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Indigenous Urbanization in Russia's Arctic

The Case of Nenets Autonomous Region

Marya Rozanova

This article presents the social, economic, and political factors that contribute to the ongoing urbanization of the Nenets indigenous communities (“communities-in-transition”) in the Nenets Autonomous Region. Focusing on the preconditions for “indigenous flight” from traditional rural settlements to urban areas, the article analyzes key indicators—demographics, language proficiency, education level, and occupational sector, as well as social cohesion, interethnic relations, and political inclusion in the larger urban context—to describe the adaptation and integration processes of these new city dwellers. Based on the fieldwork in the region, the article also presents individual life strategies and career choices of indigenous youth and describes the role of gender in indigenous urbanization.

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Vera Kuklina, Sargylana Ignatieva and Uliana Vinokurova

This article explores the role of higher education institutions in the development of indigenous cultures in the Arctic city of Yakutsk. Although indigenous cultures have historically been related to traditional subsistence activities and a rural lifestyle, the growing urbanization of indigenous people brings new challenges and opportunities. The article draws on statistical data, as well as qualitative data from the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Peoples of the Northeast (ILCPN) at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) and the Arctic State Institute of Culture and Arts (AGIKI): annual reports, focus groups, interviews, and participant observations. The article argues that students and graduates contribute to the creation of a new image of the city as one in which indigenous cultures can find their own niche.

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The Visible Woman

Interwar Romanian Women's Writing, Modernity and the Gendered Public/Private Divide

Voichiţa Năchescu

In this article I analyse four novels by four Romanian women writers in order to bring into focus their perspectives on interwar gender roles, urbanisation and modernisation. First, I discuss the concept of 'feminine literature', largely used by (predominantly male) Romanian literary critics to describe literary works by women, as a description of normative femininity rather than an aesthetic category. Second, I argue that through their literary works, Romanian women writers effectively criticised interwar gender roles, more precisely the divide between public masculinity and private femininity, the constraints of women's sexual agency, and the heterosexual romance. Last, I analyse four novels published (mainly) during the interwar period by the Romanian women writers Hortensia Papadat Bengescu (1876-1955), Henriette Yvonne Stahl (1900-1984), Ioana Postelnicu (1910-2004) and Anişoara Odeanu (1912-1972), focussing on the female characters' presence and visibility in the urban public space and on the dynamics of the gaze that polices their behaviour.

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Marlene Laruelle

Russia is unique on the circumpolar landscape in that indigenous communities constitute only a small percentage of its Arctic population. Whereas they represent 80 percent of Greenland’s population, 50 percent of Canada’s, 20 percent of Alaska’s, and 15 percent of Norway’s Arctic regions, they make up less than 5 percent of the population of Arctic Russia. Although indigenous peoples have a more solid demography than Russians and have therefore seen their share of the Arctic population slowly increase over the past two decades, their rights remain fragile. Moscow does not consider the Arctic to have a specific status due to the presence of indigenous peoples, and its reading of the region is still very much shaped by the imperial past, the memory of an easy conquest (osvoenie) of territories deemed “unpopulated,” and the exploitation of the region’s subsoil resources.

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Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do

Place, Desire, and Country Girlhood

Catherine Driscoll

This article explores the figure of the bored country girl that appears widely in popular culture but also in girls studies and rural studies through ethnographic research in Australian country towns. While the presumption that country girls lack resources and opportunities for entertainment and leisure is in many ways empirically valid, this problem's articulation in girls' lives also offers an important perspective from which to ask what boredom and cultural needs mean, relative to each other, for both rural studies and girls studies. This article suggests that girlhood's relation to policy discourse and urbanized modernity can be productively reconsidered through the lived experience of country girls.

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Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel

The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate, and its cities are transformed by technology and distributed computing. With every photograph, Twitter post, public transit ride, and credit card swipe, we leave digital traces in physical space. The enormous quantity of information, or Urban Big Data, that humanity generates each day is beginning to off er new possibilities for research, design, and systems optimization on the city scale, but the first step toward our urban future is finding new ways of understanding and visualizing Big Data—revealing invisible dimensions of the city.

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Bernard Faye

Regarded as an animal of the past and supporting the eternal image of the ‘ship of the desert’, the dromedary camel is facing deep changes in its rearing system, causing significant changes in human relationships. A somewhat idealized virtuous animal among the nomad with which it shares the rough life of deserts, it becomes only one cog in the intensification process of settled production systems where it needs to better express its potential of production to avoid the risk of being marginalized, its utilitarian function becoming predominant. However, the urbanized Middle East likes to remember the virtues of the animal and its products, the dromedary returning this animal idealized for a weekend where the city dweller looking over its lost emotional proximity, rather than the economic benefits of its products.

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Manufacturing a Multifunctional Countryside

Operational Landscapes, Urban Desire, and the French State, 1945–1976

Venus Bivar

Rural France was instrumental to the experience of les trente glorieuses. Not only did rural France fuel economic growth and urbanization through increases in agricultural efficiency, but it also served as an imaginary counterpoint to the hustle and bustle of a new mass consumer society. In the first two decades of the postwar period, a productivist logic of agricultural output dominated rural land use policy. By the 1970s, however, after experiencing problems of surplus, the state turned toward a multifunctional approach. Rural lands were used to create regional parks, environmental preserves, and vacation properties. As both a site of agricultural production and urban consumption, rural France was operationalized to further the economic growth that defined les trente glorieuses.

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Hygienic Promenades

The Montagnes Russes as Medical and Urban Artifacts

Sun-Young Park

Postrevolutionary Paris witnessed a brief flowering of commercial gardens, precursors to the modern-day amusement park, which cultivated nature, exercise, and health in an urbanizing context. Bridging the eighteenth-century jardin-spectacle and the Second Empire network of public parks, pleasure grounds such as the Grand Tivoli and the Beaujon garden offered a range of activities including gymnastic games, bicycling, and, most strikingly of all, exhilarating rides on early roller coasters known as montagnes russes. Situated on the periphery of a rapidly densifying city and abstracting natural forms for urban consumption, these rides integrated discourses of hygiene and recreation. Analyzing these short-lived curiosities from the vantage points of medical, cultural, and urban history, this article argues that the montagnes russes helped disseminate modern conceptions of health and gender in popular culture.

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Joshua Grace

Mobility is often mentioned in African history, but rarely is it examined to its full analytical potential. This is unfortunate, in part because in the 1960s the first generation of African historians considered cultures of mobility a means of challenging stereotypes of African backwardness and simplicity. Jan Vansina, for example, used mobility to uncover “complexity” and “efficiency” in African political history—a stated goal of early Africanist historians working to debunk colonial stereotypes—and to challenge the structural-functionalist lens through which colonials and outsiders had understood African identities and social systems. In the following decades, mobility was critical to several aspects of African history—including slavery, women’s history, labor migration, and urbanization. Yet the makings of a recognizable field of African mobility have not emerged until recently.