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The Allotted Share

Managing Fortune in Astrological Counseling in Contemporary India

Caterina Guenzi

Anthropological studies on causality in South Asia in the past decades have focused mostly on local idioms of 'mis fortune', with very little attention being paid to ideas of 'fortune' and 'luck'. This article, based on fieldwork carried out among astrologers and their clients in Banaras, shows that astrology provides an ideological framework for the conceptualization and management of fortune in present-day urban India. According to astrologers' analyses of horoscopes, 'destiny' (bhāgya, lit. 'allotted share') is conceived as a form of wealth acquired at birth that can be augmented or diminished as a result of planetary influences and personal choices. The author suggests that, beyond the Sanskrit tradition, the semantics of destiny can be linked to decisionmaking processes and values of achievement that mark the lives of middle- and upper-class families in contemporary India.

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When Good Luck Is Bad Fortune

Between Too Little and Too Much Hunting Success in Siberia

Ludek Broz and Rane Willerslev

Two indigenous Siberian groups-the Yukaghirs and the Telengits-share rather similar ideas about success in hunting as an elusive and highly precarious tension between too little and too much luck. In the catalogue of semiotics, it corresponds to the homonym whereby one sound/spelling is the manifestation of two words with different meanings. The result, as we shall show, is that any lucky hunter always inhabits the alternative possibility of his own failure. In this sense, good luck in hunting might at any point be exposed as bad fortune.

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Vital Energy

The Current of Relations

Stephen Gudeman

'Vital energy' is a central idea in the economies of Panama and Colombia. Known as 'strength' or 'force', and assembled from the environment, this current connects all activities in the local economies and establishes relationships, from kin to strangers. Humans compose vital energy, but its sources are limited, and it is expended in use. Its availability is a gift from God and part of the unpredictable fortune that faces everyone. This economy exhibits a contrast between a social current and a market currency. It offers a materialist perspective, provides a critique of standard economics, suggests that sharing rather than reciprocity or rational choice is the 'fundamental' economic practice, and shows how an economy may be a kind of ritual legitimated by a belief in divine power that is displayed through personal fortune.

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Emma Terama, Juha Peltomaa, Catarina Rolim and Patrícia Baptista

The popularity of car sharing as part of the urban mobility repertoire has barely increased from a niche contribution in recent decades. Although holding potential to address local issues such as congestion and air quality, but even more crucially to meet the urgent need to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from traffic, car sharing often meets barriers stemming from local contexts, regulatory environments, and/or lack of political support or consumer awareness. In this article, we discuss the interdependencies of these barriers and provide some key elements to consider in the future when planning practical implementation, research initiatives, and policy support for car sharing in order to overcome the complex and interrelated barriers.

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Mika Suzuki

This article explores one of Jane Austen's narrative techniques, focusing on her characters' telling of and writing on their past. To incorporate events that characters experienced at different times or locations, she uses life stories constructed by an individual told in the first person. She relies on the characters' subjective telling of their own life stories at crucial points in the plot, rather than leaving the description to the omniscient narrator. In so doing, she provides fresh ways of reading; she enables the reader to get involved in the narrative by sharing an individual's life story and at the same time she ensures that the reader places the character's narrative at some distance. Her use of this method of stories allows her to follow and develop literary tradition. Inheriting the tradition of the letter-writing generations, she provides a new use of life-story telling and a new way of reading them.

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Andrea Scholz

This article starts from the question of whether the concepts “cosmopolitan memory” and “shared heritage,” with their inherent universalism, are helpful when dealing with ethnographic collections from the Amazon. After presenting some historical context information on the collections in focus, I contrast different notions of “cosmopolitanism” and “cosmopolitics,” drawing on Latin American perspectives. The latter claim to represent an epistemological alternative to a Europe-centered cosmopolitan project. They propose a focus on difference, which in relation to the museum and its working processes means looking at the collections through the others’ lenses. This approach is applied to a collaborative research project between the Ethnological Museum of Berlin and an indigenous university in the Amazon, in order to document and reflect on the outcomes and dilemmas that have emerged thus far.

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Sharing Images, Spoiling Meanings?

Class, Gender, and Ethics in Visual Research with Girls

Janet Fink and Helen Lomax

In our article we consider the ethical challenges engendered by participatory visual research with girls. Drawing on photographs taken by and of girls we explore how to reconcile the challenges generated by disseminating images of girls while supporting them to have a voice in research. Our concerns are focused on how to maintain the integrity of girls’ visual voices while protecting them from any harm that may result from revealing visual information about them. This issue has become increasingly germane for visual sociology since developments in digital technology and visual culture mean that images can circulate instantaneously and in perpetuity, potentially stripping them of their creators’ intentions and infusing them with new and unintended meanings. We consider different approaches to resolving our ongoing ethical dilemma and examine their potential for honoring the flesh-and-blood girl’s right to be heard amidst concerns about her digital visibility.

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Birgitte Bruun

Today medical research funded by resourceful commercial companies and philanthropic organizations increasingly takes place in much less resourceful settings across the globe. Recent academic studies of this trend have observed how global inequalities have shaped the movements of this research, and how human subjects who make their blood and bodies available are at risk of exploitation. In Lusaka, people expressed their fears of being used by transnational medical research projects in various idioms of concern. While such concerns were always latent, people were generally eager to join the projects. Concerns were often backgrounded in favor of pragmatic attention to—and active creation of—possibilities that might stretch well beyond the purpose and time limit of individual research projects. The article illuminates how intimately the ambiguities and possible scenarios of exploitation inherent in transnational medical research projects are intertwined with scenarios of possibility.

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Common Humanity and Shared Destinies

Looking at the Disability Arts Movement from an Anthropological Perspective

Andrea Stöckl

This article will bring together two strands of anthropological theories on art and artefacts, the disability arts movement and the phenomenological approach to the study of material things. All three of these different perspectives have one thing in common: they seek to understand entities – be they human or nonhuman – as defined by their agency and their intentionality. Looking at the disability arts movement, I will examine how the anthropology of art and agency, following Alfred Gell's theorem, is indeed the 'mobilisation of aesthetic principles in the course of social interaction', as Gell argued in Art and Agency. Art, thus, should be studied as a space in which agency, intention, causation, result and transformation are enacted and imagined. This has a striking resonance with debates within the disability arts movement, which suggests an affirmative model of disability and impairment, and in which art is seen as a tool to affirm, celebrate and transform rather than a way of expressing pain and sorrow. I will use case studies of Tanya Raabe-Webber's work and of artistic representations of the wheelchair in order to further explore these striking similarities and their potential to redefine the role of art in imagining the relationship between technology and personhood. I will finish by looking at Martin Heidegger's conceptualisation of the intentionality of things, as opposed to objects, and will apply this to some artwork rooted in the disability arts movement.

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Shared Meals and Food Fights

Geographical Indications, Rural Development, and the Environment

Fabio Parasecoli and Aya Tasaki

The article highlights relevant issues within the global debate on geographical indications, as they relate to food products. Geographical indications, a form of intellectual property designated by considering principally the place of origin of products, have become a hot topic among producers, activists, economists, and politicians worldwide. Commercial and legal issues related to them have generated complex negotiations in international organizations and national institutions, while their cultural aspects have stimulated theoretical debates about the impact of global trade on local identities. Geographical indications could become a valid tool to implement community-based, sustainable, and quality-oriented agriculture, depending on the sociopolitical environment and whether they are relevant for the producers involved, affordable in terms of administrative and management costs, and applicable on different scales of production. The article also explores the environmental impact of geographical indications and their potential in ensuring the livelihood of rural communities in emerging economies and promoting sustainable agricultural models.