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"A World of Their Own"

Searching for Popular Culture in the French Countryside

Stéphane Gerson

This article revisits the role that the concept of popular culture has played in Eugen Weber's Peasants Into Frenchmen and in the historiography of France. It delineates the contours of this field of study in the 1970s then traces its evolution, focusing on the nineteenth century. It also assesses Weber's contribution to this body of scholarship and considers future directions of research—and how his book may still prove helpful. The article proposes that, in terms of conceptualization, epistemological stance, and rhetorical voice, Peasants Into Frenchmen adopts two perspectives on popular culture, perspectives that are sometimes compatible but typically at odds. The first revolves around the confident discovery of a fixed traditional civilization in the French countryside; the second is a more conjectural search for fluctuating cultural processes. While commentators have focused on the first, the second foreshadowed later developments in the field and has more to offer us today.

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Andrew Buckser

Anthropologists have moved away from using belief as the defining feature of religion, portraying it instead as something whose nature and significance vary among times and cultures. This raises new questions about how specific notions of belief come into being and their connections to social, cultural, and political systems. This article explores these questions in the Jewish community of Copenhagen, focusing on two periods when ideas about belief changed radically: the emancipation period at the opening of the nineteenth century, and the decades after World War II. In each, changes in the ways that Jews conceptualized and appealed to belief reflected changes in the internal social dynamics of Danish Jewry. They also reflected changes in the larger Danish culture and in state political agendas.

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Sulemann Dangot and Jephias Mapuva

Islam’s Predicament with Modernity – Religious reform and cultural change by Bassam Tibi Suleman Dangor

Politicizing Democracy: The New Local Politics of Democratization edited by J. Harris, K. Stokke and O. Törnquist Jephias Mapuva

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Karl-Werner Brand

Goodbody, Axel. 2007. Nature, Technology and Cultural Change in Twentieth-Century German Literature: The Challenge of Ecocriticism. New York: Palgrave.

Markham, William T. 2008. Environmental Organizations in Modern Germany: Hardy Survivors in the Twentieth Century and Beyond. New York: Berghahn Books.

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Bassam Tibi

Modernity believed that processes of secularization and rationalization are universally applicable. What is taking place in the 21st century, however, suggests that the reverse, a process of de-secularization, is becoming the hallmark of the present age. In the case of Islamic civilization, in which law is shari'a, the challenge to secularization takes the form of a process of shari'atization. This is not the traditional or inherited shari'a, restricted to civil matters and to a penal code, but an invented shari'a, one which also claims to be a constitutional law. Moreover, the constructed shari'atized constitutional law, in conflict with secular constitutionalism and appearing to offer no middle way, has been universalized to engender an international conflict between secularization and de-secularization. Since, for most Muslims, Islam without shari'a is unthinkable, this article examines the potential for religious reform of the shari'a in the direction of cultural change, freedom and democratic constitutionalism.

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Eric Langenbacher

Before the series of 60th anniversary commemorations of the end of the Holocaust, Nazism and World War II in 2005, the big development regarding German collective memories and political culture was the resurgence of memories of German suffering. Contrary to the opinions of prominent observers like W.G. Sebald, this memory, linked to events from the end and immediate aftermath of World War II, is not a repressed or only recently discovered trauma. Rather, the current discussions signal the return of a memory that was culturally hegemonic in the early postwar decades. Nevertheless, the circumstances surrounding this return differ significantly from the postwar situation in which this memory first flourished in three main ways. The altered environment greatly affects both the reception and potential institutionalization of such memory, which could lead to deep political cultural changes.

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Lines in the Sacred Landscape

The Entanglement of Roads, Resources, and Informal Practices in Buriatiia

Anna Varfolomeeva

Abstract

This article discusses how transportation routes affect local relations with place and resources while being simultaneously shaped by the landscape. It focuses on Okinskii district (Oka) of Buriatiia in southcentral Siberia. The Mondy-Orlik road, which connected the district with the rest of Buriatiia, offered extended opportunities for the development of extractive businesses and tourism in the district. For many residents, the greater accessibility of Oka connotes a threat to local traditions and beliefs. The article examines the interconnectedness of economic, social, and cultural changes that the Mondy-Orlik road brought to Oka. The article demonstrates how the new road became entangled with the lines that previously existed in the landscape, the connections between human and nonhuman actors, and the patterns of informal jade extraction.

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The Fate of 'Backwardness'

Portuguese Expectations over Modernisation

Catarina Frois

In Portugal, terms such as 'modernisation', 'progress' and 'development' are continually invoked by a wide range of social actors, representing the right path and ultimate goal of all political and social change, but on the other hand conceal the actual truth that, to use Latour's expression: 'We have never been modern'. The result is that the demand for modernisation is accompanied by the parallel reification of 'backwardness'. Alluding to Portugal's peripheral condition, to its distance from the rest of Europe and so forth, is part of common everyday discourse, and the country is typically portrayed as a kind of European backwater, forever lagging behind more advanced states. This article aims to present and discuss how backwardness and modernisation are recurrently present in political discourse as a leitmotiv for social, economic and cultural change and the way it is incorporated into a broader and rooted self-representation of the Portuguese modus vivendi and national features.

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Migration and Redefining Self

Negotiating Religious Identity among Hazara Women in Germany

Saideh Saidi

This article explores how Afghan (Hazara) women negotiate and sift their religious understandings and identities over time after migrating to Germany. Migration experiences and exposure to German society has impacted their self-narration and conceptualisation of cultural change in their own identity. This ethnographic research illustrates the notion of acceptance or rejection to change among Hazara immigrant women in their lived religion in diaspora. Based on my fieldwork, three different trajectories along religious lines occur in the Afghan diaspora: a group of immigrants, enhancing Islamic values, whose relationship to and involvement in religion intensified and increased; the second group largely consider themselves secular Muslims trying to fully indulge into the new society; the third group has an elastic religious identity, blending Islamic values with Western-inspired lifestyles.

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The Politics of Faith and the Limits of Scientific Reason

Tracking the Anthropology of Human Rights and Religion

Kamari Maxine Clarke

This article explores the reality of translating or vernacularizing practices in relation to the politics of religion and the realities of faith. Taking violence as endemic to the processes of vernacularization and translation, the article articulates an analytic theory of religious faith—the way it is violated, often in the interest of making it legible within neo-liberal universalizing trends. Thinking about these realities involves understanding translations both as productive of cultural change and as manifestations of struggles over power. Many of these struggles are in the interstices among particular principles of individualism, secularism, legal rationality, and evidence. This article seeks to review the assumptions that emerge with these concepts and show their limits.