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Ritual Dynamics and Virtual Practice

Beyond Representation and Meaning

Bruce Kapferer

Symbolic meaning and representational and reflexive perspectives remain dominant orientations in the analysis of ritual. While these must be crucial, this essay argues that a focus on the perceptual dynamics of rite, especially as these are located in ritual aesthetics, may expand an understanding of the force of rite. The discussion develops critically upon Victor Turner’s seminal work, suggesting ways in which ritual analyses may be redirected. The related concepts of dynamics and virtuality (distinguished from the cyber-technological kind) are developed, indicating that these may be critical for understanding how rites change or transform the situations to which they are directed. Ritual as a dynamic in virtuality that has no essential or necessary relation to the ordinary realities that surround it may, because of this fact, be greatly empowered as a force that can pragmatically intervene in ordinary realities.

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Wenyi Zhang and F.K.L. Chit Hlaing

This article outlines three historical transitions in Kachin chieftaincy in Burma and China. Picking up where the three main theoretical models in the literature leave off (the models of Leach, Nugent and Friedman), we put forward an analysis of Kachin sociopolitical organization using new China-based material. We compare this with Burma-based material in the literature, and re-analyse the interactions between the internal dynamics of Kachin chieftaincy and the politico-economic systems in Southwestern China and Northern Burma. We argue that Kachin chieftaincy in Burma and in China shared the same logic, although this logic was manifested differently in the two countries. We offer new material for understanding the lowland polities and upland chieftaincy in Southwestern China and mainland Southeast Asia.

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Legal dynamics in a border area

Between customary law and state law

Nebi Bardhoshi

This article considers factors that have effected and influenced the continuity of the customary law named the Kanun of Lek Dukagjini in some areas of Albanian and Kosovo. It draws on ethnographic data on the border area villages between Albania and Kosovo to discuss the dynamics and tensions that are created between state and non-state law vis-à-vis justice in highly complex and problematic social, economic, and political contexts. Customary law and state law seem to be two conflicting legal ideologies. However, the article considers everyday settings where people make use of both legal systems in order to regulate matters especially related to property issues. The new legal realities create around property ownership imply new type of relations vis-à-vis family and kinship structures which oscillate between the two systems.

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Heritage

Renovation, Relocation, Remediation, and Repositioning Museums

Mary Bouquet

This article examines the changing relationship between museums and heritage using a number of Dutch cases. It argues that if heritage was once defined as being museological in character, this order of precedence is under revision as museums themselves are recursively transformed by heritage dynamics. Such dynamics include the display of renovation work-in-progress; the enhancement of historical collections by relocation to prominent new sites and buildings; the transformation of old industrial sites into new art and public spaces; and a mutual reinforcement between the urban landscape setting and the institutions that compose it by virtual means. Postcolonial heritage practices worldwide enfold museums in a further set of transformatory dynamics: these include claims on cultural property that was removed in colonial times, but also the strategic transformation of cultural property into heritage for didactic purposes. Museums are subject to the recursive dynamics of heritage, which are turning them inside out.

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Niki Frantzeskaki, Jill Slinger, Heleen Vreugdenhil and Els van Daalen

This article presents the reframing of flood management practices in the light of social-ecological systems governance. It presents an exploratory theoretical analysis of social-ecological systems (SES) governance complemented by insights from case study analysis. It identifies a mismatch between the goals of the underlying ecosystem paradigms and their manifestation in management practice. The Polder Altenheim case study is an illustration of the consequences of flood management practices that do not match their underlying paradigm. The article recommends two institutional arrangements that will allow institutions to increase their capacity to co-evolve with SES dynamics: (a) institutional arrangements to ensure and enable openness in actor participation, and (b) institutional arrangements to enable updating of the management practices in response to SES dynamics.

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The Extended Case

Interactional Foundations and Prospective Dimensions

Don Handelman

The extended case is inherently processual, continuously becoming prospective history. Therefore, the dynamics of the extended case are necessarily temporal; there is no separation between the practice of social life and micro history. Here I ground the emerging temporality of the extended case in interpersonal interaction, in the dynamics of the creation and emergence of micro forms that Erving Goffman called encounters. An extended case emerges from a series of encounters as it moves into its own futures. Therefore, the extended case opens time/space to the practice of process, to the foregrounding of practice as intrinsically dynamic. The prospective perspective of the extended case pays close attention to how social life is practiced into existence as emergent phenomena, without assuming or presuming how social order holds together and falls apart. The extended case argues for a dynamic rather than a structural anthropology.

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Catherine Butler, Karen Anne Parkhill, Fiona Shirani, Karen Henwood and Nick Pidgeon

It is widely recognized that a major challenge in low carbon transitioning is the reduction of energy consumption. This implies a significant level of transformation in our ways of living, meaning the challenge is one that runs deep into the fabric of our personal lives. In this article we combine biographical research approaches with concepts from Bourdieu's practice theory to develop understanding of processes of change that embed particular patterns of energy consumption. Through an analysis of “case biographies” we show the value of biographical methods for understanding the dynamics of energy demand.

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The Ritual Experience of Continuity

Flow and Participation in Punu Twin Dancing

Carine Plancke

While focusing on its dynamics, Bruce Kapferer considers ritual as a means for readjusting the flow of life, thus undermining Claude Lévi-Strauss's vision of ritual as a vain search for continuity. This article shows the potential of Kapferer's approach for understanding the dance rituals that the Punu of Congo-Brazzaville dedicate to twins, who, as waterspirits, embody the source of life. Advancing Victor Turner's attempt to account for the generative power of ritual, it discloses the means through which these rituals afford a lived experience of revitalizing continuity whereby the part embraces the whole and a focused, self-intensifying energetic dynamic unfolds and continuously readjusts its own flow. The analysis of rhythm and its actualization in song and dance turns out to be essential in this regard.

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Konstantin B. Klokov and Sergey A. Khrushchev

This article surveys the population dynamics of twenty-six indigenous small-numbered peoples of the Russian North, using the data from eight General Censuses of Russia (1897-2002), and the Polar Census of 1926/27. The article demonstrates that each of these peoples responded to central state policies in diverse ways, and that often different populations of the same group showed differing trends in different regions. During the Soviet period there was strong assimilative pressure on the indigenous small-numbered peoples. The opposite tendency is evident in the post-Soviet period—a process referred to in this article as "ethnic re-identification."Because there was little inter-regional migration of the indigenous peoples, we conclude that the population dynamics of each nationality in each region is the result of the interplay among fertility, mortality, assimilation, and ethnic re-identification.

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The “Democracy-Politics Paradox”

The Dynamics of Political Alienation

Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

Contemporary political scientists have observed a democratic paradox that has crystallized around the disconnection between how citizens imagine their democracy and how politics is practiced. Citizens continue to believe in the values of liberal democracy but are increasingly disillusioned with how their political systems work and the politics that are practiced in the name of democracy. This article revisits the root causes of political alienation to better understand this democratic paradox. It provides both a conceptual understanding of political alienation and its domain of action and insights into how the concept can be operationalized and measured in empirical research. It argues that while democracy itself may not be in crisis, the politics on which its operation rests is in peril.