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Dante Alighieri Was Here

Place, Identities, Geographies and Histories in a Small Slovenian Town

Miha Kozorog

The article addresses the question of local identification, proposing that local identification in the contemporary world can be linked to locals' imagining 'their place' as inscribed within wider contexts outlined by symbols with supra-local references, whereby place-centric imaginary geographies emerge. Locals are active producers of symbols linking a place to such geographies. The author discusses the case of Dante Alighieri's alleged stay in the town of Tolmin in 1319, which failed as a possible symbol for inscribing the town into the imaginary geography of Western literature because in this part of Slovenia Dante was also associated with Italian fascism.

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Jaro Stacul

At a time when European cities redefine themselves through 'culture' in an attempt to attract tourists, investors and potential residents, policymakers have to negotiate different notions of 'local culture' defined by state governments on the one hand and by the EU on the other. Drawing upon research conducted in the Polish city of Gdańsk in the context of the redevelopment of its urban landscape, the article illustrates how 'local culture' is redefined as 'culture of freedom' by municipal and state institutions in order to establish a relationship of historical continuity between the time when Gdańsk was a thriving multicultural city and the post-socialist present. The article puts forward the argument that while the reformulation of local culture as 'culture of freedom' involves reconciling notions of national identity with new norms of local, regional and European integration, it does not necessarily entail the supersession of nationalism.

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Mediating the Rural Ideal

The Australian Town in Twentieth-Century Travel

Louise Prowse

Australian country towns have always played a crucial role in rural tourism. But during the twentieth century, the role of the country town shifted from being a base from which to explore the rural ideal, to being the central destination in which to experience what the rural ideal had to offer. This research identifies cycles in the ways that country towns have been represented in tourist media throughout the twentieth century, from places facilitating rural travel for health, to sites of modern comfort and amenities, to destinations of historic rural charm and as sites to sample gourmet produce and cherry-pick aspects of rural life. Media images of rural travel produced by local tourism campaigns, regional collaborations and state tourism bureaus all point to a significant shift in how travelers partake in the rural ideal. They suggest that the country town became the central expression of the Australian rural ideal for the twentieth century tourist.

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Shared Meals and Food Fights

Geographical Indications, Rural Development, and the Environment

Fabio Parasecoli and Aya Tasaki

The article highlights relevant issues within the global debate on geographical indications, as they relate to food products. Geographical indications, a form of intellectual property designated by considering principally the place of origin of products, have become a hot topic among producers, activists, economists, and politicians worldwide. Commercial and legal issues related to them have generated complex negotiations in international organizations and national institutions, while their cultural aspects have stimulated theoretical debates about the impact of global trade on local identities. Geographical indications could become a valid tool to implement community-based, sustainable, and quality-oriented agriculture, depending on the sociopolitical environment and whether they are relevant for the producers involved, affordable in terms of administrative and management costs, and applicable on different scales of production. The article also explores the environmental impact of geographical indications and their potential in ensuring the livelihood of rural communities in emerging economies and promoting sustainable agricultural models.

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Disruptive Discourses

Kenyan Maasai Schoolgirls Make Themselves

Heather Switzer

This article examines the practical construction and effects of the schoolgirl as an emergent social category in contemporary Kenyan Maasai society against mainstream development's figuring of the girl-child. The paper relies upon ninety-eight interviews with schoolgirls between the ages of ten and seventeen in nine primary schools in Kajiado District, Kenya. A contradictory resistance to traditional gender norms and social forms characterizes the schoolgirls' narratives of education and development in their daily lives. These narratives are embedded in larger questions regarding the transnational intersections of ethnicity and gender in the formation of local identities in marginalized indigenous communities in postcolonial Kenya. Without disputing the practical necessities of educating girls, I problematize the seamless rhetoric concerning formal schooling as a neutral public good in order to open up the complex conversation about educational access and attainment in the global south today.

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Shakespeare and ‘Native Americans’

Forging Identities through the 1916 Shakespeare Tercentenary

Monika Smialkowska

This article examines the celebrations organised for the 1916 Shakespeare Tercentenary in three American locations: Wellesley, MA; Atlanta, GA; and Grand Forks, ND. By focusing on these hitherto neglected events, the article extends the investigations, initiated by Thomas Cartelli and Coppélia Kahn, into the ways in which the Tercentenary activities in the U.S. participated in the contemporaneous debates concerning American national identity. These investigations have until recently concentrated almost exclusively on the Tercentenary festivities organised in the metropolitan centre of New York City. An examination of the provincial celebrations in regions as diverse as New England, the South, and the Midwest, indicates that the Shakespeare Tercentenary provided a platform for the negotiation of a complex network of interrelated, and sometimes conflicting, national and local identities.

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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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Becoming an adult

Negotiation of identities in Markovo village (Chukotka)

Marina Hakkarainen

This article examines the attitudes of the indigenous people in Markovo, Chukotka, to their tradition and traditional knowledge as it relates to their becoming adult members in the community. Within the local cosmological system the opposition between the elders, who are considered as possessors of special knowledge, and the youngsters, who are seen as lacking it, creates certain tensions and determines the dynamics of individual development. A person who has entered her or his adulthood should accumulate special knowledge and power. In doing so, young adults begin to overcome the oppositional relationship between elders and youngsters. Markovo villagers associate such special knowledge and power with tradition. However, modern ways of life have become the dominant frame of reference, thus the position of youngsters toward tradition is not self-evident. They feel the need to negotiate their place in the community and their indigenous identity. Discussions about tradition play an important role in their attempts at attaining a local identity.

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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.