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Adeel Hamza and John Gannon

social categories so illuminating. He applied his critical faculty to issues such as economics, technology and its relation with the body, and personhood and the self. Potentially, his approach could have been applied to the interpretation of any sort of

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Michael Banton

If social units are to be classified it must be by reference to some distinctive characteristic or characteristics that they share. Administrative classifications are usually based on the characteristics identified in the everyday language that reflects practical knowledge. Classifications that will assist the growth of social scientific knowledge have to be based on the identification of theoretically relevant characteristics. Classification precedes the naming of categories. Experimental research into the relative strength of civic and ethnic preferences could uncover the variables that underlie popular notions of nation, race and ethnic group.

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Stiletto Socialism

Social Class, Dressing Up, and Women's Self-Positioning in Socialist Slovenia

Polona Sitar

Pierre Bourdieu, derives from “habitus,” which is a set of preferences that define an individual's choices. Individuals place themselves in selected social categories to gain social power and at the same time are placed by other people through judgments

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Hanna Herzog

The essay follows the development of gender studies in Israel. It argues that from an invisible social category in the early stages of social research, women as a social category has been continuously viewed with different meanings through different epistemological lenses. A major shift has taken place from gender to genders, from 'women' as a social category to 'women' as fragmented, variegated, and multi-dimensional entities. This transition from gender to genders raises a dilemma, for feminism as theory and as a social movement, of what kind of feminist politics, if any at all, is possible or needed.

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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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Javanese Kanuragan Ritual initiation

A Means to Socialize by Acquiring Invulnerability, Authority, and Spiritual Improvement

Jean-Marc de Grave

Kanuragan is a secret ritual initiation tied to local cosmological practices and cults used by the Javanese as a source of self-help on issues related to health, welfare, and protection. At basic levels, the practitioners of kanuragan use special entities called aji to gain strength and invulnerability. At the next level, the teaching of the master involves a specific mystical knowledge tied to the acquisition of spiritual authority. This article describes the process of transmission, the persons involved, and the role that kanuragan plays in Javanese society for security purposes and in warfare. The analysis shows how kanuragan competes with new secular and religious systems of value as well as with sorcery and new embodied practices such as sports competitions, to provide comparative insights on the formation of social categories.

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Coming Together in the So-Called Refugee Crisis

A Collaboration Among Refugee Newcomers, Migrants, Activists and Anthropologists in Berlin

Nasima Selim, Mustafa Abdalla, Lilas Alloulou, Mohamed Alaedden Halli, Seth M. Holmes, Maria Ibiß, Gabi Jaschke, and Johanna Gonçalves Martín

In 2015, Germany entered what would later become known as the ‘refugee crisis’. The Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture) trope gained political prominence and met with significant challenges. In this article, we focus on a series of encounters in Berlin, bringing together refugee newcomers, migrants, activists and anthropologists. As we thought and wrote together about shared experiences, we discovered the limitations of the normative assumptions of refugee work. One aim of this article is to destabilise terms such as refugee, refugee work, success and failure with our engagements in the aftermath of the ‘crisis’. Refugee work is not exclusively humanitarian aid directed towards the alleviation of suffering but includes being and doing together. Through productive failures and emergent lessons, the collaboration enhanced our understandings of social categories and the role of anthropology.

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Gust A. Yep, Sage E. Russo, and Ryan M. Lescure

Offering a captivating exploration of seven-year-old Ludovic Fabre’s struggle against cultural expectations of normative boyhood masculinity, Alain Berliner’s blockbuster Ma Vie en Rose exposes the ways in which current sex and gender systems operate in cinematic representations of nonconforming gender identities. Using transing as our theoretical framework to investigate how gender is assembled and reassembled in and across other social categories such as age, we engage in a close reading of the film with a focus on Ludovic’s gender performance. Our analysis reveals three distinct but interrelated discourses—construction, correction, and narration—as the protagonist and Ludovic’s family and larger social circle attempt to work with, through, and against transgression of normative boyhood masculinity. We conclude by exploring the implications of transing boyhood gender performances.

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Robert Bernasconi

According to those that would label Fanon a theorist of recognition, anti-colonial struggles for liberation are struggles for recognition. I will argue, however, that Fanon's discussion of recognition in Black Skin, White Masks offers a critique of the struggle for recognition, understood as the struggle to impose oneself on the other in order to be recognized as who one truly is. Fanon is critical of the idea that the freedom of colonial subjects will be realized when they are recognized by the colonizer. Indeed, the struggle to be recognized by the colonizer actually perpetuates the oppression of the colonized, insofar as this struggle is a struggle to be recognized within the terms of a discourse that is dictated largely by the colonizer. As Fanon demonstrates, the social categories within which subjects become socially visible beings nevertheless work in the service of subjection. Insofar as this is the case, the struggle to be recognized in socially intelligible terms will yield, at best, ambiguous results. Therefore, I argue that Fanon, unlike contemporary theorists of recognition, is skeptical of the liberatory potential of a struggle for recognition that is directed at securing recognition from the colonial "master." Furthermore, Fanon uses the instance of colonial racial misrecognition as the occasion to criticize the concept of recognition more broadly.

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Rohan Bastin

The figure of Dumont continues to loom large in the anthropology of South Asia, notwithstanding the fact that arguably the last thing he published on India was the preface to the 1980 edition of his masterpiece Homo Hierarchicus. 2 Yet what Dumont shows in that preface is that he has loomed large while and perhaps because other anthropologists have pointed accusatory fingers at him, especially those from Britain and within the tradition of British social anthropology and social science. So what was it that so ruffled the feathers of the British bulldog? Was it Dumont’s attack on the atomistic individualism of British social theory? Was it that he appeared to reduce every aspect of Indian caste to the structural dyad of pure and impure? Was it his argument (more fully developed in Dumont 1977) that the ideological notion of the economic as a distinct social category is the product of a historical juncture, and that historical materialist or Marxian analysis is as much an ideology as it is a theory of ideology? Or was it simply Dumont’s insistence that India is seen in its own terms, and not from the (ideological) position that stressed the fundamental inequalities and injustices of the Indian social system as something in need of change? Was Dumont, in short, a conservative apologist for caste writing in an era in which the social was regarded as something that could be changed?