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Enwinding Social Theory

Wind and Weather in Zulu Zionist Sensorial Experiences

Rune Flikke

This article discusses the theoretical potential of air, winds, and atmosphere as they place flux, transience, and motion at the center of the human predicament. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among urban Zulu Zionists, it is argued that the winds blowing across the landscape of KwaZulu-Natal also blew through bodies and in the process restructured subjectivities. Through a general discussion of the phenomenal aspects of air, I argue that we need to approach our sensory relations to weather and atmosphere with a diachronic focus on changing local body-worlds. This is, I argue, a leap of the imagination that is needed in order to challenge the material and visual that implicitly underpin much social theory. Such a theoretical move is needed in order to properly approach weather-worlds.

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Blue Sky Matter

Toward an (In-flight) Understanding of the Sensuousness of Mobilities Design

Ole B. Jensen and Phillip Vannini

In this article we present a theoretical framework for an understanding of the relationship between the material design of mobilities technologies and the multisensorial human body. Situating our work in the emerging field of “mobilities design” within the broader so-called mobilities turn, we focus on two very different aircraft types and their design (the large passenger jet Boeing 737 and the small propeller aircraft DHC-2) in order to explore the sensuousness of in-flight experience and atmosphere. We focus on the interior design of the aircraft as well as on their technical capacities, and end with a conclusion that offers a fl at ontological view of mobilities design. We argue that according the material design of mobilities technologies must be inscribed on equal terms with the sensing human subject if we are to claim that we have reached a better understanding of how mobility feels.

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Money Can't Buy Me Hygge

Danish Middle-Class Consumption, Egalitarianism, and the Sanctity of Inner Space

Jeppe Trolle Linnet

In this article, the style of social interaction known as hygge is analyzed as being related to cultural values that idealize the notion of 'inner space' and to other egalitarian norms of everyday life in Scandinavian societies. While commonly experienced as a pleasurable involvement in a social and spatial interior, hygge is also examined as a mode of withdrawal from alienating conditions of modernity. In spite of its egalitarian features, hygge acts as a vehicle for social control, establishes its own hierarchy of attitudes, and implies a negative stereotyping of social groups who are perceived as unable to create hygge. The idea of hygge as a trait of Scandinavian culture is developed in the course of the interpretation, and its limitations are also discussed against ethnographic evidence that comparable spatial and social dynamics unfold in other cultural contexts.

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Dan Rabinowitz

Elinor Ostrom, joint winner (with Oliver Williamson) of the 2009 Nobel prize in economic sciences, was quickly recognized by anthropologists as an honorary member of the tribe, and as someone whose achievements are a tribute to the discipline (see Baumard 2009; Wutich and Smth 2009). A political scientist by training, Ostrom was not formally trained as an anthropologist or an ethnographer. This notwithstanding, her commitment to empirical field research and her preoccupation since the early 1970s with the role of collective action, trust, and cooperation in arrangements designed to enhance the management of common pool resources (CPRs) repeatedly directed her toward populations (indigenous groups at the margins of states) and issues (institutions designed and operated at the community level) usually associated with anthropology.

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Research in the Dark

Explorations into the Societal Effects of Light and Darkness

Nona Schulte-Römer

Edensor, Tim. 2017. From Light to Dark: Daylight, Illumination, and Gloom. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Bille, Mikkel. 2019. Homely Atmospheres and Lighting Technologies in Denmark: Living with Light. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

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Valeria V. Vasilyeva

The International Siberian Studies Conference (Sibirskiie Chteniia) is organized by the Siberian Department of Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, the renowned Kunstkamera, once every three years in Saint Petersburg. The conference this year, the tenth, was devoted to emotions, feelings and perception in the North and Siberia. This year, all sessions of the Conference took place in the main building of Russian Geographic Society (RGS), an institution with a long history of geographic and ethnographic research in Siberia, and the atmosphere created by the historical interior of RGS contributed greatly to the success of the event.

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Falko Schmieder

The article undertakes a reconstruction of the invention and early discussions (from 1850 to 1870) of the metaphor survival of the fittest. It shows that the metaphor has been established at the intersection of two different formations: first, the classical paradigm of oeconomia naturae and the modern paradigm of evolutionary theory, and secondly in the tense atmosphere of different theoretical disciplines. Because of its impure origin and the inseparability of its social, political, and biological layers of meaning, the history of this metaphor must be written as an interdisciplinary history.

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Being and Belonging in Kuwait

Expatriates, Stateless Peoples and the Politics of Citizenship

Nadia Eldemerdash

In this article I examine why Kuwait and other migrant-receiving countries in the Persian Gulf have failed to enfranchise migrant workers and their descendants through citizenship. I contend that the increasing exclusion of expatriate workers from these societies can be understood in comparison with the disenfranchisement of the stateless populations to which these governments are host. I argue that nationalist narratives that portray these groups as threatening to the host societies have been extremely significant in creating an atmosphere of increasing isolation and exclusion for both expatriates and stateless peoples. I conclude by examining what the Kuwaiti case tells us about how notions of membership and belonging develop and the significant role of historic and political circumstances in shaping these notions.

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Jablonka's History

Literature and the Search for Truth

Sarah Fishman

Although published in 2014, Jablonka’s History is a Contemporary Literature provides important insights into the Trump phenomenon. Why does a significant portion of the American population overlook Trump’s litany of lies and falsehoods? Journalist Adam Kirsch argued after the election that popular culture, Reality TV for example, blurred the line between fiction and truth, creating a “post-truth” atmosphere that paved the way for Trump. Kirsch echoes Jablonka, who advocates that historians use literary techniques in the interest of truth. Jablonka insists that history as contemporary literature must rest on historical research and methodology, using good historical story-telling to reach broader audiences, increase knowledge and deepen understanding. Jablonka’s manifesto defines writing history as a form of public service and presciently warns of the potentially catastrophic results of relinquishing the quest for historical truth.

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Thawilwadee Bureekul and Stithorn Thananithichot

Research from various countries demonstrates that trust builds social cohesion and conflicts may be solved as a result. Many alternatives for reconciliation in various countries have been studied and introduced to Thailand. However, the implementation of a reconciliation policy in Thailand seems to be impossible without having the atmosphere of peace building and specifically, trust building. This study aims to measure trust and discuss factors that may be problematic for establishing social cohesion, explaining why the process of reconciliation cannot be successful without trust building. The data from the Social Quality survey conducted by King Prajadhipok's Institute in late 2009 was used. This study finds that Thai society is still fragile because of the decreasing trust among people as well as confidence in various institutions, particularly political institutions.