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Between Abjection and World-Making: Spatial Dynamics in the Lives of Indonesian Waria

Abstract

The lives of Indonesian waria (transgender women) are substantially shaped by spatial dynamics. As a result of social and spatial exclusion, subsequent migration and economic needs, a lifestyle pattern around daily work in beauty salons and street nightlife tied to transactional sex has evolved in many parts of urban Indonesia. Drawing on ethnographic research in the Indonesian regions of Java and West Papua, I demonstrate that despite tremendous spatial abjection, salons and street nightlife are also productive, transformative and conjoining spatialities that foster waria subjectivity in affective relations with their intimate partners, the community, the phantasmic promise of the transnational mediascape and Indonesia as a nation. The places that waria occupy may spark moral prejudice and targeted violence, but simultaneously they are sites of agency at which waria experience self-affirmation and a sense of belonging while embodying through gendered performance the envisioned mobility at both national and transnational scales. The paper thus foregrounds how spaces and subjectivities are mutually constitutive, forging one another, as well as how certain spatialities hold potential to disrupt the sense of marginality.

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Ethnographic Research in Soviet Latvia – The Source of a Stronger National Identity

Abstract

This article* provides an insight into ethnographic research during the Soviet occupation of Latvia, viewed in the context of national self-consciousness. Ethnographic research in Soviet Latvia was conducted by the ethnographic sector at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic (LSSR). By successfully using phrases appropriate to the political situation as well as the right quotations from Soviet ideological works, it was possible to maintain ideas and attitudes developed in interwar independent Latvia, for example, regarding Latvian national costume – in the works of Mirdza Slava. In turn, Aina Alsupe managed to carry out substantial new studies of the history and development of weaving in Latvia, and collect materials on the development of applied art in Soviet Latvia. The studies conducted by both Alsupe and Slava allowed researchers to keep applied folk arts and the folk costume topical, and in doing so to help maintain Latvian cultural identity.

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Favourite Research Topics of Estonian Ethnographers Under Soviet Rule

Abstract

Estonian ethnography as one of the Estonia-related disciplines was tied with Estonian nationalism from the very beginning. Defined as a science investigating mainly the material side of vanishing traditional peasant culture in the 1920s, it fitted rather well with the Soviet understanding of ethnography as a sub discipline of history. Thanks to the major cooperation projects initiated and coordinated by ethnographers from Moscow, Soviet Estonian ethnographers could continue studying Estonian traditional peasant culture. Their favourite research topics (folk costume, peasant architecture and traditional agriculture) supported Estonian national identity, but also suited the framework of Soviet ethnography. Studying contemporary (socialist) everyday life was unpopular among Estonian ethnographers because the results had to justify and support Soviet policy. They did so unwillingly, and avoided it completely if possible. Despite of some interruption during the Stalin era, ethnography managed to survive as a science of the nation in Soviet Estonia.

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A Folklorist in the Soviet Spotlight

Abstract

The article seeks to illuminate the ideologically motivated circumstances of Latvian folklore studies during the period of unconditional Soviet totalitarianism. With the strengthening of the Soviet occupation regime in Latvia in the late 1940s, many interwar folklorists became victims of ideologically motivated disdain and subsequent career limitation. ‘Bourgeois’ scholarship and the methods applied in folklore studies during the interwar period were denounced and recognised as harmful to the new Soviet order. The central part of the article presents a case study of one individual folklorist of the time, Anna Bērzkalne (1891–1956). Both increasing criticism of Bērzkalne’s folklore research approach (the historical–geographical method) and her efforts to accommodate the requirements of the Soviet regime have been analysed.

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Oromo Proverbs and Proverbial Expressions in the Customary Judicial System in Ethiopia

Abstract

This paper discusses the role of Oromo proverbs in conflict resolution and/or management as a peace-making verbal communication principle in the cultural context. The lesson from proverbs, which contain traditional morsels of wisdom, consists of cultural value and rhetorical effectiveness helping to enforce reality in the context in which they are used. Data for this paper is generated from primary sources. In data gathering, we used interview and focus group discussion. The analysis shows that proverbs have persuasive power to advise, guide and influence conflicting parties to settle their case peacefully. The proverbs tell their truths about conflict situations and devise a resolution and management approach through metaphorical and symbolic representations. Proverbs are also an integral part of Oromo culture, handing down and imparting norms, values, rules and the worldview of the community to guide people to live in customary ways.

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The Regional Studies Movement in Soviet Lithuania

Abstract

This article* is dedicated to the regional studies movement in Soviet Lithuania, primarily to ethnography, and argues that Lithuanian ethnographers conducted ethnographic research in different ways. The focus is on the Ramuva movement, founded in 1970 at Vilnius University and continuing until 1994. The activities of the Lithuanian regional studies movement were characterised by diverse education and ethnographic practices. I assert that the key to the success of Ramuva’s activity was a creative circumventing of Soviet ideology and practice. Through a discussion of theoretical issues and the results of fieldwork, I analyse the following questions: How did Marxism–Leninism change ethnography in Soviet Lithuania? What were the activities, methods and theory of regional research? Was Ramuva’s policy of knowledge production in opposition to the Soviet regime?

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The Role of Ethnographers in the Invention of Socialist Traditions in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

Abstract

This study, based on archive document research and analysis of publications by Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic (LSSR) ethnographers, discusses the process of invention and implementation of Socialist traditions and the role of scientists in this. The introduction of Soviet traditions in Latvia did not begin immediately after the Second World War when the communist occupation regime was restored. The occupation regime in the framework of an anti-religious campaign turned to the transformation of traditions that affect individual’s private sphere and relate to church rituals – baptism, confirmation, weddings, funerals, Latvian cemetery festivities – in the second half of 1950s, along with the implementation of revolutionary and labour traditions. In order to achieve the goals set by the Communist Party, a new structure of institutions was formed and specialists from many fields were involved, including ethnographers from the Institute of History at the LSSR Academy of Sciences (hereinafter – LSSR AS). Ethnographers offered recommendations, as well as observed and analysed the process, discussing it in meetings of official commissions and sharing the conclusions in scientific publications, presentations, etc.

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