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Joyce Dalsheim

What do secular, left-wing Israelis living inside the Green Line have in common with religious, right-wing 'settlers'? Despite their conflicting positions, I argue that there is a depth of commonality that fuels the hatred and intolerance between these groups. This article aims to reveal a positional unity that appears as conflict, difference, and disunity. Resituating the apparently incommensurable discourses, I contend that this discord is best understood within the context of a society that is continually struggling with the outcomes of its settler origins and ongoing settlement activity. The focus is on the arguments between the two groups concerning uses of the past, which serves as a reference from which to demonstrate that the desire, particularly among the secular, to differentiate rather than identify is located in a fear of what today's settler activity reveals about the Zionist project in a broader sense and what it therefore stands to potentially undermine.

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The Grammars of 'Power'

Between Contestation and Mediation

Mark Rigstad

In light of the pragmatic aspirations of ordinary language philosophy, this essay critically examines the competing grammatical strictures that are often set forth within the theoretical discourse of 'power'. It repudiates both categorically appraisive employments of 'power' and the antithetical urge to fully operationalize the concept. It offers an attenuated defense of the thesis that 'power' is an essentially contestable concept, but rejects the notion that this linguistic fact stems from conflict between antipodal ideological paradigms. Careful attention to the ordinary pragmatics of power-language evinces the prospects for integrating various context-specific aspects of power and mediating between traditionally divergent theoretical frameworks.

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A Film Never Completed

Representing Social Relations in a Mixing Neighbourhood

Regev Nathansohn

This is a story and analysis of a film production that has never materialised. The case study features a group of neighbourhood residents who wished to produce a film representing their experiences of living in a mixed neighbourhood in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, where Jews and Arabs live together. The ethnography of their work documents the incommensurability between the social interactions within the group and the content of the film’s script. While the group dynamic reflected the mixing atmosphere of the neighbourhood, their script succumbed to the hegemonic discourse of separation in Israel and to steering away from ambiguities. The group’s aspiration to create a realistic representation required a political and visual language that was not available as an objective possibility and thus was challenging to imagine.

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Requiem for a Waria

Piety and the Political Potentiality of Ironic Experience

Sylvia Tidey

This article engages recent queries in anthropology regarding where to find openings for reimagining, recreating, or rearticulating a moral and political otherwise. I suggest we can find such openings in the political potentiality of ironic experiences—intensely unnerving confrontations with the discrepancy between accepted norms and cherished ideals, of which these norms fall short. Through a person-centered account of one of Indonesia’s most well-known waria (transgender woman), I demonstrate how an out-of-the-ordinary woman’s pursuit of a pious, ordinary life occasions a profound estrangement from common understandings of what it means to be Muslim. This, then, facilitates the possibility of reimaging religious and political orientations despite a national political context of growing incommensurability between Islam and non-heteronormativity.

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Damaging Environments

Land, Settler Colonialism, and Security for Indigenous Peoples

Wilfrid Greaves

This article theorizes why Indigenous peoples’ security claims fail to be accepted by government authorities or incorporated into the security policies and practices of settler states. By engaging the concepts of securitization and ontological security, I explain how Indigenous peoples are unable to successfully “speak” security to the state. I argue that nondominant societal groups are unable to gain authoritative acceptance for security issues that challenge the dominant national identity. In effect, indigeneity acts an inhibiting condition for successful securitization because, by identifying the state and dominant society as the source of their insecurity, Indigenous peoples’ security claims challenge the ontological security of settler societies. Given the incommensurability of Indigenous and settler claims to authority over land, and the ontological relationship to land that underpins Indigenous identities and worldviews, the inhibiting condition is especially relevant with respect to security claims based on damage to the natural environment.

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‘Takin’ It One Day at a Time’

(Not) Anticipating as Moral Project

Devin Flaherty

In this article, I explore anticipation as a site of moral experience and moral willing when death may be nearby. Through an examination of the narratives of the wife of a hospice patient in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, I show that her commitment to not anticipate the course of her husband’s illness is a moral project pitted against biomedical modes of prognostication. In a context in which hospice care is the only option available for many older adults in poor health, I discuss the incommensurability between this position and the anticipatory horizon on which hospice care is predicated: the patient’s imminent death. I argue for an approach to this woman’s experience that takes into account the tendency for temporal orientations to be thrown into flux when death might be nearby, without reducing her commitment to not anticipate to mere avoidance or ‘denial’.

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Mary N. Taylor

Since the early 1990s, language used to speak of cultural practices once thought of as "folklore" has become increasingly standardized around the term intangible heritage. Supranational intangible heritage policies promote a contradictory package that aims to preserve local identity and cultural diversity while promoting democratic values and economic development. Such efforts may contribute to the deployment of language that stresses mutual exclusivity and incommensurability, with important consequences for individual and group access to resources. This article examines these tensions with ethnographic attention to a Hungarian folk revival movement, illuminating how local histories of "heritage protection" meet with the global norm of heritage governance in complicated ways. I suggest the paradoxical predicament that both "liberal" notions of diversity and ethno-national boundaries are co-produced through a number of processes in late capitalism, most notably connected to changing relations of property and citizenship regimes.

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Graham Holderness and Bryan Loughrey

While the articles in this volume are focussed on new research in Hamlet studies, this editorial ‘Afterword’ reverts to an earlier stage of the debate around Q1, specifically the ‘culture wars’ of the 1990s, and re-examines the controversy surrounding the publication of the Shakespearean Originals series, which was launched with a new edition of Hamlet First Quarto (1992). Shakespearean Originals sought to situate texts within the historical conditions of textual production by decomposing conflated modern editions into the various discrete, and to some degree incommensurable, textualisations that were produced by historical contingency in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A general recovery of such textualisations, as they existed before their colonisation by the modern edition, was at that point in time clearly a priority. Although the series was prompted by ascendant currents in critical theory, the academy was not ready for this particular editorial initiative.

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Naming our sexualities

Secular constraints, Muslim freedoms

Katherine Pratt Ewing

Terms of a Western discourse of homosexuality shape conflicts surrounding sexual identity that are faced by many Muslims, especially those who live in diasporic communities. Many use essentialized categories to articulate their sexual orientations and express incommensurabilities between their sexuality and their identities as Muslims. This article argues that discursive constructions of the Muslim as traditional other to the secular sexual subject of a modern democracy generate an uninhabitable subject position that sharply dichotomizes sexual orientations and Muslim family/religious orientations, a dichotomization that is reinforced by well-publicized backlashes against open homosexuality in several Muslim countries. Yet observations made during ethnographic field research in Pakistan, as well as scholarly evidence from other Muslim countries, suggest that many Muslims are less troubled by sex and desire in all their possible forms than they are by the peculiar modern practice of naming our sexualities as the basis for secular public identities.

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Chris Hann

The concept of civilization has not prospered in socio-cultural anthropology. Its origins lie in Enlightenment France, where it was used in both singular and plural forms, the universalist singular eventually prevailing in the decades leading up to the Revolution. Our discipline came to prefer pluralizing counter-currents of this universalism such as that associated with Johann Gottfried Herder. The key term in German was Kultur, though it was not widely used in the plural until the twentieth century, while Zivilisation referred to technological progress. For Edward Burnett Tylor in England, culture and civilization were synonymous. But even before the demise of the European colonial empires, most socio-cultural anthropologists were uncomfortable with the normative connotations of the latter. They preferred to carry out ethnographic studies within paradigms that represented the world as composed of more or less bounded societies with their more or less incommensurable cultures. With the abandonment of evolutionist paradigms, analyses of the emergence of civilization from primitive cultures were rendered redundant and repugnant.