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Introduction

Desire for the political in the aftermath of the Cold War

Dace Dzenovska and Nicholas De Genova

In this introduction, we reflect on the proliferation of an amorphous desire for the political in the post–Cold War era. The desire for the political, we argue, is shaped by two sets of tensions: the desire to criticize power via forms of action conventionally characterized as “politics,” but without a clear analysis of how power is organized or exercised; and the desire to overcome the present in the name of an alternative (better) future, but without a clear sense of the form that future might take. We start from the vantage points of critical scholarship that distinguishes itself from the mainstream, and people and places that are geopolitically in Europe, but “not quite” European if viewed in relation to “Europe” as a normative trope.

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Recognition and Knowledge

Mapping the Promises and Seductions of Successful Female Futures

Stephanie D. McCall

Today's girls have become spectacles of modern progress and the representation of social desires for success. What has been remarkably unclear in this imagination, visualization, representation, and investment of modern girlhood is what knowledge and what attachments mobilize girls towards their desires for success. In this article I will examine school knowledge and the seduction of rationality and certainty about female futures. I trace some of the effects and affects of curricular knowledge. I examine how girls move ambivalently towards objects of desire, like prestigious colleges, through their desire for recognition, difference, and being exceptional. Using qualitative data collected in a private all-girls school, in this article I bring together feminist poststructuralist theory, curriculum theory, and girlhood studies to attend to affective intensities of spiciness, happiness, and shame and analyze how these disrupt the visualizations of the girls' seemingly unambiguous notions of female success.

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"I Want My Boy Back!"

Substitute Sons and Damsels in Distress

Jeffery P. Dennis

Three recent mass media texts are analyzed in which the object of rescue for a male hero is a teenage boy rather than the traditional damsel in distress. These rescues and their aftermaths display considerable slippage between custodial and romantic conventions, blurring the image of the hero as father and the hero as lover. It is argued that their function is to evoke the possibility of same-sex desire while safely pretending that same-sex desire does not exist.

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"A Quick Sideways Look and Wild Grin"

Joyful Assemblages in Moments of Girlhood

Susanne Gannon, Kristina Gottschall and Catherine Camden Pratt

Through stories of young girls at play produced in a collective biography workshop we trace flows of desire and excesses of joy, and bring recent feminist work on positive affect into our analysis of girlhood becomings. Ringrose (2011, 2013) argues that the concept of the “affective assemblage“ brings together affect, embodiment, and relationality in powerful ways to enable a mapping of how desire moves through the social. She suggests that the affective capacities of assemblages can be “life affirming or life destroying“ (2011: 602). In this article we are interested in mapping flows of desire, moments of joy and possibility in moments of girlhood, and in the limitations and contingencies within these moments that shut down these possibilities. We suggest that the methodology of collective biography (Davies and Gannon 2006, 2009, 2013) offers potential for tracing the microparticulars of girlhood becomings.

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Stanley Wells

People write biographies of Shakespeare for many different reasons, often in combination. Rarely, if ever, is it out of a desire to disseminate new information, though a technique that can illuminate is to find new ways of placing long-established facts within a fresh context. Biographical discoveries, and serious scholarly treatment of biographical issues, are more likely to be communicated through articles in learned journals. Full-length biographies may be the consequence of a creative wish to engage with and to entertain imagined readerships, or a desire to educate, or the fulfilment of personal or polemical agenda, possibly at least partly subconscious: feminist, or psychosexual, or political; and also, less worthily but no less understandably, of a desire to make money or a search for professional advancement.

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Something Better

Hegemony, Development, and Desire in Guatemalan Export Agriculture

Edward F. Fischer and Peter Benson

This article examines non-traditional export production of broccoli, snow peas, and other crops in Guatemala. Focusing on Maya farmers, exporters, and government development officials, we trace the production of the desire to grow these crops, to make some extra money, and to enhance local and national economies. We find that the export business has left farmers shortchanged even as it has opened new possibilities of algo más (something more or better). We examine how this empirical paradox has emerged from the convergence and divergence of power relations and affective desires that produce the processes known as 'hegemony' and 'resistance'. We conclude by considering alternative ethnographic strategies for understanding the multifarious connections between power and desire, hegemony and culture.

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Sevasti-Melissa Nolas and Christos Varvantakis

In this article we develop the idea of ethnography as a practice of desire lines. Lines of desire are pedestrian footpaths that are at once amateurish and playful, and that deviate from the grids and schemes of urban planners. We argue that ethnography has always been so at the same time as also being highly professionalized. The article explores these tensions between desire lines and professionalization as they became evident to us during a funded, international multi-modal ethnographic study with children—a study, we argue, that rendered us childlike. We conclude that being childlike and ‘out of line’ is an appropriate and necessary response for knowledge creation at a time of heightened professionalization in the academy.

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Tara MacDonald

This article examines Margaret Oliphant's Salem Chapel (1863), the author's only foray into the sensation genre. It argues that the novel's focus on the dangers of gossip and public exposure reveals Oliphant's fraught relationship with sensationalism. Two key characters represent sensational readers and authors in the novel: Arthur Vincent and Adelaide Tufton. By emphasising their eager, voyeuristic desires for sensation, Oliphant marks such modes of reading and interpretation - and the genres which encourage such desires - as problematic. The novel also constructs gossip and public media as troubling, and thus questions sensationalism's reliance on voyeuristic thrills.

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Jonathan Magonet

The desire to hear a ‘Jewish voice’ on a wide variety of topics in international forums explains the unexpected invitations that come the way of rabbis to offer insights from Jewish tradition. Conversely, the stimulation of speaking to issues outside the usual range on inner Jewish communal concerns offers a potential enrichment to our understanding of the depth and breadth of Jewish teachings.

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Paul Moody and Gabriel Aarón Macías Zapata

*Second review is in Spanish

T. Winther. (2008). The impact of electricity: Development, desires and dilemmas. New York: Berghahn Books

E. Velásquez, E. Léonard, O. Hoff mann, & M.F. Prêvot-Schapira (Coords.). (2009). El istmo mexicano: una región inasequible. Estado, poderes locales y dinámicas espaciales (siglos XVI-XIX). México: Publicaciones de la Casa Chata-CIESAS - IRD.