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Literary Readings as Performance

On the Career of Contemporary Writers in the New Ireland

Helena Wulff

Drawing on an anthropological study of the social organisation of the world of Irish writers, this article investigates the literary reading as performance which has become central for the career and promotion of contemporary writers. How is the reading - live as well as recorded - constituted, and how is it experienced from the writer's point of view? The data are derived from participant observation and interviews at literary festivals and conferences, writers' retreats, book launches and more informal situations with writers, as well as from fiction and essays by the writers. For this article, I asked some of the writers to write short texts on the reading. It turned out that the frames of the reading as performance reach beyond the reading event, and also that a reading includes elements of risk, such as not attracting a big enough audience or performing badly. Finally, the article considers the changing role of the ethnographer.

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Intimate Passports

The Subversive Performances of Tanja Ostojić

Jehanne-Marie Gavarini

The article explores the artwork of Tanja Ostojić, an interdisciplinary artist from Serbia who uses performance art to examine social and political issues. Ostojić in particu- lar expresses the migrant woman’s perspective when facing today’s world of political and economic inequities. With caustic humor, the artist examines who occupies cen- ter positions and who remains in the margins. Ostojić’s subversive performances blur the boundaries between art and life. Her use of her own body, personal history, and identity reflects a feminist perspective. Placing Ostojić’s work in the longer history of performance art, this article analyzes how this provocative artist pushes the boundar- ies of art and culture by denouncing the power dynamics that rule exclusive systems such as the Western-dominated art world and the European Union.

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Irit Dekel

Is the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin a Jewish space? How are Jews presented there? What are the points of interest about Jews in the memorial from the perspective of the foundation that runs it as well as from various visitors' perspectives? This article focuses on interaction and performance at the memorial, an understudied topic in comparison to what the memorial presents in its installation and the debates that preceded its realisation. I argue that the memorial's form and location create interpretation strategies that are based on the dialectics of representation and non-representation, emotional experience versus knowledge about the Holocaust. This is differently manifested in the action of various groups visiting the memorial. Interpretation strategies rest on Jews being a category of memory. In substantiating this claim, I focus on the experience of German visitors, compared to that of Jewish visitors and claim that whereas Jews' experience of the site is directly linked to sharing intimate knowledge about the Holocaust, Germans tend to talk about the site metaphorically and in emotional terms, confirming the memorial's own ontology.

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Understanding the Zār

An African-Iranian Healing Dance Ritual

William O. Beeman

This article explores the structure and meaning of the Zār ceremony as carried out throughout the Persian Gulf. This ceremony is mirrored by similar ones throughout North and East Africa, suggesting that the Zār may have resulted from cultural diffusion along historical trade routes. The Zār practitioners, the bābā and the māmā, must cultivate extensive skills in musical performance, movement and coordination in order to affect a palliative relief for persons affected by spirit ‘winds’ that inhabit them, causing physical and emotional distress. The Zār ceremony is an important method of non-allopathic treatment for emotional disorders that might elsewhere be treated through psychiatry in clinical settings. Practitioners see it as compatible with Islam, though not a strictly Islamic practice.

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Fabiola Lizama-Pérez, María de los Ángeles Piñar-Álvarez, Alejandro Ortega-Argueta, María Azahara Mesa-Jurado, María del Carmen Sandoval-Caraveo, and Ady Patricia Carrera-Hernández

English abstract: This article assesses the implementation and performance of Local Agenda 21 (LA21) in Mexico over a decade (2004–2013). Official records of municipal evaluations from all 31 Mexican states were analyzed, comprising 39 indicators of four dimensions of sustainable development: institutional, economic, social and environmental. A positive evolution of the implementation of LA21 was observed, with the economic and social dimensions presenting the best and worst performances, respectively. In general, the local governments of northern Mexico performed better than their southern counterparts. The voluntary nature of LA21 implementation is highlighted, yet necessitating a strengthening of municipal capacities in long-term planning, inter-administration continuity, efficacy evaluation, and integration of all sectors into a more coherent municipal agenda.

Spanish abstract: Este estudio analiza la implementación y desempeño de la Agenda Local 21 (AL21) en México en un periodo de una década (2004–2013). Se analizaron registros oficiales de evaluaciones municipales de los 31 estados de la república, que comprenden 39 indicadores de cuatro dimensiones del desarrollo sustentable: institucional, económico, social y ambiental. Se observó una evolución positiva en la implementación de la AL21, con las dimensiones económica y social mostrando el mejor y peor desempeños, respectivamente. En general, los gobiernos locales del norte de México tuvieron mejores desempeños que sus contrapartes del sur. Se destaca la naturaleza voluntaria de la implementación de la AL21, que todavía necesita un fortalecimiento de las capacidades municipales en la planificación de largo plazo, en la continuidad inter-administrativa, la evaluación de eficacia y la integración de todos los sectores en una agenda municipal más coherente.

French abstract: Cette étude analyse la mise en oeuvre et les performances de l’Agenda 21 local (AL21) au Mexique sur une période de dix ans (2004-2013). Les archives officielles des évaluations municipales des trente-et-un états de la République ont été analysées. Elles comprennent trente-neuf indicateurs de quatre dimensions du développement durable: institutionnel, économique, social et environnemental. Une évolution positive a été observée dans la mise en oeuvre du LA21, les dimensions économique et sociale affichant respectivement les meilleures et les plus basses performances. En général, les administrations locales du nord du Mexique ont obtenu de meilleurs résultats que leurs homologues du sud. On souligne la nature volontaire de la mise en oeuvre de la LA21, qui nécessite toutefois encore un renforcement des capacités municipales dans la planification à long terme, dans la continuité inter-administrative, l’évaluation de l’efficacité et l’intégration de tous les secteurs dans un agenda municipal plus cohérent.

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Remapping Sacred Landscapes

Shamanic Tourism and Cultural Production on the Olkhon Island

Anya Bernstein

This article looks at the particular ways in which shamanic sacred places are being constructed through tourist performances. Focusing on the guided tours in Olkhon Island conducted by a Buryat shaman, the article maps out the various meanings of this tourist phenomenon in the context of Buryat shamanic revival. It interprets tourist performances as forms of social action and as a paradigmatic example of how contemporary Buryats fashion their ethnic and religious identity, arguing that this form of shamanic tourism results in the greater articulation (rather than the diminution) of cultural heritage. Focusing on the intercultural production of sacred sites as one part of multi-faceted shamanic revitalization process, the article demonstrates that it is through reinvention of shamanism as a "genuine world religion" — which fashions sacred sites as equivalents of "temples" (in this case in tourist discourse)—indigenous activists stake out political ground for reclaiming sacred sites.

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Stepan N. Katyginskii and John P. Ziker

Stepan Katyginskii’s manuscript “Dolgan National Games” (Tyalyn Narodnai Onnoolor) is presented here in translation from the Russian. Katyginskii’s material on games is a contribution to knowledge of the traditional means by which organized physical activity occurred in indigenous communities of the Russian Arctic. As an integral part of Dolgan traditional ecological knowledge, Katyginskii’s material includes games that develop skills of aim, endurance, and strength. The article also presents some ethnographic information on the social context of performance of traditional games.

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Processes of Remembering and Forgetting

Tundra Nenets' Reminiscences of the 1943 Mandalada Rebellions

Roza Laptander

Each political change in the former USSR and Russian Federation has had different influences on the lives of local populations in different areas. Nenets, like many other indigenous people of the Russian North, were not tied to any political situation. The perception was that they always lived independently in the tundra using their traditional and historical knowledge. In reality, when comparing even the most recent past of the Nenets to the present, many differences and contradictions become apparent in the lives of these northern people. This article discusses the role of censorship in the transformation and performance of historical narratives concerning the development of the relationship between the state and the indigenous tundra people, here Nenets. By distorting historical facts, through exaggeration and mythologizing real-life events, people tried to shield themselves against negative emotions and memories of the past.

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The Wrath of the Forgotten

Shamanic Sickness, Spirit Embodiment, and Fragmentary Trancescape in Contemporary Buriat Shamanism

Zeljko Jokic

During fieldwork on a contemporary revival of shamanism in Buriatiia in the summer of 2005, I was initially puzzled by what I had witnessed. The spirits that were embodied by the shamans were interacting with the audience. Afterward, the shamans did not remember what had occurred while they were in trance. To me, it resembled what has been described as spirit-mediumship performance. While discussing this with shamans, their initial response was that Buriat shamanism is real shamanism, insisting that authentic trance is unconscious, while at the same time dismissing other forms as fake. Later, however, some quietly admitted that Buriat shamans used to be able to remember their ecstatic journeys, and eventually they will be able to regain this ability. I argue that the post-trance amnesia among the contemporary Buriat neo-shamans is the result of the disruption caused by the Soviet anti-religious legacy, which inhibited Buriats to progress to higher degrees of initiation.

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Each Female Fan Has Her Own Story

Three Fandom Autoethnographies

Tamar Rapoport and Efrat Noy

This article advocates autoethnography as a critical feminist methodology for using personal testimony to investigate women’s experience and performance of fandom The article’s centerpiece is an analysis of the personal testimonies of three women—researcher-fans of different ages—of a fan-owned club Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem. In addition to revealing women’s gendered-based experiences and the different ways in which women acquire and perform fandom, their personal stories prove valuable for exposing the gendered regime of the football field. Moreover, they reveal how women who are not fluent in the hegemonic language of fandom make their way in the fandom field as they seek their own voice and position in it. The analysis suggests that women’s participation can disrupt the hegemonic masculinity of fandom and challenge its established boundaries, thereby problematizing accepted definitions of the authentic fan.