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“The state has replaced the man”

Women, family homes, and the benefit system on a council estate in England

Insa Koch

This article offers an ethnographic analysis of everyday sociality and the welfare state on a council estate in England. Taking the case of means-tested benefits, it investigates how women's encounters with the welfare state come into conflict with their attempts to build and to maintain family homes. It argues that while the current benefit system offers women a minimum safety net, it also comes with a set of expectations about appropriate behavior that is contrary to the fluid and collaborative nature of women's daily lives. Although the article demonstrates that women contest the punitive effects of the policies by subverting the rules of the benefit system, ultimately it suggests that dependence on the benefit system is a deeply coercive experience. Overall, the article not only provides a critical commentary on current policy developments in Britain, but it also contributes more generally to anthropological challenges of normative models of citizenship.

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Dafna Halperin

This study aims to identify future care preferences and examine the associations between personal resources, filial expectations, and family relations and the preferences of independent elderly Jews and Arabs aged 65 and over, using mixed methods. Data were collected using structured interviews of 168 Jews and 175 Arabs; additionally, 20 Jews and Arabs were interviewed in depth to enable more detailed analysis. The main findings show the effects of the modernization and individualization processes on elder preferences. Significant differences were found between Jews and Arabs for most variables. Whereas Jews' first preference was formal care, with mixed care following as second, Arabs preferred mixed care to other types. Differences in several factors associated with preference for mixed care were also noted, including in categories that were identified in the qualitative phase, such as 'dignity' versus 'honor' and the meaning of 'home'.

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Money Can't Buy Me Hygge

Danish Middle-Class Consumption, Egalitarianism, and the Sanctity of Inner Space

Jeppe Trolle Linnet

In this article, the style of social interaction known as hygge is analyzed as being related to cultural values that idealize the notion of 'inner space' and to other egalitarian norms of everyday life in Scandinavian societies. While commonly experienced as a pleasurable involvement in a social and spatial interior, hygge is also examined as a mode of withdrawal from alienating conditions of modernity. In spite of its egalitarian features, hygge acts as a vehicle for social control, establishes its own hierarchy of attitudes, and implies a negative stereotyping of social groups who are perceived as unable to create hygge. The idea of hygge as a trait of Scandinavian culture is developed in the course of the interpretation, and its limitations are also discussed against ethnographic evidence that comparable spatial and social dynamics unfold in other cultural contexts.

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Navigating the Mezzaterra

Home, Harem and the Hybrid Family in Ahdaf Soueif's The Map of Love

Catherine Wynne

The Map of Love (1999), a novel by the Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif, opens in Egypt and America in the late twentieth century, but shifts in time to explore and imaginatively reclaim the terrain of the travels of a Victorian woman in Egypt, Lady Lucie Duff Gordon, English author of Letters from Egypt (1865). The novel explores the links between a contemporary American-Egyptian family and a nineteenth-century Anglo-Egyptian one. By focussing on the hybrid family and by drawing on historical figures such as Gordon and the English Orientalist painter John Frederick Lewis, Soueif seeks to explore the complex dynamics of intercultural discourse. The Map of Love destabilises the homogeneity of a patriarchal and imperial narrative (several of Soueif 's nineteenth century British characters are anti-imperial) and it is through the representation of the harem as desirable domestic space that Soueif's revisionist project advances a positive vision of nineteenth-century Arab-Muslim domesticity and culture. These representations also align her project with nineteenth-century female travellers' accounts of the harem.

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Migrant Care Workers in Israel

Between Family, Market, and State

Hila Shamir

In the early 1990s, Israel opened its gates to migrant guest workers who were invited to work, on a temporary basis, in the agriculture, construction, and in-home care sectors. The in-home care sector developed quickly during those years due to the introduction of migrant workers coupled with the creation of a new welfare state benefit: a longterm care benefit that subsidized the employment of in-home care workers to assist dependent elderly and disabled Israelis. This article examines the legal and public policy ramifications of the transformation of Israeli families caused by the influx of migrant care workers into Israeli homes. Exploring the relationship between welfare, immigration, and employment laws, on the one hand, and marketized and non-marketized care relationships, on the other, it reveals the intimate links between public policy, 'private' families, and defamilialization processes.

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W. Brian Newsome

This article investigates the experiences of French women in communities of single-family homes by analyzing Villagexpo, a model subdivision built in the Paris suburb of Saint-Michel-sur-Orge in 1966. Drawing on archival resources and recent interviews with original inhabitants, the article argues that the “village“ model of Villagexpo attracted a nucleus of couples with deep roots in associational movements. Committed to the concept of village life, they facilitated social activity in the subdivision, helping female residents overcome a sense of isolation. The article modifies previous, and largely negative, depictions of the experiences of women in communities of single-family homes and places Villagexpo in the context of broader urban trends.

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Sabina Stan and Fiona Murphy

Esin Bozkurt (2009), Conceptualising 'Home': The Question of Belonging Among Turkish Families in Germany (Frankfurt/M. and New York: Campus), 243 pp., Pb: €32.90, ISBN: 978-3593387918.

Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich and Catherine Trundle (eds) (2010), Local Lives: Migration and the Politics of Place (Aldershot: Ashgate), 218 pp., Hb: £55.00, ISBN: 978-1-4094-0103-2.

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Thebes Troutman as Traveling Tween

Revising the Family Story

Margaret Steffler

Thebes Troutman in Miriam Toews’s The Flying Troutmans (2008) is a quirky eleven-year-old Canadian tween. In this article I argue that Thebes’s body, skin, and movement offer a textual counterpoint to the rigidity of the story of the nuclear family as it is conventionally told. Aligning the deterritorialization of the family with that of the nation, I argue that Thebes’s marking of her body in an engagingly bizarre tween performance proclaims her separation from the conventional family road trip and story, promoting new iterations of family, home, belonging, and origins. It is Thebes as tween who, through creating a zany, sometimes disturbing, but articulate identity and culture on her own skin, raises new possibilities of the tween’s role in breaking down borders. Thebes Troutman as a twenty-first-century fictional tween carves out space for new directions and a more fluid Canadian family.

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'On the Slaughter'

Bialik Confronts God after Kishinev, 1903

Alexandra Wright

The supremacy of Chayyim Nachman Bialik’s poetry derives from the nature and life of the poet himself. Born into a very traditional, large and impoverished family, Bialik sought a more comprehensive and secular education outside the discipline of talmudic studies. He read Russian poetry and European literature and while still studying in a Lithuanian yeshiva, joined a secret orthodox Zionist student society, Netzach Yisrael. In 1891 he left Volozhin and went to Odessa, the centre of modern Jewish culture in Southern Russia and became part of a literary circle around Ahad Ha-am until his return to the family home where he found his grandfather and brother both dying.

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'We Are the Losers of Socialism!'

Tuberculosis, the Limits of Bio-citizenship and the Future of Care in Romania

Jonathan Stillo

Mircea stares off The Pines Tuberculosis Sanatorium balcony. He tells me that in the valley below he once had a family and worked as a miner and then at a collective farm. Now he is alone and unwanted. His blue eyes well up with tears and he tells me, ‘we are the losers of socialism, there is no hope for us’. He continues: ‘We are losers in society, and when you see yourself, the way you are now, and you know what you used to be, when you mattered, and worked … it’s hard for you. This is why we say we are embarrassed, because you don’t matter anymore, to anybody.’ 55-year-old Mircea spent the last four years of his life here, abandoned by his family, dying of XDR-TB.1 When I asked his doctor when he would go home, she replied, ‘Home? To what? ... He is a social case,2 I cannot discharge him.’