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Veronika Honkasalo

This article examines multiculturalism and gender equality in the light of ethnicity, gender, and agency so as to illustrate how gender equality is used as a marker of Finnishness in various youth work contexts. The data presented consists of interviews with youth workers (n=42) and ethnographic fieldwork carried out from 2003 to 2005. The results illustrate that questions related to multiculturalism have enhanced the visibility of gender equality in youth work. The identification of gender-based inequality is connected, in particular, to girls from migrant backgrounds whose education and well-being are of social concern. Youth work itself is often seen as gender-neutral and equality-based. However, this illusion of gender equality reflects more the ideals of equality which are not being concretized in the practices of youth work. Equality in this context is defined as a purely quantitative concept: the solution to any possible inequalities is, therefore, that everyone should be treated in the same way.

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The Elementary Economies of Dechenwa Life

Fortune, Vitality, and the Mountain in Sino-Tibetan Borderlands

Giovanni da Col

This article presents some images and conceptual structures surrounding notions of fortune and luck among Dechen Tibetans in southwest China and reflects on the strategies for negotiating the integrity of persons and other 'social containers'. First, it analyzes the problem in separating the multifarious manifestations of fortune connected to the well-being and vitality of persons and households. Secondly, it examines the ethnographic concepts arising from the interface between fortune and sovereignty by illustrating the cosmological imagination surrounding contemporary state rituals focused on the cult of Mt. Khawa Karpo. Finally, musing on the relation between vitality, containership, and alterity, the article highlights how tracing the flows of fortune problematizes the divide between interiority and exteriority, or the question of where the outside and the inside of a being or a society begin.

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‘We Are Both Diplomats and Traders’

Afghan Transregional Traders across the Former Soviet Union

Magnus Marsden

Building on fieldwork with Afghan traders in the former Soviet Union, this article uses the idea of diplomacy to explore the skills and capacities that are central to the traders’ self-understandings and working lives. Of central concern is the way in which the traders often identify themselves as being ‘diplomats’. The expressions of the traders’ diplomatic skills take various forms of everyday practice, as well as material form in choices of clothing and in the design of their offices. In exploring these different markers of being diplomatic in the context of the activities of a long-distance trade network, it is suggested that anthropology needs to attend not only to the possibilities of using diplomacy as an analytical device, but also as an emic category that invests the lives of particular communities with meaning and significance.

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Holly Thorpe

This article advocates the value of a mobilities approach to examining the lived experiences of youth in contexts of war, conflict, and disaster. With the aim of moving beyond “victim” narratives, it critically examines three cases of youth engagement in alternative sporting forms in post-earthquakes Christchurch and conflict-torn Afghanistan and Gaza. These are contexts in which youth physical mobilities are highly constrained, yet in each of these cases we also see youth creatively developing an array of strategies and initiatives to help improve their own and others’ health and well-being, for social and physical pleasure, and in some cases to challenge power relations. The three brief cases highlight the multiple and complex layers of transnational mobilities, with the flows of people, objects, and ideas across borders, being negotiated and (re)appropriated by youth in locally specific ways.

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Postface

Anthropology, bureaucracy and paperwork

Thomas Bierschenk

This postface links the contributions to this special issue to wider concerns in the anthropology of bureaucracy and the history of this disciplinary subfield. Anthropologists focus on documentary practices: how documents are produced, how they are being used (not always in the sense originally given to them by the producers), how they might be ‘brokered’ and how they are being contested – mostly by the production of other documents. The postface points to the epistemological implications of an anthropology of bureaucracy, under the term of ‘complicit positioning’, and argues for acknowledging the double face of bureaucracy and paperwork, as a form of domination and oppression, as well as of protection and liberation, and all the ambivalences this dialectic entails.

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Russia’s ‘Other Ummah’

From ‘Ethnic Shi’ism’ to Ideological Movement?

Bruno De Cordier

Since the beginning of the Syrian War, ties between Russia and the Shia sphere are primarily examined in terms of geopolitics, while little attention is being paid to the indigenous as well as immigrant Shia populations in Russia itself. Depending on the motives and circumstances that brought and bring various individuals and groups to more actively-professed Ja’fari Shi’ism, these can become the most active champions of its cause, or of social movements inspired by this persuasion. As such, the Shia element in Russia might become more relevant and present than its low-profile minority state suggests.

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Jonathan Skinner

This is the first special issue of 2007, a double issue featuring an international range of contributors who have come together to examine social health and well-being amongst migrants. Not only do the contents of the articles have great integrity—in both senses of the word—but so too does their applied theoretical persuasion: ethnographic humanism. Collectively, these articles argue for anthropology to work sensitively, politically and personally with informants, to view them as ‘agentive selves’ who—in these cases— skillfully negotiate new lives for themselves in urban Western contexts.

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Immigrant and Refugee Women

Recreating Meaning in Transnational Context

Denise L. Spitzer

Migrating to another country is potentially fraught with both challenges and potential opportunities. This article examines ways in which mature Chilean, Chinese and Somali women who migrated to Canada deploy personal and communal resources to imbue shifting relations and novel spaces with new meanings. Through these activities, they create a place for themselves on Canadian soil while remaining linked to their homelands. I argue that the ability of immigrant and refugee women to reconstruct their lives—often under conditions of systemic inequalities—is evidence of their resilience, which consequently has a positive effect on health and well-being.

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Franz A. Birgel

Characterized by Siegfried Kracauer as "the first and last German film that overtly expressed a Communist viewpoint," Kuhle Wampe (1932) is also noteworthy for being the only film on which Bertolt Brecht collaborated from beginning to end, as well as for its controversial censorship in the tumultuous political context of the late Weimar Republic. When set against the background of the 1920 Motion Picture Law and the censorship of two other high-profile films—Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front—the political history of Kuhle Wampe highlights the indecisiveness, fragility, and fears of the German Left as the Nazis prepared to take power.

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Ka Lin, Laurent J.G. van der Maesen, Des Gasper and Dan Mao

This first issue of the International Journal of Social Quality is a new launch and is at the same time the continuation of the former European Journal of Social Quality. The European journal came into existence in 1999 and six volumes were published in the period up to 2006: twelve issues in total. The aim was to develop a new theoretical framework to analyze social realities in European societies and consider their policy implications. The European Journal sought to broaden the scope of understanding about citizens’ well-being and to interpret how the constitution of society and its various component institutional arrangements affect social quality and personal welfare from a new perspective.