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'Reading for Life'

Prison Reading Groups in Practice and Theory

Josie Billington

This article considers the theoretical and practice-based evidence for the therapeutic effects of the shared reading of literature (poetry, fiction, plays, short stories) in prison communities. Taking as its starting point recent research and practice relating to the successful intervention ('Get into Reading') pioneered by UK charity The Reader Organisation, the article situates the components of this model in the context of established theories of reader response, as well as new research on reading and the brain. Yet its focus is always shared reading in practice and, through specific examples and testimony from prisoners and those who read with them (including health professionals), the article demonstrates the vital relation of this intervention to current recommendations in respect of the mental health needs of prisoners. It also offers a possible model for future interdisciplinary research in this field.

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And Till the Ghastly Tale Is Told: Sarah Kofman – Primo Levi

Survivors of the Shoah and the Dangers of Testimony

Rachel Rosenblum

The great catastrophes of history can be recognised through the paralysed silence which they leave in their wake, a silence which frequently is broken only to make way for the falsifications of memory. BEtween silence and falsification, a third path may be opened. For those who are capable of it, this path involves saying what happened, writing in the first person. This third possibility is doubly valorised. First of all, it offers a public testimony. It allows a truth which is unspeakable or not to be spoken to erupt onto the social scene. Secondly, it is meant to have a cathartic function. The author of the testimony would in this way be unburdening himself o a horror too heavy to bear. Put into words, his suffering would become something which could be shared. It is this sharing which will be discussed here, its power to grant peace. One may doubt this power.

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Extractive Conservation

Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?

Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing

In view of the Aichi international policy targets to expand areas under conservation, we analyze to what extent conservation has become an inherent element of extraction. We scrutinize the Land Sparing versus Land Sharing debate by explicitly incorporating environmental justice issues of access to land and natural resources. We contend that dominant conservation regimes, embedded within Land Sparing, legitimize the displacement of local people and their land use to compensate for distant, unsustainable resource use. In contrast, the Land Sharing counternarrative, by promoting spatial integration of conservation in agroecological systems, has the potential to radically challenge extraction. Common ground emerges around the concept of sustainable intensification. We contend that if inserted in green economy’s technocentric and efficiency-oriented framework, sustainable intensification will contribute to undermining diversified peasant agroecological systems by transforming them into simplified, export-orientated ones, thereby stripping peasant communities of the capacity to provide for their own needs.

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Abby Day

Research into the religious beliefs and behaviors of children, young people, adults, and elderly people prompts questions about the way “generation” is understood in the social scientific study of religion. What seem to the researcher at first to be shared values and beliefs on broad moral issues appear, at least to older people, to be lacking amongst the young. Such a difference in perception could be an example of a “generation” gap where generation is perceived by theorists such as Mannheim to be a shared identity of people who have a social history in common. Extensive literature in both anthropology and sociology is explored to find how such concepts are understood and operationalized. Detailed ethnography amongst elderly Anglican women begins to problematize how such notions as boundaries of “generation” blur with gender.

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Karin Karakaşlı

Today the world defines itself more by differences rather than sameness. This individualistic approach gives worth to specific characteristics of various societies and to the sharing of cultural sources through translations and intercultural activities. As women writers and intellectuals possess a ‘minority language’ and gender identity, they can be a suitable channel for expressing this changing viewpoint. Thus, they have a special role to play in the recent historical and political situation.

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Monica Janowski, Lindsay Sprague and Costas S. Constantinou

Feast: Why Humans Share Food. By Martin Jones. Oxford: OUP, 2007. 364 pages, £12.99 paperback, £20 hardback. ISBN 978-0-19-920901-9.

Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and The Politics of Survival. By João Biehl. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-691-13008-8.

Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self. By Lesley A. Sharp. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006. 322 pages, £14.95 paperback, £38.95 hardback. ISBN: 978-0-520-24786-4.

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Nazir Ahmed

I am grateful to the World Jewish Congress for inviting me to share my thoughts with this most distinguished gathering on the issues of Islamophobia and antisemitism. I would like to pay tribute to the Maimonides Foundation and Lord Janner for organizing this, my second visit, to the holy city of Jerusalem. I am acutely aware of the honour given to me, the first European Muslim ever to be invited to address the World Jewish Congress.

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Ned Lazarus

Sami Adwan and Dan Bar-On, eds., Learning the Other’s Historical Narrative: Israelis and Palestinians, Parts One and Two (Beit Jalla: Peace Research Institute in the Middle East, 2003, 2006).

Robert I. Rotberg, ed., Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Conflict: History’s Double Helix (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006).

Paul Scham, Walid Salem, and Benjamin Pogrund, eds., Shared Histories: A Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2005).

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An Act is Worth a Thousand Words

A Place For Public Action And Civic Engagement in Deliberative Democracy

Steven Douglas Maloney and Joshua A. Miller

In this paper, we argue that deliberative democrats have too narrow a conception of the political, but that 'activism' as it is normally understood is not sufficiently broad, either. Politics is not reducible to coercion and contestation, but rather to the constitution of our shared world. We contend that active citizenship more often takes the form of working in a rape crisis center or a domestic violence clinic than participating in marches or town meetings.

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Robert E. Goodin

Sunstein's Infotopia offers four reasons for thinking that information-pooling via mechanical aggregation of votes is superior to discursive sharing of opinions. This article focuses on two of them—the Common Knowledge Effect and Group Polarisation—showing that both phenomena might have perfectly good Bayesian explanations. Far from constituting 'errors', both can actually contribute to truth-tracking in ways that cannot be accomplished via mechanical aggregation of votes alone.