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High Comics Art

The Louvre and the Bande Dessinée

Margaret C. Flinn

This article concerns the eight albums currently available in a series of bandes dessinées commissioned by the Louvre from established, well-respected bédéistes and co-published with Futuropolis since 2005. This successful, high-profile series has elicited positive critical response, but that response has also exposed persistent mutual antagonisms between bande dessinée and the establishment art world as represented by the Louvre Museum. These tensions between 'high' and 'low' culture can be read within the narratives of the albums themselves, in which we see reflexivity used to highlight bande dessinée's artistic value, and various types of obstruction and sensory impairments (realist and supernatural) are used to disrupt quotidian relationships to museum space.

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Laura Bathurst

In the tradition of anthropological reflexivity, this article examines how the structure of early doctoral training contributes to the construction of particular kinds of anthropologists. Based on research conducted in an anthropology department in the U.S.A. during the late 1990s, the experience of the transition from undergraduate to doctoral studies is explored as simultaneously a process of culture learning and culture making, with power relations expressed, imposed, and contested through language. The implications for questions animating current anthropological debates, including calls for 'public anthropology', are considered.

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The Medium Is the Message

Olivier Schrauwen’s Arsène Schrauwen beyond Expectations of Autobiography, Colonial History and the Graphic Novel

Benoît Crucifix and Gert Meesters

This article proposes a close reading of Olivier Schrauwen’s Arsène Schrauwen, focusing on the various cultural discourses that it engages with, and particularly its ironical self-positioning within the field of comics. First of all, Schrauwen playfully questions the entrenchment of autobiography in the contemporary graphic novel by presenting a wholly fantasised adventure as biographical family history. This play with generic expectations is continued through Schrauwen’s reliance on the tropes of the adventure story and its figuration of the voyage. Arsène Schrauwen also draws on stereotypical images of both Belgium and the Belgian Congo and integrates them into a grotesque narrative so as to question the supposed unicity of the individual and colonial bodies. Last but not least, the book displays a highly self-reflexive approach to comics storytelling, building on a legacy from Flemish comics in order to play with reading conventions, graphic enunciation and abstraction, thereby thematising the perception of the main character.

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Introduction

Legacies, Trajectories, and Comparison in the Anthropology of Buddhism

Nicolas Sihlé and Patrice Ladwig

The anthropology of Buddhism may give the impression of already having a well-established lineage. However, understood as a collective endeavor bringing together specialists from different parts of the Buddhist world in a comparative spirit, it remains very much an emerging project. We outline in this introduction some of the striking features of the beginnings of this subfield, such as how it has undergone a process of emancipation from textualist interpretations of Buddhism, and survey some of its main thematic and analytic orientations, pointing in particular to its most substantial ‘long conversation’, on the structure and dynamics of Buddhist religious fields. Throughout, we focus primarily on the period following an assessment of the subfield made by David Gellner in 1990. Finally, we stress the importance and highlight the promise of a comparative anthropology of Buddhism that builds on a critical, reflexive examination of its central concepts.

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Dominic Boyer

This article offers a synthetic overview of the major opportunities and impasses of an emergent anthropology of experts and expertise. In the wake of the boom in anthropological science and technology studies since the 1980s, the anthropology of experts has become one of the most vibrant and promising enterprises in social-cultural anthropology today. And, yet, I argue that the theorisation and ethnography of experts and cultures of expertise remains underdeveloped in some crucial respects. The body of the article defines expertise as a relation of epistemic jurisdiction and explores the sociological and epistemological dilemmas emerging from research, that poises one expert (the anthropologist) in the situation of trying to absorb another regime of expertise into his/her own. With due appreciation for what the anthropology of experts has achieved thus far, I close with a manifesto designed to prompt a reassessment of where this research enterprise should go from here. I urge that we treat experts not solely as rational(ist) creatures of expertise but rather as desiring, relating, doubting, anxious, contentious, affective—in other words as human-subjects.

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Reflections on Fieldwork in Yemen

The Genealogy of a Diary in Response to Rabinow's Reflections of Fieldwork in Morocco

Daniel Martin Varisco

In preparation for writing an ethnographic monograph on fieldwork in Yemen, I compare and contrast my field diary, written in 1978–9, with Paul Rabinow’s Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco (1977). The underlying question is what post-fieldwork reflections reflect meaningfully about the immediacy of ethnographic fieldwork? I criticise the reflexivist trope of privileging ‘writing culture’ over the significance of ‘being there’ in the field. Point by point, I examine the implications of graduate training in anthropology, culture shock, health problems, language skills, the unreflective male voice, visual ethnography and the rhetoric of narrative writing.

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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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Murphy Out of Place

Ethnographic Anxiety and Its 'Telling' Consequences

Liam D. Murphy

In Belfast, Northern Ireland, as elsewhere, myriad problems of epistemology and research design confront ethnographers entering the field for the first time. While these often remain a permanently taxing wellspring of frustration and anxiety, their apparent resolution through experience can occasionally lull researchers into a false sense of security in the context of social interaction with field respondents. By exploring an instance in which the author neglected to apply his understanding of the important Northern Ireland phenomenon of 'telling', the article shows how method and epistemology should always be borne in mind during fieldwork situations—even those implicitly discounted a priori as nonethnographic. While such relaxation of self-awareness may precipitate various blunders and ethnographic faux-pas, it also opens up spaces of critical inquiry into the collaborative constitution of selves and others in field situations, and refocuses the ethnographer's awareness of his positioning as an outsider in webs of social activity.

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Abigail Baim-Lance and Cecilia Vindrola-Padros

Academic funding bodies are increasingly measuring research impact using accountability and reward assessments. Scholars have argued that frameworks attempting to measure the use-value of knowledge production could end up influencing the selection of research topics, limiting research agendas, and privileging linear over complex research designs. Our article responds to these concerns by calling upon insights from anthropology to reconceptualise impact. We argue that, to conduct socially beneficial studies, impact needs to be turned from a product to an inclusive process of engagement. Anthropology's epistemologically and methodologically rich tradition of ethnography offers a particularly apposite set of tools to achieve this goal. We present three concrete examples of how we have used ethnography to impact on the work we carry out, particularly in shaping multidisciplinary team-based research approaches.

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Dan Gunn

The present article seeks to analyse the place of Shakespeare’s work within the oeuvre of Gabriel Josipovici, starting with the latter’s first published critical book, The World and the Book, and ending with his most recent, Hamlet: Fold on Fold. In the early work Josipovici sought to establish a direct line between the Middle Ages and Modernism, yet Shakespeare was already a presence whose plays obliged that line to deviate. In his later critical work, such as On Trust, Shakespeare becomes one of the figures who allows Josipovici to exemplify clearly the crucial gap he wishes to explore between saying and doing. This gap is most fully explored in the recent book on Hamlet, where the protagonist is seen as the supreme literary example of what happens when the traditions governing doing have fallen away, leaving the character adrift in a sea of possibilities of utterance and action, none of which has the feel of necessity.