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On Shock Therapy

Modernist Aesthetics and American Underground Film

William Solomon

This article tracks various twentieth-century figural appropriations— in the realm of artistic theory and practice—of a controversial method of treating the mentally ill. In the first section, I revisit Walter Benjamin’s canonical speculation on the importance of a shock aesthetic, underscoring the functional imperatives informing his model. For him, shock was the aesthetic cornerstone of cultural undertakings designed to enable persons to inhabit urban-industrial modernity in a socially empowered fashion. In the second section, I apply this notion to two products of the American underground: Marie Menken’s Go! Go! Go! (1962–1964) and Jonas Mekas’s Walden (1969). Here, my argument is that it was in experimental film that the purposefulness or “mission” that Benjamin detected in Charles Baudelaire’s poetry was realized. I then conclude with some reflections on the pertinence of the model in question to two related avant-garde cinematic endeavors: Stan Vanderbeek’s collage works and Ken Jacobs’s Nervous System performances.

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Valerie R. Friesen

In many parts of the developing world, sport is a non-traditional activity for girls, one which is being used increasingly by development organizations for the empowerment of girls and women. However, very little research has been done on the complex subjective perceptions and understandings of the participants themselves. The girls in this study were participants in an after-school program in Windhoek, Namibia, which combines academics and sport. I used discourse analysis to highlight issues of agency, power, and gender that emerge from their reflections on their sport participation. Girls' conversations often revealed acceptance and normalization of dominant gender norms but also a growing critical consciousness, and demonstrated the numerous ways girls resist, negotiate and engage with these discourses through their own perceptions of power, agency, and hope.

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A Music Room of One's Own

Discursive Constructions of Girls-only Spaces for Learning Popular Music

Cecilia Björck

This article elaborates on discursive constructions of girls-only settings through the spatial metaphor of a room of one's own, as articulated in round-table discussions among staff and participants from girl-centered music programs in Sweden. The idea of a separate room refers to spaces for collective female empowerment as well as for individual knowledge acquisition and creativity. These spaces are constructed so as to provide the possibility for exploration, subjectivity, and focus, by offering (partial and temporary) escape from competition and control, from a gendered and gendering gaze, and from distraction. Girl-centered programs are also discussed as paradoxical because they function as gender-neutral when seen from the inside, but gender-specific when seen from the outside.

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Guiding Girls

Neoliberal Governance and Government Educational Resource Manuals in Canada

Lisa Smith and Stephanie Paterson

Nova Scotia’s Guide for Girls and Manitoba’s 4 Girls Only! represent recent shifts in policy that aim to include and empower young women vis-a-vis public policy. In this article, we analyze these manuals, illuminating the ways in which young women are configured as subjects in late modern capitalist societies such as Canada. We show that, as neoliberal subjects, young women are increasingly expected to be autonomous and self-governing yet appear to require guidance to follow the right path towards future ideal neoliberal citizenship. Thus, despite their notable intentions, the manuals identify and target certain forms of conduct as problematic, eschewing a broader discussion of the structural causes of a variety of social problems such as poverty, unemployment, poor health, sexual violence, and stress, thus raising important questions regarding policy by, for, and about young women.

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Alpha Girls and Cheerleading

Negotiating New Discourses with Old Practices

Natalie Guice Adams and Pamela J. Bettis

In Alpha Girls: Understanding the New American Girl and How She is Changing the World, psychologist Dan Kindlon (2006) claims that the new psychology of girls has produced a dramatically different kind of girl from her 1990s girl-in-crisis predecessor. He proposes that this new type of girl is a hybrid, personifying the best traits of masculinity and femininity. The Alpha Girl represents a new form of girlhood in which girls are seen as the economic, social, and cultural winners in the twenty first century because they are risk takers, competitive, and collaborative. How does cheerleading, one of the most female-identified and sexualized cultures of adolescent life, coexist with this seemingly new discourse of empowering girlhood? We argue that cheerleading provides a rich space for Girls Studies scholars to analyze how modes of femininity play out in the social practices that girls themselves deem important.

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Sami Schalk

American Girl is a multi-product brand that is marketed transnationally through discourses of gendered empowerment and education. While previous scholarship has commented on how American Girl encourages normative gender roles, consumerism, and limited notions of diversity, no scholars, to my knowledge, have discussed disability in relation to the brand. This article explores the representation of disability in the American Girl contemporary line through an analysis of books and doll accessories. Unlike issues of gender, race and class, which appear central to American Girl’s depiction of contemporary girlhood, disability is a literal and metaphoric accessory in the brand. I contend that this representation of disability as supplementary is a prime example of ablenationalism explicitly targeted at girls.

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Bringing Indigenous Kamchatka to Google Earth

Collaborative Digital Mapping with the Itelmen Peoples

Brian Thom, Benedict J. Colombi and Tatiana Degai

Indigenous peoples in the Russian Far East are engaged in vibrant cultural and linguistic resurgence and revitalization through their community and regional organizations. Through the activities of these organizations, a computer-aided cultural mapping project was initiated in collaboration with indigenous villages along the Kamchatka Peninsula, working with youth and elders to map out the histories of special cultural places. The project utilized innovative participatory methodologies using Google Earth and related Google mapping tools, which are freely accessible and desired for use in the communities, providing an accessible, low-cost, easy to-use computer application for detailed digital cultural mapping. This article elaborates on the use of these technologies to empower a community-based collaborative research project and reflects on critical issues in aligning community, corporate, and scholarly objectives in successful projects.

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Ritual Dynamics and Virtual Practice

Beyond Representation and Meaning

Bruce Kapferer

Symbolic meaning and representational and reflexive perspectives remain dominant orientations in the analysis of ritual. While these must be crucial, this essay argues that a focus on the perceptual dynamics of rite, especially as these are located in ritual aesthetics, may expand an understanding of the force of rite. The discussion develops critically upon Victor Turner’s seminal work, suggesting ways in which ritual analyses may be redirected. The related concepts of dynamics and virtuality (distinguished from the cyber-technological kind) are developed, indicating that these may be critical for understanding how rites change or transform the situations to which they are directed. Ritual as a dynamic in virtuality that has no essential or necessary relation to the ordinary realities that surround it may, because of this fact, be greatly empowered as a force that can pragmatically intervene in ordinary realities.

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Introduction

Indigenous Peoples, Neo-liberal Regimes, and Varieties of Civil Society in Latin America

Edward F. Fischer

Emerging from the convergence of neo-liberal reforms, democratic openings, and an increase of interest in indigenous issues among international organizations, the growth of civil society in recent years has dramatically altered the political-economic landscape of Latin America. For a number of Latin American indigenous causes, civil society's surge in importance has been empowering, allowing access to funds, national and international attention, and in some cases increases in de facto and de jure autonomy. At the same time, the rise in the importance of civil society goes hand in hand with the rise of neo-liberal political and economic reforms that threaten the material bases of indigenous culture and expose populations to the vagaries of private funding. In this way, civil society also serves as an arena for neo-liberal forms of governmentality.

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With or Without Gringos

When Panamanians Talk about the United States and Its Citizens

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

In local and informal contexts, Panamanians talk about the power of the United States and describe its citizens in multifaceted and complex terms. In this article I examine those views as they are articulated in informal urban settings in Panama City and in conversations with middle-class Panamanians. My respondents evaluate the US-Panama relationship and discuss individual North Americans with realism, reflecting a graceful but critical spirit of forgiveness toward their more powerful ally. A broader awareness of US colonialism in the past is combined with a pragmatic acknowledgement of opportunities in the present and the desire for a more equal relationship in the future. I argue that the opportunity to voice unreserved opinions about powerful Others can potentially empower local actors.