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Peiliao

Gender, Psychologization, and Psychological Labor in China

Jie Yang

This article examines the psychologization trend in China by analyzing peiliao (companion to chat), a 'profession' promoted among laid-off women workers since the mid-1990s. Unlike other psychological caregivers who empathize or sympathize through imagining the situation of another who suffers, job counselors encourage those who become peiliao to invoke their direct experience of unemployment in their current care work. Such job training not only reinscribes these women's pain, but also naturalizes their psychological labor as part of their moral virtue, which downplays its social and economic value. The article suggests that peiliao and other psychologizing processes in China, rather than depoliticizing social struggle, constitute a new arena for politics in which marginalized women's psychological labor is exploited both to advance market development and to enact the therapeutic ethos of the ruling party.

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Cementing Relations

The Materiality of Roads and Public Spaces in Provincial Peru

Penelope Harvey

This article sets out to analyze how concrete is implicated in the transformation of public space in provincial Peru. While concrete enhances a state's capacity to produce reliable, predictable structures, there are also significant limits in relation to its connective capacity in both the material and social domains. Ethnographic attention to the relational dynamics of concrete reveals how its promise to operate as a generic, homogeneous, and above all predictable material is constantly challenged by the instability and heterogeneity of the terrains to which it is applied. The image of power that concrete affords is thus a compromised one, as the stability and predictability of this substance is secure only insofar as it is surrounded by and embedded in specific relationships of care.

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The Alimentary Forms of Religious Life

Technologies of the Other, Lenience, and the Ethics of Ethiopian Orthodox Fasting

Diego Malara

Focusing on the practice of fasting, this article traces the ethical efforts and conundrums of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who take their religion seriously, but do not necessarily see themselves as disciplined believers. I argue that the flexibility and lenience of the Orthodox system allow for morally ambivalent disciplinary projects that, in order to preserve their efficacy, must be sustained by an array of intimate relationships with more pious individuals who are fasting for others or on others’ behalf. By examining this relational economy of spiritual care, its temporalities and divisions of labor, I ask whether recent preoccupations with ‘technologies of the self’ in the anthropology of religion might have overlooked the relevance of ‘technologies of the other’.

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Tending to Suspension

Abstraction and Apparatuses of Atmospheric Attunement in Matsutake Worlds

Timothy Choy

Scenes from mushroom technosciences illuminate forms, practices, and temporalities of atmospheric attunement. This article reanimates moments from scientific literature where chemists and mycologists chase elusive smells and spores, explicating how scientists’ experimental apparatuses of attunement arrange conditions for matsutake to be reduced and concentrated toward the goal of sensibility. Reduction and concentration do more than translate atmospheric elusiveness into specification; achieved through grinding, evaporating, and remixing, they condition a ‘tending to suspension’. Tending to suspension amplifies qualities and throws subjects and sensorial attention into the middle of volumes and durations. ‘Tending’ implies care as well as a ‘tending toward’—the sense that something may develop a tendency. Experimental apparatuses of atmospheric attunement, tending to such tendings, model a method for anthropological study of diffuse objects.

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Sally Engle Merry

This provocative question became the basis for a spirited discussion at the 2017 meeting of the American Anthropological Association. My first reaction, on hearing the question, was to ask, does anthropology care whether it matters to law? As a discipline, anthropology and the anthropology of law are producing excellent scholarship and have an active scholarly life. But in response to this forum’s provocation article, which clearly outlines the lack of courses on law and anthropology in law schools, I decided that the relevant question was, why doesn’t anthropology matter more to law than it does? The particular, most serious concern appears to be, why are there not more law and anthropology courses being offered in law schools? It is increasingly common for law faculty in the United States to have PhDs as well as JDs, so why are there so few anthropology/law PhD/JD faculty? Moreover, as there is growing consensus that law schools instil a certain way of thinking but lack preparation for the practice of law in reality and there is an explosion of interest in clinical legal training, why does this educational turn fail to provide a new role of legal anthropology, which focuses on the practice of law, in clinical legal training?

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Susan Zimmermann

This study argues that the changing relationship between paid work, unpaid work and paid care work and social services, and the struggle over this relationship and its implications, constituted key factors in shaping the ‘state socialist’ gender regime in Hungary from 1949 to the 1980s. The study is based on a wealth of recent scholarship, original sources and Hungarian research conducted during the state socialist period. It tries to give a balanced and inclusive analysis of key elements of women’s and gender history in the state socialist project of ‘catching-up development’ in a semi-peripheral patriarchal society, pointing to constraints, challenges and results of this project. Due to the complex interaction of a variety of actors and factors impacting on and shaping the state socialist gender regime not all women were affected in the same way by state socialist politics and gender struggles. Women’s status and opportunities, as well as gender relations, differed according to class, ethnicity and economic sector. As a rule, the gender struggle over state socialist family and gender arrangements in Hungary sought to reduce or temper tensions and conflicts by avoiding substantial or direct attack against the privileges of men both within the home and elsewhere.

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Editorial

Age and Autonomy

Anne Showstack Sassoon and Wendy Stokes

In the first, double issue of The European Journal of Social Quality, the concept of social quality was explored from a variety of perspectives, as work in progress. Continuing this endeavour, this issue focuses on ‘Age and Autonomy’. These terms are offered as starting points rather than taken for granted concepts. The discussion of the themes of independence, dependence, and interdependence in the first issue continues here with a focus on a topic which is on the political agenda throughout Europe, North America, and elsewhere: demographic changes. Increases in life expectancy and decreases in birth rates in many countries, changes – often different for men and women – in the proportion of the life cycle in formal paid work, and the longer, more active period of older age contemplated by large numbers of people are major social challenges. With regard to older people, increased activity and participation as well as the need for support and care are aspects of a complex picture that are often obscured in political debate.

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Trust, Reflexivity and Dependence

A 'Social Systems Theory' Analysis in/of Medicine

Paul Ward

Given the centrality of 'trust' in both the Theory of Social Quality and as a central motif of life in late modernity, this paper focuses attention on public (mist)trust in social systems and the potential ramifications of engagement with medical services, in addition to feelings of social exclusion and disembeddedness. Using data from a qualitative study of lay perceptions of local primary health care services, the paper reveals the complex and often contradictory ways in which trust is won, developed and lost. In addition, mistrust in local general practitioners (GPs) was found to be a factor of mistrust in a variety of social systems, organisations and institutions of government, rather than solely related to mistrust of either the GPs or the medical system. Nevertheless, there was not a widespread abandonment of the use of GPs or Western medicine, which may partly be explained by the perceived dependence of these people these people on the medical system. Overall, generalised mistrust existed at both inter-personal and systems-based levels and was levied at a variety of social systems and institutions of governance – mistrust was a pervading dimension of life in this community.

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Jonathan Skinner

I am pleased to present five articles in this special issue of Anthropology in Action. They show a lively, challenging and engaged set of interventions that cross social and applied anthropology boundaries, doing so through combined arts health practices. That many of them take place in Northern Ireland and are propelled by anthropology graduates is an additional boon to a challenging and economically deprived part of the U.K. Three – Raw, McCaffery, Zeindlinger – were originally presented at the Arts Care 21st anniversary conference held in Belfast, ‘Sustainable Creativity in Healthcare’, May 2012. They represent work by publicly engaged anthropologists, a number living, working and practising in Northern Ireland. Other presenters from the conference could not join us but were also anthropologists practising anthropo - anthropologically informed community-relations work in Northern Ireland on deprived and segregated estates(Emma Graham) and in creative dance choreography with special needs and third-age performers (Lauren Guyer). Not so ‘half-baked’ applied anthropology, to challenge Lucy Mair’s (1969: 8) original castigation of such intervention work.

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Sergio Catignani, Israeli Counter-Insurgency and the Intifadas Review by Avi Kober

Majid Al-Haj and Rosemarie Mielke, eds., Cultural Diversity and the Empowerment of Minorities: Perspectives from Israel & Germany Review by Nicole Dehan

Jonathan B. Isacoff, Writing the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Pragmatism and Historical Inquiry Review by Motti Golani

Meir Litvak and Esther Webman, From Empathy to Denial, Arab Responses to the Holocaust Review by Shlomo Aronson

Kobi Michael, Between Militarism and Statesmanship in Israel: Military Influence on the Transition Process from War to Peace Review by Eyal Ben-Ari

Rory Miller, ed., Ireland and the Middle East: Trade, Society and Peace Review by Jeffrey K. Sosland

Benny Morris, ed., Making Israel Review by Neil Caplan

Roby Nathanson and Stephen Stetter, eds., The Middle East under Fire? EU-Israel Relations in a Region Between War and Conflict Resolution Review by Tamir Libel

Benjamin Orbach, Live from Jordan: Letters Home from My Journey through the Middle East Review by Chaim Noy

Dina Porat, Israeli Society, the Holocaust and Its Survivors Roni Stauber, The Holocaust in Israeli Public Debate in the 1950s Reviews by Esther Jilovsky

Zohar Segev, From Ethnic Politicians to National Leaders—American Zionist Leadership, the Holocaust and the Establishment of Israel Review by Ariel Feldestein

Sandy Sufian and Mark LeVine, eds., Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel-Palestine Review by Itamar Radai

Shifra Shvarts, Health and Zionism: Th e Israeli Health Care System, 1948–1960 Review by Judith T. Shuval