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Jukka Siikala

It has been claimed that anthropology is in a terminal decline. If so, according to my interpretation, part of this is self-generated. The intellectual suicide of the discipline is closely connected to the decline of serious ethnographic research. The classic backbone of the discipline has been called ‘salvage-ethnography.’ This critical concept implies that ethnography has interest only in the past or faraway places, and this kind of ethnography does not form the basis of the discipline’s current theoretical body. This kind of reductionism—reducing the distance between the anthropologist and the object—not only has led to the deletion of time and miles, but also has had the extreme result of focusing on individual experiences. With growing demands of reflectivity, self has become the object, and thus the empirical content of anthropology has been reduced to Western experiences of the world. Theoretically significant difference has been wiped out in the process. On the other hand, we witness a proliferation of ethnographies done by everybody else but anthropologists. In the following, I look at the recent anthropological practices that unintentionally promote the discipline’s own death and connect them to the shifts in the position of anthropological theory and its nature.

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Sophie Meunier

The most common perception of France found these days in the American media is that of an arrogant country, whose international gesticulations are the last hurrah masking its inevitable decline into oblivion. The French have not yet come to terms with their lengthy collapse, which started with the devastation of World War I, continued with the humiliation of their defeat in 1940 and was furthered by the loss of their colonial empire. This would explain their support, still to this day, for a Gaullist policy made up of power incantations, in contrast to real power—or lack thereof. Of course, this characterization is meant as much as an insult as an objective statement of fact. What few of these American commentators comprehend, however, is how much this image of a nation blinded by self-confidence is erroneous. On the contrary, the French have excelled at self-flagellation for a long time, rightly or wrongly. Whether one calls it “malaise” or decline, French commentators are the first to confess that France is free-falling—whether vis-à-vis the US, its European partners, or its own aspirations.

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Dylan Bennett

The decline and dissolution of eastern Germany’s agricultural production

cooperatives (APCs) has been anticipated by formal economic theory since

reunification on the grounds of inefficiency.1 Yet, more recent scholarship

on the varieties of capitalism tells us that efficiency does not lead to simple

convergence of market forms, but rather that different institutional solutions

and social systems of production can achieve desired ends—including

efficiency—with varied designs.2 Today, the cooperative farm sector, underpinned

by conservative, democratic governance, persists without naiveté

and little nostalgia on the cusp of a new postcommunist generation and still

accounts for the largest share of agricultural production in eastern Germany.

Even if the cooperative farming sector follows a slow decline, the

firms will convert or persist depending less on their ability to achieve

efficiency as on their ability to maintain productive land holdings, and to

promote a new generation of management and enthusiastic members committed

not to nostalgia but toward the future of their own lives, their firms,

and their local communities. Some of the cooperatives are likely to persist

for a long time. In this article, in an effort to understand the environment

in which cooperatives face the future, I provide an eyewitness account of

the internal politics between workers and bosses, highlight survival strategies,

consider the institutional constraints and supports facing cooperatives,

and sketch portraits of the farmers who face the task of carrying the cooperative

tradition forward.

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Wolfgang Beck and Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

In this article we will focus on the political role of citizens in the ongoing process of European unification. The standard interpretations of unification suggest that this process is the outcome of a force of intrinsic necessity. Paving the way for the internal market, monetary and fiscal harmonisation should, therefore, lead to the formation of a political community. We do not accept such a post-Hegelian interpretation, however. This process is a consequence of chosen political priorities. In our opinion these should prioritise the development of political relations, referring to democratically based values in order to determine the starting points for economic, welfare and cultural policies. But, according to Fritz Scharpf, this has not been the case. The politics of the Union have paved the way for the free market system - mainly as a response to the principle of profit maximising - resulting in a decline, in the long run, of the politics with which to develop conditions for a political community.

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John Morton

Exploring the celebrity culture and lion-hunting associated with Alfred Tennyson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, this article argues that while both poets experienced enormous literary fame during their lifetimes, the celebrity culture surrounding them might have been a motivating factor in their subsequent decline in popularity, and the Modernist depreciation of nineteenth-century poetry. Exploring the ways in which Longfellow courted celebrity culture, the article turns to the lion-hunting exploits of Edward Bok, a Dutch-American magazine editor, to demonstrate the desire of Longfellow's readers to physically encounter him. Examining the intense media coverage attending Longfellow's travels to Britain in 1868–69, the article underlines his status as the ultimate American literary celebrity of the period, but also positions Longfellow as a 'lion-hunter' by focusing on his meeting with Tennyson on the Isle of Wight in 1868, and on the way in which their encounters in person and in print reveal contrasting attitudes to celebrity.

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Don Nonini

This article theorizes the making and unmaking of the urban housing commons in Amsterdam. The article reviews the literature on the urban housing commons, sets out the analytics of use values and exchange values for housing, and situates these analytics within the transition from dominance of industrial to finance capital in the Netherlands during neoliberalization from the mid-1970s to the present. A vibrant housing commons in Amsterdam came into existence by the 1980s because of two social movements that pressed the Dutch state to institutionalize this commons—the New Left movement within the Dutch Labor Party, and the squatters’ movement in Amsterdam. The subsequent shift in dominance from industrial to finance capital has led to the decline of both movements and the erosion of the housing commons.

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Richard H. Robbins

Interrelationships among money, debt, and economic growth create a financial system that provides a steady stream of income to banks and private investors— the proverbial 1 percent. However, because economists obscure these interrelationships, threats to the maintenance of the monetary streams of the elite are underreported. Consequently, increasing shares of national incomes must be appropriated to maintain those streams. This article reexamines the nature of and relationships among money, debt, and economic growth to understand austerity programs and why rates of economic growth must decline and how governments and elites adjust to this reality. It then suggests alternative ways of addressing the creation of money and the problems arising from the division of society into net debtors and net creditors.

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David Drake

Conventional wisdom holds that the political evolution of an individual passes from youthful radicalism to the conservatism of later years. In this respect, as in many others, Sartre declined to follow the norm. As a young man, despite his detestation of the bourgeoisie, his anti-militaristic sentiments, his anti-authoritarianism and unconventional lifestyle, Sartre remained aloof from politics, while it was towards the end of his life that his most radical commitment occurred, triggered in large part by the events of May-June 1968. This paper will establish that although Sartre supported the 1968 student movement, he remained essentially outside it and it made little immediate impact on his thinking or practice; it was only several months later that the ‘events’ made themselves felt to Sartre, leading him to question the definition of himself as intellectual which he had defended hitherto.

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Taking the Road for Play

Cyclist Appropriations of Automobile Infrastructures in Vietnam

Ashley Carruthers

After declining in status and mode share sharply with the popularization of the motorcycle, cycling in Vietnam is on the rise. Urban elites who pursue sport and leisure cycling are the most visible of Vietnam’s new cyclists, and they bring their sense of social mastery out onto the road with them by appropriating the nation’s new, automobile-focused infrastructures as places for play and display. While motivated by self-interest, their informal activism around securing bicycle access to new bridges and highways potentially benefits all and contributes to making livable cities. These socially elite cyclists transcend the status associated with their means of mobility as they enact their mastery over automobile infrastructures meant to usher in a new Vietnamese automobility.

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Anxious Adults and Bad Babysitters

The Struggle over Girlhood in Interwar America

Miriam Forman-Brunell

This article argues that a long-standing critique of female adolescents is the source of everyday complaints about ordinary babysitters. The author traces the origins of adults' anxieties to the birth of babysitting and the advent of the modern American teenage girl in interwar America. The development of teenage girls' culture that generated conflict between grownups and girls with competing needs and notions of girlhood found expression in the condemnation of babysitters. Although experts and educators sought to curb girls' subcultural practices and principles by instructing babysitters during the Great Depression and World War II, their advice and training proved to be as ineffective at stemming the tide of girls' culture as halting the decline of babysitting. The expanding wartime economy that broadened the economic and social autonomy of teenage girls led many to turn their backs on babysitting.