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Travel Writers and Traveling Writers in Australasia

Responses to Travel Literatures and the Problem of Authenticity

Helen Bones

This article compares responses to travel writing and imaginative fiction about the settler colonies, in particular Australia and New Zealand, between 1870 and 1945—a time when distinctions between travel, mobility, and emigration were hard to pin down. Very little scholarship has shown an interest in what the subject society’s inhabitants thought of its portrayal, and what this can tell us about colonial and national identities. Australasian responses to works about Australasia, in the form of published reviews, were influenced by the knowledge and particular concerns of the reviewer and their own negotiations with identity. What mattered to readers and critics was the authenticity of the portrayal of the place, but this was not only related to whether the work claimed to be fiction or non-fiction. The perceived level of familiarity that the writer had with the area was the most important factor in determining whether the reception of a work was positive or negative.

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Susanne Højlund

Based on fieldwork in Danish children's homes, this article examines how the idea of 'home' has emerged and become integrated in institutional practices. The ideal of hominess serves as a positive model for sociality in the institution, but at the same time it also produces dilemmas, paradoxes, and contradictions for both children and social workers. These dilemmas stem from the conflicting values of institution and home. Nevertheless, the two spheres should not be seen as spaces with incompatible logics; rather, they should be viewed as mutually dependent but competing ideas (and practices) that are inherent in the institutional value hierarchy. The article argues that the ideal of authenticity plays a central role in the way that hominess is perceived as a positive value in children's homes—and perhaps in institutions in general.

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Crafting the Local

GIs, Jewelry, and Transformations in Valenza, Italy

Michele F. Fontefrancesco

This article examines the effects that GI (geographic indication) brands may have on the commodity producers who employ this marketing strategy. By analyzing the case of jewelry production in Valenza, Italy, and the creation of the DV brand, it demonstrates that GIs tend to impose new forms of production over the local milieu. Although based on a rhetoric about the maintenance of traditional practices, GIs enforce a techno-scientific approach over a techne-oriented understanding on the local level. Echoing Foucault's idea of disciplinary power, GIs and their regulation bodies thus become agents of a transformation of the local community and local production practice. This case suggests that these transformations of locale, which result in tension among market standards, brand regulation, and production due to the rhetoric of 'authenticity', should be reconsidered.

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Guillaume Lecomte

The comic book series La Vie secrète des jeunes is a sardonic account of French young people’s behaviours witnessed from the voyeuristic viewpoint of its author-illustrator, Riad Sattouf. Despite its caricatural and non-photorealistic visual style, the work conveys a strong sense of authenticity, mixing truth claims borrowed from established non-fiction traditions (journalism, autobiography and documentary). It is also a rare example of a non-fiction comic turned into live action. This article considers the comic and its TV adaptation, and discusses film’s ability to adapt an account of truth rooted in comics ontology. The article first provides a theoretical structure that details the intricacy of repeating the truth from comic to film. Second, it highlights the way in which the comic develops its authenticity by constantly reaffirming Sattouf’s presence and subjectivity. The article aims to show that the adaptation anonymises this viewpoint in order to re-construct the authenticity of its reality.

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Cultural Heritage in Europe

Ethnologists' Uses of the Authentic

Wolfgang Kaschuba

This article deals with the often problematic connection between European and ethnological world images. After a short retrospective on the ethnological heritage, it elaborates current social and political problems and determines the ethnological position in these discourses. Finally, it recommends the imagination of an 'ethnology of the present', which increasingly focuses its lens on the European margins, across boundaries, and on movements: ethnology as a 'social ethnography' of the culturally vagrant, ambivalent and fluid.

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Tatjana Schönwälder-Kuntze

In general, the Sartrean concept of the subject as "being-for-self" and "being-for-others" is read as if Sartre had sketched these structures as given "a priori" and therefore as unalterable. One of the consequences of this interpretation lies in calling Sartre's theory contradictory, especially with regard to his ethics, because of the assumption that, based on this concept, changing the inauthentic structures of the subject into authentic ones would be impossible. Contrary to this interpretation, I argue that Sartre's philosophical theory is by no means contradictory, neither in its relation to ethics nor as it relates to the complete edition of Sartre's philosophical writing, if one tries to understand what kind of theoretical requirements Sartre considered to be relevant and necessary. From this point of view, it is possible to work out an adequate and consistent interpretation. In order for me to argue for the immanent consistency of Sartre's theory and for the resulting possibility of an ethical theory based on it, I will discuss some aspects of the relation between epistemological, ontological and ethical elements within Sartre's philosophical system.

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Silvia Forni

By looking at the numerous small palace museums founded in the Cameroonian Grassfields since the early 2000s, this article interrogates the meaning and function of displays of objects and narratives in the shifting social, political, and economic landscape of contemporary Cameroon. Museums in postcolonial Africa stem from very specific colonial premises, which are still relevant to the understanding of national narratives and displays. However, palace museums in the Grassfields engage in a different and somewhat contrasting use of objects and collections to present a more nuanced and complicated image of local societies. Through their eclectic and non-canonical display, these museums challenge ethnographic taxonomies and linear narratives, while serving effectively as ways to enhance the visibility and prestige of local kingdoms both nationally and internationally.

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Beyond the Glittering Golden Buddha Statues

Difference and Self-transformation through Buddhist Volunteer Tourism in Thailand

Brooke Schedneck

Volunteer tourism is becoming an important way to understand and experience culture. In Thailand, one option for volunteers is to teach English to novice monks in Buddhist temple schools. These volunteers choose to live in a Buddhist temple in order to experience difference through the religious atmosphere and interact with Buddhist monks. The aesthetic environment is unique and awe-inspiring to this group. However, through interviews and analysis of travel writing, this article argues that the unexpected also has a role in generating selftransformation. Beyond the golden, glittering Buddha statues are Buddhist novice monks who become not just representatives of Thai culture but particular individuals. Volunteers discuss their own transformation as a result of both the expected difference and unexpected familiarity they encounter within the temple communities where they teach.

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Ambivalent Anticipations

On Soldierly Becomings in the Desert of the Real

Thomas Randrup Pedersen

What if war is not hell? What if war is not entertainment? What if war is, instead, the stuff dreams are made of? What is one then to anticipate of one’s tour of duty in a war zone? In this article, I interrogate anticipations in relation to soldierly becomings through deployment to Afghanistan. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with Danish combat troops, I explore the uneasy coexistence of two anticipatory plotlines: ‘the passion’ and ‘the desert’. The former depicts the tour of duty as a heroic adventure driven by desire for real combat, while the latter casts deployment as an anti-heroic misadventure imposed by the dull reality in theatre. I argue that anticipation can harbour ambivalent, even antagonistic, yet simultaneous expectations of what might come. I show that anticipation is further blurred, as our anticipatory horizons are tied not only to our unsettled plotlines of becoming but also to our being’s existential imperative.

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Putting the Folk in Their Place

Tradition, Ecology and the Public Role of Ethnology

Ullrich Kockel

The folk, who have been exorcised from contemporary academic concern, are now replaced with the populace. Simultaneously, places as ecological loci of meaning and social relations have been discarded in favour of globalised spaces. Arguably, the contemporary obsession with proving the inauthenticity of tradition is itself an essentialising discourse. This obsession has helped destroy places and their ecological relationships. European ethnology originated in the Enlightenment pursuit of good governance and social improvement, which rendered it an instrument of political control - putting the folk in their place. By critically reconstructing the public role of ethnology, we can redirect the ethnological searchlight. Should not the responsible ethnologist, rather than colluding in evictions of the folk from their place, cultivate a respectfully critical understanding of social, economic, political and ecological contexts, working with the folk reflexively, to help reclaim their place.