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Cutting the Face

Kinship, State and Social Media Conflict in Networked Jordan

Geoffrey Fitzgibbon Hughes

The local uptake of new media in the Middle East is shaped by deep histories of imperialism, state building, resistance and accommodation. In contemporary Jordan, social media is simultaneously encouraging identification with tribes and undermining their gerontocratic power structures. Senior men stress their own importance as guarantors (‘faces’), who restore order following conflicts, promising to pay their rivals a large surety if their kin break the truce. Yet, ‘cutting the face’ (breaking truces) remains an alternative, one often facilitated by new technologies that allow people to challenge pre-existing structures of communication and authority. However, the experiences of journalists and other social media mavens suggest that the liberatory promise of the new technology may not be enough to prevent its reintegration into older patterns of social control.

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'of all things a face appeared'

Reading Faces in Samuel Beckett's "That Time"

Joshua Powell

In his study of psychology in the 1930s, Samuel Beckett registered a number of ideas regarding the face. He took note of the Gestalt idea that the baby is born with the innate ability to distinguish the figure of a face from a blurry buzzing background. His interest was also piqued by the finding that one's perception of a facial expression might change depending on how much of the face is made visible. These ideas would influence his later work. Focusing on the short play That Time, this article looks at Beckett's dramatic presentation of a face alone in the dark. It compares Beckett's approach to face-reading with the study of the face that developed in twentieth-century experimental psychology. Beckett, I suggest, is working with the idea, common in experimental psychology, that facial expressions can be produced involuntarily and perceived effortlessly. However, he also draws attention to a more effortful mode of producing and perceiving faces. Finally, the article situates Beckett's portrayal of the face in relation to a modern culture that increasingly recognises – and celebrates – the face's unmanageability, but has not stopped attempting to manage the face.

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Soraya Tremayne

This article examines the interface between modernity and traditional cultural values. It suggests that Iranian society, in spite of its Islamic theocratic regime, is on one level an open society and has shown a surprising degree of flexibility in adapting to change. Yet on another level, Iran remains a closed society with strong cultural ties that act as unifying factors controlling the boundaries of interaction between the old and the new. One of the manifestations of the deep-rooted values that determine the form and extent of the acceptance of modernity is the consideration of one’s ‘face’ in public. ‘Face’ acts as a regulating agent directing the choices people make vis-à-vis societal change. The article concludes that social interactions and decisions taken by individuals in all public aspects of their lives, regardless of class, age, ethnic origins or gender, continue to be profoundly influenced by ‘face’.

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Daniel Dayan

This text transposes, in the form of an article, the main themes tackled by the director Ygal Bursztyn in his book Face, Battlefield (Tel Aviv, Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 1990). Daniel Dayan thanks the author and the translator Sonia Hadida for their collaboration on this adaptation, reproduced with the kind permission of the review Hermes.

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Khul‘ Divorce in Egypt

How Family Courts Are Providing a ‘Dialogue’ between Husband and Wife

Nadia Sonneveld

In the year 2000, Egyptian women were given the right to unilateral divorce through a procedure called khul'. Khul' became the source of much controversy in Egyptian society, and most judges interviewed by the author expressed a negative viewpoint when asked about it. Nevertheless, the introduction of the Family Court system in 2004, with the explicit aim of solving marital disputes through mediation and communication, has made possible a 'dialogue' between husband and wife in a khul' procedure. This applies even in situations where mediators and judges profess an unfavourable opinion of women who file for khul' divorce.

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The Face of Janus

The Historian Selma Stern (1890–1981) and Her Portrait of the Court Jew

Marina Sassenberg

As the unification of contemporary Europe becomes a reality, new questions arise about a common cultural identity. In this context, research on a common European Jewish heritage has achieved wide public interest. Involving economic and political, cultural and religious, social and academic questions, the history of the Hoffaktoren, as they were called in German, was not constrained by European borders. It is the history of those entrepreneurs, bankers, politicians and diplomats, who served their princes throughout seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, which serves perfectly as a research field relating to European identity. Though centred on Germany, Austria and Holland, the history of the Court Jews had a decisive influence on many other countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Italy, England and Ireland

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The Different Faces of a Celebration

The Greek Course of International Women's Day, 1924–2010

Angelika Psarra

This article examines the history of International Women's Day (IWD) in Greece from its first celebration in 1924 until 2010. IWD was introduced in Greece by the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) and remained a communist ritual for fifty years. After the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974, the anniversary gradually acquired a wide acceptance and has since been adopted by feminist groups and organizations, trade unions, and parties from the entire political spectrum. The article follows the transformations of the celebration, explores its nebulous genealogy and the myths about its origins, and discusses its impressive ability to survive in diverse socio-political contexts.

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Educational Persistence in the Face of Violence

Narratives of Resilient Latino Male Youth

Adrian H. Huerta

Latino boys and young men often carry the debt of violence into different spaces. This invisible trauma manifests into disruptive behaviors in schools. It is well documented that violence in urban communities and schools has received significant attention from researchers, but little attention has been paid to Latino male youth as individuals and the various forms of violence they have experienced, and how that impacts educational persistence. This qualitative study focuses on 26 Latino male middle and high school students who are attending two continuation schools to understand the types of violence they have experienced and their educational aspirations after high school.

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Baya Messaoudi

Beaucoup de philosophes et d’écrivains décrivent aujourd’hui la complexité de la relation homme/animal. Elle repose sur « l’imposture » et « l’hallucination » selon certains, et sur l’échange et le partage selon d’autres. Pour Sartre, le problème se pose surtout en termes de liberté. Même si le chien vit auprès de l’homme, et trouve dans son milieu socio-culturel ses aliments et son abri, il ne s’y intègre qu’à moitié. Le chien ne se fond pas complètement dans le monde humain, sa situation particulière l’oblige aussi à s’en tenir à l’écart. Cet article veut montrer un Sartre qui révèle les « pièges de la domestication ». L’animal possédé est privé de sa liberté. Le maître veut rendre sa vie meilleure, en s’appuyant sur tout ce que le chien peut lui procurer comme joie, et qui le protège de son « obscène » et « fade » existence.

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Regenerating Life in the Face of Predation

A Study of Mortuary Ritual as Sacrifice among the Siberian Chukchi

Jeanette Lykkegård and Rane Willerslev

This article describes in detail a mortuary ritual among the Chukchi of Northern Kamchatka and points to its remarkable affinity with an ideal-typical reindeer sacrifice. We argue that this connection between human cremation and sacrifice plays a key role in the people’s attempt to maintain and ensure continuation of their particular kind of life in a cosmos that is replete with numerous other, mostly hostile, life forms. The article describes all stages of the ritual and contextualizes the ritual in the literature on sacrifice. We argue that seeing Chukchi mortuary rituals as a way of transforming any death into a blood sacrifice calls into question well-established understandings of sacrifice as a means of diverting human violence. We suggest that ritual blood sacrifice may instead be seen as a way of protecting the sacrificial victim against violent forces and in doing so, securing the well-being of the community as a whole.