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Abstract

By exploring the professional trajectory of sociologist Gheorghe (George) Retegan (1916–1998), this article addresses the epistemological and personal reconfigurations of the field of social sciences in post-war Romania, highlighting the complex relations and professional rivalries in the field after the Second World War, and their consequences for social knowledge. My study explores Retegan’s published and unpublished works, archival documents, and an interview that Z. Rostás conducted with Retegan in the 1990s. I analyse three research ventures relevant for understanding Retegan’s professional trajectory and methodological choices: the 1948–1950 family budget research that Retegan coordinated at the Central Institute for Statistics; the 1957–1959 monographic research he coordinated at the Institute for Economic Research; and his “farewell” to sociology and specialization in demography beginning in the 1960s. My article documents Retegan’s remarkable capacity to develop research by way of formulating new questions, methodologies, and techniques, on the basis of the main elements of empirical research he learned during his training in sociology under the supervision of Anton Golopenția. Retegan’s contributions to the field of empirical social research suggest how a context that was generally unfavourable for the development of social sciences (1948–1965) could be used in a creative way for the study of the social world. Epistemologically, the survival and even innovation of empirical research under unfavourable ideological and political conditions made possible the rehabilitation of sociology as a discipline in the much more favourable context of the second half of the 1960s.

Abstract

Traditional rituals formed the basis of ethnic Chuvash culture, and are still relevant in today’s festive and ritual culture, primarily among Chuvash ‘pagan’ ethno-religious groups. Today among the unbaptised Chuvash there is, with varying degrees of preservation, a set of ideas about the spirits of nature and the patron deity of different fields of life, practice of ritual prayer and sacrifice, and festive culture. The focus of ritual practice is the cult of the Supreme God Tura (Tură) and the ancestors, who during the calendar year appear in a single complex and in strict sequence. Traditional rituals play an essential role in the funeral and memorial rites and customs of the Chuvash. Thus, ‘pagan’ elements are characteristic not only of the unbaptised Chuvash, but also of some local groups of Christians and Muslims, for example ritual mourning of the dead, weekly commemoration on Thursday evenings until the ritual of ‘seeing off the soul’, ritual singing, sacrificing and ‘feeding’ souls of the dead on remembrance days, and other rituals and their elements. These ‘pagan’ elements in the culture of the Orthodox Chuvash and Chuvash Muslims living in ethnically mixed villages with Russians, Mordovians and Tatars both constitute the basis of their ethnic and cultural identity as Chuvash and contribute to the preservation of their ethnicity. Chuvash ‘paganism’, despite centuries of influence from Russian Orthodox and Muslim Tatar traditions, has a moderating influence over contemporary modernisation and is an element in religious practices of Chuvash confessional communities that is an important resource for the formation and development of ethnic and cultural identity.

Abstract

In spite of recent calls for the decolonisation of Czech and Slovak academia, there is still relatively little reflection of post-colonial theory in either Czech or Slovak historiography or related disciplines, including ethnology and Slavic studies. In the following essay I summarise the local discussion of coloniality and colonialism that has been going on since at least the end of the 2000s, while pointing out its conceptual limits and blind spots; namely the persistence of ‘colonial exceptionalism’ and the lack of understanding and use of race as an analytical tool. In dialogue with critical race theory as well as recent literature that deals with comparable ‘non-colonial’ or ‘marginal-colonial’ contexts such as South-Eastern Europe, Poland and the Nordic countries, I discuss how the local debates relating to colonial history as well as the post-colonial / post-socialist present of both countries would benefit from embracing the concept of ‘colonial exceptionalism’ and from including concepts of race and ‘whiteness’ as important tools of a critical analysis.

Abstract

The environment is no longer a backdrop, but an agent pressing us to restructure our economic and political systems, down to our livelihoods. This research aims to make a critical overview of the Sustainable Development (SD) model. It looks at how market fundamentalism and anthropocentrism are driving forces in the shaping of its proposed form of education: education for sustainable development (ESD). This “new” educational paradigm aims to support the SD strategies that are globally implemented and “localized” at the nation-state level. The current SD model and the Agenda 2030 operate within a specific framework of the nature/culture divide, one that reiterates human domination. As such, this research aims to analyse the educational values within the idea of sustainable development – one that wishes to “reorient” society but instead ends up emphasizing it in its anthropocentric form. It does so by close reading and analysis of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development and Romania’s National Strategies for Sustainable Development, 2008 and 2018. Concluding, it might very well be the case that restructuring schooling – and governing - to bring it up to the realities of climate change requires rethinking our fundamental educational values and the nature/culture divide, as well as making nation-states less servient of markets and less growth-oriented.

Abstract

This article looks at the perceptions of fear and ‘the frightening’ in contemporary Mongolian demonology. In the article, I discuss beliefs concerning both human and supernatural – what is supposed to be frightening for humans and what is supposed to be frightening for spirits, ghosts and demons. In daily interaction with the supernatural this mutual ‘fright’ can be regarded as an important part of communication. In this article, I discuss what is believed to be the most frightful for humans and for supernatural agents, what kinds of image this fear relates to and what the roots of these beliefs are, as well as the popular ways to confront and defend against ‘frightening’ in Mongolian folklore.

My research is based on fieldwork materials collected during annual expeditions in different parts of Mongolia (2006–2017) and Mongolian published sources such as Mongolian newspapers and journals, special editions of stories about encounters with the supernatural.

Abstract

Drawn by the tropical weather and pristine beaches, significantly lower cost of living, and proximity, South Koreans are now the top tourists in the Philippines. Besides the short-term tourists, more than 100,000 South Koreans have chosen to permanently reside in the Philippines, making them the largest immigrant population in the country. Recently, a tenuous relationship between these two groups has emerged marked by mutual antipathy. I have overheard many Koreans describe Filipinos as impoverished, lazy, and socially backwards. They appear to have internalized a racial hierarchy whereby they perceive their darker-skinned Asian counterparts as ranking lower on the pigmentocracy scale. Conversely, Filipinos complain incessantly that Korean immigrants and visitors alike are arrogant, rude, and provincial, refusing to learn Tagalog or appreciate, much less respect, local customs. The exclamation, “Fucking Koreans!” has become a familiar refrain by Filipinos in response to being treated as second-class citizens in their own country. This utterance also has a secondary meaning as the one area where Koreans and Filipinos commonly do interact is in the form of sexual relationships.