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Vytis Čiubrinskas

The Centre of Social Anthropology (CSA) at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) in Kaunas has coordinated projects on this, including a current project on 'Retention of Lithuanian Identity under Conditions of Europeanisation and Globalisation: Patterns of Lithuanian-ness in Response to Identity Politics in Ireland, Norway, Spain, the UK and the US'. This has been designed as a multidisciplinary project. The actual expressions of identity politics of migrant, 'diasporic' or displaced identity of Lithuanian immigrants in their respective host country are being examined alongside with the national identity politics of those countries.

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Performing Identity

Early Seventeenth-Century Travelers to the Ruins of Troy

Vassiliki Markidou

The article focuses on three early-seventeenth-century (English and Scottish) leisure travelers’ accounts of the (alleged) ruins of Homeric Troy, namely those penned by Thomas Coryat, William Lithgow, and George Sandys. It argues that their rumination on the specific remains both shaped and reflected their manifold, fractured, and precarious identities while it also highlighted the complex dialogue taking place in these texts between a ruinous past and a fragmented and malleable present. The essay also examines the three travelers’ broken poetics, interspersed in the aforementioned accounts, and shows that they constitute highly self-aggrandizing narratives through which their authors perform their fragile identities.

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Identity and Traditional Law

Local Legal Conceptions in Svan Villages, Georgia

Stéphane Voell, Natia Jalabadze, Lavrenti Janiashvili and Elke Kamm

Traditional law continues to be relevant for the Svans (Georgians), who usually live in the highlands of the Caucasus, but who have also migrated to various parts of Georgia. To grasp its practice we draw on approaches in which its use is discussed as a strategy for '(re)asserting collective identities' (Benda-Beckmann) in order to enforce specific goals. But our research also shows another dimension of traditional law: more than in actual conflict resolutions, traditional law is found in narratives, that is in memories of how conflicts were resolved earlier and should be solved today. These stories, however, of how and when traditional law should be applied rarely correspond to lived reality. Drawing on Brubaker and Cooper, we argue that beside a rather instrumental motivated use of traditional law in asserting collective identities, its contemporary practice can only be fully understood if we also acknowledge its non-instrumental practice.

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Alienation, Ambivalence and Identity

Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book, In Other Words, is an autobiographical text that highlights the author’s journey to a new land and language. She grows up in America, communicates in Bengali with her parents during her early childhood and uses English in school; a sense of ambivalence about language dawns in her at this time. Her parents insist that Bengali be a dominant language in her life, but she falls in love with English, which later becomes her own language and the medium of her literary writing. During her doctoral studies, she feels an impulse to learn Italian and desperately strives to speak and write in that language. In Other Words, originally written in Italian, is the ultimate outcome of her aspirations to learn Italian. As the author switches from one language to another, from Bengali to English, and then from English to Italian, she forms an ambivalent sense of separation and proximity. This article seeks to explore Lahiri’s love for language, her sense of alienation and belonging, loss and achievement, and her search for identity and metamorphosis.

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Evenki Adolescents’ Identities

Negotiating the Modern and the Traditional in Educational Settings

Svetlana Huusko

Young Evenkis grow up in the middle of powerful colonial representations of their culture, community, and history. These are constructed in and disseminated through popular oral culture, education, museums, and shape both Russian ideas of Evenkis and the self-identity of the indigenous youth. This article discusses how the Evenki adolescents construct their personal identities and negotiate with dominant representations of Evenkiness within educational settings in Russia. When the indigenous culture is represented as locked in the past, the adolescents, while identifying themselves as indigenous, view themselves outside the culture. Fieldwork results show how the local approach to understanding “tradition” and “modernity” leads to the marginalization of indigenous culture and to assimilation among Evenki adolescents in Buriatiia, Russia.

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Robert A. Parkin

While it can claim some historical depth, essentially Lubuskie is a new province in western Poland that emerged from the local government reforms of 1999. It is thus located in a part of the country taken over by Poland from Germany in 1945, which as a consequence experienced a complete replacement of populations (Polish for German) at that time. This makes the province a useful case in which to study the emergence of a new identity over time. At present its identity is not as strong as in the case of its neighbours like Silesia and Wielkopolska, though it is being cultivated where possible by some local bureaucrats and politicians. It is argued that it is nonetheless justified to study such cases in order to determine and account for differences in the strength of regional identities in the same nationstate. The wider framework is regional identities within Europe as part of the process of European integration and its articulation with nation-states in the EU.

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Özlem Özmen

Julia Pascal’s The Yiddish Queen Lear, a dramatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, merges racial identity politics with gender politics as the play both traces the history of the Yiddish theatre and offers a feminist criticism of Shakespeare’s text. The use of Lear as a source text for a play about Jews illustrates that contemporary Jewish engagements with Shakespeare are more varied than reinterpretations of The Merchant of Venice. Identity politics are employed in Pascal’s manifestation of the problematic relationship between Lear and his daughters in the form of a conflict between the play’s protagonist Esther, who struggles to preserve the tradition of the Yiddish theatre, and her daughters who prefer the American cabaret. Gender politics are also portrayed with Pascal’s use of a strong woman protagonist, which contributes to the feminist criticism of Lear as well as subverting the stereotypical representation of the domestic Jewish female figure in other dramatic texts.

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Shreya Ghosh

If nations are “imagined communities”, as many theorists like to define them, then they need an ideology to create a cohesive imagination. In modern times, the project of writing “history” has been an important instrument in the service of this ideological purpose of justifying and reproducing the modern nation-state as the predestined and legitimate container of collective consciousness. School textbooks, at least in South Asia, have long been among the most exploited media for the presentation of the history of the national collective. This essay is a study of school textbooks in Bangladesh. It looks at narrative representations of selected episodes from the past, both pre- and postindependence, in order to reflect on how they construct “history”. Through this work I endeavor to relate textual images to issues of community relations and identity by identifying and sharing the ways in which the audience for nationalist discourse is created, nurtured, and secured through symbolic means.

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Andrei Bazarov

This article examines the book culture of the Buryat Buddhists of the Southern Siberia. Based on social archaeographic studies, the article posits a link between local book culture and the stable identity of Buryat Buddhist. Defining Buryat Buddhist identity based on an analysis of different aspects of their worldview, cultural life, and historical past, this article reveals how Buddhist book culture and home life are the most important aspects in the formation of local identity. The analysis confirms that a radical change in the mechanism of the transfer of tradition, social changes, and the economic crisis led to the transformation of the vector of development in the traditional book culture of the Buryats, highlighting that the main priority is not the religious but the ethnic component.

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Shu-Yuan Yang

Christianity functions as a significant identity marker for the Bunun, an Austronesian-speaking indigenous people of Taiwan. However, identity construction and boundary maintenance are not given by them as immediate reasons for conversion. Instead, the continuity between Bunun traditional beliefs and Christianity is commonly viewed as the most important reason why the latter took strong hold among the Bunun. This article aims to explain why this is so, and to illustrate how the Bunun have transformed Christianity from a foreign religion into something that is familiar, indigenous, and of their own. Among the local Christians, theology is downplayed in favor of piety, which is cultivated and expressed through practical activities. Healing, in particular, is seen as a demonstration of the power of the Christian God and constitutes the Bunun experience of Christianity.