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David, Émile

Les ambivalences de l’identité juive de Durkheim

Matthieu Béra

This is based on research that has discovered crucial, hitherto unknown biographical information. First, I review the theories of authors who helped to generate the whole 'affair' of Durkheim's two pre-names, most often in seeing it as a way to interrogate his relation with Judaism. Next, I discuss how the issue comes with elements that are incomplete or inexact. It is then to present new evidence of Durkheim's ambivalence and changing attitude towards his first, identifiably Jewish pre-name. The census records during his time at Bordeaux show that he registered himself as 'David' in 1891 and 1896, but abandoned this and switched to 'Émile' in 1901. Accordingly, I examine possible interpretations of the change, in terms of the political context of the Dreyfus Affair, events in his family life, his institutional position, his growing reputation, and a programme of research in which he resolved on a scientific treatment of religion.

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Trouble in Para-sites

Deference and Influence in the Ethnography of Epistemic Elites

Paul Robert Gilbert

Through his enduring efforts to interrogate the regulative ideals of fieldwork, George Marcus has empowered doctoral students in anthropology to rethink their ethnographic encounters in terms that reflect novel objects and contexts of inquiry. Marcus' work has culminated in a charter for ethnographic research among 'epistemic communities' that requires 'deferral' to these elite modes of knowing. For adherents to this programme of methodological reform, the deliberately staged 'para-site' – an opportunity for ethnographers and their 'epistemic partners' to reflect upon a shared intellectual purpose – is the signature fieldwork encounter. This article draws on doctoral research carried out among the overlapping epistemic communities that comprise London's market for mining finance, and reviews an attempt to carve out a para-site of my own. Troubled by this experience, and by the ascendant style of deferent anthropology, I think through possibilities for more critical ethnographic research among epistemic elites.

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Obligations to the Dead

Historical Justice and Cultural Memory

Victor Jeleniewski Seidler

Exploring some of the tensions in the recent international conference on 'Jews and Non-Jews in Lithuania: Coexistence, Cooperation, Violence', held at UCL in December 2012, I show how they relate to ways in which the Holocaust is to be understood and historical justice done not only to those who were murdered and suffered but also to the sufferings of Lithuanians under Soviet Occupation. Questioning the notion of a 'double holocaust' that would seek some equivalence I also interrogate assumptions informing the programme of the Prague Declaration. I explore ethical issues of what it means to do justice to the dead and how this calls for an ethical historiography that goes beyond its positivist frameworks.

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The incinerator and the beach

Community, activism, and the "Big Society" in a Sussex town

Elizabeth Harrison

This article interrogates the complex ways in which “community” is constructed in a Sussex town. It contributes to long-standing debates in anthropology about the meaning of community, considering the relevance of these to current policy agendas of localism and “Big Society.” The article opens with an account of apparently strong community resistance to changes induced from outside. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research, it goes on to argue that the ways in which people relate to this community are complex. The extent to which individuals engage in more or less formalized group activity and how this intersects with class, education, and mobility are important aspects of this complexity. The article finds that as some groups become more professionalized, processes of exclusion are consolidated: those who become most able to effect change ironically become distanced from the community they seek to represent.

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'Inter-publics'

Hindu Mobilization beyond the Bourgeois Public Sphere

Ursula Rao

This article develops the notion of interconnected publics as a means to understand better both the escalation of Hindu political activism in the 1990s in India and its subsequent waning in the new millennium. I argue that the prime visibility of Hindu fundamentalism in the 1990s was a result of the effective—yet tenuous—connection between various spaces for public communication. The emerging 'inter-public' effectively imbricated the private viewing of religious soap operas with public ritual and political debate to produce, for a short historical moment, the image of a vibrant, forceful, and dominant Hindu nation. The aim of this article is to contribute to Indian studies by discussing the essential, yet in the literature mostly neglected, connections between devotional practices, media Hinduism, and political mobilization. At the broader conceptual level, I argue for a theory of inter-publics that interrogates how multiple 'micropublics' link up to create tangible political effects.

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Michael Carrithers

Seriousness is achieved when a speaker effectively moves the audience according to his or her intentions. But seriousness is fragile and subject to countless vicissitudes, as illustrated in an encounter with the television evangelist Oral Roberts. I interrogate one of the means used to counter such vicissitudes-hyperbole. Hyperbole may include exaggeration and amplification of all kinds, and may be manifest in deeds as well as words. I first follow hyperbole through 9/11 and the competing ideologies of Salafi jihadists and the Bush administration to show how 'absolute metaphors' are enlisted hyperbolically. I examine too how epic narratives are created as a similar form of hyperbole. Finally, I show how sacredness, another allied form of hyperbole, is attributed to the Holocaust in present-day Germany. Throughout I argue, and illustrate, how anthropological writing is of necessity ironic, such that irony is better than 'cultural relativism' as an understanding of the anthropological enterprise.

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Introduction

Reinventing the Invention of Culture

Joel Robbins and David A. B. Murray

In a recent special issue of Social Analysis, Culture at the End of the Boasian Century (1997) the editors noted that the 1970s was a time of particularly intense anthropological debate about culture. They mentioned Geertz, Sahlins, Schneider and Boon as anthropologists who made some of the key theoretical contributions of that era, interrogating the meaning of the ‘culture concept’ and extending it in new directions. As much as those names conjure up a period of impressive accomplishment in anthropological culture theory, we feel there is an important omission from this list: Roy Wagner’s The Invention of Culture, first published in 1976 (with a revised volume published in 1981). In fact, we would argue that more than twentyfive years later, this book remains highly relevant to contemporary debates on the meanings and definitions of culture in anthropological circles and, indeed, to debates on the meanings and definitions of anthropology itself.

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Maureen Amimo

The history of travel writing positions the genre as a form that invents and circulates problematic image(s) of Africa. Emerging from this biased background, postcolonial African travel writing offer reimaginations regarding how to think about the continent differently. This article explores how Sihle Khumalo’s Dark Continent My Black Arse, performs this reimagination through counter-travel. I interrogate Khumalo’s appropriation of parody on three sites—naming, landscape, and the body—to counter the prevalent (mis)representation of the continent and propagate alternative ways of imagining Africa in travel writing. This article argues that although parody as counter-travel strategy is a poignant tool for critiquing the negative representation, authorial prejudices allow for slippages that propagate the same set of biases the form intends to critique.

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Re-imagining

Kudzai P. Matereke

This paper urges readers to rethink the notions "mobility" and "travel" with an eye to how they may help us craft a more supple discourse of cosmopolitanism. The majority of cosmopolitanism discourses privilege mobility and travel experiences of subjects in the metropolis and sideline and downplay those of the postcolonial (and especially rural) subjects. The paper attempts to broaden the discourses of cosmopolitanism by a critical interrogation of Kant's cosmopolitan ideal and its implications for postcolonial societies. It identifies a "postcolonial moment" of cosmopolitanism that is largely ignored in mainstream analyses. This moment can be glimpsed by exploring two narratives of rural villagers who break free from their epistemic enclosures. This moment can only be fully appreciated by deploying broader conceptions of "mobility" and "travel" which capture not only these concepts' corporeal connotations, but their imaginative and virtual connotations as well.

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“Behind the backs of houses”

Landscapes of Englishness in the Postwar Railway Poetry of John Betjeman and Philip Larkin

Heather Joyce

Railways in John Betjeman's and Philip Larkin's poems of the 1950s and 1960s function as provocative signifiers that interrogate and encourage definition of what constitutes the modern English landscape. Through their works, which recognize how railways have been held to register the cultural health of the nation from their inception, it becomes clear that the panoramic perception that railways make possible aptly represents the self-conscious cultural gaze filtered through crisis that critics argue prevails in the postwar context. Betjeman's and Larkin's speakers reveal the capacity for railway travel to disrupt the settled vision of nationhood at the heart of heritage-based Englishness; at the same time, railways – and they themselves – are not outside of this discourse. For Betjeman and, to a greater extent, Larkin, it is the possibility of double return embodied by the railway system that perhaps proffers a desirable mode of inhabiting the modern English nation.