I attended the exhumation of Severiano Clemente González, conducted by the Forum for Memory in the Castilian town of La Toba, Guadalajara. Mr González was one of the over 130,000 civilian victims of the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War and ensuing Franco dictatorship (1939–1975). Even after Spain’s democratic constitution in 1978, most families could not recover their loved ones, owing to an unofficial ‘Pact of Silence’ whereby major political actors agreed not to legislate, litigate or discuss the still controversial past in the public sphere (Encarnación 2014). Since 2000, however, civil society organisations such as the Forum for Memory and the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) have been leading a series of forensic exhumations – modelled after similar state-led interventions in Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe (Ferrándiz 2010; Rubin 2014).
This article starts with the observation that a sociological analysis of interactions concerning drugs cannot rely on accounts of drugs that were generated in the field because these accounts (such as the distinction between drugs and non-drugs or between intended effects and side effects) are shaped by strong interests. The article suggests two approaches to obtaining actor-independent accounts, both of which are based on comparisons. The first approach is a symmetrization of perspectives, which can be achieved by including the perspectives of as many different actors as possible as well as the abstract actors of science and law. The second approach starts from the definition of a problem that is contingent but grounded in practices of the field. In the case of drugs, this problem can be constructed as how laypersons can rate the identity and quality of specific things as unproblematic. In both cases, an ontological idea of the “drug as such” is replaced by a social-constructivist view of the drug, which at the same time takes the drug's materiality into account.
This essay examines the importance of sorcery in the dynamics of religious innovation in contemporary Hindu and Buddhist Sri Lanka.1 My interest stems from two observations. First, in almost stark contrast to other Hindu ritual forms that emphasise unchanging text-based rites, the sorcery practices I describe display an almost modernist preoccupation with innovation. Second, much of this innovation originates, or is seen to originate, from outside the cosmic order both of the pantheon and of society. Consequently, sorcery practices manifest a dynamism that often results in the appearance of sorcery having sprung up from nowhere or of being on the sharp increase. However, such an appearance of growth is less of an increase by degree than a shift in visibility. Moreover, it is a characteristic Sri Lankan sorcery practices share with practices elsewhere. When social scientists whose gaze has been primed for spotting anomalies light upon these shifts in visibility, the reaction is usually one of alarm. Scholars whose basic orientation is to the problem of social order and stability tend to judge these apparent aberrations in terms of social breakdown and anomie. Instead of considering what sorcery reveals anthropologically, they instead analyse sorcery as a symptom of a social pathology. The restless dynamism of sorcery and its role in religious innovation remain unaddressed, and this contributes to a conservative view of both the phenomenon of sorcery and the study of religion in general.
Iranian Women and Cosmetic Nose Surgery
In this article, the author investigates, from an anthropological point of view, why many Iranian women (and even some men) resort to rhinoplasty – that is, surgery to alter the appearance of the nose – for cosmetic purposes. When did this phenomenon begin in Iran? Which social classes and ages are concerned? What is the relationship between this practice and Iranian society in general? Is it the result of foreign cultural influences? What comparisons can be made with other cultures? Born of a micro-sociological case, these interrogations address the anthropology of Iranian society, which, like many others, has been engaged for several decades in an ‘exchange process’ that today is commonly known as globalisation.