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An Afternoon of Productive Play with Problematic Dolls

The Importance of Foregrounding Children's Voices in Research

Rebecca C. Hains

Bratz dolls, popular among pre-adolescent girls, have been the subject of widespread criticism. Many scholars, activists, educators, and parents have argued that the scantily clad fashion dolls contribute to the sexualization of girls that has been decried by the American Psychological Association, among others. As is often the case in studies of girls' popular culture, however, these conversations about the problems with Bratz have rarely incorporated the voices of girls in the brand's target audience. To address this gap, this article analyzes an afternoon of Bratz doll play by a small group of African-American girls, aged between 8 and 10 years. This article suggests that although critical concerns about Bratz' sexualization are warranted, the dolls' racial diversity may benefit some girls' play, enabling them to productively negotiate complex issues of racial identity, racism, and history while paying little attention to the dolls' sexualized traits.

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God Does Not Play Dice with the Universe, or Does He?

Anthropological Interlocutions of Sport and Religion

Thomas F. Carter

Religion has been a central object of anthropological inquiry since its earliest days. In contrast, sport has remained an ancillary object of interest at best. Nonetheless, anthropologists have written some provocative analyses that challenge other disciplinary approaches to sport. Principally, those analyses emerged out of anthropological approaches to religion. Concerned with the ways in which anthropology theorizes and analyzes both religion and sport, this article begins by assessing the modern-day myth that 'sport is a religion'. It then compares subject-specific approaches to the relationships between sport and religion. The article then moves to the anthropological focus on ritual as it developed in the study of religion and how those ideas were then applied to analyses of sport. The article concludes with an examination of how the anthropology of sport has moved beyond those initial efforts before discussing various anthropological approaches to sport and religion.

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Crafting Future Selves

Time-Tricking and the Limits of Temporal Play in Children’s Online Film-Making

Espen Helgesen

Children in Norway increasingly spend time online, where they play games, create and share videos and hang out with friends. Drawing on fieldwork among immigrant families in Norway, this article investigates the use of avatars to facilitate temporal play in children’s online film-making. By creating animated films starring their own and their friends’ avatars, children playfully engage with a wide range of imagined future selves. Avatars constitute on-screen extensions of selves, allowing inhabitants of online environments to explore and experiment with otherwise inaccessible viewpoints and perspectives. Addressing the limits of time-tricking in children’s temporal play, the article shows how offline conventions shape what avatars can do.

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"A Quick Sideways Look and Wild Grin"

Joyful Assemblages in Moments of Girlhood

Susanne Gannon, Kristina Gottschall and Catherine Camden Pratt

Through stories of young girls at play produced in a collective biography workshop we trace flows of desire and excesses of joy, and bring recent feminist work on positive affect into our analysis of girlhood becomings. Ringrose (2011, 2013) argues that the concept of the “affective assemblage“ brings together affect, embodiment, and relationality in powerful ways to enable a mapping of how desire moves through the social. She suggests that the affective capacities of assemblages can be “life affirming or life destroying“ (2011: 602). In this article we are interested in mapping flows of desire, moments of joy and possibility in moments of girlhood, and in the limitations and contingencies within these moments that shut down these possibilities. We suggest that the methodology of collective biography (Davies and Gannon 2006, 2009, 2013) offers potential for tracing the microparticulars of girlhood becomings.

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Karma Sami

Four Arab Hamlet Plays, edited by Marvin Carlson and Margaret Litvin with Joy Arab (New York: Martin E. Segal Theatre Centre Publications, 2015). 299 pages.

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Aquatics, Play, and Eroticism

Beside the Seaside with Lewis Carroll

John Bale

This article explores some of the sports and leisure activities of Lewis Carroll. He is well known for his playfulness in his writings but relatively few works have explored what he was doing in his holiday time. Away from the ivory towers of Oxford University, he would travel to the south coast to explore the seaside towns such as Brighton and Eastbourne. He was well aware of the games and sports of the Victorian age and acquired an interest in aquatics. He was interested in young girls and watched then playing on the beach, recording them in his diary. As a spectator it is impossible to know what his motives were but they suggest that play has a negative side – i.e., the player being played with.

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Taking the Road for Play

Cyclist Appropriations of Automobile Infrastructures in Vietnam

Ashley Carruthers

After declining in status and mode share sharply with the popularization of the motorcycle, cycling in Vietnam is on the rise. Urban elites who pursue sport and leisure cycling are the most visible of Vietnam’s new cyclists, and they bring their sense of social mastery out onto the road with them by appropriating the nation’s new, automobile-focused infrastructures as places for play and display. While motivated by self-interest, their informal activism around securing bicycle access to new bridges and highways potentially benefits all and contributes to making livable cities. These socially elite cyclists transcend the status associated with their means of mobility as they enact their mastery over automobile infrastructures meant to usher in a new Vietnamese automobility.

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Enjoying an Emerging Alternative World

Ritual in Its Own Ludic Right

André Droogers

Ritual can be rehabilitated in its own right by emphasizing what it has in common with play: the ludic evocation of a simultaneous shadow reality. What is more, ritual can be understood as an enjoyable form of playing with realities. More than a solemn occasion, useful because of its social and cultural functions, ritual is a festive enactment of a counterreality. Connectionist ideas on the parallel processing of schemas and repertoires lend themselves for mapping the properties of ritual in its own ludic right. The human mind allows for a rapid comparison by the parallel—and not serial or sequential— processing of alternative schemas for thought, action, and emotion. An ethnographic illustration is taken from a boys’ initiation ritual among the Wagenia (Congo).

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Martha Zuber, Frank Dobbin, Amy Verdun, Thomas Philippon and Nicolas Jabko

Martha Zuber Introduction

Frank Dobbin Integrating Paradigms

Amy Verdun Strategy, Ideas, and Political Leadership

Thomas Philippon Economics and Playing the Market

Nicolas Jabko A Response to My Critics

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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.