The international development of booktowns during the late 20th and early 21st centuries has facilitated the accumulation of cultural capital for small towns by mobilizing the prestige of books as cultural objects. This article investigates the booktown phenomenon through a case study of Clunes, a village in regional Australia that has been designated as a booktown since 2007. The Bourdieusian approach of the article investigates cultural intermediaries and audiences at booktown, drawing on interviews and analysis of annual reports. These suggest two key findings. First, while Clunes Booktown participates in a range of regional, national and international networks, these work to focus attention strongly at the local level of the village. Second, the booktown designation relies upon and sometimes shores up the association of books with cultural distinction. Findings also suggest that the peripheral setting of Clunes may offset some of the exclusivity of book culture, as the attractions of the village and its non-book-related activities enable different forms of participation and potentially open up literary culture to a broader public.
This article tells the story of how the journalistic practices of David Hamilton Jackson (1884–1946), a local of St. Croix, in the newspaper The Herald (1915–1925) produced cultural and cosmopolitan bridges in (post)colonial times and how these connections were built on cultural and journalistic practices rather than on technological advancements. Based on a critical, discursive reading of The Herald, the article argues that despite the dominant narrative of the telegraph’s cosmopolitan qualities, which is supported by its perceived neutral transmission of news between peoples and cultures, the telegraph’s neutrality, like journalism’s own ambition of objectivity, is contestable. Rather, when looking for cosmopolitan connections – understood as worldwide, cultural citizenship – and citizen journalism, the reader is urged to consider the embodied, political acts and engagements of subjects struggling to gain rights and political voice through the medium of journalism.
Death generates rituals that organize the social world and bring to the fore the relational ties individuals have with one another. The media not only constitute the space where some of these death rituals take place but also are pivotal institutions that provide moral orientation. This article is interested in death-related media rituals and the extent to which these propose a way for individuals to situate themselves within a broader, social and political structure. Inspired by Judith Butler’s discussion of grievability, the article introduces the analytics of mediatized grievability, which offers a way of studying and analyzing news about death. This analytical framework unpacks the notion of grievability and accounts both for the properties of mediatized death rituals and for the moral principles embedded in these. The framework offers a systematic method of analyzing news about death and identifying the ethical solicitation such news addresses to its spectators with regard to how they should feel and act in situations of distant death.
This article analyses the representation and reception of the advertising of children’s healthcare products in Chinese television. It engages with the concept of risk to analyse the representation of a coherent narrative of young children’s health-related risks comprising messages of environment, nature, nutrition and science. Within the narrative, interconnected risks – risks of everyday living, risks of environment pollution, risk of malnutrition – as well as a wider discourse of ‘risk and protection’ are constructed. This article also analyses parents’ reception of the discourse and their responses to perceived and real health risks contextualised in a neoliberal system marked by medicalised children’s healthcare and ‘truncated’ civic rights in China. This article argues that these institutional conditions reinforce the risk-centred narrative which invokes heightened parental uncertainties and anxieties about childrearing as part of the modern cultural experiences in China.
With a notable shift in the nature of contemporary finance, art and finance are increasingly characterized by their semi-autonomous and abstracted natures. By demonstrating how speculation can intersect with the notion of belief and extending Maurizio Lazzarato’s work on the conditions necessary for belief, the article argues that art and finance’s properties of semi-autonomy and abstraction make them ideal sites for speculation. Drawing from work in economics, critical finance studies and art theory, it is argued that people speculate for reasons that go beyond rational capital accumulation, and the article concludes with the suggestion that the non-monetary benefits of speculation, in particular, are causing art and finance to increasingly become substitute and competing platforms.
Crime-detective fiction tours are increasingly popular in cities around the world, providing both international and domestic tourists alike the possibility to visit and experience urban space through its associations with their favorite novels and adaptations. Engaging in a comparison between guided literary tours through Sherlock Holmes’ London, Philip Marlowe’s Los Angeles and Lisbeth Salander’s Stockholm, this research aims to answer the question of how and in what way(s) these crime-detective fiction tours create a sense of place in the postmodern metropolis. Based on participant observation, as well as interviews with the guides and/or organizers of these tours, results show that each of these literary tours is particularly corresponding to the act of reading crime-detective fiction in general: the tours perform a re-enactment of the text, as the guide-as-detective takes the participants to unknown urban locations, in pursuit of unraveling hidden histories of the city. The locations addressed on the tours are all, to varying extents, made sense of through a combination of multiple narratives, derived from both historical fact and fiction. In gradually exposing, analyzing and unraveling these narrative layers of significance on location, the tours convey a distinctively modernistic myth of a presumed core identity of the city.
This essay examines the operation of neoliberal logic in The Fabulous Beekman Boys, a reality television show that premiered on the now rebranded Planet Green network during the summer of 2010. The essay’s analysis focuses primarily on the way the protagonists’ homosexuality is figured proleptically as something like an explanation for both their atypical successes as small-scale farmers and their inevitable failures. It also draws attention to way the show mobilizes stereotypes about gay men’s inherent tastefulness, and their penchant for taste-making, as a moralizing homily regarding the virtue of personal sacrifice, the nobility of risk-taking and the economically redemptive potential of niche marketing under conditions of late capitalism.
Benedict Anderson’s seminal work on imagined communities has opened a multitude of explorations in how mass media construct and represent social identities in relation to nationalism. Depicting and at the same time creating social groups, media representations are permeated by questions of inclusion and exclusion. As a result, it is important to study media representations of social identities as strategic ideologies that debilitate or stabilize, support or condemn a specific identity discourse. In this study, we explore how Kurdish identity has been represented in Newroz TV, one of the most popular satellite TV channels among Iranian Kurds. Findings show that Kurdish nationalism is first defined in opposition to Persian, Arabic (as in Syria and Iraq) and Turkish national identity. However, the resulting images are permeated by partisan ideological divisions among Kurdish political groups.
This article examines the North Sea Jazz Festival in order to highlight the growing influence of both ‘convergence culture’ (Jenkins) and prevailing jazz mythologies upon the reception and organization of contemporary European jazz festivals. In particular, the European jazz festival is examined within the context of increasing commercialization and digital mediation of the live music field. To stake my claim, I first sketch the context within which European jazz festivals arose, especially as initially driven by curators/aficionados, whose longing for ‘authentic’ jazz within natural (resort) surroundings provided the basis for our current European jazz mythology. Next, drawing from both secondary sources and journalistic reviews, I trace how the North Sea Jazz Festival transitioned from an independently curated event to a highly professionalized media festival in Rotterdam, northern Europe’s most modern, post-industrial jazz city. Finally, my close reading of the recent North Sea Jazz Festival’s headlining, crossover Dutch jazz artist, Caro Emerald, reveals how this transformation encouraged associations with the so-called European jazz myth, one which privileged Europeans’ connections to past American aesthetics and promoted New York–based jazz ‘heroes’ alongside crossover European jazz acts. My research draws from the fields of cultural studies, historiography, ethnomusicology and media studies to postulate a multidisciplinary theoretical perspective for examining jazz ideologies in light of large-scale transformations of festival culture.
This article engages with the practices of politics and its presence and meanings within the Asian scene. Despite work that has taken youth cultures beyond the framework of ‘resistance’, youth cultures are often still imagined and understood through the lens of ‘resistance’. Yet, within the Asian scene, the tensions, disavowal and ambivalence toward politics point toward a more complex, multilayered understanding of contemporary youth cultural forms. This article takes into account the politics of location and belonging that Asians within this scene are negotiating that are shaping the kind of political outlooks and attitudes that are being voiced. The growth of a middle-class ‘desi’ community in the United Kingdom and the rise of neoliberalism have led to a significant decline in the practice of a radical, deliberative politics within this ‘desi’ scene.
In recent years, Indian TV screens have seen a proliferation of reality shows focused on romance and dating. This essay examines a range of dating formats arguing that such shows offer rich insights into the ways in which contemporary Indian media culture is negotiating and promoting models of gendered individualism and ‘enterprising’ modes of selfhood. Drawing upon data from a study funded by the Australian Research Council on lifestyle and reality TV in South East Asia, our analysis focuses on the complex relationship between the ideals of aspirational modernity and choice-based selfhood promoted by these shows and the realities of ongoing gendered social and economic inequities and the continued cultural potency of religious and familial notions of duty.
Transgender is a marginalised category to which reality TV has given visibility, yet it is usually overlooked in observations regarding the minority groups that have gained mainstream representation through these programmes. Popular Australian reality TV shows have provided a unique space for the constructive representation of certain queer subjectivities. The Australian reality TV contestants in question present gendering that embraces ambiguity, that is, they demonstrate the deliberate disruption and blurring of gender/sex category divisions. This article examines the ways in which Australian reality TV’s representations of transgender contestants remain robustly queer while also being negotiated and made palatable for ‘family’ television audiences. It asserts the reality TV shows that feature transgender performance orchestrate a balance between queer expression and its containment. This article also takes as a case study a particularly successful Australian transgender reality TV contestant, Courtney Act. It argues Act’s representation of queerness was ‘managed’ within the normative framework of mainstream television yet she is still significantly troubled by gender binaries during her time on Australian screen. In 2014, she appeared as a contestant on the United States’ queer-themed reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and again proved to be a reality TV success. This transnational intersection of transgender performance signalled the productive possibilities of international cross-pollination in regard to affirmative reality TV representations of marginalised subjectivities. At the same time, however, it also revealed the localised nature of reality TV, even in those shows with an international queer appeal.
Drawing on an ethnography study, this article addresses young people’s contemporary politics in outer East London. Through an exploration of online music videos and one girl’s story, it engages with, and questions, prevailing academic discourses on the decline of youth politics. Foregrounding a conjunctural methodology, it discusses how young people’s political performances do indeed conform to the neoliberal matrix. However, beyond this, it also explores their struggles against neoliberal marginalisation and the possibility of radical politics beyond these constraints. The overall argument of this article is to understand how young people’s politics are simultaneously conformist, agonist and possibly radical in contemporary outer East London.
This article examines the presentation of mediated reconciliation on the South African reality television show Forgive and Forget (e.tv, 2007–2012). The show features a representation of Black South African masculinity that is located in the domestic realm and associated with care and emotion. This differs from the prominent figuring of Black masculinity in terms of the gangster trope in South African media. The national discourse on reconciliation and nation-building associated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission foregrounds certain political figures as fathers to the nation. On Forgive and Forget, this narrative is relocated in the domestic sphere with regard to representations of fathers and their children. While on its surface the programme retells a familiar narrative of national reconciliation through family stories, there is an evident tension between a somewhat contrived reconciliation and the many contextual, economic and social complexities of each forgiveness story. These tensions themselves provide a productive space for reflecting on reconciliation through the lens of the family.
This article discusses MTV’s Geordie Shore against the backcloth of current social conditions for working-class youth. It suggests that the aesthetic, physical and discursive features of excess represent hyperbole, produced from within an affective situation of precariousness and routed through the labour relations of media visibility. Hyper-glamour, hyper-sex and hyper-emotion are responses to the ideologies of the future-projected, self-governing neoliberal subject and to the contemporary gendered contradictions of sexually proclivity and monogamous heteronormativity. By ‘flaunting’ the realities of self-work and making the labour of themselves more/most visible, the participants of Geordie Shore are claiming an animated type of ill/legitimate subjectivity.
This article demonstrates how an analysis of fantasy femininity sheds light on how norms of gender, class and national identity reflect global and local cross-cultural currents in post-Soviet Russia. Drawing on a discourse analysis of women’s magazines and in-depth interviews with readers, it shows how, in the globalised post-Soviet cultural landscape, fantasy femininity represents both change and continuity. Feminine archetypes in women’s magazines, from fairytale princesses to Barbie dolls, reflect a wider post-Soviet cultural hybridisation and are an example of how Western women’s magazines have adapted to the Russian context. Furthermore, the article highlights readers’ ambiguous attitudes towards post-Soviet cultural trends linked to perceived Westernisation or globalisation, such as individualism, conspicuous consumption and glamour.
The governance of affect by capital has seen its ideological legitimation and emblematic site of production in the mainstream television industry, specifically reality television programs, as they provide templates for affective self-presentation to the public at large. As even a cursory glance at most reality television production demonstrates, it is most often women’s bodies and self-concepts that bear the burden of signifying and legitimating the message of this new economic formation: ‘conform to our template, be seen, and build a reputation!’ This article will focus on the Real Housewives franchise, which along with its network Bravo is credited with saving the fortunes of NBC, as the paradigmatic example of these new narrative trends and business models. It will interrogate the historical resonances and discontinuities between the economy of affective visibility now apparent on reality television and its modes of production and the origins of the ‘real’ housewife in early capitalism. At this time, women’s skills, bodies and reproductive capacities were violently restructured; forbidden from earning a wage or having money, women’s work inside and outside the home was simultaneously appropriated and concealed. As reality television inaugurates new kinds of labor and value creation in the 21st century, it does so in ways that are deeply gendered or ‘housewifized’; reality television’s forms of hidden, precarious, and unregulated labour recall the appropriation and denigration of the value of women’s work by systems of capitalist expansion in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The pro-Gaza demonstrations that marked the summer of 2014 were trailed by a concern over the intensity of anti-Semitism among European Muslims and accusations of ‘double standards’ with regard to anti-Muslim racism. In the Netherlands, the debate featured a nexus between the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, freedom of speech and the limits of tolerance, which beckons a closer analysis. I argue that it indicates the place of the Holocaust in the European imaginary as one of a haunting, which is marked by a structure of dis/avowal. Prescriptive multicultural tolerance, which builds on Europe’s debt to the Holocaust and represents the culturalized response to racial inequalities, reiterates this structure of dis/avowal. It ensures that its normative framework of identity politics and equivalences, and the Holocaust, Jews and anti-Semitism which occupy a seminal place within it, supplies the dominant (and in the case of anti-Semitism, displaced) terms for the contestation of (disavowed) racialized structures of inequality. The dominance of the framework of identity politics as a channel for minority populations to express a sense of marginalization and disaffection with mainstream politics, however, risks culturalizing both the origins and the solutions to that marginalization. Especially when that sense of marginalization is filtered and expressed through the contestation of the primacy of the Holocaust memory, it enables the state, which embeds Jews retrogressively in the European project, to externalize racialized minorities on the basis of presumed cultural incompatibilities (including anti-Semitism, now externalized from the memory of Europe proper and attributed uniquely to the Other); to erase its historical and contemporary racisms; and to subject minority populations to disciplinary securitization. Moreover, it contributes to the obfuscation of the political, social and economic dynamics through which neo-liberal capitalism effects the hollowing out of the social contract and the resultant fragmentation of society (which the state then can attribute to ‘deficient’ minority cultures and values).
This article explores the ways the masculinity and feminity of the emerging Czech elite were constructed at the turn of the 19th century. Using an often neglected literary genre of the memoirs, the study draws on extensive excerpts from memoir related to the town of Hradec Králové (Königgrätz), situated in Bohemia’s part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at that time. Embodied in the new constructions of masculinity and feminity, the nation-building process was particularly vivid here. The article shows that the education of the young Czech elite was shaped by a particular ‘masculine schizophrenia’ and that their new modern masculinity was constructed in relation to their Austrian counterparts. In analyzing the identity constructions of women, the article identifies discrepancies found between the highly approved women’s emancipatory process in Czech society and the traditional gender order which allocated women to the household. Particularly, the study contributes to a revival of the memoir as an important history source, containing extremely valuable and highly nuanced insights into the formation of a new gender order which are not available in official narratives.
Currently missing from critical literature on public engagement with academic research is a public-centric analysis of the wider contemporary context of developments in the field of public engagement and participation. Drawing on three differently useful strands of the existing theoretical literature on the public, this article compares a diverse sample of 100 participatory public engagement initiatives in order to first, analyse a selection of the myriad ways that the public is being constituted and supported across this contemporary field and second, identify what socio-cultural researchers might learn from these developments. Emerging from this research is a preliminary map of the field of public engagement and participation. This map highlights relationships and divergences that exist among diverse forms of practice and brings into clearer view a set of tensions between different contemporary approaches to public engagement and participation. Two ‘frontiers’ of participatory public engagement that socio-cultural researchers should attend are also identified. At the first, scholars need to be critical regarding the particular versions of the public that their preferred approach to engagement and participation supports and concerning how their specific identifications with the public relate to those being addressed across the wider field. At the second frontier, researchers need to consider the possibilities for political intervention that public engagement and participation practice could open out, both in the settings they are already working and also in the much broader, rapidly developing and increasingly complicated contemporary field of public engagement and participation that this article explores.
Homecomings tend to be unsettling. Any effort of embarking on the balancing act of bringing cosmopolitan experience and local life together is mediated by absence and sequences of life lived elsewhere. Return, consequently, is by no means a concluding movement in geographic space but an enduring process of regaining the precarious good of social ‘recurrence’. Thus, despite global flow of information, ‘homecomers’ often find themselves as involuntary marginals in the local societies that used to be ‘home’ because they have missed out on the crucial process of an onrolling local everyday life. This in turn often sets into motion a process of actively generating elective soils of significance. Based on Alfred Schütz’s phenomenology of the modern ‘homecomer’, this article attempts to outline the life world–related potential of contemporary return. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, this article aims at revealing the typical features of the ‘art of reconnecting’ that lies at the heart of what is conventionally called ‘reembedding’.
This article provides a Bourdieusian analysis of the mediatized lifeworlds of so-called elite cosmopolitans. Based on interviews with Nordic expatriates employed by United Nations organizations in Geneva, the study looks at how the increasing dependence on new media influence the field of United Nations organizations and the trajectories of cosmopolitan subjects. Theoretically, the analysis builds on two key concepts: communicational doxa, which establishes a link between Bourdieu’s field theory and critical mediatization theory; and cosmopolitan capital, understood as a sub-form of cultural capital. The findings suggest that mediatization alters the social conditions for accumulating cosmopolitan capital. However, the appropriation and mastery of new media do not hold any symbolic value as such, but tend to expand the possibilities for making investments in the field without altering its overarching logic. It is also shown that new professional media habits are often interwoven with private communication and the emotional needs associated with highly mobile family lives, thus underlining the indirect nature of mediatization in this context.
Every major global human resources study over the past 5 years has noted a common trend: a dramatic increase in the number of women in the expatriate workforce, and increasingly these expats are single. Using ethnographic observations and interviews with female expats who moved alone to work in Bangalore – the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ – I discuss frictions faced as they negotiate a context where how to get around safely and comfortably in public is the central feature of their daily lives. Using Massey’s concept of ‘power geometry’, the article considers contrasts between the ease of international movement and the obstacles to daily mobility on a local scale, and illustrates how location-based technologies and other strategies are employed to (re)assert control over mobility and space.
This article examines the emotional negotiations that mark the lived experience of Britons residing in rural France – a paradigmatic case of lifestyle migration – to develop a nuanced understanding of how the lifestyle migrant subject is (re)constructed through migration and settlement. In contrast to presentations of these migrations – both by scholars and migrants themselves – as a freely chosen self-realization project, the lens on emotion and affect brings into sharp relief the ambivalence experienced by many of these migrants despite their apparent privilege. It highlights the value of moving beyond narratives of migration into lived experience; it stresses the importance of recognizing that even for the middle classes belonging is a project-in-progress rather than fait accompli; it promotes the idea of lifestyle migrants as translocal subjects, belonging further complicated by ongoing attachments to people and places elsewhere. Through these foci, the article brings together research on lifestyle migration with that on the middle classes and belonging.
This article introduces the Special Issue Mobile Elites: Sojourners, Dwellers and Homecomers, in which five articles look into the hidden frictions and social and emotional costs involved in privileged forms of mobility. Such existentially oriented aspects of globalization are still relatively underresearched. It is argued that cultural studies hold a responsibility to carry out ethnographically oriented analyses of mobile elite groups in order to unveil the complexities of life trajectories commonly associated with social as well as economic success. The article outlines an epistemological platform for carrying out such analyses, combining the new mobilities paradigm with social field theory and social phenomenology. Based on the empirical analyses presented in the Special Issue, the article also introduces three ‘registers of ambiguity and negotiation’: ambiguities of moral geographies, ambiguities of re-embedding and ambiguities of flow-architectures.
Based on a critical discourse analysis of the reading practices of 66 female viewers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and the relations between such discourse practice and the sociocultural contexts, this article adopts a postfeminist framework to examine the reasons and mechanisms of the popularity of the German TV show Knallerfrauen among Chinese women. This article maintains that by contributing ‘craziness’ as a discursive resource to empower awakening feminist Chinese viewers, the show achieved ‘unexpected’ success in China as a result of the combined forces of the show’s textual qualities, the unique sociocultural contexts of contemporary China and the attempt to turn to Western popular culture for cultural resources by Chinese urban middle-class women driven by their colossal disappointment in the loss of critical and radical local (post)feminist criticism almost extinguished by an oppressive state discourse and seductive consumerism. This article ends by spelling out the value of scholarship on such cross-cultural television texts in the domains of meaning production, communication and consumption in the age of globalization.
The vague concept of a European cultural heritage is frequently referred to – but rarely explicitly defined – in scholarly discussion. The use of the concept in academia constructs a European cultural heritage as a category in research and explicitly and implicitly produces its focuses and outlines. Thus, the use of the concept can be considered as scholarly engineering of a European cultural heritage. To be able to have a scholarly discussion about a European cultural heritage, the meanings and uses of the concept need to be clarified. This article examines the meanings and uses of the concept in recent scholarly articles published in various disciplines. In the study, the concept analysis by Walker and Avant is applied and expanded with a discourse theoretical aspect: different recurring characteristics brought to the fore in the use of the concept are perceived as varying discourses on a European cultural heritage.
In this article, we discuss Finnish rap music by dissecting its relations to various forms of humor and spatiality. While there exists a stereotypical understanding of the rap scene as a continuum of the heritage of a serious, masculine and even aggressive African-American ghetto culture, our purpose is to show how humor and parody have also prevailed within the scene. Through dissecting spatiality, contextuality and humor in Finnish music videos, we first focus on how the tradition of Americanism and African-American hip hop identity is parodied in Finnish rap visualizations. Second, we discuss how rap is localized in humorous ways to fit Finnish conceptual and aesthetic categories. Third, we show how humor allows artists to create temporary hybrid identities for themselves and mix fantasy and foreign cultural influences in their rap videos. The research material consists of Finnish rap videos that were screened at the Oulu Music Video Festival during 2000–2010.
Celebrity as a text of cultural meanings has been widely studied, yet relatively little empirical work has explored celebrity from an audience perspective. This is more emphatically the case for the young teen and pre-teen audience for whom celebrity occupies a central place in their lives. This article investigates the meanings pre-teen girls in three independent studies make of Miley Cyrus who has been a prominent celebrity figure in girls’ lives for over a decade. Located at the intersection of girlhood and celebrity studies and using a poststructuralist discursive approach, our examination shows how Cyrus functioned in girls’ talk to mark out the boundaries of ‘proper’ femininity and how these boundaries were informed through both a punitive ‘trainwreck’ celebrity discourse and an age appropriateness discourse. We argue that the regulatory discourses of girlhood sexuality and femininity that operate in pre-teen girls’ lives are crucially important to their negotiation of Cyrus who represents an ‘impossible’ be-coming for them through her norm-violating hypersexualisation and drug use. The article contributes knowledge about the centrality of gender norms to ways celebrity may be understood and negotiated by girls and disturbs understandings of girl audiences as wholly influenced by, and aspirational towards, the celebrities they engage with.
This article examines the relationship between popular music, memory and cultural identity. It draws upon narrative approaches to memory and identity in order to explore how engagement with music from the past can both afford and constrain identity construction. On the basis of in-depth interviews with, among others, heritage practitioners and audience members, I discuss how practices in the cultural and heritage industries affect the way in which popular music’s past is narrated. Although those narratives offer a sense of belonging and identity through their connection to experiences of time and place, there are also factors that compromise this potential. The article discusses limits to the accuracy of memories and impediments to representations of local diversity. Furthermore, I argue that copyright regulation affects which stories about popular music’s past can be told.
Film scholars have argued that the British social realist films of the late 1950s and early 1960s reflect the concerns articulated by British cultural studies during the same period. This article looks at how the social realist films of the 1970s and early 1980s similarly reflect the concerns of British cultural studies scholarship produced by the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies during the 1970s. It argues that the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies’ approach to stylised working-class youth subcultures is echoed in the portrayal of youth subcultures in the social realist films Pressure (1976), Bloody Kids (1979), Babylon (1980) and Made in Britain (1982). This article explores the ways in which these films show us both the strengths and weaknesses of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies’ work on subcultures.
This study sets out to provide an understanding of internationally mobile elites from a perspective that takes into account the social costs that come with being away from localized, everyday life. We show that mobile elites are often reluctant travellers and employ Bude and Dürrschmidt’s notion of ‘transclusion’ to understand the often-unrecognized ambivalence of mobile lifestyles. One way of coping with the existential dilemma of being away is to stay connected with family and friends through technologies of communication, which are deployed by the mobile elite under the regime of what Tomlinson calls ‘technologies of the hearth’. We arrive at the concept of ‘elastic mobility’, which highlights central push-and-pull processes in mobile lifestyles. The concept forwards a perspective on the social consequences of globalization that goes beyond contemporary ‘flow speak’.
Muslims are making their way into filmed entertainment in Hollywood and Europe. Critical reception has uniformly acclaimed the quantitative progress, however, disagreeing on the quality of the representation. One position laments how the increased representation of diversity is structured by negative stereotypes; another is encouraged by how the very same stereotypes are ironically taken to extremes. Bearing in mind the intimate relation between identity and security, however, the stereotypical representation of difference is never innocent. The overall narratives of Danish public service broadcast series such as The Killing, Government and The Protectors rely on stereotypical security policy narratives identifying Muslims as threats. Even when stereotypes are creatively articulated to reverse the negative valuation, Muslim roles are distinctly charged or ‘securitized’ when compared to non-Muslim roles. However, placing the ‘Muslim’ character centre stage allows a separate level of representation of a distinct role in the way stories articulate stereotypes, facilitating hybrid identities.
Turkish television has seen the diversification of themes and genres in both fictional and factual programmes reflecting the expansion of the television market in the 2000s. As well as thematic television channels, various television shows on cooking and food are currently on air in Turkey. These cookery programmes not only introduce and ‘re-invent’ local recipes from different regions of Turkey but also promote particular lifestyles and consumption patterns for the audience. However, in the case of Turkey, cookery programmes draw comparisons between Islamic and secular lifestyles through combining religious tales with personal stories, local ingredients with global recipes and suggested housework strategies for producing tasteful food. This article examines Kitchen Love, a cookery programme presented by Emine Beder, one of the pioneers of culinary consumption as a form of popular culture. Both Emine Beder’s public persona and her show frame food and cooking as part of an Islamic identity that negotiates Islamic values in relation to modern lifestyles and patterns of consumption.
This article deals with the question how cultural diversity, expressed in a parliamentary debate, can influence the space given to religious minorities to substantiate their identity. The debate about the prohibition of non-stunned ritual slaughter in the Dutch Parliament in 2011/2012 serves as case study. A frame analysis reveals that tensions exist between minority rights and majority values and with regard to the regulation of religion in the public sphere. The article concludes that politicians struggle to position themselves amidst those fundamental questions and certainty is sought in the legal, political, scientific, economic and historical domain. There is no simple answer to the question what determines the space given to religious minorities to substantiate their identities. Although a political majority decision was taken at the end of a long trajectory, this was a compromise that leaves the controversy with its related uncertainties unsolved.
Invented by French comedian Dieudonné and interpreted as an anti-Semitic gesture, the ‘quenelle’ is a running gag with worldwide circulation in public settings and social networks. This case confronts us with the challenge posed by the use of humor as a cover for racist communication. Rejecting the options of political ban and media boycott as inefficient, this article examines two alternative strategies discussed in the French public sphere: One remains in the realm of humor and consists of joking back, while the other attempts to unmask the political significance of the quenelle behind the meaning that its producers claim to give it. This article draws on theories of disparagement humor and hermeneutics to propose strategic responses to those using humor as cover for denigration and vilification.
While the reality television phenomenon Big Brother has received much scholarly attention, its past and present status as space of prolific representation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender identities has been largely uninterrogated. This article seeks to address this gap, focusing on Big Brother UK. In contrast to popular claims that the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender participants within the show has engendered a climate of ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ for sexual minority identities in contemporary British society, I argue that, in line with the broader reality televisual mandates of emotional authenticity, intimacy and excess, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender visibility has been, and continues to be, contingent upon the articulation of a kind of queer emotional suffering. I contend that this suffering is a result of the continuing ‘otherness’ of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people to heterosexual norms of personhood, and while incredibly complex, I argue that the representations of this suffering within Big Brother work ultimately to reproduce the heteronormative.
Urban street gangs flourish in the urban centres of the Cape Verdean archipelago. Most of their members belong to the male, young and economically disadvantaged strata of society. While in public discourse youth gangs are often peremptorily blamed for most of the violence and criminality that take place in the country, the internal dynamics of gang life often go unnoticed. Based on fieldwork in the cities of Praia and Mindelo, the article discusses the mechanisms that make Cape Verdean adolescents and youths join urban gangs and stick to them, despite the state’s politics of securitization and repression. Within this context, the experience of imprisonment is related to gang members’ pre-prison biographies and the conceptualization of prison itself, reinforced during individual ‘careers’ of marginality.
By means of a qualitative analysis of Superfans, a five-part reality television series in which fans are followed in their daily activities, ranging from singing along at concerts to intimate camera confessions in a room dedicated to their idol, this article studies the representation of fandom in mainstream television and participants’ and TV-producers’ reflections upon it. Empirical content analysis and interviews reveal different aspects of fandom, as identified by Abercrombie and Longhurst, to dominate the representation: intense media use and fan productivity, strong hierarchical communities and a lack of critical interpretative skills. Fan–idol relationships are shown to be based on emotions and to go beyond mere identification to include parasocial relationships and neo-religiosity. Results thus confirm the theoretical paradox between the television industry’s promotion of celebrity to attract loyal audiences and the rejection of fandom through a carefully constructed representation hereof as ‘freaky business’.
This article returns to a diverse body of literature that has identified urban memory as a specific category of cultural analysis. Yet, while the significance of memory to culture and the city is widely recognized, at the same time, more and more questions are surfacing around the status and meaning of the term urban. This article pursues the contemporary question of urban memory by turning to alternative urban cultural practices – specifically, urban intervention art projects – that elaborate upon the social imagination, settings and scenes of urban memory. The case study for this article concentrates on Toronto-based artist Iris Häussler’s The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach, 2006, a project that convincingly staged the discovery of an unknown reclusive artist’s house and presented it to the public as a legitimate municipal archival assessment. This project examines the production of archival knowledge and urban memory through invention, performance and participation, and places memory at the crossroads of global city aspirations and rapid gentrification in downtown Toronto. This article will argue that this fabricated urban archive presents a number of archival lessons and houses a creative cosmopolitanism that asks us to identify with the life of a stranger. By placing The Legacy in dialogue with recent perspectives on the cosmopolitanism imagination, I will argue for the significance of not just imagination but memory to a reinvented, embedded cosmopolitanism that grows out of both ambivalence and reciprocity within the urban everyday.
The subject of this article is media tourism: the phenomenon of people travelling to places which they associate with novels, films or television series. Existing knowledge about this phenomenon is fragmented and principally based on individual case studies of eye-catching examples. This article aims to go beyond the limited scope of case studies and to explore an underlying, more generic process. It investigates the stories that are remembered by individuals, the associations between these stories and existing places, and decisions about whether or not to undertake travel to these places. Based on a series of in-depth interviews, the article concludes that every human being has a small treasure trove of stories which they love and which are considered part of their identity. The interviews suggest that there is a strong relationship between the recollection of beloved stories and tourist practices – in terms of both destination decision making and tourist experience.
Through a critical review of existing literature on hipsters, and an analysis of online data, this article provides a description of ‘hipster culture’. To this end, we examine the reoccurring markers of hipster identity and, crucially, the accompanying identity discourses on hipsters. As a result, a picture of hipster culture emerges as a translocal and layered phenomenon with contextually specific claims to authenticity, and certain material infrastructures and effects emerge with the culture. Finally, we will propose the concept of ‘micro-population’ as a tool for making sense not only of hipsters, but identity in general in times of superdiversity.
This article explores the afterlives of communist everyday material culture by pitting grassroots heritage practices against officially sanctioned museum narratives in post-communist Romania. More specifically, it engages with the divergent affective attachments imposed on and contained by communist things. I focus on three different instances of engagement with everyday material culture from communism: the Sighet Memorial Museum, the online musealization of communist memorabilia in two blogs and the investigation of the social afterlives of bygone communist brands in the documentary Metrobranding (2010). My interest lies with disentangling the protocols of affective attachment to and detachment from the communist past as revealed by the shifting framing of communist things as either junk or redeemed biographical objects. These competing emotional regimes around communist materiality are, I argue, symptomatic of broader changes in mnemonic practices and provide valuable insights into the generationality of post-communist remembrances.
The article argues that since December 2008, the continuous presence in public space in Athens and the spectacular mediatization in news reports, of various forms of the so-called anomie, as well as (since 2012) of its spectacular and violent repression by the police, were instrumentalized by the Greek austerity government in an attempt to enhance and manipulate already existing feelings of precarity among the population. Organized police operations in public space were turned into ‘media events’. Specifically, ‘affective precarity’ is considered as a way of demobilizing precarity as a politically and economically operative concept. The article adopts Lauren Berlant’s analysis of the relation between precarity and the austerity state.
Drawing on the works of Ahmed, Balibar and Appadurai, this article explores the complex dynamics of stranger making in Europe, with particular focus on the status of immigrants who are marked by systemic racialization. The article offers brief analyses of a series of ‘critical incidents’ to illustrate contemporary enactments of stranger making politics in order to examine how theorizations of race and racialization may be shifting in European contexts. It argues that specific notions of nationalism and national identity are being re-configured in the current neoliberal climate of European Union austerity and civil unrest to reify a national ‘us’ against those who must be made ‘stranger’.
Much has been written about the representation of sexual minorities in the media, but the meanings of such representations for audiences have hardly been explored to date. Moreover, most of this writing only addresses Western representations and White, Western audiences, so the current picture is limited and culturally specific. This article draws on in-depth interviews with (children of) migrants living in Belgium, discussing their readings of representations of sexual diversity. In media from their country of origin, but also in Belgian and Western media, they identify many of the ‘old’ problems discussed in the literature on lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender representation: invisibility, negativity and stereotyping. While they are also critical about the lack of diversity in the media, particularly in terms of non-White, non-Western representations, they generally ‘make do’ with what is available This research shows how patterns of representation are all but even across the world, and how strongly the meanings and implications of these representations depend on the readings of audiences, situated in particular cultural, social and media contexts.
This ‘exploratory case study’ focuses on the Web 2.0 practices related to the popular cult of ‘Madonna dell’Arco’. Actually, the devotees share a large number of contents regarding the devotional practices using social networking sites, blogs and video sharing sites. The use of social media by the devotees is striking, as the novelty of technology and practices seems to contrast with the ancestral themes of popular religiosity. In fact, the penitential pilgrimage on foot to the Sanctuary of Madonna dell’Arco in Sant’Anastasía (Province of Naples) has taken place on Easter Mondays every year since the end of the 15th century. It is also rooted in very ancient fertility rites, probably tied to Cybele’s cults. In other words, the use of social media by the devotees seems to reveal for us how the slowly evolving structures and the short-term time-scale events intertwine, in a space and time in which we find the coexistence of forms, practices and power relations, both established and innovative. Therefore, the principal aim of this article is not to consider the use of social media by the devotees in its religious substance. It would rather confront these evidences with the metanarratives which describe how the homogenisation, the mediatisation and the network society are reducing cultural diversities and eroding national identities. At the same time, it aims at confronting them with some widely diffused ideas about the ‘trajectory’ or ‘logic’ of the media and some narratives (and/or mythologies) about information and communications technologies and their social effects. Otherwise, we could consider this article as an attempt towards ‘non-media-centric media studies’ which acknowledges the distinctive characteristics and affordances of the media but also, and fundamentally, puts the social and everyday practices at the centre of the investigation, not necessarily explaining them through media features.
This is a case study of the exploitation and experience of Disney’s animated feature films from the 1930s to the 1980s in Ghent (Belgium). It is a historical study of programming practices and financial strategies which constructed childhood memories on watching Disney. The study is a contribution to a historical understanding of the implications of global distribution of film as cultural products and the counter pull of localism. Using a multi-method approach, the argument is made that the scarce screenings were strategically programmed to uplift the moviegoing experience into something out of the ordinary in everyday life. Programming and revenue data characterize the screenings as exclusive and generating high intakes. Consequently, the remembered screenings did not exhale an easy accessible social status nor an image of pervasiveness of popular childhood film, contradictory to conventional accounts of Disney’s ubiquity in popular culture.
This article explores the complexities of ethnography and aesthetics in the Museum of Innocence, a museum in Istanbul based on a novel by Orhan Pamuk. A cross between a museum and an art gallery, the Museum of Innocence houses objects described in the eponymous novel in display cabinets corresponding to the chapters of the book. The present contribution looks into the issue of legitimacy and value, from multiple perspectives, in a cultural institution that combines two epistemologies with a postmodern blurring of artefact and art. In doing so, it traces the parallels between the empirical reality portrayed in the novel and the display arrangements in the Museum, touching upon the tension between the various curatorial choices. Through objects and textual supplements, the Museum engages in cultural translation while eventually asserting aesthetic autonomy. Pointing out the multivalent nature of the collection, this study aims to encourage a reconsideration of dualistic understandings of value in museums and art galleries.
Analyses of political agency often take the Habermasian notion of an ideal speech situation and its related discourse ethics as the ultimate model of politically relevant communication. Our examination of Finnish asylum officers’ perspectives on their work leads us to consider the asylum interview as an event of the political, an event of the body politic. Our interest lies in acts of communication that go beyond speech, which necessitates an engagement with the corporeal element of communication. Based on our data, we show how a focus on spoken communication alone fails to capture manifold ways in which the encounter between asylum officers and asylum applicant produces the political. We argue that taking corporeality seriously would enhance our understanding of what is at stake in this encounter and also beyond it.
The Harry Potter series functions as an allegory of 20th century world history and the war against Nazism. In this literary work, one finds several interrelated discourses on peace and violence, affect and emotions, as well as civilising and decivilising processes that mirror our ‘muggle’ real world. All of these themes constitute the foundation of Norbert Elias’s sociology. Therefore, this article develops an Eliasian interpretation of the thematic discourses of Harry Potter and defends the position that literary works can and should be taken seriously as sociological accounts. The first part deals with violence: How is violence alternately exercised and eschewed? Why do some people employ violence easily and delight in inflicting harm on others? The second part looks at discourses on peace and war and how they reflect discourses of good and evil: How does obtaining, maintaining or refusing power affect the totality of social relations? How are discourses of inclusion and exclusion related to conditions of war and conditions of peace?
This article will explore the liminal figure of the zombie as a playful but also a serious image or collective representation which captures the institutions, subjectivities and structures of the new, post-austerity context in Europe and Ireland. Since the economic crisis, there have been numerous references to ‘zombie banks’, ‘zombie politicians’, ‘zombie-neoliberalism’ in journalism and social theory. Zombies are a ‘floating signifier’ of our contemporary experience of liminality. The first section of the article shows how the image of the zombie in popular culture is useful in understanding the contemporary political imaginary. The second part of the article examines the zombie as a metaphor for the dead–alive status of late capitalism. The third section looks at the use of the zombie in postcolonial theory. And the last section examines the potential of the figure of the zombie in developing a critique of Irish society.
On the face of it, the notion of non-media-centric media studies appears to be a contradiction in terms. Surely those who are working in media studies will put media at the centre of their investigations and explanations of social life? In the following conversation, three advocates of a non-media-centric approach discuss their ways into the field of media studies at different points in its development, and together they explore their overlapping empirical research interests as well as their theoretical, methodological and pedagogical concerns. Topics that feature in this exchange include the linked mobilities of information, people and commodities, the articulation of material and virtual geographies, and the meaningfulness of everyday, embodied practices. Out of the dialogue emerges a renewed call for media studies that acknowledge the particularities of media, but which are about more than simply studying media and which seek to recover the field’s early spirit of interdisciplinary adventure.
This article examines a peculiar case of commodification of culture under the shadow of a law serving a repressive agenda of modernist, secularist cultural politics. Fortune-telling, criminalized in the name of nationalist modernization in the early 20th century, has become popularized and commercialized in millennial Turkey in emergent businesses called fortune-telling cafés, where complimentary cup readings are provided with a cup of Turkish coffee to avoid persecution. Informed by fieldwork in fortune-telling cafés, I explicate this commodification in terms of the recent recalibration of Turkey’s national identity and culture, specifically in relation to Europe. The article analyzes the relationship between commodification of culture and cultural politics in the particular context of post-colonial nationalisms that host a strong tension between popular and national cultures.
Personal hygiene has pride of place in two of the most important scholarly conceptualizations of the modern body: that of Norbert Elias and that of Michel Foucault. This article analyzes hygienic practices among early Zionist ideological workers – halutzim (lit. ‘pioneers’). Contrary to the image of the healthy and vigorous manual worker, physicians lamented the disregard for hygiene among the halutzim – a behavior which they attributed to the latter’s ignorance and indifference to matters of health. The halutzim, on their part, construed their hygienic misbehavior as signifying proletarization. However, a close examination of the practices of halutzim, and the meanings they attached to them, reveals a complex and contextual repertoire. As I argue through the case study of the halutzim, rather than a mere instance of discipline (Foucualt) or self-control (Elias), hygiene was a cultural repertoire which was open for appropriation and re-signification in various ways and for various purposes.
This article focuses on the local understandings, responses and interpretations of celebrity activist Angelina Jolie and the film she directed in 2011 about the war rapes in Bosnia and Herzegovina: In the land of Blood and Honey. We first provide a brief historical context of the production and promotion of the film. Next, we offer a theoretical approach to the phenomenon of celebrity activism. In the third part, we look at how Jolie’s film has been received and interpreted in the region itself, since Jolie’s stated goal was to ‘raise awareness about war rapes’. On the basis of in-depth interviews with Bosnian public intellectuals, we argue that the film’s story of war rapes and suffering did little to raise awareness about war rape victims generally and was interpreted primarily within two discursive frameworks: celebrity and ethno-nationalistic ones that tend to reinforce the status quo in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina and perpetuate misunderstandings about war crimes. Jolie’s activism, in other words, did not contribute to the reconciliation between different ethnicities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has, on the contrary, further fostered polarization that continues to plague the region.
The article draws on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the cultural intermediary as a way to think through the combined effect of an intensification of economic inequality with the lack of a viable language of contemporary social class. Through an examination of organizers in art and activist spaces in London in the late 2000s, the article looks at the mixed motivations and contradictory tendencies of these intermediaries. Although fraught with internal conflicts and with the risk of immobilization, a possible basis of an emergent class agency is considered owing to an orientation towards collective practices and an openness to heterogeneous formations stemming from the very lack of conventional class coherence. By directly posing questions of class and inequality, the article makes an intervention into recent research on the cultural intermediary which has been all too silent on these pressing matters.
Neapolitan songs are known worldwide, but most of them became popular when the radio and record industries did not yet exist. The article hypothesises that this ‘unusual’ phenomenon can be connected to the many intersected actions of spreading and ‘drilling’ undertaken by ‘passionate’ listeners of Neapolitan songs and amateurs, who were engaged in ‘permanent creative activity, communication, community building, and content-production’. As is evident, this article refers to some studies about recent trends in media communication to explore better the Neapolitan communication system, between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this way, it wishes to overcome the juxtaposition between ‘new’ and ‘old’ – the ‘dualistic form’ of many ‘short term investigations’ – and proposes to test social science models in different socio-historical contexts, by putting them into ‘the water of time’, to see if they float, if they can ‘keep afloat’ or if they ‘sink’.
With the emergence of alternative R&B, contemporary R&B and hip hop culture are being confronted with a subgenre that challenges its key characteristics. One of the aspects that typify alternative R&B is the emergence of an alternative masculinity. The aim of this study is to research whether the alternative masculinities represented in alternative R&B resist the hegemonic masculine ideal established within R&B and hip hop culture. To this end, this study conducts a textual analysis of the representations of gender in the work of Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, artists considered representative for alternative R&B. The analysis reveals that Ocean’s work features successful nonnormative masculine identities, whereas The Weeknd refrains to representing postmodern exaggerations of the hegemonic male. Despite divergent representational strategies, both artists do engage in questioning what it means to be a man in R&B and hip hop culture and thereby at least attempt to challenge the supremacy of hegemonic masculinity.
Living together in neighbourhoods characterised by various aspects of diversity is central to the everyday life of Casamançais in both Catalonia, Spain, and Casamance, Senegal. Discursively, Casamançais speak about it similarly in both localities, construing co-residence on the neighbourhood scale as a sociality that builds on similar moral values such as relative equality, respect and consideration. At the same time, this sociality also implies negotiation, interaction and translation as central everyday practices. Investigating these practices reveals how they facilitate locally specific forms of neighbourliness. These practices are central to the suggested conceptualisation of conviviality as a process in which a fragile balance is maintained over the course of both cooperative and conflictual situations.
It is a mainstay in the literature on consumer culture that the romantic, countercultural value of authenticity has become a core asset in mainstream marketing. Since there is little research on the particular ways in which commodities are endowed with auras of authenticity, this study analyses registers of authenticity in 153 beer commercials from eight countries. The content analysis distinguishes four strategies of authentication: beer is related to pre-industrial craftsmanship, naturalness, concrete locations and historical roots. Surprisingly, however, such claims are often openly exposed by the advertisers themselves as mass-produced illusions. It is concluded that the appeal of authenticity in consumer culture should not be explained by the fact that people actually believe in the ‘authenticity hoax’. Quite the contrary, the acknowledgement that narratives about a more authentic world are myths provides an alibi for consumers to fully indulge in their meaning without the risk of making naive and dupable fools of themselves.
In information and media affluent societies, the critical ability of citizens is increasingly important. This is reflected in a number of political initiatives that aim at engaging citizens in questions of media content and production, often labelled as media literacy. In this context, skills related to media technologies that are often accentuated in media literacy education are a necessary but not sufficient condition for media literacy. Critical reflexivity and critical practices are crucial for media literacy and therefore in the centre of this article. This article proposes an analysis of media criticism from a citizens’ perspective. Drawing on solicited, open-ended online diaries as well as in-depth interviews with young Estonian citizens, the article applies an inductive approach to media criticism while paying attention to the specific context in which the media criticism arises.
Theodor Adorno argues that music contains an indelible collective undercurrent that can be revealed in its negative dialectic with Culture Industry music. This phenomenon of the communicative power of the ‘negative dialectic’ in popular music is the concern of this study. Charles Taylor observes that the rock concert embodies the expression of a continuing desire throughout secular modernity for a spiritual fulfillment that the reality or facticity of contemporary life cannot adequately deliver. In sympathy with Taylor’s interest in the rock concert as a fusion in common action/feeling that generates the powerful phenomenological sense that we are in contact with ‘something greater’, I draw on Adorno’s critical theory in order to offer an explanation of this continuing communicative power of music. It is possible to historicize Adorno’s controversial critique of popular music without rejecting his negative dialectical approach. In order to demonstrate the ‘actuality’ of Adorno’s negative dialectical approach, I use it to analyze – quite scandalously – heavy metal music.
A key term in discussions on the nature of cultural work is the concept of ‘autonomy’, or ‘relative autonomy’, according to which cultural workers are capable of realizing themselves in the processes of work. This article wishes to problematize this idea by examining the quotidian reality of cultural workers in the field of contemporary art in Greece during the current economic crisis. The analysis is based on ethnographic fieldwork, focusing on how the positive characteristics of cultural work are inscribed in workers’ experiences through their participation in ReMap, a contemporary art event that takes places biannually in Athens and is tightly interwoven with processes of gentrification. I argue that relative autonomy is neither a given nor a state where the cultural worker linearly progresses. Within the context of the larger cultural and economic implications of neoliberalism and its crisis, it is rather an ideal they are striving for, often through highly alienating conditions, in a field dominated by competition, voluntarism, low salaries, precarity and absence of collective bargaining.
This article develops an ethnographic approach to ‘linguistic landscapes’, applied to an inner-city neighborhood in Antwerp (Belgium). Linguistic landscapes are arrays of public signs, linguistic as well as non-linguistic, and range from shop windows and professional billboards to handwritten signs and announcements. An ethnographic approach to linguistic landscapes brings out the complexities of superdiverse arenas, such as those of inner-city Antwerp. In the neighborhood examined here, signs, index processes of demographic, social and economic change involving older residential immigrants moving up the social ladder because of new, real-estate and commercial opportunities created by the influx of more recent transient migrants as well as of more affluent native Belgian, inhabitants. We see how the use of languages, notably of a lingua franca, ‘oecumenical’ variety of Dutch, contributes to the perpetual shaping and re-shaping of an infrastructure for superdiversity: a space in which, constant change and motion are the rule, in which complexity and unpredictability are rife, but within which important forms of conviviality are being articulated and sustained by means of language choice and language display.
This article engages to a critical discussion of the ways in which public visibility of Islamic lifestyle is governed through the practices within visual culture in Turkey. It is possible to observe that in a society with predominantly Muslim population, the media is dominated by the secularized imagery of everyday life, which is systematically abstracted from Islamic signifiers. Following a Foucauldian theoretical framework, this article shows that visual culture provides the necessary ground for the Kemalist modernization project to legitimize particular drives, which are inherently reproduced by a state of anxiety and fear against Islamic lifestyle. Recent controversies in Turkish context show that Islamophobia should not solely be regarded as a phenomenon, which originated and still operates mainly in the West. Rather, the case of Turkey encourages one to critically negotiate the boundaries of visual culture, which is invested with particular strategies of power that reproduces the images of Islamic lifestyle as undesirable signifiers of culture.
This article uses the conceptual constructs of ‘public’ and ‘counterpublic’ to examine the collective singing of ‘Red Songs’, a state-approved, ideology-laden popular culture, in the city of Guangzhou, China. It approaches these two concepts from actions, practices and shared meanings which render the public/counterpublic visible and concrete. In Guangzhou, the interplays between hegemonic ideas expressed in the red songs and ordinary singers’ agency of re-interpreting and re-reading have shaped the fluidity and complexity of the cultural meanings and political discourses in which this grassroots public dwells. Singers do not simply re-assert the post-reform party-state’s political legitimacy by expressing political allegiance via red songs, but also creatively reconstruct and re-appropriate the meanings woven into red songs to critically reflect upon the social, cultural and moral transformations, as well as new cultural and ethical zeitgeists in the post-reform context. In the meantime, red song singing is also appropriated by New Leftist activists for cultivating new counterpublic political potentials.
The article analyzes the novelistic representations of the Assassins, originally a nickname for the Islamic sect of Nizari Ismailis that gained an almost independent currency in Western popular culture. The analysis will be based on a the following selection of past and contemporary Western historical-fiction literature: Vladimir Bartol’s Alamut from 1938, translated into French in 1988 and into English in 2004; Judith Tarr’s Alamut from 1989; James Boschert’s Assassins of Alamut from 2010, the first book of his Talon trilogy; and, finally, Scott Oden’s Lion of Cairo from 2010. The scope of the article is to demonstrate a double-bind re-orientalization of the Assassins in this selection of novels that significantly changes their traditional representations: on one side, they reshape the Assassins in forerunners of modern Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, while on the other side, the Assassin is gradually transformed from an orientalized villain into an occidentalized hero, thus enabling a self-othering of the Western subject and an identification, rather than disqualification, with this specific Arabo-Islamic Other. The article’s highlighting of this double-bind re-orientalization therefore challenges Orientalism’s binary dichotomy of Occident/Orient and its ideological implications through the concept of self-Orientalism as a self-othering process.
This article considers the question of conviviality in everyday multiculturalism. It elaborates the concept of ‘convivial multiculture’ through case studies from Sydney and Singapore. In comparing these two contexts, the article considers what underpins conviviality across three themes: spatial ordering, where consideration is given to the role of built environment and material furnishings of place in shaping encounters with difference; connecting and bridging work, where we discuss the concept of ‘transversal enablers’, and intercultural gift exchange; and intercultural habitus, where disposition, habit and linguistic accommodation are discussed. It closes with some reflection upon larger forces that mediate local encounters, and the necessity to consider the full range of interactions, patterns, behaviours and meanings at work, and the interconnection between ‘happy’ and ‘hard’ forms of coexistence.
The study of conviviality explores how everyday interactions and encounters mitigate or ameliorate sociocultural differences. This literature must address the critique that conviviality is a superficial phenomenon, which proves irrelevant in contexts where intergroup differences are deep, complex and punctuated by violent exchanges. This article addresses this criticism by attempting to define the meaning and purpose of convivial exchanges in a context characterized by high levels of violence: policing culture in Johannesburg, South Africa. Using ethnographic methods, the study illustrates how convivial practices often stem from individuals’ sense of insecurity and the search for protection in public settings. The article uses these findings to rethink the extent to which convivial practices might resolve social differences.
In this article, I argue that the concept of ‘conviviality’, at least in a non-elitist understanding, allows us to pay closer attention to the conditions under which people of different ethnic, linguistic, religious and national backgrounds and of all social strata managed to live together peacefully in the late Ottoman Empire. This phenomenon, which can be observed in port cities in particular, has often been discussed under the term of ‘Ottoman cosmopolitanism’. The latter term, both in its wider usage and in the historiography linked to the Ottoman Empire, has become heavily laden with moral prescripts often originating in particular Western, liberal ideas. I will argue here that ‘cosmopolitanism’ and ‘conviviality’ can be seen as complementing each other, the former tendentially (albeit not exclusively) focussing more on elite interactions and emphasising the interactions of people of different ethnic and religious origin, the latter opening a window onto the quotidian practices of everyday interactions by people regardless of their origin. Evidently, there are large areas of overlap between both concepts; nevertheless, it might be useful to separate them heuristically.
In this article, I present, first, a composite definition of conviviality whose constitutive components are conceived in terms of degrees rather than as present-or-absent conditions. Next, I offer a preliminary list of macro-, micro- and individual-level circumstances which co-shape conviviality into different arrangements and intensities. Within the framework of the structuration theory which informs my discussion, I then identify the characteristics of cultures of conviviality as different from the orientations and practices of the individuals who (re)create them, and I propose a distinction between the conditions contributing to the emergence of cultures of conviviality and the circumstances responsible for their endurance over time. In the last part of the article, I identify different goals of case-based investigations and propose some strategies of comparative analysis of the contributing circumstances and different forms and ‘contents’ of conviviality, and I illustrate it with examples taken from my previous studies of ground-level multiculturalism in different locations.
Conviviality across a number of disciplines now conveys a deeper concern with the human condition and how we think about human modes of togetherness. This collection of essays illustrates some of the ways conviviality can be used as an analytical tool to ask and explore the ways and conditions for living together. This introduction surveys a number of key ideas and meanings of ‘conviviality’ across various disciplines providing the readers with an overview of usages and understandings of the term. It identifies gaps in the existing literature, proposes how a comparative perspective elucidates the concepts and shows how the articles within this Special Issue contribute analytically to our understanding of conviviality.
The London Borough of Hackney is one of the most diverse places in the United Kingdom. It is characterized not only by a multiplicity of ethnic minorities but also by differentiations in terms of migration histories, religions and educational and economic backgrounds, both among long-term residents and newcomers. This article attempts to describe how people negotiate social interactions in such a ‘super-diverse’ context. It develops the notion of ‘commonplace diversity’, referring to ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity being experienced as a normal part of social life by local residents. This commonplace diversity has resulted in people acting with ‘civility towards diversity’. While in public space people do not change their behaviour according to other people’s backgrounds, in semi-public spaces, such as associations and local institutions, here conceptualized as ‘parochial space’, people’s different backgrounds are acknowledged and sometimes talked about. The article discusses how people negotiate their differences in these two different kinds of spaces. It shows how civility towards diversity is used as a strategy to both engage with difference as well as avoid deeper contact. Civility thus facilitates the negotiation of both positive relations and possible tensions.
Urban studies has aligned cities closely with modernity, with strong implications for their conceptualisation. Through the 20th century the founding analyses of urban studies drew on a specific (western) version of urban modernity to define universal accounts of urbanity, excluding many cities from contributing to broader theorisations of the urban. In addition, urban theory has often been inspired by the modernity of cities, identifying ‘the new’ as the basis for distinctive approaches to understanding cities. In the wake of the move towards a more global urban studies, the extent to which traditions of thinking cities through the inherited analytical lens of urban modernity persist needs to be considered. To counter the continuing effects of theorising from the idea of modernity, or the new, the analytical device of the ‘urban now’ is developed from Walter Benjamin’s analysis of modernity to propose new geographies of theorising the urban.
This critical introduction to the special issue examines the place and significance of urban modernity as a concept in contemporary urban studies. It draws on postcolonial theory to demonstrate that the relation between the city and modernity developed within the western tradition of urban thinking has produced a geographically and historically uneven conceptualisation of urban modernity. This conceptualisation not only involves dynamics of othering, in which cities are differentiated hierarchically, but also obscures a vast array of possible understandings of contemporary urban living. The aim of this introduction is to question this way of thinking about urban modernity in light of globalisation and 21st-century transformations of urban space. It argues that it is crucial, now more than ever, to render the concept of urban modernity attentive to the lived experience of contemporary cities worldwide.
Acknowledgement names a peculiar, and frequently uneasy, relation to knowledge. For example, when one acknowledges as one’s own an act or deed with which one wishes to dissociate oneself, one is simultaneously owning and disowning that act. Through accounts of China Miéville’s novel The City & the City, and Marc Isaacs’ documentary All White in Barking, this article asks what that sort of knowledge can tell us about the relationship between modernity (articulated around the myth of rupture) and the 21st-century city which seems to be held in thrall by modernity’s loss. Miéville’s novel sets out a parable of what Slajov Zizek terms the post-ideological condition, in which the categories of the known and unknown have been replaced by the acknowledged and unacknowledged. The implications of that paradigm shift are then examined through Marc Isaacs’ exploration of what acknowledgement might mean in the supposedly post-racist city proclaimed by the multicultural narrative of urban modernity.
Shanghai’s Pudong financial district is known for its spectacular skyline, which Michelle Huang has referred to as ‘a copy of a global city’ – a reading that this article pushes further. What does this ‘copy of a global city’ tell us about the intricate relationships between globalisation, capitalism and urbanity? Whereas Koolhaas proposed the notion of the ‘generic city’ to grasp the future Asian city, this article argues that his reading reifies the conservative premise that globalisation equals homogenisation. Although Abbas’ concept of the ‘fake’ comes closer to what we see emerging in Asia, it simultaneously reifies the problematic idea of an authentic original. Instead, the article proposes reading Pudong as a shanzhai version of the global city: meaning the culture of Chinese pirated, ‘fake’ products. By linking the notion of shanzhai to that of the global city, it aims to recuperate the locality, fluidity and peculiarity of the global city.
The urban scholarship on Beirut often focuses either on the reconstruction of its downtown area controlled by the private real estate company Solidere, or on its poor southern suburbs (Dahiya) dominated by the Shi’i Islamic political party, Hizbullah. Downtown is strongly associated with an urban ‘modern’ model that generates pride for Lebanese, while Dahiya is defamed as a less modern urban space, unworthy of consideration as part of Beirut’s urban modernity. This article explores the contested urban modernity of Beirut through an investigation of the new moral leisure sector that has spread across the southern suburb. It challenges the simplistic distinction and valuation of urban spaces in Beirut, and argues for a more complex understanding of urban modernity that encompasses spaces of the city where the features that produce urban modernity are multiple and contested.
This article analyses the image of the waste picker in contemporary visual art in order to test the extent to which urban modernity can be viewed as a unified critical concept. Focusing on works by Surasi Kusolwong and Santiago Sierra, it examines confrontations between ‘modern’ and ‘non-modern’ sociological, economic and artistic practices within the urban environment. The analysis is located in the context of Bernard Yack’s The Fetishism of Modernities, in which the author teases apart different sociological, political, philosophical and aesthetic developments that are typically homogenised to support a globally coherent vision of modernity. Linking depictions of waste pickers to representations of the chiffonnier in 19th-century painting and literature, the article shows how Kusolwong and Sierra prompt reflection on the relationships between urban dwelling, cleanliness and global economic justice, while undermining a critical tradition that posits the 19th-century western metropolis as the embodiment of a unified concept of modernity.
This article presents some notes towards identifying what we have come to call ‘DIY institutions’: places of popular music preservation, archiving and display that exist outside the bounds of ‘official’ or ‘national’ projects of collection and heritage management. These projects emerge instead from within communities of music consumption, where groups of interested people have, to some degree, undertaken to do it themselves, creating places (physical and/or online) to store – and, in some cases, display publicly – the material history of music culture. In these places people, largely volunteers, who are not expert in tasks associated with archiving, records management, preservation or other elements involved in cultural heritage management, learn skills along the way as they work to collect, preserve and make public artefacts related to popular music culture. The article argues that these places are suggestive of broader desires from within communities of popular music consumption to preserve popular music heritage.
This article attempts to evaluate the articulation of folk cultural symbols in the context of TV drama to discuss the process whereby the act of storytelling becomes a tool for mediated and moralised teaching. Investigating the relatively new sphere of popular piety offers a suitable avenue for evaluating the nature of popular wisdom; the process by which popular TV dramas borrow from folk culture and popular religion has become a new area of investigation because new mediatised forms of folk culture are now a common feature of many television genres. Tracing the emergent patterns of storytelling, this article analyses narratives extracted from two well-known TV serials, Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of Wolves) and Deli Yürek (Crazy Heart) in Turkey. It is argued that in both serials the meditative role of the mentor, which involves narrating parables for the hero’s benefit, constitutes one of the significant rhetorical strategies for reconstructing a piety culture.
Despite recent burgeoning interest in the body as a culturally constructed project, little research attention is paid to bodily excretions (sweat, urine, faeces, menstrual blood, saliva, mucus, skin oil) and their social implications. The present study addresses this lacuna. Since advertising for hygiene products reflects prevailing ideas regarding the body and the regulation of its excretions, this research focused on two questions: what messages are conveyed by advertisements for products that regulate excretions, and how is shame constituted? The study analysed 159 adverts published in Israeli newspapers. The results indicate that shame or regulation of the body’s orifices and waste do not constitute a frame for promoting hygiene products: cleaning one’s body for hygienic purposes is covert, and adverts reflect a hedonistic cult of the self. This apotheosis of the body implies that pampering oneself requires constant investment, including the purchase of products that serve a hygienic purpose only incidentally.
Each year the European Union designates one or more cities with the competed-for city brand of European Capital of Culture (ECOC). In several recent ECOCs, such as in Turku, Finland, the management and organisation of the events have caused tension among the citizens regarding decision-making, financing and power over use of the urban space. The focus of the article is on analysis of the discursive dynamics of local activists and their project ‘Turku – European Capital of Subculture 2011’. By emphasising the cultural analysis of activism, the article indicates how the counter-discourse of the activists was produced through cultural production. The project produced a strong movement culture with common practices, anti-neoliberal values and world views. Through cultural production and movement culture, the project participated in the creation of subculture as a fluid and flexible cultural category expressed through stylistic and lifestyle choices.
This article explores the ways in which popular music can be linked with ethnography. While there is a tradition of connecting popular music with sociology, this article posits a further resonance that is not so much theoretical as methodological. The article suggests that forms of contemporary popular music parallel key facets of ethnography, not simply in terms of sociological analysis, but with regard to popular music as an ethnographic resource, as ‘data’, and as the reflexive expression of Paul Willis’ conception of the ‘ethnographic imagination’; and the article argues that contemporary British hip-hop in the form of ‘grime’ is a potent exemplar. This is due to the resolutely cultural, spatial nature of grime music: a factor that marks out grime as a distinctive musical genre and a distinctive ethnographic form, as it is an experientially rooted music about urban locations, made from within those urban locations.
This article reflects on the symbolic and material bases of multiculturalist ideology as it manifests itself in particular cultural practices taking place across the European Union (EU). To explore some of these dynamics, I focus my discussion on Babel, a Spanish public broadcasting production partially funded by the EU, which aims to promote intercultural dialogue through exposing viewers to different aspects of immigrants’ lives in Spain. The analysis highlights how, while explicitly endorsing multiculturalism and developing a pro-immigration stance, Babel’s stories also promote a restricted and restricting image of desirable immigrants. Thus, the show’s resignification efforts rely mostly on an implicit but systematic association between cultural similarity and economic productivity in its representations of acceptable immigrants. The article’s conclusion argues for the need to re-theorise the co-constitutive relationship between ‘cultural’ and ‘economic’ aspects of multiculturalist practices at large, as well as the specific shapes that they take in Western European societies.
Although there has been growing academic interest in the tendency among transnational adoptive parents in the West to incorporate aspects of the child’s so-called ‘birth culture’ into their lives, much less attention is paid to the role that this culture work plays in families’ quest for full and good citizenship. By drawing on fieldwork among Flemish-Ethiopian adoptive families in a range of different settings, this article frames this practice as conscious and political citizenship work. Although the parenting work can open up possibilities to provide a more dynamic view on identity and citizenship, essentialist views on culture and the tendency to downplay racism and global inequalities create considerable constraints.