A strange contradiction haunts the urban experience of Ahmedabad, a city strongly divided along class and communal lines. The city's Sabarmati river is traversed by seven modern bridges, which, instead of being a solution to the problem of separation, have assumed its very form. In ordinary life, as well as during extraordinary events, residents of the city use these bridges not only to span space and gain access to the other half of the city, but also to escape and confine, project and expiate, and even to remain hidden while in full view. This article describes experiences of separation in Ahmedabad and how these experiences become expressed in reference to its bridges. In other words, urban structures, intended to overcome physical space and represent the modern promise of connectivity, become, instead, embodiments of division.
An Urban Journey into Violence and Back
Curating between Medicine, Life and Art
This article considers a curiosity-driven approach to curating focused on material culture that visitors encounter in physical spaces. Drawing on research into historical curiosity cabinets, it explores how a contemporary notion of curiosity has been put into practice in the new breed of culturally enlightened museums exploring interdisciplinary approaches to medicine, health, life, and art. Based on an inaugural professorial address at Copenhagen University, it reflects on exhibition projects there and at the Wellcome Collection in London. Museums are institutional machines that generate social understanding from material things. Their physical spaces influence how we learn, think, and feel in public; their material collections feed our comprehension, imagination, and emotions; and induce attentive behavior in curators and visitors.
Visualizing Linguistic Space in Modern Travel Writing
This article focuses on the travelogue of the twentieth century. Deftly using the spaces of city/country to situate language and people Miranda France, in Bad Times in Buenos Aires: A Writer's Adventures in Argen tina (1999), presents a hierarchy of linguistic value and poignancy of place by semantically conflating English, Spanish, and indigenous Latin American languages with a different spatial positioning relative to the Other in the bustle of Buenos Aires. The consequence is the building of a hierarchical edifice—which metaphorically as it literally centers English, and places its speakers atop the city— situates Spanish and its speakers at a street level; and relegates indigenous peoples to the lowest metropolitan reaches—unseen and underground—marginalized to the periphery of her literary geoscape. This conflation of linguistic code with the synecdoche of space introduces another way in which to examine the politics of travel writing in a globally connected, multilingual world.
Recollections of an Intercultural Wanderer
Taking Park's postulate of a 'marginal man' as its starting point, this essay reviews some of the key ideas and approaches that have underpinned the development of the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures from its inception. It concentrates on a discussion of the concept of 'cultures' - liminal, hybrid or otherwise - in different contexts and from different perspectives - boundaries and frontiers, places and spaces, migrants and memory - before turning towards the question of what and where Europe is, and what anthropology might have to say on it, concluding with reflections on AJEC's past, present and future contribution. An appendix provides details of the first twenty-one volumes of the journal.
Documenting Second-generation Iranian Americans in Los Angeles
In 2009–2010 I collaborated with four Iranian documentary photographers to document everyday lives of the second-generation Iranian-American community in Los Angeles (LA). This article offers an overview of that project and exhibition, along with a selection of images, and presents interview data that suggests several impacts of place and of representations of Iranians on second generation Iranian-American identity. Youth experiences of geopolitical, community and familial struggles have motivated many in this generation to re-mould the image of ‘LA Persians’ by claiming space in diaspora for themselves and their children, the growing third generation.
Understanding Mobilities in a Dangerous World
Gail Adams-Hutcheson, Holly Thorpe and Catharine Coleborne
The mobilities framework offers a particularly informative and potent paradigm through which to draw together interdisciplinary scholarship about the present world. In this introduction—and indeed, derived from a symposia on mobilities in a dangerous world—we explore the dynamics of contemporary mobilities through a critical focus on “dangerous” spaces and places. We discuss the potential of a sustained dialogue between mobilities studies and our focus on risk, adversity, and perceptions of danger. Although disasters link to four of the articles, ideas are expanded to draw on the multiple scales of risk and danger in everyday life within and across an array of international contexts. In this special issue, dynamic mobilities are facilitated by ships, skateboards, buildings, art, and cities; they are also encountered in darkness, in light, and through bodies as well as physical and imagined movements.
Privacy and Leisure in the Victorian Girl's Bedroom
Sonya Sawyer Fritz
In this article I analyze various representations of the Victorian girl's experiences with the bedroom in order to illuminate how the Victorian ideal often erased for girls the distinction between public and private that the bedroom created in the home, even as this room became more and more common as a private space allocated to girls. Though it offered girls opportunities to pursue their own interests and desires, the sanctuary of the bedroom also proved to be complicated and compromised by the familial responsibilities that followed girls there. I argue that Victorian portrayals of the girl's relationship with her bedroom reflect the unique tensions between public and private that girls of the period experienced as they navigated the variety of socio-cultural expectations placed upon them.
Un-Earthing an Epoch
Valerie Olson and Lisa Messeri
As “the Anthropocene” emerges as a geological term and environmental analytic, this paper examines its emerging rhetorical topology. We show that Anthropocene narratives evince a macroscale division between an “inner” and “outer” environment. This division situates an Anthropocenic environment that matters in the surface zone between Earth's subsurface and the extraterrestrial “outer spaces” that we address here. We review literature in the sciences and social sciences to show how contemporary environmental thinking has been informed by understandings of Earth's broader planet-scaled environmental relations. Yet, today's Anthropocene conversation draws analytic attention inward and downward. Bringing in literature from scholars who examine the role of the extraterrestrial and outer environmental perspectives in terrestrial worlds, we suggest that Anthropocenic theorizations can productively incorporate inclusive ways of thinking about environments that matter. We argue for keeping “Anthropocene” connected to its spatial absences and physical others, including those that are non-anthropos in the extreme.
Between a centre and a periphery in contemporary Finland
This article investigates contemporary attempts to reform the institution of the university according to neoliberal ideological influences and oppositions to them. It employs Doreen Massey’s concept of space to focus on relations and separations made in the process. My ethnography of the University of Helsinki’s 375th anniversary celebration, which turned into a public spectacle of various visions of higher education, constitutes the main empirical material. Finland’s ambivalent position in the world renders the spatial work of forging connections and disconnections particularly conspicuous. It enables specific neoliberal aspirations (such as to be among ‘the world’s best universities’ amidst global competition) to become very strong but also allows additional trajectories, like the one about higher education as public goods, to present themselves as legitimate alternatives. The centre-periphery relations are therefore critical sites for analysing the contemporary university transformation, since they appear to be key drivers of the reform but also the primary source of resistance to it.
The three urban commons
Ida Susser and Stéphane Tonnelat
Drawing on Lefebvre and others, this article considers contemporary urban social movements with a selective review of urban research and suggestions for future ethnographic, cultural, and sociological questions. Under a generalized post-Fordist regime of capital accumulation, cultural workers and laborers, service workers, and community activists have all participated in urban movements. We consider such collective action, generated in the crucible of urban life, as a reflection of three urban commons: labor, consumption, and public services; public space (including mass communications and the virtual); and art, including all forms of creative expression. We suggest that the three urban commons outlined here are not necessarily perceived everywhere, but as they momentarily come together in cities around the world, they give us a glimpse of a city built on the social needs of a population. That is the point when cities become transformative.