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An Inconvenient Expertise

French Colonial Sailors and Technological Knowledge in the Union Française

Minayo Nasiali

In the 1950s, French shipping companies began to replace their old fleet of steamships with new diesel ships. They also began to lay off sailors from French Africa, claiming that the changing technology rendered their labor obsolete. The industry asserted that African sailors did not have the aptitude to do other, more skilled jobs aboard diesel vessels. But unemployed colonial sailors argued differently, claiming that they were both able and skilled. This article explores how unemployed sailors from French Africa cast themselves as experts, capable of producing technological knowledge about shipping. In so doing, they shaped racialized and gendered notions about labor and skill within the French empire. The arguments they made were inconvenient, I argue, because colonial sailors called into question hegemonic ideas about who could be modern and who had the right to participate in discourse about expertise.

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Tradition's Desire

The Politics of Culture in the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma

Thembisa Waetjen and Gerhard Maré

This article examines the recent trial of ANC president Jacob Zuma, and how gender power was framed in respect to, and within, the politics of culture. The trial centred on allegations of rape by Zuma of an HIV positive woman many years his junior, who was also the daughter of a former anti-apartheid struggle comrade. All of these details were considered pertinent, not only to the legal debates about whether a crime had been committed, but also to the political debates raging around the nation's key challenges of high rates of sexual violence and the 'denialist' state response to devastating levels of HIV infection. Many Zuma supporters saw the accusation of rape as politically motivated and as evidence of an anti-Zuma conspiracy. In visibly smaller numbers, women's rights groups were present on the streets as well, trying to draw attention to the general problem of the nation's extraordinarily high rates of sexual violence and the general failure of the justice system to address cases of rape. The article argues that the fervour surrounding this trial, the burning political question of women's status was continually cast as a private matter: debates about relations between men and women came to be focused on issues of propriety, behaviour and etiquette rather than on questions about rights and power. In short, the privatisation of gender was effected through the politics of culture. As culture is politicised as a legal and secular 'right', gender is de-politicised to become a normatively 'private' and 'customary' domain. This is not merely a South African dilemma, but a dilemma which is con-concomitant to the social conditions of modernity itself.

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Sons of Krishna and sons of Bolivar

Charismatic kinship and leadership across India and Venezuela

Lucia Michelutti

This article uses the analytical tool of divine kinship to explore political charisma across Indian and Venezuelan democratic social revolutions. In both contexts, charismatic elected political leaders build their image of strength and action on a wide repertoire of cultural and religious resources that are legitimated by divine kinship. The juxtaposition of the Indian and Venezuelan political ethnographies shows how charismatic kinship inflects lived understandings of popular sovereignty and opens up spaces for holding personality politics accountable.

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R. Johanan and Resh Lakish

The Image of God in the Study Hall – 'Masculinity' versus 'Femininity'

Admiel Kosman

This article presents a new reading of the tragic end of R. Johanan and Resh Lakish (BT Bava Metzia 84a). It reviews the traditional apologetic interpretations of the narrative, as if it was meant to aggrandize these sages' devotion to the value of Torah study – before rejecting this understanding, arguing that the intent of the narrative is to present these sages in a critical light, as being repositories of knowledge, while lacking the attribute of humility. The article analyses the narrative from a gender perspective, and shows that the phallic model of the two males is surprisingly contrasted with the wife of Resh Lakish – despite her being a woman and apparently totally illiterate - as a spiritually mature model, who stands outside the exclusive club of Torah scholars.

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Training Bodies, Training Minds?

Interrogating the Configured and Configuring of Masculinities in PE

Michael Kehler

Gerdin, Göran. 2017. Boys, Bodies, and Physical Education: Problematizing Identity, Schooling, and Power Relations through a Pleasure Lens. New York: Routledge. 216 pp. $160.00. ISBN 978-1-13864-997-2 (hardback); ISBN 978-1-31562-557-7 (e-book)

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Triangular Erotics

The Politics of Masculinity, Imperialism and Big-Game Hunting in Rider Haggard's She

Madhudaya Sinha

Animal imagery and anthropomorphic parallels abound in Rider Haggard’s fantastic African adventure, She (1887). Africa itself is presented to the reader as a landscape inhabited by ‘beastly’ natives and wild animals galore. Even the novel’s overpowering female presence, that of ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’ (as Ayesha is known by those natives over whom she rules), is eventually reduced to a simian status. Such a textual focus, fitting comfortably into a more extensive dream of Victorian empire, lent the novel cultural, as well as fictive, power. The animal imagery helped to produce durable models of African identity and otherness which were compatible with current ideas of geography, race and human evolution.

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New Narratives of Southern Manhood

Race, Masculinity and Closure in Ernest Gaines's Fiction

Suzanne W. Jones

In A Rage For Order: Black/White Relations in the American South Since Emancipation, Joel Williamson explores the conjuncture of race, manhood, and violence peculiar to the American South. He argues that for southern white men the traditional Victorian masculine role of provider and protector was directly linked with violence because of plantation society’s ‘necessity of controlling a potentially explosive black population.’ As early as the seventeenth century, a patrol system, made up of masters and overseers enforced the laws of slavery. By the nineteenth century, the duty of patrolling was extended to all white men, who had authority over all blacks (even free blacks) and over whites who conspired with blacks. Thus a system for controlling slaves became a practice ‘of all whites controlling all blacks … a matter of race.’ The martial role white men created for themselves became entrenched, particularly in the last decades before the Civil War as slavery came under attack by northerners from without and by rebellious slaves from within. Whites created a complementary stereotype of black people as ‘simple, docile, and manageable’ who if properly handled were like children, but if improperly cared for became animals. Williamson argues that this ‘Sambo’ figure was a figment of white wishful thinking, which functioned ‘to build white egos’ while masking their fears of black rebellion.

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Red Coats and Black Shields

Race and Masculinity in British Representations of the Anglo-Zulu War

Catherine E. Anderson

In its review of the Grosvenor Gallery’s June 1880 exhibition, the Victorian society magazine The Queen juxtaposed reproductions of Carl Haag’s A Zulu (1880) – a striking profile of a black male warrior – and S.M. Fisher’s portrait of Ethel, Daughter of W. H. Peake, Esq. (c.1880) – a young white girl seated and demurely facing the viewer. The magazine’s readers would have been struck at once by the contrasts between the two images: one body, male, adult, black and in a ‘savage’ state of undress; the other, female, child, white and properly attired in so many respectable layers of clothing that only her face remains uncovered. According to The Queen, the figures in these two works ‘represent respectively Barbarism and Civilisation, each in the highest types’

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Conflicting Interpretations of Gender

Hysteria, Masculinity, and Marriage in Florence Marryat's Nelly Brooke

Greta Depledge

In 1868 Florence Marryat published Nelly Brooke: A Homely Tale, ostensibly a novel full of classic sensation themes: illegitimacy, love, seduction, addiction, and a murder of sorts. More interestingly, however, the novel also plays with nineteenth-century gender expectations and ideas current in medical and scientific discourse. This essay explores the representations of male hysteria and the demonised man of science which this novel depicts. These themes, contained within a hugely satisfying sensation plot, are also offset against the plight of the fortuneless woman in the nineteenth-century marriage market.

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When Jackie Coogan Had His Hair Cut

Masculinity, Maturity, and the Movies in the 1920s

Peter W. Lee

This article uses details of the personal and professional life of American screen actor Jackie Coogan to examine the social transition from boyhood into manhood during the 1920s. As Hollywood’s first child superstar, Coogan was given a haircut to make visual his maturation from his famed persona as an orphaned waif into a leading man. The haircut was also linked to larger concerns about the so-called flaming youth of the Lost Generation; what was known as Americanism; and identity construction for both child and parental roles. Unfortunately for Coogan, fans refused to accept his makeover; his screen persona in public memory contributed to the decline of his career while concurrently protecting the Kid from a vilified mother.