famous novel The Go-Between 1 with the following sentence: The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. The contemporary Canadian psychologist and neuroscientist Steven Pinker opens his recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature
Valery B. Ferim
Attempting to codify what constitutes pan-Africanism especially in contemporary times can be elusive. This is because the concept has evolved over time and currently encompasses a variety of philosophical and ideological traditions. The elasticity
The Practice of ‘sharing’ in a New Age Variant of Umbanda
In contemporary Pagan and New Age rituals aimed at self-enhancement and personal development, verbal exchanges generally referred to by the emic term ‘sharing’ often follow the ritual endeavors. The experts who conduct these rituals (whether
Cultural anthropology in France continues to bear the influence of a colonial-era distinction between “modern” societies with a high degree of social differentiation (and marked by rapid social change) and ostensibly socially homogeneous and change-resistant “traditional” ones. The history of key institutions (museums and research institutes) bears witness to this, as does recent scholarship centered on “the contemporary” that reworks earlier models and concepts and applies them to a world increasingly marked by transnational circulation and globalization. Anthropology at the Crossroads describes the evolution of a national tradition of scholarship, changes to its institutional status, and the models, concepts, and critical perspectives of anthropologists currently revisiting and reworking the foundations of the discipline in France.
The present economic and financial crises do not seem to particularly influence the global art market of contemporary art. In an attempt to understand this apparent opposition, I adopt a macro perspective, combining my own research ventures in Dakar and Vienna with general art market studies. I argue that this market is a special representation of millennial capitalism (Comaroff and Comaroff 2001). The global art market puts in place an organization of diversity that allows a high flexibility in including specific centers and marginalizing others, as well as a special focus on a globally acting group of “ultra high net worth” individuals. Striking features are the concentration of capital flows to a few major centers, the constitution of complex, transnational networks, the dominant logics for each market field (gambling, glamour, moral economy), and the diversification of the commodity character of the work of art.
Traditional and Contemporary Uses of Gardens and Parks in Iran
For centuries, nature has played significant roles in the Persianate world. Across generations and beyond national borders, Persian gardens and parks have carried traces of narratives, beliefs and attitudes of those who designed, built and used them. This article explores Persian garden history and philosophy, and the emergence of urban parks in Iran. It examines the evolution of cultural attitudes and their reflections in contemporary meanings, layout and use of parks. Landscape narratives both influence and are shaped by shifting cultural values and needs. Urbanisation – and the necessity for urban dwellers to experience ‘nature’ in new environments, sociocultural factors and habitus transformation contribute to the diminution of the role of ‘traditional’ narratives in contemporary design. Nevertheless, the importance of spaces of stillness in landscape design, inherited from Persian garden ideology, influences recreational behaviour in Iran’s contemporary urban parks.
Nguyen Van Suu
Đô'i Mó'i, the name given to the economic reforms initiated in 1986 in Vietnam, has renewed the party-state's ambitious scheme of industrialization and has intensified the process of urbanization in Vietnam. A large area of land has been converted for these purposes, with various effects on both the state and society. This article sheds light on how land conversion has resulted in farmers' resistance and in what way and to what extent it has transformed their livelihoods in the transitional context of contemporary Vietnam. The article argues that agricultural land use rights remain an important asset for Vietnamese farmers, containing great value and meaning for them besides forming a means of prod
Debate, Curricula, and Swedish Students' History
In 2010, a proposal for a new history syllabus was criticized in the Swedish media for emphasizing contemporary history at the expense of ancient history. This study shows how contemporary history has increasingly been the focus of the guidelines developed by UNESCO and the Council of Europe, the national curricula, and students' work since the 1950s, while graduating students had generally rather chosen to focus on the early modern era up until the 1930s. Although history and civics were given status as separate school subjects in 1961, students' work in history continued to focus on contemporary subject matter. This study shows that the dominance of contemporary history in students' history is by no means a new phenomenon.
The Istanbul Biennial (IB) editions, as cultural events for the wider region and the Middle East, are examined in this article with regard to their relevance for art and artists and their interactions with their host city. Biennials of contemporary art, as main exhibition events of the present, and the urban transformations of Istanbul form the context of the research. Biennials, including the IB, often address controversial topics. Accordingly, the discrepancy between the critical stance of curators and artists, as well as the uses that a Biennial is subjected to by various interest groups, has to be taken under scrutiny.
Olivia Plender has built a gallery-based practice that explores history, often through an archival mining of social and esoteric beliefs that disturb contemporary expectations. This approach is one of illuminating alternative formations and beliefs