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Placing Time

The Diasporic Journey to Beulah

Brian Klug

This article sets out to retrieve a concept of diaspora – deeply rooted in Jewish tradition but somewhat eclipsed in the Jewish imagination today – in which dispersion is understood as exile and return is deferred to ‘the end of days’. The argument is developed via a conversation between David Grossman and Amos Oz in 2003, in which Grossman reflects on the question ‘Are we a people of place or of time?’ Pursuing this question leads to a passage in Isaiah in which the prophetic author refers to Zion as Beulah. Beulah is Zion under the aspect of hope, Zion as the prospect of redemption, the end of exile in the here and now.

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Preface

Extended-Case Studies—Place, Time, Reflection

T. M. S. Evens and Don Handelman

Extended-case studies originated and flourished in multiple sites in Central Africa as British colonialism waned. The extended-case study method was created and shaped in response to complex social situations that emerged from and through ongoing and at times profound changes in the ways in which social and moral orders were put together. The extended case and situational analysis have from their very beginnings been cognate with complexity in social ordering, with the non-linearity of open-ended social fields, and with recursivity among levels of social ordering. Manchester methods originated as a result of profound shifts in the practice of anthropology and contributed to turning these changes into the practicing of ethnographic praxis. Yet over time, the explicit valuing and evaluating of Manchester perspectives disappeared from view. Witness the inane, reductionist comment by George Marcus (1995: 110) (a member of the American lit-crit hit mob of the 1980s), limiting “the extended-case method” (with no mention of Manchester) to “small-scale societies,” where it has been “an established technique … in the anthropology of law” (with no mention of Gluckman).

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Denise Carter

With the continuing movement of social life into new types of places such as cyberspace the function and meaning of gift-exchange has emerged as being an important anthropological tool for the investigation of social relations online. In cyberspace several fascinating questions come into light, for example: what kinds of gifts are exchanged in cyberspace; how are these gifts exchanged there and what does the exchange of gifts in cyberspace signify? An analysis of the 'gift of time' is particularly pertinent when investigating friendship in virtual communities because gift exchange in cyberspace can be related to notions of reciprocity and trust. For example, my own ethnographic research in Cybertown, a virtual community on the Internet, suggests that one important concept for friendship in Cybertown is the exchange of the 'gift of time', and highlights its role in the creation of trust and reciprocity. In explaining this phenomenon, this paper examines the function and meaning of gift exchange in Cybertown in relation to contemporary theoretical notions of the gift, explains what kinds of obligations gifts engender and what role gift practices play in creating networks of friendship.

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What Am I Still Doing Here?

Travel, Travel Writing, and Old Age

Robin Jarvis

This article offers preliminary thoughts on travel writing from a gerontological perspective. Gender, race, and sexuality have provided important analytical frames for travel writing studies, but age has yet to function as a topic or point of reference. Through a consideration of five travel books by respected modern authors—Jan Morris, Dervla Murphy, V. S. Naipaul, Paul Theroux, and Colin Thubron—the article asks what motivates travel writers to stay “on the road” into their seventies and beyond, and what the distinctive features of travel narratives written at this life stage might be. The article aims to demonstrate the intrinsic fascination of travel books in which a strong abiding curiosity about the world coexists with an acute—and often melancholy—awareness of the passing of time and personal mortality.

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Introduction

Rethinking the class politics of boredom

Marguerite van den Berg and Bruce O’Neill

Nearly a decade after the global financial crisis of 2008, this thematic section investigates one way in which marginalization and precarization appears: boredom. An increasingly competitive global economy has fundamentally changed the coordinates of work and class in ways that have led to a changing engagement with boredom. Long thought of as an affliction of prosperity, boredom has recently emerged as an ethnographically observed plight of the most economically vulnerable. Drawing on fieldwork from postsocialist Europe and postcolonial Africa, this thematic section explores the intersection of boredom and precarity in order to gain new insight into the workings of advanced capitalism. It experiments with ways of theorizing the changing relationship between status, production, consumption, and the experience of excess free time. These efforts are rooted in a desire to make sense of the precarious forms of living that proliferated in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and that continue to endure a decade later.

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When Time is Money

Contested Rationalities of Time in the Theory and Practice of Work

Barbara Adam

At the beginning of the twenty-first century work has attained a new local and global quality. Localised and individualised efficiency deals are established where previously standards would have been set nationally and bargained for collectively. At the same time, work is negotiated in the context of a global labour market and global competition: the world, not nations, is the market where labour is traded and the fate of much future work sealed. Electronic communication, low transport costs and deregulated, unrestricted trade dissolved many of the boundaries that used to delimit the competition for work on the one hand, the negotiations over conditions on the other. Since the leading industrial nations have committed themselves to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the rules set out by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), it is difficult for any nation to extricate itself from the logic of the competitive global market. ‘At a world level’, as Hans-Peter Martin and Harald Schumann (1997: 7) point out, ‘more than 40,000 transnational corporations of varying shapes and sizes play off their own employees (as well as different nation states) against one another.’ There are always workers somewhere else able and willing to do the job cheaper than North Americans or North/West Europeans.

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Jana Hrckova

Jansen, Stef. 2015. Yearnings in the meantime: “Normal lives” and the state in a Sarajevo apartment complex. Dislocations. New York: Berghahn Books.

Knight, Daniel M. 2015. History, time, and economic crisis in Central Greece. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Brad Prager

This article addresses how recent German films depict unification, placing special emphasis on the question of cinematic time. In contrast with Germany's most internationally successful films about the East German past—including Das Versprechen (1994), which emerged in the un-reflected moments not long after the fall of the Wall, Das Leben der Anderen (2006), which portrayed daily life under the shadow of the Stasi, and even Good Bye, Lenin! (2003), which depicted the period immediately following the fall of the Wall—and with the intention of identifying an alternative mode of depicting the GDR past, this paper explores a post Wende cinema of disillusionment. It examines: the revaluation of the time of unification itself in Oskar Roehler's Die Unberührbare (1999); the time of demission subsequent to unification as portrayed in Robert Thalheim's Netto (2004); and, the forsaken time of the postunification present as depicted in Christian Petzold's Yella (2007). The article provides an overview of this cinematic tendency, and comments specifically on how these three films represent the difference between the passage of historical time and its subjective experience.

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Raphaël Baroni

Unnatural narratology has recently focused our attention on unnatural representations of time. It is usually assumed that the ‘typical sjuzhet’ must be linear, while the ‘variable sjuzhet’ is unnatural and belongs exclusively to experimental works. Instances of time travel are also considered unnatural story elements that have been conventionalised by popular culture. In this article, these supposedly unnatural ingredients of narratives will be examined in the context of the semiotic potential and cultural tradition of European comics. I shall argue that a variable sjuzhet should be considered a natural quality of the medium because of its tabularity and its nonlinear organisation, and that most time travel that we find in comics is a mere extension of the motif of the ‘extraordinary journey’ and does not engender time paradoxes. Thus, it appears that, in the comics tradition, the graphic potential of time travel has predominated over scriptwriting complexities, highlighting the specificity of the ‘graphic imagination’.

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Resist and Revivify

Democratic Theory in a Time of Defiance

Jean-Paul Gagnon and Emily Beausoleil

The field of democratic theory is blossoming with strategies to resist violence against democracy and to revivify those democratic institutions that would benefit from conceptual and/or practical reform. We find ourselves not in a period of democratic despondency and political disarray, as less circumspect cynics would have it, but rather in a vitalizing time of defiance. There is power in this. To defy in the name of democracy is to oppose “truthiness,” confront arbitrary decision making, disobey illogic, and dissent from any policy that will, to use Dewey’s phraseology, constitute treason to our democratic ways of life. A time of defiance invites us all to be daring in our compassion for each other, bold in how we explore and care for the many—and diverse—meanings of democracy, audacious in our gentleness toward the earth, and courageous in our advocacy for that paradoxical but poignant practice of democratizing democracy wheresoever and whensoever this need should arise.