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Eva Bendix Petersen and Bronwyn Davies

In this article the authors take up the invitation to respond to the previous articles in the special issue. They discuss why it is so difficult to speak and write about gender and sexuality, and difference more generally, in the neoliberalised university. They make the case that the neoliberal university engages and uses categorical difference, and the individuals inhabiting these, mainly for auditing purposes. The authors develop the argument that despite the enterprise university's official commitments to diversity and inclusion, it remains indifferent to difference, understood as openness to becoming different, to differenciation in a Deleuzian sense. Difference is privatised and depoliticised and is only acceptable if it is useful and exploitable in pre-specified ways and if it conforms to and facilitates neoliberal agendas.

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Matthew Dimmock

Starting with the observation that there is a failure in an English language of “difference” associated with travel and trade in the late sixteenth century, this article explores the nature and consequences of that failure. Particular emphasis is placed on conversion—the evaluation and acceptance of an “alien” body into the Anglican community—and an analysis of John Foxe's A sermon preached at the christening of a certaine Iew (1578) and Meredith Hanmer's The Baptizing of a Turke (1586). Diplomatic and travel texts are considered to demonstrate the use of an earlier lexicon of heresy alongside contemporary ideas concerning the equivalence of Roman Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam. In the last decade or so many scholars have identified problems with the critical language in which these issues are discussed, in particular the notion of early modern England and its “others”. In evaluating the failure of a language of “difference,” this article suggests an alternative critical vocabulary.

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Shirin Housee

This article explores the everyday experiences of minority ethnic students at a university in the West Midlands. Based on interviews with 23 second-level students taking Sociology modules, it seeks to highlight the key social, personal and pedagogic issues for this group of minority ethnic students and to deepen understandings of cultural identity and exchange on campus. The students' multiple narratives and voices are central to the article, as is the possibility that there are multiple ways of experiencing teaching and learning at a university.

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Temperamental Differences

The Shifting Political Implications of Cousin Marriage in Nineteenth-Century America

Susan McKinnon

Kinship is inherently about configurations of sameness and difference, inclusion and exclusion. Yet theorists have often focused on kinship’s capacity for marking the inclusiveness of group formation, whether this be through shared substances

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Seeing Differences

Travellers to Ottoman Palestine and Accounts of Diversity

Uzi Baram

The divides between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, are well known. Scholarly and journalistic accounts of the differences in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean fill shelves and are too numerous to list. Most implicitly assume an essential divide between the two peoples, exploring the diversity within the groups but not the categories themselves. That primordial position, one that envisions identities as innate and fixed through time, negates the history of personal and group dynamics. This article provides a line of argument against the primordial approach to ethnic identity in the Middle East. Similar to the anthropological quest to demonstrate the historical contingencies of skin colour for hierarchical groupings of peoples (Smedley 1999), the categories for the peoples of the Middle East can be grounded in historical processes to produce a critique of primordialism. Eric Wolf (1982) exposed identities, behaviours and peoplehood as existing in a matrix of global interactions and histories that developed over the last 500 years. Anthropologists have followed that pathway to investigate the history of groups in the Americas, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, southern Asia and the Pacific region. Yet in a place with an abundance of history – some would say an overabundance of history – the groupings of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, are taken as givens. This article seeks to expose the volatile issues of groupings by employing a resource that contributed to the process of racialising differences.

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Romanticizing Difference

Identities in Transformation after World War I

Nadia Malinovich

political and ideological spectrums in the pre–World War II era. In our post-Holocaust and postcolonial world, progressive politics and an understanding of differences between human collectivities rooted in unchangeable biological realities do not marry well

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An ecology of difference

Equality and conflict in a glocalized world

Arturo Escobar

This paper develops a broad conceptualization of what could be called a political ecology of difference. The paper builds on trends in political ecology, the politics of place, and cultural analyses of modern conceptions of nature, rights, and the individual to outline an integrated framework for thinking about difference from the perspective of economic, ecological, and cultural distribution conflicts. The argument is illustrated with a case study from the Pacific rainforest region of Colombia, particularly the political ecology developed by the region’s social movement of black communities; the paper concludes with implications of the framework for thinking about the cultural politics of dominant institutions and their potential transformation along the lines of a politics of difference.

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Talking across Cultural Differences

Some Reflections Proceeding from Exile

Eva Hoffman

I am a woman and I am a writer; therefore, I am a woman writer. I do not disavow this, and I am sure that the basic given of femininity affects, in ways that are both accessible to me and unconscious, much of what I write. However, as I look back on my writing about issues of difference and Otherness—and as has sometimes been pointed out to me—I realise that the problematic of gender is, if not entirely absent from it, then rarely explicitly foregrounded or emphasised. I would like to reflect briefly on why this is so.

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The Meaning of Difference

Young Gay Males’ Experiences at School in Australia

Murray Drummond

This article is based on in-depth interviews with 14 young gay men aged between 18 and 25 years. Using narratives in a life-historical perspective the young men reflect upon their boyhood and adolescent years to highlight the many and varied issues confronting young gay males during this formative period. While a range of themes will be identified through use of inductive thematic analysis, it is the school environment and the process of schooling that highlights the issues associated with difference that young gay males confront while growing up. Life histories provide a unique method of understanding difference in the lives of individuals. Capturing the essence of meaning of a young gay male’s life (under the age of 18) through consensual research data is difficult due to the ethical dilemmas presented in requiring a parent or guardian to provide the right for participation. Therefore, life histories become even more important where young gay males are concerned in an attempt to understand the issues they confront while growing up gay in a heterosexualized culture.

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Culture, Identity, Difference

Developing a Museum-based Anthropology Education Resource forPre-university Students

Paul Basu and Simon Coleman

In its 2002-3 Strategic Review, the Royal Anthropological Institute reasserted the importance of the public communication of anthropology for the future of the discipline. Two significant venues for public engagement activity were identified: museums and pre-university education contexts. We present an account of the development and piloting of an anthropology teaching and learning resource that bridges these two arenas. Complementing efforts to introduce an anthropology A-Level, the Culture, Identity, Difference resource uses museum collections as a way of introducing anthropological perspectives on topics such as belief, ethnicity, gender and power to enhance students' studies across a range of different A-Level subjects. We reflect on some of the lessons learnt during the process, including the value of developing resources that can be used flexibly and creatively by teachers and students, and the need to approach the museum as a space of encounter, exploration and experimentation rather than as a didactic educational venue.