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Wedding Ceremony, Religion, and Tradition

The Shertok Family Debate, 1922

Lilach Rosenberg-Friedman

The complex approach of the Yishuv to religion and tradition was articulated in the matter of marriage rites. On the one hand, wedding ceremonies were seen as an expression of Diaspora social values that the Yishuv wished to renounce, while, on the other hand, such occasions were viewed as having national and collective significance. The decision made by Ada Shertok and Eliyahu Golomb not to have a wedding ceremony in May 1922 aroused a fierce debate within one of the most prominent families of the Yishuv. The family dispute surrounding the issue of the marriage ceremony and the diverse opinions presented in it are the focus of the article. This debate is a starting point for a broader discussion on the question of the complex attitude of the Yishuv to religion and tradition in the early 1920s.

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The End Point of Zionism

Ethnocentrism and the Temple Mount

Tomer Persico

Zionism has always displayed a complicated relationship with the Temple Mount. While secular socialist Zionism wanted little to do with the site for pragmatic reasons, right-wing and guerilla Zionist groups considered it, before the founding of the state, as the embodiment of Jewish sovereignty over the Holy Land. And although Religious Zionism, until very recently, shied away from the site, over the past decade tremendous changes in this public’s attitude have taken place, leading to intense interest and activity concerning it. This article surveys past and present attitudes toward the Temple Mount, studying its recent rise as a focal point for ethnonational yearnings, and analyzing these developments vis-à-vis the secularization process.

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Learning to Be a Kanaka

Menace and Mimicry in Papua New Guinea

Neil Maclean

Self-identification as a kanaka is a common rhetorical ploy in highlands Papua New Guinea, used to emphasize both a sense of economic and political marginalization, and a continued identification with tradition. However, I argue that the figure of the kanaka is not simply that of the villager, but of that terminated project of education, the ‘school leaver.’ I juxtapose the reflections of one such ‘school leaver’ on his exclusion from the educational trajectory with the celebrations and rhetoric surrounding the opening of a new village school. This throws into relief a village perspective on education, and what it means to be a citizen of the nation-state of Papua New Guinea. Bhabha’s (1987) analysis of colonial ‘mimicry’ informs my identification of the contradictory quality of this perspective. As a critique of the legacy of postwar education policy from the perspective of a contemporary generation of village leaders, the article is also intended as a response to Pels’s (1997: 178) call for “more ethnographies of decolonization.”

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Michael Roberts

The hegemony of the 'secular' is challenged through an exposition of the hero rites for the fallen among the Tamil Tigers. Overemphasis on the secular strands in LTTE ideology betrays a textual formalism and disregards the cosmological background of the cultural producers-cum-audience. Such a perspective neglects the embodied practices of Tamil followers. Tamil Saivite worship is permeated by sacrificial symbolism. In Sri Lanka, belief in śakti, divine energy, is displayed in diverse ways that can attract Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists. The rites of Hero Week reveal practices that echo Saivite forms. The LTTE's investment in this event involves massive co-ordination. The climactic moment is a simultaneous act of widespread commemorative grieving. The rite is also an undertaking that mobilizes, remembers, respects, legitimizes, transcends, inspires, and renews.

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Conjuring "the people"

The 2013 Babylution protests and desire for political transformation in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

Larisa Kurtović

In June 2013, a breakdown in the routine functioning of state bureaucracy sparked the largest and up to that point most significant wave of protests in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, named the Bosnian Babylution. The protest centered on the plight of newborn babies who, because of this particular administrative problem, could no longer be issued key documents, even to travel outside the country for life-saving medical care. These events exposed the profound nature of the representational crisis gripping this postwar, postsocialist, and postintervention state that has emerged at the intersection of ethnic hyper-representation and the lived experience of the collapse of biopolitical care. Yet, as this analysis shows, this crisis has also helped unleash new forms of political desire for revolutionary rupture and reconstitution of the postwar political.

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The gender of coffee

Women and reconciliation initiatives in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina

Elissa Helms

This article explores the gendering of reconciliation initiatives from the perspective of Bosniac women active in women's NGOs in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. I illustrate how established patriarchal gender relations and socialistera models of women's community involvement framed the ways in which some women's NGO participants constructed essential ethno-national and gender differences, in contrast to dominant donor discourses. This leads to exploration of how gender patterns embedded in the institution of komšiluk (good-neighborliness), particularly women's coffee visits, provided both obstacle and opportunity for renewed life together among ethnic others separated by wartime ethnic cleansing. Distinguishing between the two concepts, I show how, from the perspective of women's roles and experiences, “life together” may be all that displaced women want or expect out of “reconciliation” initiatives, and that even this may be beyond the capacity of many displaced people to forego talk about injustices and guilt stemming from the war.

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Never-ending Modi

Hindutva and Gujarati neoliberalism as prelude to all-India premiership?

Tommaso Bobbio

This article proposes a non conventional analysis of the most significant phenomenon that has marked Indian political life in the past decade. The electoral competition for the 2014 general election is played around two main elements, namely, the selection of convincing prime ministerial candidates and the definition of electoral coalitions. In this perspective, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main party of the right-wing coalition (National Democratic Alliance, NDA), has taken a decisive step by selecting Narendra Modi as its front man for the electoral campaign, and thus the “natural” candidate for the post of prime minister in case of success. A highly controversial figure, Modi polarized the public debate for over a decade: he is either considered a fascist politician or he is praised for the high economic growth rates achieved by the state under his government. This article proposes to move beyond such a dichotomy to highlight Modi's complexity and success in promoting a political culture that merged religious traditionalism and neoliberal economic arguments. Whether his coalition will win the election or not, and whether he will become the next prime minister or not, is greatly significant to the future of India and to the possibility of the many contradictions and diversities that underpin the Indian democracy being conciliated.

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Ruy Llera Blanes and Abel Paxe

In this article we chart the histories and political translations of atheist cultures in Angola. We explore the specific translations of atheist ideologies into practical actions that occurred in the post-independence period in the 1970s–1980s and perform an ethnographic exploration of their legacies in contemporary Angola. We also debate the problem of atheism as an anthropological concept, examining the interfaces between ideology, political agency, and social praxis. We suggest that atheism is inherently a politically biased concept, a product of the local histories and intellectual traditions that shape it.

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Satoshi Abe

In addressing mounting environmental problems in recent years, many Iranian environmentalists have increasingly adapted discourses and implemented programs that are modeled on scientific ecology. Does this mean the verbatim transfer of Western scientific modernity in Iran? My analyses suggest otherwise. This article explores the unique ways in which a burgeoning environmental awareness unfolds in Iranian contexts by investigating how conceptions of "nature" shape the environmentalists' discourses and practices. It appears that an ecological scientific conception of nature is becoming an important frame of reference among such environmentalists. However, another conception of nature-one framed in relation to Iranian nationhood-makes a key contribution to environmentalism in Iran. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2009-2011 in Tehran, this study demonstrates how "Iranian nature" is delineated and practiced through the environmentalists' (re)engagements with certain objects-maps, posters, and photographs-in relation to which local ways of conceptualizing nature are elaborated.

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'Inter-publics'

Hindu Mobilization beyond the Bourgeois Public Sphere

Ursula Rao

This article develops the notion of interconnected publics as a means to understand better both the escalation of Hindu political activism in the 1990s in India and its subsequent waning in the new millennium. I argue that the prime visibility of Hindu fundamentalism in the 1990s was a result of the effective—yet tenuous—connection between various spaces for public communication. The emerging 'inter-public' effectively imbricated the private viewing of religious soap operas with public ritual and political debate to produce, for a short historical moment, the image of a vibrant, forceful, and dominant Hindu nation. The aim of this article is to contribute to Indian studies by discussing the essential, yet in the literature mostly neglected, connections between devotional practices, media Hinduism, and political mobilization. At the broader conceptual level, I argue for a theory of inter-publics that interrogates how multiple 'micropublics' link up to create tangible political effects.