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Thomas Ernst

Reducing human character, characteristics, and behavior to biological conditions of people or specific categories of them has long been an aspect of science, and emerges from The Enlightenment. It is in some senses a part of an heroic attempt to find the cause and effect explanations of everything—to provide consistent explanation of everything from falling stones to the determinates of ‘intelligence’ and criminal minds. These explanations are based in materiality. Gould (1981) provides a good summary of much of this.

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Sacred Landscape, Healing Landscape

“Taking the Waters” in Tunka Valley, Russia

Katherine Metzo

This article examines the sacred mineral springs in Arshan, Buriatiia. These springs have been inscribed as sacred due to their medicinal properties and are marked as sacred through rituals and material offerings. Residents lament the loss of healing, and implicitly sacred, strength of Arshan. The author argues that the sense of loss is due to the medicalization of healing in Tsarist and Soviet times and from the commodification of this type of sacred site through bottling and tourism.

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Sakha Community Leaders and Their Historical Mission

The Relevance of Soviet Ideology to Contemporary Sakha Politics

Eleanor Peers

This report presents an analysis of material from regional government-owned newspapers in the Republic of Sakha (Iakutiia). The analysis reveals a high level of respect for Sakha community leaders who regard the technological and industrial progress of the Sakha people as their main interest. The newspapers indicate tolerance for Sakha nationalism on the part of the republican government, even though this tolerance could jeopardize its relationship with the Russian Federation's central government.

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Marilyn Strathern

This is an exercise in the re-making of knowledge. Stimulated by certain recent writings on bodily activity, the author returns to a section of an earlier work (in The Gender of the Gi, Strathern 1988) that had felt incomplete at the time of writing, as well as to some ethnographic material from Melanesia that she thought she knew. The new context deflects attention away from some original preoccupations onto the manner in which two anthropologists and a philosopher ascribe agency to persons.

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Jonathan Magonet

Editing a journal like European Judaism is a mixture of planning, intuition and chance. The Editorial Board maps out the general outline of a number of issues and seeks appropriate contributions; other possible articles arise out of lectures given within the various activities of Leo Baeck College, and yet others come unsolicited for our consideration. Therefore, every issue is a compromise between an original concept and the fascinating juxtapositions of available materials as deadlines draw near.

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Jonathan Magonet

Being intimately connected to a College, European Judaism is an organic entity that grows and develops its subject matter as part of a living community. Thus many of the materials we receive emerge from the interests or contacts of those associated directly or indirectly with the College. A good example is this issue that evolved into an exploration of contemporary ‘theological’ issues facing Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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Torsten Cress

Today, the insight that material objects are an important part of social life is widely recognized in the social and cultural sciences. But how exactly do things affect the microlevel of social interaction? And by which methodological means can their significance for it be explored? Based on a study of Catholic liturgy, an ethnographic approach is developed that allows for systematic investigations into the role material objects play in social situations. Using Erving Goffman's frame analysis as a theoretical tool, it assumes that things are constitutive of social situations while in turn helping participants make sense of these situations. Conversely, the impact of things is considered closely tied to their particular situational involvement. In order to explore the connections between materiality, meaning, and use, I suggest investigating a number of closely related aspects: the contribution of things to the specifics of the situation in question; the bodily practices in which they are involved; the physical environment in which they are embedded; the physical qualities they possess; and the social definitions tied to them.

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Grigorii L. Olekh

In the immediate post-Soviet communist period, investigators were eager to expose the privileged and wealthy life-style of Communist Party (CP) officials, lumping them all together both sociologically and chronologically. This created a false impression that all CP workers had always enjoyed material and other advantages ever since the Revolution. Using material from Siberian archives, the author suggests that, on the contrary, during the early 1920s, workers in the CP provincial, district and regional committees experienced severe material hardship, and often received no wages at all for long periods. The parlous condition of the Soviet economy as a whole at this time was reflected in the low, or non-existent, pay of Party functionaries, and in the inefficiency, confusions and tensions between the central authorities and regional officials struggling to carry out their Party work on a shoe-string, often living at barely subsistence levels. Various 'Party perks' - for example, in the form of free medical provision or low-cost housing - often existed on paper only. The small gains that were made, however, whetted an appetite for their enlargement and consolidation.

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Hanna Schissler

The globalizing world with its entanglements and multiple interactions, shifting notions of place and time, unifying as well as fragmenting tendencies, new forms of boundary drawing, and old and new lines of conflict, influences our lives and public awareness in the “information age.” As far as education is concerned, this situation demands a critical stock taking and new reference frames for understanding this globalizing world, which on the one hand provides great new opportunities and on the other hand generates enormous risks. It requires teachers to offer guidance and teaching materials to provide young people with orientation. Rapidly shifting contexts demand new abilities to act and to maneuver. Collectives and individuals are equally impacted by the uneven processes that are customarily summarized as “globalization.” To understand what is happening in this complex world is crucial. From the perspective of old or insuffi cient reference frames, the world will seem erratic, unpredictable, and arbitrary. Schools as the transmitters of knowledge and as socializing agencies play a crucial role in preparing young people for this world of multiple modernities and development. It is their responsibility to provide orientation and guidance. How well they do this depends on any number of factors, and not least on the quality of educational materials. Such materials, however, are frequently more than simply educational media. They are sources via which the societies in which they are produced and put to use may be understood.

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Stephanie Bunn

This article is an exploration of how the interdisciplinary relationship between art and anthropology can contribute to teaching anthropology in schools. The argument is made that through practical engagement with the environment - whether 'natural', social or built - one can develop important and complementary approaches to teaching and thinking about anthropology. Three specific areas of activity are examined: skill and practical work with materials, doing children's ethnographies and 'playing house'. The author draws upon her own experience of working both as an artist and an anthropologist.