This article analyzes local concerns with nature and natural changes in response to the tsunami of 2004 based on anthropological fieldwork in the South Indian fishing village of Tharangambadi. It explores the fishermen's effort to restore confidence in their environment after the disaster, and argues that this entails a subtle strategy of relating to climate and weather that aims at gradually transferring the rupture of the tsunami to a more manageable pattern of seasonal variation. In analytical terms, the article investigates how the fishermen work to reassert their subjectivity in the aftermath of the overwhelming disaster through operating with different perspectives on their environment. In conclusion, the article suggests that these shifting perspectives more generally reflect notions of different intensities of change and creative local modes of adaptation ensuing from a disruption like the tsunami.
Wind and Weather in Zulu Zionist Sensorial Experiences
This article discusses the theoretical potential of air, winds, and atmosphere as they place flux, transience, and motion at the center of the human predicament. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among urban Zulu Zionists, it is argued that the winds blowing across the landscape of KwaZulu-Natal also blew through bodies and in the process restructured subjectivities. Through a general discussion of the phenomenal aspects of air, I argue that we need to approach our sensory relations to weather and atmosphere with a diachronic focus on changing local body-worlds. This is, I argue, a leap of the imagination that is needed in order to challenge the material and visual that implicitly underpin much social theory. Such a theoretical move is needed in order to properly approach weather-worlds.
A Sri Lankan Village Case Study
As the impacts of climate change are expected to increase, there is growing concern in development contexts over how best to assist the poor and vulnerable to adapt to such changes whilst ensuring environmental and livelihood security. Climate variability is a persistent and progressively more worrying feature in the everyday lives of individuals and communities in rural areas around the world and there is a pressing need for comprehensive knowledge of the complex relationships between humans, and between them and their environment. Thus there is a growing movement towards bridging the gap between top-down decision-making and more grassroots approaches that encompass local knowledge and experiences. Drawing upon fieldwork in Sri Lanka, this article examines the potential of taking an indigenous knowledge research (IKR) approach to understanding local adaptation to climate change, specifically how local people are adapting their livelihood strategies to what they perceive to be increasing variability in weather patterns. It also explores the prospect of indigenous knowledge networks as vehicles for rapidly sharing information and building links between policy making and local reality.
Men and Modernity in Rosamond Lehmann's The Weather in the Streets
When Rosamond Lehmann died in 1990, her obituary notices were obsessive in unearthing links between her fiction and her personal life. In particular, obituary writers seemed fixated on the men in Lehmann’s life, on her passionate affairs and their equally intense traumatic collapse. As Hermione Lee pointed out in The Times, ‘No man would get obituaries like’ these.1 Women writers always run the risk of being judged and classified according to gendered criteria, especially when, as in Lehmann’s case, their work conforms to the literary models that have traditionally provided the staple diet of middlebrow ‘women’s fiction’. It is, however, more helpful to see Lehmann’s novels of the 1930s not so much as an autobiographical journey or a transparent reflection of her erotic career but as a register of the emotional climate of her times. The self-conscious and subversive deployment of the romance format in a work such as The Weather in the Streets (1936) serves to interrogate the relationship between sexualities and textualities, by exploring the artistic and social divisions characteristic of the period, where the failure of grand narratives exposes the linked crises of gender and aesthetics that absorbed many writers of that generation. Addressing this very issue, Lehmann regretted the ‘androgynous disguises, the masculine masks’ adopted by modern women in order to cope with a world in collapse, a ‘general post-war fissuring and crackup of all social and moral structures’.
A View from the Past
Colin G. Pooley
Contemporary society assumes high levels of unimpeded mobility, and disruptions to the ability to move quickly and easily can cause considerable concern. This paper examines the notion of mobility uncertainty and disruption from an historical perspective, arguing that interruptions to mobility have long been a characteristic of everyday travel. It is suggested that what has changed is not so much the extent or nature of disruption, but rather the resilience of transport systems and societal norms and expectations about travel. Data are taken from five examples of life writing produced by residents of the United Kingdom during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The texts are used to illustrate the travel problems encountered and the strategies adopted to deal with them. A concluding discussion examines these themes in the context of twenty-first century mobility.
On Data-Mining, Crowd-Sourcing and White Noise
The main concern of this article is with the ways in which technologies of data-mining and crowd-sourcing have made it possible for citizens to contribute to the expansion of infectious disease surveillance as both a concrete practice and a compelling fantasy. But I am less interested in participation as such, and more concerned with the epistemological effects that this technological mediation might have for the possibility of epidemic events to become shared objects of knowledge. What happens with epidemic events when they become targets of data-mining and crowd-sourcing technologies?
Michael Murphy and Jill Terry
A Smell of Fish by Matthew Sweeney (London: Cape, 2000) ISBN 0 224 06067 8 £8.00
On the Track by John Lucas (Bradford: Redbeck Press, 2000) ISBN 0 946980 74 8 £6.95
The Weather in Japan by Michael Longley (London: Cape, 2000) ISBN 0 224 06042 7 £8.00
Advancing Sisterhood? Interracial Friendships in Contemporary Southern Fiction by Sharon Monteith (Athens and Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2000) ISBN 0–8203–2249–0 hard-back $40.00
Kathryn Ehrich, Natashe Lemos Dekker and Jean-Baptiste Pesquet
The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home. Inge Daniels, 2010, Oxford and New York: Berg, ISBN: 9781845205171, 243pp. Pb. £19.99.
Weathering the World: Recovery in the Wake of the Tsunami in a Tamil Fishing Village. Frida Hastrup, 2011, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology series, ISBN: 9780857451996, 150pp. $70.00/£42.00
Still Life: Hopes, Desires and Satisfactions. Henrietta L. Moore, 2011, Cambridge: Polity Press, ISBN: 9780745636467, 208pp., Hb. £47.50, Pb. £15.19.
The Use of Trained Elephants for Emergency Logistics, Off-Road Conveyance, and Political Revolt in South and Southeast Asia
This article is about the use of trained Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) for transportation, in particular across muddy or flooded terrain, clandestine off-road transportation, and during guerrilla operations or political revolts. In a sense, these are all in fact the same transport task: the terrestrial conveyance of people and supplies when, due to weather or politics or both, roads cannot be used. While much recent work from fields such as anthropology, geography, history, and conservation biology discusses the unique relationship between humans and trained elephants, the unique human mobilities opened up by elephant-based transportation has been for the most part overlooked as a research topic. Looking at both historical and recent (post–World War II) examples of elephant-based transportation throughout South and Southeast Asia, I suggest here that this mode of transportation has been especially associated with epistemologically less visible processes occurring outside of state-recognized, formal institutions.
We are living at a time of what seems like unprecedented social, political, moral, epistemological and environmental uncertainty. It seems we are moving into – or are already in – what some historians call a ‘general crisis’. They usually apply that term to the seventeenth century. But however different his view of the world may have been to ours, Chaucer was himself living through just such a period, when ancient certainties and assumptions seemed radically unstable, when society seemed to be sliding into irresolvable war and chaos, and the weather was reliably unreliable. Famine stalked every happy harvest. Dame Fortune seemed to be at her most unpredictable. And ancient voices from that anxious time may have something to tell us in our own.