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'The Magic Circle'

Women and Community Formation of a Frontier Village in Caroline Kirkland's New Home – Who'll Follow?

Ana-Isabel Aliaga-Buchenau

With these seemingly apologetic words, Caroline Kirkland initiates her narrative New Home – Who’ll Follow? (1839) about life in a village on the Michigan frontier in the 1830s. However, ‘the common- place occurrences’ and the ‘gossip about every-day people’ that Kirkland describes are an important contribution to American literature. In 1846, Edgar Allen Poe went so far as to say that her book was an ‘undoubted sensation’. Kirkland writes about one particular aspect of the American experience – life on the frontier. While many authors of the time have tackled this particular American topic, Kirkland carves out a niche for her work by claiming to tell the truth. Her contemporaries and modern scholars alike praised her descriptions of frontier life for the realistic detail which critics found rare in an age of sentimental romances or tall-tale adventure stories about the West.

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Or, The Art of Affection in Nicolette Krebitz’s Wild

Tanja Prokić

Wild tells the story of an intelligent and sensitive young woman who lives quite a boring life caught in routines in a German city. The accidental encounter with a wild wolf changes her life forever. What is interesting about the film is the way in which it tends to blur the line that typically separates animal and human life by highlighting the process of mutual affection. According to the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, affection induces bodily transformations, which take place on a precognitive level of perception. By way of various cinematographic techniques, Wild is aesthetically able to both reflect on and perform such transformations, presenting them as a motif and a form of spectatorship at one and the same time.

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Regards croisés

James Henry Dorugu's Nineteenth-Century European Travel Account


This article focuses on the little known travel account: The Life and Travels of Dorugu recorded by James Henry Dorugu in the 1850s. Dorugu was a freed slave, who traveled from Africa to Europe with the German explorer Heinrich Barth in 1855. Dorugu's story is a precious and rare eyewitness account of a nineteenth-century African visitor to London, Hamburg, and Berlin. Most travel writing of the period was done by Western travelers who observed the cultures they visited from a eurocentric perspective. In Dorugu's account, the observed becomes the observer. The stories told by the African guides are indispensable to our contemporary understanding of historical expeditions. Although marginalized at the fringes of official histories, Dorugu played a pivotal role as an informed mediator among European explorers, missionaries, and Africans.

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Making Sense of the Remote Areas

Films and Stories from a Tundra Village

Petia Mankova

Narratives of globalization, conceived of as large-scale political, economic, and cultural processes flowing from metropolitan centers, often emphasize the loss of tradition and cultural originality in the remote and wild peripheries. All three television programs filmed in the past 10 years in Krasnoshchel’e, a remote Arctic village in Northwest Russia where I did anthropological fieldwork, are marked by such sentimental pessimism. Here, I juxtapose them with several local stories, which do not resonate with the melancholic and nostalgic notes of the media. The stories show how new inventions are welcomed and incorporated with laughter and astonishment into everyday life. The sentimental dissonance between mediascape and local imagination brings valuable insights about how globalization is accommodated on different scales and in different geographic settings.

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Talking My Way In

Reflections on the Journey of a Lesbian Feminist Queer Rabbi

Elli Tikvah Sarah

In the lecture she gave at the Day of Celebration to mark twenty-five years of ordaining LGBT rabbis by Leo Baeck College on 23 June 2014, Rabbi Dr Rachel Adler spoke persuasively and encouragingly of ‘newcomers’ to the ongoing Jewish ‘conversation’, ‘affecting the tradition’ by teaching the tradition ‘to re-understand its own stories’, and also by telling ‘stories that the tradition does not know at all’. For most of my rabbinate, I was engaged in the first kind of storytelling. More recently, I have been doing more of the second kind. In my response to Rachel Adler’s lecture, I trace my journey, both within the context of the developing women’s rabbinate and as a particular journey taken by a lesbian feminist queer rabbi determined that the voices, perspectives and lives of LGBTQ Jews are included within and transform Jewish life and teaching.

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The Life of the Death of 'The Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin'

Storytelling around the Museum of Witchcraft

Helen Cornish

The skeleton of Joan Wytte, or the Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin, was displayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall in the UK for several decades until her eventual burial in nearby woodland in the autumn of 1999. Her story has been deployed as a critical historical source and a demonstrable link between Cornwall and magical histories. It is well established that the past is recorded and represented through narratives, artefacts and events in multiple and diverse ways, and museums are often idealised sites for historical knowledge. Historicity is contingent on current needs and agendas, and often contested. Through retelling over time certain elements are highlighted or downplayed. Since the burial, the life and death of Joan Wytte has become vividly invested with new meanings as her story becomes incorporated into the landscapes of folklore, Cornish histories and magical practices.

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Kathryn T. Gines

Is Jean-Paul Sartre to be credited for Richard Wright's existentialist leanings? This essay argues that while there have been noteworthy philosophical exchanges between Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Richard Wright, we can find evidence of Wright's philosophical and existential leanings before his interactions with Sartre and Beauvoir. In particular, Wright's short story "The Man Who Lived Underground" is analyzed as an existential, or Black existential, project that is published before Wright met Sartre and/or read his scholarship. Existentialist themes that emerge from Wright's short story include flight, guilt, life, death, dread, and freedom. Additionally, it is argued that "The Man Who Lived Underground" offers a reversal of the prototypical allegory of the cave that we find in the Western (ancient Greek) philosophical tradition. The essay takes seriously the significance of the intellectual exchanges between Sartre, Beauvoir, and Wright while also highlighting Wright's own philosophical legacy.

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Publications, Films and Conferences

Manijeh Nasrabadi, Maryam Aras, Alexander Djumaev, Sina Zekavat, Mary Elaine Hegland, Rosa Holman and Amina Tawasil


Keith Feldman (2015), A Shadow Over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America

Fariba Vafi (2015), Tarlan

Merchant, Tanya (2015), Women Musicians of Uzbekistan: From Courtyard to Conservatory

Marwa Al-Sabouni (2016), The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria

Roxanne Varzi (2016), Last Scene Underground: An Ethnographic Novel of Iran


Marsha Emerman, On the Banks of the Tigris: The Hidden Story of Iraqi Music


Conference of Commission on Anthropology of the Middle East of the IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences), 7–9 August 2016, Cracow, Poland

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Kate McDonald

A major intervention of mobility studies has been to suggest a new framework for the writing of history. Recent studies of diasporic Indian Ocean communities and trans-Pacific labor migration have shown that mobility history can open the door to histories of mobile subjects rather than static nations and, in the process, lead the way toward a transmodal and transnational research agenda. This article considers what the history of mobility has to offer to the modern history of transport and social life in the Japanese archipelago, which has most often been used to tell the story of the development of the modern Japanese nation-state.

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Repairing a 'Ripped Torah'

Repairing Jewish Life in the Former Soviet Union

David Wilfond

I have shared with you stories about the Torah: the Torah that was forbidden to have at home, held captive behind the glass in the Museum of Atheism, whose blessing was unknown to even the learned leaders, that was almost ripped and whose letters once faded are now being filled in by the loving and determined hands of a new generation – letters from our holy language being written for the first time by Jewish children. Together, we have a holy opportunity to partner with the Jews of the FSU to write the next chapter in the Torah of Life of our people.