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Critical Museology

A Manifesto

Anthony Shelton

Synthesizing work carried out by the author over the past twenty-five years, this article proposes a tentative disciplinary definition of critical museology, distinguishing its related methodological interdictions and describing its distinctiveness from what is here defined as operational museology. The article acknowledges the diverse intellectual sources that have informed the subject and calls for a reorientation and separation of critical museology from the operational museologies that form part of its area of study. Critical museology, it is argued, is not only an essential intellectual tool for better understanding museums, related exhibitionary institutions, fields of patrimony and counter patrimonies, and the global and local flows and conditions in which they are embedded, but is also crucial for developing new exhibitionary genres, telling untold stories, rearticulating knowledge systems for public dissemination, reimagining organizational and management structures, and repurposing museums and galleries in line with multicultural and intercultural states and communities.

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Disharmonious Continuity

Critiquing Presence with Sartre and Derrida

Gavin Rae

Tilottama Rajan’s conclusion that “phenomenology [i]s the site at which deconstruction first emerges,” 14 insofar as “deconstruction is a transposition of phenomenological into linguistic models that retains the ontological concerns of the former.” 15 This

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Barbara Franchi

The role of women in making art and the agency of the overly-represented female body in artistic practices have been crucial debates in twentieth-century Western feminism and beyond. In particular, it was in the wake of the second wave of feminism, with the emergence of poststructuralism and deconstruction, and the postmodern turn that critical assessments of the arts started claiming back female spaces and voices in the midst of a still largely patriarchal artistic scene.

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Anthropology of Europe Redux

Déjà vu in the South

Jon P. Mitchell

For good reasons, anthropology some decades ago deconstructed the Mediterraneanist picture of familialist societies in the South. However, this deconstruction unexpectedly had its political twin in Malta’s fight against corruption to meet the conditions for EU-membership in 2004. Drawing on a deeper concept of “territoriality”, introduced by anthropologist Ina-Maria Greverus, the article considers lately observed new variants of nationalist positions that paradoxically are deeply entwined with clientelistic dynamics against the state, culminating in the recent murder of critical journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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Visible on Our Own Terms

Evoking Girlhood Self-Images Through Photographic Self-Study

Rosalind Hampton and Rachel Desjourdy

Photographic self-study can promote professional growth and deepen analysis of how girlhood experiences such as those related to ability, class, gender, and race are conditioned by and inform our multiple, shifting identities as women. This article presents excerpts from three women's experiences of photographic self-study, highlighting the possibilities of this method as a malleable, feminist approach to critical reflexive practice. Our stories demonstrate how a creative process of self-interpretation, self-representation, and self-knowing can draw oppressive categories of self-identification-carried from girlhood-to the surface and expose them to critique and deconstruction.

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Anna Giaufret

The analysis of language in French comics has usually been carried out on questions such as variation (especially diastratic and diatopic), focusing on lexical and syntactical elements, but seldom has the question of communication rules been dealt with, despite the fact that these are paramount in the comical effects achieved by some bandes dessinées. We will therefore carry out our analysis by examining how it is possible to explain the achievement of such comical effects through the in-depth deconstruction of the functioning of communication rules, more precisely their apparent malfunctioning when two different communities of speakers are forced to interact: Corsicans and Pinzuti (the Corsican name for non-Corsicans).

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Memory Practices in History Education about the 1947 British India Partition

Opportunities and Challenges to Breaching Hegemonic Remembering

Meenakshi Chhabra

This article is an epistemological reflection on memory practices in the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of collective memories of a historical event involving collective violence and conflict in formal and informal spaces of education. It focuses on the 1947 British India Partition of Punjab. The article engages with multiple memory practices of Partition carried out through personal narrative, interactions between Indian and Pakistani secondary school pupils, history textbook contents, and their enactment in the classroom by teachers. It sheds light on the complex dynamic between collective memory and history education about events of violent conflict, and explores opportunities for and challenges to intercepting hegemonic remembering of a violent past.

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Introduction

Angels and Demons

Andrew King

This special issue of Critical Survey stems from a conference at Canterbury Christ Church University in June 2010 that was intended to explore continuities and ruptures in the representation and deployment of angels and demons and related binaries, be they in nineteenth-century print media or seventeenth-century Protestant texts, twenty-first century bestsellers or company PR strategies. From the first it was decided that discussion should not be limited to actual angels and demons, but the more general binaries of good and evil, lucid self and obscure Other. Considerations of the generic processes of demonisation and its opposite were also welcome, as were attempts to think outside such binaries (insofar as such is possible). Was it the case that the undoing of binaries, vital to Cixous’ feminist enterprise and deconstruction generally, was salient today for the various politics of gender, sexuality, ‘race’, class, disability, and place, or had such deconstruction been so co-opted by conservative commercial culture (as was always possible according to Christopher Norris) that alternative strategies were necessary? All these ways of thinking about angels and demons are represented in the essays that follow.

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Vassiliki Markidou

The present essay attempts to shed light on the gender politics of Tobias Smollett's novel The Expedition of Humphry Clinker in relation to its spatial politics, and argues that geographic space functions as a framework within which gender contextualises both urban and rural culture. Drawing primarily on Henri Lefebvre's seminal post-modernist study of space, the paper argues that space is a social production that gives rise to representational effects. Chief among them is gender, and the essay analyses the way Smollett invokes and then subverts the traditional literary and cultural binary between country/femininity and city/masculinity. It thus advances a deconstruction of a familiar binary opposition between geographic and sexual stereotypes. Thus, the ultimate 'traveller' of Smollett's picaresque novel is none other than the reader who is invited to explore his/her identity by analysing Smollett's presentation of the formation of subjectivity through the intersections of space and gender as well as his ambiguous stance towards his contemporary status quo.

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Dane Sawyer

In this article, I reconsider the question of how best to understand Sartre's concept of bad faith by investigating it through the Derridean lens of deconstruction. I argue that Sartre's discussion of bad faith in Being and Nothingness mirrors Derrida's criticisms of structuralism in 'Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences'. Examining their distinctive discussions of 'play', I claim that Derrida's unique deconstructive interpretation of this notion operates within Sartre's criticisms of the 'spirit of seriousness'. I reinterpret bad faith as the attempt to solidify a permanent structure of one's personality, in order to avoid or escape from the 'play' or 'freedom' built into structures and our existential condition, and conclude that embracing 'play' is an essential characteristic of authenticity.