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The House and Embodied Memory

Sharing and Negotiating Social Knowledge Through Space and Bodily Practice

Andreas Dafinger

This article takes the reader on a journey around the spaces of west African houses, and shows how the social world is replicated in the built environment. Based on the case study, this article argues that architecture serves as a model of the outside world to its inhabitants. Knowledge about the social order is embodied by moving through the architectural space. In this particular case, the society's kinship system and kin relations are encoded in the compounds' architectural spaces. This article traces how this order is created, read, and reproduced by its inhabitants, and argues that the house serves as a model of the social (kinship) order. I article conclude by showing that the emic architectural model of the local kinship systems allows for a higher complexity than verbal descriptions can. This article contributes to an anthropology of the house and discusses questions of collective knowledge and memory. It offers considerations of the nature of emic models and cognitive maps, and explores how these maps are shared and reproduced.

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Girmay Medhin and Annabel Erulkar

There is increased consensus on the role of adolescent girls in reaching development goals but few programs for girls have been rigorously evaluated. In Ethiopia, Biruh Tesfa (Bright Future, in Amharic) mobilizes out-of-school girls into safe space groups led by mentors. Girls receive training in literacy and life skills, and they are given vouchers for medical services. A longitudinal study was conducted to measure changes in girls’ learning outcomes and their use of health services. After adjusting for background factors, we found that girls who had never attended school in the project site had significantly higher literacy scores than did control girls. At endline, girls in the project site were 1.6 times more likely to have used a health service in the past six months than those in the control site. Girls-only safe spaces programs can be effective at improving literacy and health-seeking behavior among the most marginalized girls who otherwise lack educational opportunities and access to services.

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Of Other Cinematic Spaces

Urban Zionism in Early Hebrew Cinema

Hizky Shoham

The Zionist ethos is commonly described as pro-rural and anti-urban, with the imagined Zionist space perceived as being rural and the Zionist drama as a reflection of the life of the pioneers in Palestine. Recent studies of early Hebrew cinema shared this view. This article analyzes two Jewish films from inter-war Palestine, Vayehi Bimey (In the Days of Yore) (1932, Tel Aviv) and Zot Hi Ha'aretz (This Is the Land) (1935, Tel Aviv), to suggest a more complex view of the Zionist ethos and spatial imagery in the context of the relationship between the urban and the rural. A thematic and formal analysis of the films shows their sources of Soviet influence and reveals the presentation of the city as a nationalist space.

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Mary P. Corcoran, Jane Gray and Michel Peillon

This article aims to demonstrate the significant role children play in new suburban communities, and in particular, the extent to which their circuits of sociability contribute to social cohesion in the suburbs. The discussion is located within the field of sociology of childhood, which argues that children are active agents who help to create and sustain social bonds within their neighborhoods. Drawing on focus group discussions and short essays by children on “The place where I live,” we paint a picture of how suburban life is interpreted and experienced from a child's perspective. We argue that children develop a particular suburban sensibility that structures their view of their estate, the wider neighborhood, and the metropolitan core. Although children express considerable degrees of satisfaction with suburban life, they are critical of the forces that increasingly limit their access to suburban public space.

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Negotiating the Resistance

Catch 22S, Brokering, and Contention within Occupy Safer Spaces Policy

Samantha Fletcher

In the post-2008 financial crisis climate we have seen a plethora of protest movements emerge globally with one of the most recognizable, particularly in the western context, being that of the Occupy movement, which sought to contest the global accumulation of wealth by the few, at the expense of the many. Such protest movements have paved the way for old and new, often contentious, dialogues pertinent for a variety of disciplines and subject matters. Drawing upon both emerging narratives from the movement within the published literature and the authors own empirical interview data with participants at a variety of Occupy sites, this article discusses to what extent the Occupy movement negotiates its existence with the hegemonic state-corporate nexus through its Safer Spaces Policy. The paper concludes that the counter-hegemonic endeavors of resistance movements can be compromised, through the coercion and consent strategies of the powerful working in tandem, resulting in a movement that both opposes and emulates what it seeks to contest. Such discussion can ultimately contribute to the longevous discourses pertaining to how hegemonic power operates not just on but through people.

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Religion, Space, and Place

The Spatial Turn in Research on Religion

Kim Knott

Following a consideration of the impact of the late twentieth-century spatial turn on the study of religion by geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and religious studies scholars, two trends are distinguished: the poetics of place and the sacred; and politics, religion, and the contestation of space. Discussion of these reveals substantially different approaches to religion, space, and place—one phenomenological, the other social constructivist. The spatial turn has been extremely fruitful for research on religion, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines, and connecting not only to traditional areas such as sacred space and pilgrimage, but to new ones such as embodiment, gender, practice and religious-secular engagements.

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Gadi Benezer

This article discusses the reactions of Israelis in the public space to 'mixed families' that include members of Ethiopian origin, written from the perspective of members of such families. The findings reveal that Israelis still react to the dark skin color of Ethiopians in mixed families and that, in most cases, 'black colors white', that is, behavior toward the mixed family is determined mainly by the presence of its black member. The three typical responses are as follows: (1) expressions of surprise at the presence of an Ethiopian in the family, evincing a stereotypical view of Ethiopian immigrants and their place in Israeli society; (2) invasions of privacy that are perceived by the family members as greatly exaggerated when compared with Israeli norms; and (3) declarations of appreciation for/admiration of the 'white' partner in the family for 'lifting up' the 'black' person through a (supposedly) altruistic act. The major conclusion is that Israeli society has yet to accept mixed families that include Jews of Ethiopian origin as a normative category.

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Irene Sywenky

This article examines post 1989 Polish literary production that addresses German-Polish history and border relations in the aftermath of World War II and participates in the German-Polish dialogue of reconciliation. I consider the methodological implications of border space and spatial memory for the analysis of mass displacements in the German-Polish border region with particular attention to spatiocultural interstitiality, deterritorialization, unhomeliness, and border identity. Focusing on two representative novels, Stefan Chwin's Death in Danzig and Olga Tokarczuk's House of Day, House of Night, I argue that these authors' attention to geospatiality, border space, and displacement forms a distinct characteristic of Polish border narratives. Chwin's and Tokarczuk's construction of interstitial border spaces reflects a complex dynamic between place, historical memory, and self-identification while disrupting and challenging the unitary mythologies of the nation. With their fictional re-imagining of wartime and postwar German-Polish border region, these writers participate in the politics of collective memory of the border region and the construction and articulation of the Polish perspective that shapes the discourse of memory east of the border.

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“The Song They Sing Is the Song of the Road”

Motoring and the Semantics of Space in Early Twentieth-Century British Travel Writing

Martin Walter

When, in the early twentieth century, British middle-class writers went on a tour in search of their country, travel writing not only saw the re-emergence of the home tour, but also the increasing appearance of the motorcar on British roads. With the travelogue playing the role of a discursive arena in which debates about automobility were visualized, the article argues that, as they went “in search of England,” writers like Henry Vollam Morton and J. B. Priestley not only took part in the ideological framing of motoring as a social practice, but also contributed to a change in the perception of accessing a seemingly remote English countryside. By looking at a number of contemporary British travelogues, the analysis traces the strategies of how the driving subjects staged their surroundings, and follows the authors' changing attitudes toward the cultural habit of traveling: instead of highlighting the seemingly static nature of the meaning of space, the travelogues render motoring a dynamic and procedural spatial practice, thus influencing notions of nature, progress, and tradition.

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Juan Manuel Sandoval Palacios

[full article is in English]


At the beginning of the 1980s a new Global Space for the expansion of transnational capital emerged in the US–Mexico Border States. The militarization and securitization of that border were justified by government policies aimed at stopping irregular immigration, drug traffic, and terrorism. In 1991 the US Congress approved the creation of a new Defense Industrial and Technology Base (DITB), which would benefit the Gun Belt linked to the Military-Industrial Complex; and in 1992 the Department of Defense (DoD) proposed to establish a Defense Reserve Industrial Base Program (DRIB), the location for which would be within the existing production-sharing centers along the US–Mexico Border. Both, the DITB and the DRIB, would take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and transnational arms corporations established or expanded their facilities in the Global Space that has been created along the Mexico–US Border. This article examines this process.


A principios de los años ochenta surgió un nuevo Espacio Global para la expansión del capital transnacional en los estados fronterizos de Estados Unidos y México. La militarización y la securitización de esta frontera ha sido justifi cada por estrategias para detener la inmigración irregular, el narcotráfi co y el terrorismo. En 1991 el Congreso de los Estados Unidos aprobó la creación de una nueva Base de Tecnología y Defensa Industrial (DITB) que benefi ciaría al llamado Cinturón de Armas ligado al Complejo Militar-Industrial; y en 1992 el Departamento de Defensa (DoD) propuso la creación del Programa de Base Industrial de la Reserva de Defensa (DRIB), cuya ubicación estaría dentro de los centros de producción compartida a lo largo de la frontera México–Estados Unidos. Tanto el DITB como el DRIB aprovecharían el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN), y las corporaciones transnacionales de armamentos establecerían o expanderían sus instalaciones en el Espacio Global creado a lo largo de la frontera México-Estados Unidos. Este artículo examina este proceso.


Au début des annéesquatre-vingt, un nouvel Espace Global pour l’expansion du capital transnational surgit à la frontière entre les États-Unis et le Mexique. Depuis, la militarisation et la sécuritisation de cett e frontière a été justifi ée par des stratégies pour contenir la migration clandestine, le traffi c de drogue et le terrorisme. Cependant, ces processus protègent et supportent également cet espace global, qui est lié au “ceinturon armé” qui a surgit durant l’administration Reagan. Depuis cett e époque, des propositions ont été présentées au Congrès des États- Unis pour établir une nouvelle Base de Technologie et de Défense Industrielle (DITB selon ses sigles en anglais), qui serait bénéfi que pour la ceinturon armé ainsi qu’un Programme de Base Industrielle de la Réserve de Défense (DRIB en anglais) dont la localisation a été proposée tout au long de la frontière entre le Mexique et les États-Unis. Cet article étudie comment le DITB et le DRIB ont évolué dans le contexte de l’Accord de Libre Échange Nord-Américain (ALÉNA) et ont permis à des corporations transnationales d’armes d’établir ou de renforcer des installations dans l’Espace Global qui a été créé tout au long de la frontière entre le Mexique et les États-Unis. Cett e article examine ce processus.