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(Dis-)Embedding Museums

On the Creation of New Urban Museumscapes in Hong Kong and Seoul

Birgit Mersmann

Driven by global economic and cultural competition, Asian megacities seek future-oriented local and global self-representation using cutting-edge museums of contemporary art. This article analyzes the embedding of two vanguard museum projects, the “Museum+” in Hong Kong, China, and the new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea, into long-term urban planning strategies and concepts. In order to understand the intended purpose and process of how the new museums of contemporary art are devised as public spaces of cultural selfrepresentation and urban identity building, the study monitors the complete design process from the city government’s urban and institutional planning strategies over architectural design to the museum’s mission statement and collection strategy. By comparatively tracing the museum projects in Hong Kong and Seoul, the evidence shows that, although they share a common global cities agenda, their pathways of urban place-making and community-building vary greatly. These variations depend on the historical role and current geopolitical repositioning of each city.

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Representation of an Absent Space

Construction of the United States and New York in 1950s and 1960s Czech Travel Writing

Mirna Šolić

Early postwar Czech travel writing was mainly concerned with representations of countries from the newly emerging Soviet Bloc and former European colonies in the developing world. In this way, travel writing played a role in nation building and the creation of new cultural identity. However, following the slow process of political liberalization, the United States became an increasingly visible feature of travel narratives, concomitant with interest and reception of American literature in the second half of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s. While focusing on the analysis of space and articulation of the identities of travelers/narrators, this article tracks the re-emergence of the image of the United States in various types of travel narratives in order to depict a trajectory from the representation of a strictly bipolar world in political reportage from the early 1950s, to its subversion in the travel writing of the 1960s.

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Halil Can

Building on a long-term, multi-sited ethnographic research project, this article illustrates and interprets the transformation processes and empowerment strategies pursued by an originally Zazaki-speaking, multigenerational Alevi family in the Turkish-German transnational context. The family, which includes a number of Alevi priests (seyyid or dede), hails from the Dersim4 region of eastern Anatolia, and their family biography is closely bound up with a traumatic mass murder and crime against humanity that local people call “Dersim 38“ or “Tertele.“ Against the background of this tragedy, the family experienced internal migration (through forced remigration and settlement) thirty years before its labor migration to Germany. This family case study accordingly examines migration as a multi-faceted process with plural roots and routes. The migration of people from Turkey neither begins nor ends with labor migration to Germany. Instead, it involves the continuous, nonlinear, and multidirectional movement of human beings, despite national border regimes and politics. As a result, we can speak of migration processes that are at once voluntary and forced, internal and external, national and transnational. 5 In this particular case, the family members, even the pioneer generation labor migrants who have since become shuttle migrants, maintain close relationships with Dersim even as they spend most of their lives in a metropolitan German city. At the same time, they confront moments of everyday in- and exclusion in this transnational migration space that define them as both insiders and out- siders. Keeping these asymmetrical attributions in mind, I examine the family's sociocultural, religious, and political practices and resources from a transna- tional perspective, paying close attention to their conceptualization of identity and belonging as well as their empowerment strategies.

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Valerie Deacon

Arguing that the resistance in France during the Second World War was always transnational in important ways, this piece identifies some of the recent scholarship that has expanded both the temporal and geographic parameters of the French Resistance. It introduces some of the key themes of this collection of articles and underscores the important contributions made by the participating authors. As these articles reveal, we can find sites of transnational resistance by looking at the relationship between the Allies and the resistance, the role that non-French denizens played in the resistance, the politics of cultural resistance, and the circulation of downed Anglo-American aircrews in Europe.

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Rail Networks, Mobility, and the Cultures of Cities

Introduction to the Special Section

Steven D. Spalding

Scholars writing about railway mobility have pointed to the rails' impact on the culture of cities, while urban theorists and critics have cited the crucial importance of movement and mobility to how cities are lived. A truly interdisciplinary approach, which balances the priorities of mobility studies and urban studies, and informs itself through compelling cultural artifacts (including visual, literary, or other media) offers insight into the processes of urban cultural production and their close link to the discursive valences of urban rail mobility.

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Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do

Place, Desire, and Country Girlhood

Catherine Driscoll

This article explores the figure of the bored country girl that appears widely in popular culture but also in girls studies and rural studies through ethnographic research in Australian country towns. While the presumption that country girls lack resources and opportunities for entertainment and leisure is in many ways empirically valid, this problem's articulation in girls' lives also offers an important perspective from which to ask what boredom and cultural needs mean, relative to each other, for both rural studies and girls studies. This article suggests that girlhood's relation to policy discourse and urbanized modernity can be productively reconsidered through the lived experience of country girls.

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Introduction

Rethinking the class politics of boredom

Marguerite van den Berg and Bruce O’Neill

Nearly a decade after the global financial crisis of 2008, this thematic section investigates one way in which marginalization and precarization appears: boredom. An increasingly competitive global economy has fundamentally changed the coordinates of work and class in ways that have led to a changing engagement with boredom. Long thought of as an affliction of prosperity, boredom has recently emerged as an ethnographically observed plight of the most economically vulnerable. Drawing on fieldwork from postsocialist Europe and postcolonial Africa, this thematic section explores the intersection of boredom and precarity in order to gain new insight into the workings of advanced capitalism. It experiments with ways of theorizing the changing relationship between status, production, consumption, and the experience of excess free time. These efforts are rooted in a desire to make sense of the precarious forms of living that proliferated in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and that continue to endure a decade later.

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The ethnographic negative

Capturing the impress of boredom and inactivity

Bruce O'Neill

Outside the main railway station in Bucharest, Romania, otherwise unemployed day laborers hustle for small change as informal parking lot attendants (parcagii). While their efforts yield numerous ethnographic observations of entrepreneurial activity, these attendants report “doing nothing” day in and day out. This article explores the tension between etic observations and emic feelings in order to ask a methodological question: how can “not doing” and “absent activity” be captured within an ethnographic method primed to observe activity constantly? In response, this article takes inspiration from photography to develop “the negative” as a technique for bringing the impress of absent activity on social worlds into ethnographic view. The intent of this methodological intervention is to open new theoretical lines of flight into the politics of inactivity.

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Caterina Paolucci

The success of the Five Star Movement, with its anti-political and populist challenge to the establishment, did not lead to multipolar competition. Rather, it furthered a moderate bipolar party system dynamic between the center-left and center-right. Although it lost millions of votes, the center-right fared relatively well, allowing Silvio Berlusconi to regain a relevant position in the party-political game. Although stripped of his seat and expelled from the Chamber following a tax fraud conviction, Berlusconi realized, thanks also to the election of centrist Matteo Renzi as the new secretary of the Democratic Party (PD), that it would suit him better to moderate his claims. This new development may lead to an unexpected alliance between the PD and Berlusconi's revived personal party, Forza Italia, and may perhaps result in regaining the electorate lost to the M5S.

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Richard Johnson

English higher education, like other parts of the public sector and higher education in other countries, is currently undergoing considerable change as it is being restructured as if it were a market in which universities, departments and academics compete against one another. This restructuring is producing new processes of subjectivity that discipline those who work and study in higher education institutions. Feminist poststructuralists have suggested that this restructuring is enabled partly through new forms of accountability that seemingly offer the 'carrot' of self-realisation alongside the 'stick' of greater management surveillance of the burgeoning number of tasks that academics, amongst others, must perform. This paper, located in the context of these changes, builds on Judith Butler's insight that processes of subjection to the dominant order through which the self is produced entail both mastery and subjection. That is, submission requires mastery of the underlying assumptions of the dominant order, In this paper I adopt an auto/biographical method and a critique of abstract social theories to explore how the neoliberal restructuring of universities interacts with the gender order. Many universities are being remoulded as businesses for other businesses, with profound effects on internal relations, the subjectivities of academics and students, and practices of education and scholarship. Yet I doubt if we can understand this, nor resist the deep corruption, through grasping neoliberalism's dynamics alone. A longer memory and a more concrete analysis are needed. Today's intense individualisation impacts on pre-existing social relations, which inflect it unpredictably. From my own experience, I evoke the baseline of an older academy, gender-segregated, explicitly patriarchal and privileged in class and ethnic terms. I stress the feminist and democratic gains of the 1960s and 1970s. I sketch the (neoliberal) strategies that undermine or redirect them. I write this, hoping that the next episode can be written differently.