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Vital Energy

The Current of Relations

Stephen Gudeman

'Vital energy' is a central idea in the economies of Panama and Colombia. Known as 'strength' or 'force', and assembled from the environment, this current connects all activities in the local economies and establishes relationships, from kin to strangers. Humans compose vital energy, but its sources are limited, and it is expended in use. Its availability is a gift from God and part of the unpredictable fortune that faces everyone. This economy exhibits a contrast between a social current and a market currency. It offers a materialist perspective, provides a critique of standard economics, suggests that sharing rather than reciprocity or rational choice is the 'fundamental' economic practice, and shows how an economy may be a kind of ritual legitimated by a belief in divine power that is displayed through personal fortune.

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Speaking Our Truths, Building Our Strengths

Shaping Indigenous Girlhood Studies

Kirsten Lindquist, Kari-dawn Wuttunee and Sarah Flicker

Tân’si and welcome to this Special Section of Girlhood Studies on Indigenous Girls in which we present work written or created by and/or about the lives of young Indigenous women and girls across Turtle Island (as North America is known to many Anishinaabe/Ojibwe people), and from Mexico and South Africa. As guest editors, we are delighted to share this culmination of a very long process. Although all three of us were new to the editorial role, we were excited about creating the opportunity for contributors to discuss new theoretical and methodological perspectives on the very important topic of Indigenous girlhood. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first endeavor of its kind. Right from the start, we wanted to create and honor a process that put Indigenous girls and young women at the centre of this process. This meant that things took somewhat longer than anticipated, and we truly appreciate the patience of all concerned. We thank Claudia Mitchell for this great opportunity and we would like to acknowledge that without the invaluable assistance, reassurance, cheerleading, support, and careful editorial work of Ann Smith, this issue would probably never have materialized.

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The Library – A Source of Strength

An Imaginary Tour through the Present and Past of Leo Baeck College Library

Annette M. Boeckler

Leo Baeck College Library is an international meeting place. It may happen that suddenly a rabbi from France or South Africa, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Russia or the United States pops into the main room of the library to look something up during the break in a meeting at the college or somewhere else in the Sternberg Centre for Judaism. It is here that Leo Baeck College Library is located in interim rooms since 1982, waiting to move into purpose-made library rooms. The international visitor is very likely to be one of the over 150 alumni from Leo Baeck College. He or she may have come to use the books or to donate some: for example the first Progressive Haggadah printed in Russia, the latest books by a rabbi in France, the latest book about Dutch Jewry, and others. The books of the library mirror the international flair of its users. The books are in German, English, Hebrew, French, Russian, Dutch and other languages and deal not only with the main areas of academic Jewish Studies or traditional Rabbinics, but with the history and present situation in all its diversity of Jewish congregations in all European countries, Israel and the United States.

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Commentary

Intimacy through the Ethnographic Lens

Niko Besnier

The multiplicity of meanings that have been attributed to intimacy are both a weakness and a strength: a weakness because of the indeterminacy with which the category is used; a strength because it allows us to explore the relationship between its various meanings, and through this exploration address theoretically important questions. While it is commonly conflated with sexuality, intimacy concerns a considerably broader range of aspects of human life, which only an ethnographically founded approach can help us understand. Because of its indexical qualities, intimacy cannot be understood devoid of the context that gives it meaning.

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The 2010 Israeli Democracy Index raised a number of serious questions regarding the status and strength of Israeli democracy. We believe it is an appropriate topic to kick off our Forum, which presents essays representing a variety of points of view by eminent Israeli scholars.

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Pigs, Fish, and Birds

Toward Multispecies Ethnography in Melanesia

Katharina Schneider

This article reviews two strengths of Melanesian anthropology that could make a significant contribution to anthropological research on human-animal relations, specifically to multispecies ethnography. The first strength is an analytical approach to comparative research on gender developed in response to challenges from feminist theory in the 1980s; the second is a wealth of ethnographic detail on human-animal relations, much of it contained in texts not explicitly concerned with them and thus largely inaccessible to nonspecialist readers. The article sets up an analogy between the challenges faced by feminist anthropologists and those currently faced by multispecies ethnographers. It demonstrates how pursuing the analogy allows multispecies ethnographers to draw together analytically, and to reinvestigate a broad range of ethnographic resources containing details on human-animal relations, whose convergence so far remains hidden by divergent theoretical interests.

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"Like Alice, I Was Brave"

The Girl in the Text in Olemaun’s Residential School Narratives

Roxanne Harde

In the genre of residential school narratives for children, Not My Girl (2014) stands out for the determination, courage, and resilience of its narrator, a young girl who chooses to go to a Catholic boarding school, and then draws on both her culture and a British novel, Alice in Wonderland, about a brave girl for strength and resilience. This article traces Olemaun’s journey as she follows Alice into literacy but finds her own methods of resisting colonial oppression and asserting Indigenous agency.

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Cultural Research and Refugee Studies

New Knowledge, Methodologies, and Practical Implications—A Panel Commentary

Khalid Koser, Pnina Werbner and Ien Ang

Khalid Koser: I will focus particularly on the notion of future research directions … from a refugee studies perspective. I think what today’s workshop has confirmed to me, yet again, is the strength of anthropology in this whole area of refugee studies. There is no doubt that anthropology is one of the leading disciplines in the study of refugees … Anthropology and law have got refugee studies wrapped up, while other disciplines have not really made enough of a contribution to this area.

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Stepan N. Katyginskii and John P. Ziker

Stepan Katyginskii’s manuscript “Dolgan National Games” (Tyalyn Narodnai Onnoolor) is presented here in translation from the Russian. Katyginskii’s material on games is a contribution to knowledge of the traditional means by which organized physical activity occurred in indigenous communities of the Russian Arctic. As an integral part of Dolgan traditional ecological knowledge, Katyginskii’s material includes games that develop skills of aim, endurance, and strength. The article also presents some ethnographic information on the social context of performance of traditional games.

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Sacred Landscape, Healing Landscape

“Taking the Waters” in Tunka Valley, Russia

Katherine Metzo

This article examines the sacred mineral springs in Arshan, Buriatiia. These springs have been inscribed as sacred due to their medicinal properties and are marked as sacred through rituals and material offerings. Residents lament the loss of healing, and implicitly sacred, strength of Arshan. The author argues that the sense of loss is due to the medicalization of healing in Tsarist and Soviet times and from the commodification of this type of sacred site through bottling and tourism.