The need to find an epistemological framework for analyzing the discourses of identity in the Baltic States since the regaining of their independence makes it necessary to examine a cross-section of Baltic perceptions of the ‘West’ evinced during travels from the 1790s to the present.
Dilemmas of Culture
Adoption Legislation in Norway and the US
Legislation about personal behavior, such as family law, clearly manifests concerns about individual and relational rights and duties. With a focus on adoption laws in Norway and the US and on two international conventions (the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption), I examine different cultural values regarding childhood and parenthood, both historically and comparatively. Accompanying the recent growth of transnational adoption in Western Europe and North America, issues about what might constitute 'the best interest of the child' have become central in influential welfare circles of European countries that receive children in adoption and are reflected on a global level through the conventions.
Temporal Topology in the Post-Ottoman World
Post-Ottoman temporal topologies—cases where the past, present, and future may be bent around one another rather than ordered linearly—may produce uncanny histories. The uncanny is activated, as Freud noted, when something secret comes to light, but also when the expectations of a given genre are exceeded. In these cases, the genre of historicism has been violated. Rather than contending that the post-Ottoman world is entirely different from Western Europe, the examples here alert one to the presence of uncanny histories in many other places since historicism has nowhere managed to eradicate its alternatives. Unsettled pasts of violence and displacement and presents beset by ongoing tensions (political, economic, religious/ethnic) do contribute, however, to a particular vitality and saliency of uncanny histories in the post-Ottoman sphere.
The Disappearance of Sexual Discourse in the Late Ottoman Middle East
From Belgrade to Baghdad, from Algiers to Aleppo, sexual discourse in the pre-modern Ottoman world was rich and variegated. Its manifestations were to be found in literature and poetry, in medicine and physiognomy, in religious writings and popular culture. During the nineteenth century, much of this panoply of discussions about sex disappeared or was attenuated to such an extent that it became virtually non-existent. A similar phenomenon can be perceived in Western European attitudes toward sex several decades earlier. Yet while in Europe the old sexual discursive world was replaced with a new one in short order, the Ottoman Middle East did not produce a new sexual discourse to replace the one that vanished. This article presents some of the premises of the old Ottoman sexual discourse, describes the process of their demise, and suggests an explanation for the failure to produce a new (textual) discourse of sex.
The politics of citizenship and multi-culturalism in Peninsular Malaysia—the case of Penang
The present article analyzes how, after its independence in 1957, Malaysia has been able to manage the difficult coexistence among its three numerically most relevant ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese and Indian). This complex situation, a legacy of the British colonial-like plural society, has been governed via a specific model of multi-racial citizenship, which is significantly unlike the Western European ones in which, as a rule, the equivalence between nationality and citizenship predominates. Starting from the specific example of Penang in Peninsular Malaysia, the article intends to highlight two points. Firstly, that citizenship must be perceived as an agonistic process with competition, tensions and conflicts as well as permanent negotiations. Secondly, that the Occidental agenda, based on liberal principles, can no longer be regarded as the only valid one. Therefore, believing that the Western type of citizenship could be a universalistic institution exportable anywhere is misleading. Consequently, citizenship ought to be analyzed instead as a 'concrete abstraction' that is set up in strict correlation with the specific historical contexts and with particular circumstances of a sociological nature, relative to the characteristics of each society.
Investigating European Cultures, Bridging Disciplines
Gabriela Kiliánová and Tatiana Podolinská
The Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, initiated by German scholar Ina-Maria Greverus together with Christian Giordano in 1990, played a central role in the fundamental changes that the hitherto more or less nationally confined European ethnologies have undergone since then. The journal mediated the intensifying exchange between eastern and western Europe, while its attempt to cross boundaries in particular between an anthropology of Europe and European ethnology remains key.
Anna Wesselink and Jeroen Warner
The aim of this special volume is to critically examine the various ways in which floods and flood management are framed in current policies, especially the “space for rivers” policies that have been adopted in many countries of Western Europe. The articles in this volume discuss different aspects of this framing, while employing different theoretical frames. Of these, Spiral Dynamics stands out as the most intriguing and least known. The papers thereby potentially contribute to reframing policy contents and/or procedures: either because they show alternative policy contents and/or because they show different ways of looking at policy making. This introductory article provides an overview of what framing means in a policy-making context, thereby highlighting the politics of engaging in (re)framing.
From Vermin to Conservation Emblem
Margarida Lopes-Fernandes and Amélia Frazão-Moreira
Not much is known about how the cultural image of predators has been constructed in Western contexts and changed through time. This article reviews representations of lynx in Western Europe. A ‘cultural map’ of lynx in historical contexts is presented, and the ‘social visibility’ of the Iberian lynx in Portugal explored. Since prehistoric times the lynx has been an inspiration, an amulet, a creature gifted with extraordinary capacities but also a food item, and a ‘vermin’ to eliminate. Recently, the Iberian lynx has become a global conservation emblem; once a noxious predator, it is now a symbol of wilderness. Examples show how the species acquired visibility and has been appropriated in contemporary contexts such as logos, ‘green’ marketing, urban art or political campaigns. There is also evidence of a new identity construction in Portuguese rural areas where lynx is being reintroduced, exemplifying a process of objectification of nature.
Hungarian Travel Writers in Mexico and the Revision of Western Images
This article provides an overview of nineteenth-century Hungarian travel accounts on Mexico and examines their relationship with Western European and United States travelogues. How did Hungarian travelers relate to images projected by Western accounts? How did their Hungarian/Central European background influence and alter such images? This article shows that the first Hungarian travel writers not only built on but also identified with concepts promoted by "imperial" travelers, calling attention to the power of Western texts in the representation of Mexico. A new wave of travelers at the end of the century tried to break away from the previous discourse and began to call for alternative approaches to Mexico. Based on texts so far unstudied in this context and mostly available in Hungarian only, the analysis offers new insights into the mechanics of travel writing and describes a struggle for a more just depiction of Mexico, a process also influenced by Hungarian self-perception.
African Migrants in the Russian Capital
Dmitri M. Bondarenko, Elena A. Googueva, Sergey N. Serov, and Ekaterina V. Shakhbazyan
While Western Europe has a long history of facing and studying the issues of immigration, this phenomenon is still recent for the ex-socialist states and has not been studied sufficiently yet. At the same time, the 'closed' nature of the socialist societies and the difficulties of the 'transitional period' of the 1990s predetermine the problems in communication between the migrants and the population majority, the specific features of the forming diasporas and of their probable position in the receiving societies. The study of African migrants in Russia (particularly in Moscow) recently launched by the present authors consists of two interrelated parts: the sociocultural adaptation of migrants from Africa in Russia on the one hand, and the way they are perceived in Russia on the other. One of the key points of the study is the formation or non-formation of diasporas as network communities, as a means of both more successful adaptation and identity support.