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Literary Anthropology

The Sub-disciplinary Context

Máiréad Nic Craith and Laurent Sebastian Fournier

This special issue on anthropology and literature invited proposals for original contributions focusing on relationships between anthropology and literature. We were especially interested in the following questions: what role does literature play in anthropology? Can literature be considered as ethnography? What are the relationships between anthropology and literature, past and present? Are anthropology and anthropological motives used in literature? We also looked for critical readings of writers as anthropologists and critical readings of anthropologists as writers. Moreover, we wanted to assess the influence of literature on the invention of traditions, rituals and cultural performances. All these different questions and topics are clearly connected with the study of literacy, illiteracy and popular culture. They also lead to questions regarding potential textual strategies for ethnography and the possibilities of bringing together the field of anthropology (more associated with the social sciences) and literary studies (traditionally part of the humanities).

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Stephanie Bunn

This article is an exploration of how the interdisciplinary relationship between art and anthropology can contribute to teaching anthropology in schools. The argument is made that through practical engagement with the environment - whether 'natural', social or built - one can develop important and complementary approaches to teaching and thinking about anthropology. Three specific areas of activity are examined: skill and practical work with materials, doing children's ethnographies and 'playing house'. The author draws upon her own experience of working both as an artist and an anthropologist.

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Investigating European Cultures, Bridging Disciplines

Gabriela Kiliánová and Tatiana Podolinská

The Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, initiated by German scholar Ina-Maria Greverus together with Christian Giordano in 1990, played a central role in the fundamental changes that the hitherto more or less nationally confined European ethnologies have undergone since then. The journal mediated the intensifying exchange between eastern and western Europe, while its attempt to cross boundaries in particular between an anthropology of Europe and European ethnology remains key.

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Speaking Back, Striking Back

Calls for Local Agency and Good Fieldwork in Development Encounters

Eugenie Reidy

This article explores local agency in development anthropology, a prominent form of applied anthropology that has encouraged refl ection on the practice of anthropology itself (Mosse 2013). Drawing on specifi c fieldwork experiences from time the author spent working for the United Nations and international NGOs in East Africa, it discusses several complexities and moral questions that arose. In particular, it focuses on the challenges for local perspectives to be represented, given the subjective interests in which development encounters are embedded. It also looks at instances where ‘speaking back’ does occur, and where it arguably becomes ‘striking back’. In light of this, the article discusses what can be mutually exchanged between development and anthropology, with a particular focus on the accommodation of local agency and participation, and the need for fieldwork approaches based on suffi cient time, trust and positionality.

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Dan Podjed and Meta Gorup

Applied Anthropology Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) started its activities in 2012 and has since then grown to 120 members. The newly established network has already tackled some of the crucial issues in Europe related to applied anthropology, and has so far identified at least three key challenges: (1) how to increase employability of applied anthropologists, (2) how to deconstruct stereotypes about their activities (within and without academic settings), (3) how to boost self-esteem of younger colleagues at the beginning of their applied career.

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Canon Fire

Decolonizing the Curriculum

Andrew Sanchez

Despite sustained critical attention to the politics of knowledge, contemporary anthropology disproportionately engages with ideas produced by academics based in European and North American universities. The ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ movement speaks to core areas of anthropological interest while making a critical comment on the academic structures in which anthropologists produce their work. The articles in this collection interrogate the terms on which academic work engages with its own history, and ask how the production of knowledge relates to structures of race, gender and location. The collection considers the historical, political and institutional context of the ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ movement, the potential impact that the movement might make on education and research, and the major challenges facing it.

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Wine Tourism in the Temecula Valley

Neoliberal Development Policies and Their Contradictions

Kevin A. Yelvington, Jason L. Simms and Elizabeth Murray

Wine tourism is a growing phenomenon, with tourists enjoying not only wine but a rural lifestyle that is associated with winegrowing areas and the elusive essence of terroir. The Temecula Valley in southern California, a small wine-producing region and wine tourism destination, is experiencing state-led plans for a vast expansion of production and tourism capacity. This article traces the challenges inherent in this development process, and questions the sustainability of such plans regarding the very environment the wine tourists seek out, especially regarding the availability of natural resources, mainly water, needed to fulfil these plans. The article concludes with a call for an applied anthropology of policy that is centred on the articulations of the state and neoliberal capitalism.

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Reflections on Fieldwork in Yemen

The Genealogy of a Diary in Response to Rabinow's Reflections of Fieldwork in Morocco

Daniel Martin Varisco

In preparation for writing an ethnographic monograph on fieldwork in Yemen, I compare and contrast my field diary, written in 1978–9, with Paul Rabinow’s Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco (1977). The underlying question is what post-fieldwork reflections reflect meaningfully about the immediacy of ethnographic fieldwork? I criticise the reflexivist trope of privileging ‘writing culture’ over the significance of ‘being there’ in the field. Point by point, I examine the implications of graduate training in anthropology, culture shock, health problems, language skills, the unreflective male voice, visual ethnography and the rhetoric of narrative writing.

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Reports

Publications, Films and Conferences

Shahla Haeri, Sophie Accolas and Babak Rezvani

PUBLICATIONS

Nadjmabadi, Shahnaz R. (ed.) (2009), Conceptualizing Iranian Anthropology: Past and Present Perspectives (Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books). viii + 278 pp. ISBN 978-1-84545-626-9.

FILMS

Kamal, Mariam Nabil (2009), Le Bruit des pas, Afghanistan, vidéo couleur, 24 minutes, Ateliers Varan, avec le soutien des Service culturel de l’Ambassade de France, du Centre culturel français, du Goethe Institut et la Direction des Relations Internationales d’Arte France, en partenariat avec Afghan films, la Faculté des Beaux Arts, Kabul University, Radio Television Afghanistan, the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society.

CONFERENCES

‘Central Eurasia: Islam, Culture and Conflict’, May 2010, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

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When They Write What We Write

Young People's Influence on Policymaking in Northern Ireland

Rosellen Roche

This article discusses young people's influence on a recent policy initiative conducted among Catholic and Protestant school leavers in Northern Ireland's second largest urban area, Derry/Londonderry. The programme, the Toward Reconciliation and Inclusion Project or TRIPROJECT, was Northern Ireland's first dedicated attempt to target young school leavers in a survey project and sought to involve the young people in the selection of questions used within the survey. The article opens with a brief discussion on the predicament of anthropology's situation of 'informants' and the criticism that often follows post-field discussions. The article then moves to discuss TRIPROJECT as a case example of applied anthropology actively involving 'informants' in the process of knowledge gathering and analysis presentation, emphasising how informants had control over the process of scholarship. The article ends by addressing this experience within the context of anthropology and the interpretation of questions and answers between 'informants' and those who study them.