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Designing and implementing their own future

Grassroots efforts among the Maya of Guatemala

Allison D. Krogstad

In the Kaqchikel Maya town of San Jorge La Laguna, Guatemala, a fight to reclaim lost land in 1992, though unsuccessful, eventually led the community to become one of the first Maya towns on Lake Atitlán to have a garbage dump, a drainage system, and an environmental education agenda. The efforts of San Jorge, along with the efforts of other communities, have led to the creation of national organizations such as Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina (CONIC), and have attracted the a ention of foreigners with organizations such as Mayan Families. By striving to improve their immediate environment and learning about the global impact of their actions, the people of San Jorge La Laguna are providing both a physical and an ideological space for themselves in the future.

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“The Changing of the Guards”?

British Prehistoric Collections and Archaeology in the Museums of the Future

Catherine J. Frieman and Neil Wilkin

Over the past 30 years, Britain’s large archaeological museums and collections have shifted their focus away from academic visitors exploring their stores and collections and toward the dynamic presentation of permanent and temporary displays. These are arranged to emphasize compelling and relevant interpretative narratives over the presentation of large numbers of objects. The shift to digitization and the online presentation of collections is a major feature of public engagement activities at many museums but also might open older and less accessible collections up to research. In this article, we consider what role digital platforms may have in the future of British museum-based archaeology, with special reference to initiatives at the British Museum. We suggest that online collections have the potential to mediate between engaging the public and allowing professional archaeologists to develop sophisticated research programs, since these platforms can present multiple narratives aimed at different audiences.

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The Stuff of Soil

Belowground Agency in the Making of Future Climates

Céline Granjou and Juan Francisco Salazar

Despite soil’s vital ecological importance, its significance as a belowground tridimensional living world remains under-theorized in social and cultural research. Drawing on the reading of scientific literature and a series of interviews with scientists working at the juncture of soil and climate research, this article pursues a picture that highlights soil’s capacities to shape future climates, including by fostering major planetary tipping points; we elaborate on the cultural and ethical significance of that picture for opening up alternative stories in which agency and change are not human-only prerogatives. We develop a critical stance on the growing expectations of storing more carbon into soils and argue for a better consideration of the situated, heterogeneous, and volatile dynamics of carbon within soils. We eventually call for more responsible ways of thinking about, and caring for, the myriad conglomerates of living, decaying, and dead matter that basically make up the stuff of soil.

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Dov Waxman and Ilan Peleg

This article examines the challenge posed to the future of Israel as a Jewish state by its Palestinian minority. In particular, it analyzes a series of documents published in 2006-2007 by political and intellectual leaders of the Palestinian community in Israel in which they called upon Israel to abandon its Jewish identity and recognize its Palestinian citizens as an indigenous national minority with collective rights. After discussing the major demands and proposals made in these Vision Documents the article argues on both pragmatic and normative grounds that Israel must try to balance the demands of the Palestinian minority with those of the Jewish majority. This involves maintaining the state's Jewish character while providing greater collective rights, including limited autonomy, to its Palestinian citizens.

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Jonathan Olsen

In the 2009 federal election, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) achieved the worst electoral result in its history. Immediately afterwards, the party worked to improve its public image and fine-tune its policies and electoral message, hoping that state elections in the ensuring period might provide some momentum going into the next national election. Yet, in 2013, the Social Democrats improved their result only modestly, with Angela Merkel and the Christian Democratic/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) again gaining a decisive victory. This article explores the reasons behind the SPD's failure to radically improve its electoral showing, arguing that this can best be explained by a combination of the impact of the past—namely, the legacy of its economic reforms during the Schröder era and the SPD's disadvantages coming out of the previous Grand Coalition—as well as the weakness of its 2013 chancellor candidate, Peer Steinbrück, and the popularity of Angela Merkel. The article therefore suggests that the immediate future does not look particularly bright for the SPD: any chances of gaining the chancellorship are largely out of its hand, dependent on both stumbles by its rival, the CDU/CSU, as well as the taming of a possible coalition partner, the Left Party.

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When the Future Is Hard to Recall

Episodic Memory and Mnemonic Aids in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival

Hannah Chapelle Wojciehowski

Puzzle films like Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) present challenges not only for viewers, but also for scientists seeking to understand brain functions such as memory formation, because these films deliberately scramble the temporal and spatial contexts that viewers normally rely on to create mental narratives and to form episodic memories. The strategic shuffling of multiple plotlines and chronologies in Arrival ultimately builds to an illusion of clairvoyance in the viewer, the imaged sensation of being able to see into the future, alongside the protagonist, Louise Banks. In order to create this “special effect” within viewers’ memories—a false memory of the narrative’s future—Villeneuve seeds the film with key pieces of information that viewers must hold in memory before ultimately solving the puzzle at the end and enjoying a special form of catharsis in the process.

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Denise Scheberle

Michael Shnayerson. Coal River: How a Few Brave Americans Took on a Powerful Company—and the Federal Government—to Save the Land They Love. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2008.

Jeff Goodell. Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Silas House and Jason Howard. Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009.

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Figurations of the Future

On the Form and Temporality of Protests among Left Radical Activists in Europe

Stine Krøijer

During the past 10 years, protests timed to coincide with international summits have become a recurrent phenomenon in Europe. The present article describes the protests of left radical activists during NATO's sixtieth anniversary summit in Strasbourg in 2009, paying attention to the particular relationship between form, body, and time. The article establishes a dialogue between the performative theory of Victor Turner, Viveiros de Castro's theorization of Amerindian perspectivism, and newer theories of time and the body. It is argued that during confrontations between activists and the police, a moment of bodily synchronicity emerges among activists. A skillful performance makes a temporal bodily perspective appear that overcomes the antinomies between immanence and transcendence, between the present and the future, that characterize much thought on social change.

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Anthropologists and Designers Co-Designing the Future

Report on the Sixth International Applied Anthropology Symposium in Lisbon

Laura Korčulanin and Verónica Reyero Meal

During the last weekend of October 2018, specialists from around the world met in Lisbon for the sixth ‘Why the World Needs Anthropologists’ symposium (WWNA). This yearly conference – which provides a space for sharing information, experiences and discussions regarding applied anthropology – has gone from a one-afternoon symposium to a three-day event with lectures, panel discussions, speed-talks, workshops, guided tours, social events and ‘Hot-Spots’ – stands where a range of institutions, sponsors and partners can present what they do. This year’s conference gathered more than 300 people from 33 countries (and more than a thousand online visitors via live-streaming) to reflect on the possibilities that the emergent discipline of design anthropology brings to anthropologists and designers and for cross-disciplinary collaborations. Significantly named, Designing the Future was a response to what many in the field feel is a time when the world needs more engaged anthropologists to spark ideas and bring out informed and well-thought-out research-based solutions.

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Jonathan A. Allan

Crises of masculinity and wars on boys often deploy the suicides of young males as a rhetorical strategy in raising awareness for a political cause, that is to say a declaration of war, a war that remains dubious at best. Who, for instance, declared “war” on “boys”? This paper argues that theorists of gender, particularly masculinity, must think carefully and critically about suicide as a rhetorical strategy. In particular, this paper seeks to explain why men’s rights activists and scholars prefer the term “boys” to “young men” or “adolescents,” and subsequently aims to work through ideas of temporality, futurity, and slow death to understand the deployment of suicide as strategy.