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A People between Languages

Toward a Jewish History of Concepts

Guy Miron

The field of modern European Jewish history, as I hope to show, can be of great interest to those who deal with conceptual history in other contexts, just as much as the conceptual historical project may enrich the study of Jewish history. This article illuminates the transformation of the Jewish languages in Eastern Europe-Hebrew and Yiddish-from their complex place in traditional Jewish society to the modern and secular Jewish experience. It presents a few concrete examples for this process during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The article then deals with the adaptation of Central and Western European languages within the internal Jewish discourse in these parts of Europe and presents examples from Germany, France, and Hungary.

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Leslie C. Moore

In both Qur'anic and public schools in Maroua, Cameroon, the development of competence in a second language is fundamental, and rote learning is the primary mode of teaching and learning in both types of schooling. Through the lens of language socialization theory, I have examined rote learning as it is practiced in Maroua schools and reframed it as a tradition of learning and teaching I call 'guided repetition'. In this article I discuss similarities and differences in how and why guided repetition is done, linking interactional patterns with the second-language competencies and the ways of being that children are expected or hoped to develop through Qur'anic and public schooling. While the use of guided repetition in both types of schooling is rooted in very similar goals for and ideologies of second-language acquisition, it is accomplished in culturally distinct ways to socialize novices into 'traditional' and 'modern' subjectivities.

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The Way a Language Changes

How Historical Semantics Helps Us to Understand the Emergence of the English Exchequer

Ulla Kypta

The article argues that it is not only useful to study the changing meanings of concepts, but also to analyze the way these concepts changed their meaning over time. As a case study, I analyze the transformation of the language of the earliest surviving accounts of the yearly auditing process in England, the pipe rolls from the twelfth century. The language changed gradually and continually, without guidance or a plan. It is highly likely that the language was learned while the pipe rolls were written. Thus, the clerks could easily close their circle. This led to a strong sense of belonging and self-consciousness, which can be affirmed by other contemporary sources, and which laid the foundation for the accounting procedures that became a long-lasting organization.

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Iurii P. Shabaev

Using recent sociological and demographic data, this article reviews the vibrancy of several ethnic minority groups in the European North of Russia. The article is framed in terms of three paradoxes. The first paradox is that the group thought to be the most vulnerable—the Samis of the Kola peninsula—have the strongest ability to preserve their identity. The second paradox is that the process of de-ethnicization, which refers to the assimilative pressure of urban settings, continues despite institutional structures designed to prevent it. The final paradox is that ethnic revival can be identified in unexpected places relatively independent of the structural factors of language and birthrate that are traditionally associated with ethnic reproduction.

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Narratives of Development

An Anthropological Investigation into Narratives as a Source of Enquiry in Development Planning

Taapsi Ramchandani

The Chaguanas Borough Corporation in Trinidad and Tobago is currently the fastest-growing borough where economic development is complemented by investment in residential, commercial and infrastructural programmes. In tandem with the local government, an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) sought to understand the sociohistorical context within which economic growth has taken place to inform the IGO’s development plans for the area. This article focuses on local narratives collected in 2013 as part of a historical case study that reveals a complex relationship of citizens to the state within the context of a post-colonial, multi-ethnic society. Using an interpretivist framework of narratives as language, metaphor and knowledge, I examine how narratives reflect the lived experience of economic development as a confluence of history, ethnic identity and neoliberal ideas of entrepreneurship. Their inclusion as a source of enquiry in development planning will ensure that exogenous intervention remains holistic, equitable and informed by historical institutions of social practice.

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The Anti-Help

Accusations, Mutual Help and the Containment of Ugly Feelings in the Gusii Highlands, Kenya

Teodor Zidaru-Bărbulescu

Africanist scholarship and anthropological literature on envy offer a jaundiced take on the ugly feelings that can arise in the wake of increasing scarcity and inequality. Proposing an inductive approach that attends to the performativity of words and feelings, this article explores how a Gusii ideal of containing the expression and escalation of ugly feelings influences collective mutual help arrangements. It elaborates on local concerns with the ‘anti-help’, or the confrontational side of help where ugly feelings can be voiced, named, elicited or concealed. In doing so, the article tracks how containing the anti-help structures the relationship between language and emotion, while also acting upon inner experience and affording a political order where a variety of ugly feelings runs the risk of being reduced to envy.

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Local Language Education in Southern Siberia

The Republics of Tyva and Altai

Joan F. Chevalier

This interdisciplinary study presents an overview of local and federal policies affecting language education in southern Siberia in the Republic of Altai and the Republic of Tyva. In the 1990s, as part of a broader effort to revitalize local languages, educational policies were adopted that aimed to strengthen local language education. Since 2005, in part due to federal education reforms, priorities in language education have shifted. Grassroots support for strengthening local language education has faded with the introduction of federally mandated high stakes testing. The comparison of policies in these two regions highlights the negative effects of federal education reforms on local language education.

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Máiréad Nic Craith and Bernadette O'Rourke

Within the field of anthropology, there is a comprehensive linguistic sub-discipline which deals with issues from semiotics and linguistics to identity and intangible cultural heritage. This special volume of AJEC emerged from our desire to explore that sub-discipline in a European context. From our perspective, it appears that many anthropologists in and of Europe engage with a variety of questions within the sub-discipline. However, these anthropologists are not necessarily located in anthropology departments. Furthermore, their expertise is not necessarily profiled in anthropological journals. This is in sharp contrast with the U.S.A. where the significance of language in the field of anthropology is more clearly defined and profiled.

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Breaking Barriers and Coded Language

Watching Politics of Race at the Ballpark

Thomas D. Bunting

Drawing on recent literature on political spectatorship, I show how sport, and baseball in particular, can both illuminate and shape American politics. Following the history of racial segregation and immigrant assimilation in baseball, one sees that it mirrors American race politics on the whole. I argue that Jackie Robinson and the desegregation of baseball changed both American politics and the horizons within which citizens think. Although it is tempting to focus on this positive and emergent moment, I argue that for the most part, looking at the history of race in baseball shows instead coded language that reinforces racial stereotypes. This example of baseball and race shows how powerful spectatorship can be in the democratic world. Spectatorship need not be passive but can be an important sphere of activity in democratic life.

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Nicola Bermingham

Philip McDermott (2012), Migrant Languages in the Public Space: A Case Study from Northern Ireland (Münster: LIT), 320 pp., Pb: €29.90, ISBN: 978-3643800992.