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Faltering dialogue?

For a doubly rooted cosmopolitan anthropology

Chris Hann

Both inside and outside Europe, many societies have drawn on their own textual traditions to generate bodies of knowledge possessing some affinity to comparative socio-cultural anthropology. The premise of this article is that even where the focus is restricted to one country or one nationality, such “national ethnography“ should be considered as a legitimate branch of a broadly conceived anthropological field, rather than belittled or denigrated. Under socialism, both native and foreign researchers carried out fieldwork in similar rural locations in Hungary. A dialogue began, but it seems to have weakened in recent years, despite the fact that access to the region has become incomparably easier. Another change is that Hungarian students are now able to study socio-cultural anthropology as a seperate program in a separate faculty, distinct from Hungarian néprajz. This article is critical of such developments and takes the Hungarian example to argue for the benefits of institutional unification. The resulting department would be larger and more cosmopolitan than the old departments of néprajz, but it would retain its local roots. The integration of “national ethnography“ into research and teaching programs in anthropology would facilitate the persistence of distinctive national, regional, and institution-specific intellectual traditions; such departments could also facilitate the work of fieldworkers from abroad.

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Hilary Callan and Brian Street

The article addresses the position of anthropology in new educational contexts, considering anthropology in education and the anthropological study of education. While some transatlantic comparisons are drawn, the emphasis is on developments within the U.K. These are treated historically, using the Royal Anthropological Institute's experience in working for an anthropological presence in pre-university education from the 1980s to the present as an extended case-study. The work done by the RAI's Education Committee to design and introduce a new GCE A-level in anthropology, culminating in its successful accreditation by the national regulator, is recounted in the style of 'rich ethnography'. A case is made for the potential of academic associations to create the alliances across sectors that are needed in this context; and conclusions are tentatively drawn regarding the implications of these initiatives for the future of the discipline and its public engagement.

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“I Hope Nobody Feels Harassed”

Teacher Complicity in Gender Inequality in a Middle School

Susan McCullough

In this article, based on an ethnographic study conducted at a New York City public middle school during the 2013 to 2014 school year, I examine gender relations between early adolescent girls and boys, and between them and their teachers. The data—interviews and focus groups with girls, as well as observations—reveals girls’ perceptions of the boys’ dominance in the school and the ways in which boys used symbolic violence and sexual harassment to maintain their social, emotional, and physical power over the girls. Also, I discuss teacher denial of, and complicity in, these structures of power between students. Teachers normalized the hegemonic masculine practices as typical adolescent behavior and the school was deemed to be a gender equitable site by students and teachers. Furthermore, I consider questions regarding the role of teachers in this institutional violence against girls, as well as in relation to my role as researcher.

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Introduction

War Veterans and the Construction of Citizenship Categories

Nikkie Wiegink, Ralph Sprenkels and Birgitte Refslund Sørensen

War veterans oft en constitute a specific category of citizens as they inspire and bring forward particular claims on recognition and resources of the state. The authors featured in this special section each explore processes of the construction of categories of war veterans in different contemporary contexts. Drawing on ethnographic data, the contributions explore the interactions between (those identified) as war veterans and the state, and the processes concerned with granting value to participation in war. This involves (the denial of) rights and privileges as well as a process of identity construction. Th e construction of war veterans as a specific kind of citizens is a political phenomenon, subject to negotiation and contestation, involving both the external categorizations of war veterans as well as the self-making and identity politics from former fighters “from below.”

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Speed and Smoothness

Identity Production and Reproduction of Portuguese MEPs

Andre Novoa

This article examines identity production and reproduction of a group of Portuguese members of the European Parliament (MEPs) through a set of ethnographic vignettes. Literature on European mobility has been underpinned by an assumption that the more we move, the more European we become. But who are these movers exactly? And how do they become European? These questions guide this article, which presents a case study of three Portuguese MEPs who maintain strong relations with their country of origin whilst having to create new attachments to Brussels and Strasbourg. The MEPs have to insert themselves into a culture of speed and smoothness. They have to redesign themselves as figures of speed. The article argues that this process makes them European. They identify with Europe because they maintain a strong relation with their country of origin, which means moving more, which in turn means being a modern European citizen.

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Sally Baker and Eve Stirling

As technological developments accelerate, and neoliberal ideologies shift the ways that universities ‘do business’, higher education is facing radical changes. Within this context, students’ need to ‘succeed’ at university is more important than ever. Consequently, understanding students’ transitions within this shifting higher education landscape has become a key focus for universities. It is now pertinent to explore how social-networking sites (SNS) influence students’ experiences as they transition into university. In this article, we offer two ethnographic case studies of how students use one SNS (Facebook) as they travel through their first year of undergraduate study. We suggest that Facebook is used not only for dynamic participation in the social fabric of university life, Facebook is the go-to space to organise their academic and social lives, using it as a hybrid space to negotiate between home and university. As such, Facebook offers student-users a ‘liminal tool’ for negotiating and facilitating resources and networks within the first year at university.

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Ben Belek

Autism spectrum conditions represent a broad category of behavioural, cognitive and neurological atypicalities. The difficulties experienced by people on the autism spectrum with regards to their emotional awareness, regulation, expression and interpretation are often mentioned in literature – and regarded by autistic people themselves – as salient features of the condition. The primary aim of my research is to help deepen our understanding of these difficulties, in order to gain a subtler appreciation of what 'being autistic' actually means. An ethnographic focus on emotional experiences in autism promises to introduce a new, unique pathway toward a clearer understanding of a condition too often thought to be unintelligible. In this article, I argue that insofar as autistic people may experience difficulties in discerning, managing or communicating their emotions, these difficulties mainly stand to reflect and allude to their unique positions within a complex network of connections: social, cultural and neurological.

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Åsa Boholm, Annette Henning and Amanda Krzyworzeka

This article, part of a set of three articles, calls for a critical reexamination of a plethora of phenomena relating to choice and decision making, occasionally addressed by anthropologists, but more regularly studied by economists, political scientists, psychologists, and organization scholars. By means of a bird's-eye research overview, we identify certain weak spots pertaining to a formalistic unicentral view of human rationality, and argue that ethnographic approaches casting light on cultural contexts for thought, reason, and action can explain how choices are framed and constituted from horizons of perceptions and expectations. A positive account of socially and culturally embedded decision making heralds a mode of anthropology with a broad, integrating capacity to address public policy and administration and their interactions with everyday experience and practice.

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In/visible--In/secure

Optics of regulation and control

Ieva Jusionyte and Daniel M. Goldstein

In the introduction to this theme section we attempt to disentangle the webs of in/visibility and in/security by tracing out their diverse iterations. We construct a series of conversations between two of the four key terms relevant to this discussion—security and insecurity, visibility and invisibility—as a means of analyzing the different ways in which their various articulations engage meaningfully in the production and reproduction of contemporary security cultures. Ethnographic examples accompany each iteration, drawn from the work of contributors to this theme section, as well as from other contemporary research. These examples not only illustrate the multiple and shift ing intersections of in/visibility and in/security in today’s security-minded world but also remind us of the unique contributions that anthropology can make to the critical study of security.

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There Are No Girl Pirate Captains

Boys, Girls and the "Boy Crisis" in Preschool

Sally Campbell Galman and Christine A. Mallozzi

This paper employs data from from a multi-year, ethnographic study of children in a diverse public preschool to destabilize some of the claims of the “boy crisis” literature (Hoff-Somers, 2000). Focusing on fine-grained analyses of events in the study context, the authors illustrate the complexity of everyday interactions between female teachers and the male and female preschoolers in their classes, as well as between the male and female preschoolers themselves. These analyses suggest that a preschool environment where all teachers are female is as patriarchally and hegemonically saturated as any other context, as both boys and girls (and teachers) are subject to, and invariably take up, powerful cultural scripts reflected in children’s and other media in the larger cultural milieu. Further, we emphasize that preschool—arguably among the most “feminized” school environments—is more complex than “boy crisis” proponents present.