Suomen Antropologi Volume 36, 3/2011
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 3-4.
The third issue of 2011 commences with two very different but equally compelling contributions on urban anthropology. The first is Eeva Berglund’s article on anthropology and city architecture. As Berglund points out, studying the natural environment as an integral part human social life is now a commonplace for anthropologists, while the built environment is only emerging as a research topic. In the article Berglund identifies some of the reasons for such reservations; for example, diehard assumptions about the inauthenticity of modern architectural forms. By drawing on ethnographic examples from the architecture of Helsinki, she is able to show how the urban environment is a vital element in shaping a sense of place for the inhabitants of a city. The second article, titled ‘Daughters of the Dark’, presents an ethnography of street-based female sex workers in the megacity of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. In the article two Bangladeshi scholars, Md Jasim Uddin and Laila Ashrafun (both from the University of Helsinki), investigate an under-researched field and offer a view onto the lives of a marginalized group of women. Sex work carries a powerful stigma in the patriarchal society of Bangladesh and the women involved are often ostracized by their families. They are also victims of harassment and abuse by their clients, crime gangs, and the police. The authors explore the strategies adopted by the sex workers in order to cope with these harsh conditions.
The research report that follows by Edward Dutton (University of Oulu) focuses on funeral photography in Finland. Based on his field research Dutton shows how photography is actually a distinctive part of Finnish mortuary ritual and death culture in general. This situation is juxtaposed to Britain and North America, where photography in private funerals is in most cases considered unacceptable. This leads to a larger comparative discussion about death taboos in different societies. Marianna Keisalo- Galván (University of Helsinki) has contributed the formal lecture she gave in defense of her Ph.D. dissertation in August this year. In the lecture she introduces the key ideas in her doctoral research about the Easter ritual of the Yaqui Indians of Mexico. Keisalo- Galván is especially interested in the ambiguous and paradoxical meanings given to the clown figures who take part, and her novel interpretation employs the theories of Roy Wagner.
This issue’s Forum section focuses on the critical capacity of the academic study of culture. More specifically, it deliberates on whether cultural studies, an affiliated discipline of anthropology, has been more of an accomplice than a critic when it comes to producing and reproducing the hegemonic projects of our time. In the opening essay Jason Toynbee (The Open University, UK) sets the tone of the debate by stating that there is an awkward resemblance between the ‘politics of redemption’ promoted by cultural studies and the ideology of neoliberalism. For instance, both of them put the free individual at the centre of things and see the state authority as the chief adversary. Jussi Ojajärvi (University of Oulu) brings the critical points raised by Toynbee closer to Finnish discussions and calls for renewed analytical attention to the workings of capitalist processes. In his highly stimulating response Professor John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths College) argues that now is not the time to squabble about the focus of cultural studies but rather the time to study, debate, and critique everything. In the era of welfare cuts, resource wars, heightening capitalist economic crisis, and civil unrest everything must be tackled intellectually in order to find a viable solution to the Western predicament. In the last essay of the forum Britt Kramvig (University of Tromsø) discusses how painfully topical these questions have become in Norway, living in the aftermath of the July 22 massacre.
Finally, I want to conclude this introduction by thanking everyone who took part in the Finnish Anthropology Conference held in Helsinki in October. It was a very successful event and selected papers presented there will be published in the upcoming issues of Suomen Antropologi.
Tangled and Tangible, Straight and Abstract: Anthropology and Helsinki architecture
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 5-22.
The natural environment has long been treated as an important part of the setting for social life, but buildings have only rarely been the focus of anthropological attention. It is time to engage more actively with the changes in the built environment brought about by recent shifts in global geographies of power. This paper is inspired by anthropological research on environmental perception in a broadly phenomenological research tradition, which emphasizes the embodied aspects of knowledge. Unfortunately, among anthropologists as well as architectural theorists, this approach tends to reproduce an unjustified contrast between the seemingly traditional world it conjures up and the kinds of abstractions often associated with the modern city. Given that the modern city presents inhabitants with straight lines, bureaucratic abstractions and, importantly, vast amounts of textual and visual information, these features should also feature in anthropological analysis. Using Helsinki as an illustration, the paper argues that a city is read and negotiated through abstract knowledge combined with embodied experience. The cultural representations that accompany dramatic change, e.g. place marketing materials, are part of the ethnographic focus and are analysed in connection with material and social obduracy.
Daughters of the Dark: A qualitative study of street-based sex workers in Bangladesh
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 23-41.
The sex trade in women has been present in Bangladesh for a long time but it has received little attention among researchers and academicians. The purpose of the current study is to explore how street-based female sex workers combat the pervasive negativity that surrounds their work. Sex workers are often subjected to blame, labeling, disapproval and discriminatory treatment. They have to face some common issues in their everyday life such as morality vs. immorality, normality vs. abnormality, religiosity vs. non-religiosity, agency vs. victimization. So the queries are: How do female sex workers experience and manage the associated stigma? How can this be understood in the context of being a woman in Bangladeshi society? The data for this study is collected through qualitative in-depth interviews from fifteen street based female sex workers in Dhaka city, Bangladesh.
Funeral Photography in Finland: A field report
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 42-54.
This report introduces research on the little-studied topic of Finnish funeral photography. Drawing upon a combination of ethnographic encounters and interviews with Finnish informants, it examines the nature and extent of Finnish funeral photography in the context of previous research on funeral photography worldwide, a comparison to the situation in England, Finnish death ritual and Finnish cultural dynamics. In attempting to understand this difference, it contextualizes it within a discussion of the recording of unhappiness, vulnerability and impurity and the degree to which recording people in these states in tabooed by a society.
Lectio Praecursoria: Cosmic Clowns: Convention, Invention, and Inversion in the Yaqui Easter Ritual
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 55-59.
Forum: Constructive Critiques of Cultural Studies
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 60-79.
Jason Toynbee: The Critical Accomplice: Contradiction in cultural politics and what to do about it (60)
Jussi Ojajärvi: Overcoming Redemptive Culturalism, Calling for Critique of Capitalism (66)
John Hutnyk: Critique of Everything (71)
Britt Kramvig: Contradiction, Emancipation and Multiculturalism after the 22nd of July 2011 (76)
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 80-85.
Brendan Humphreys: John R. Bowen. Can Islam be French? Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secular State (80)
Jon Bialecki: Jarret Zigon. HIV is God’s Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia (82)
Toomas Gross: Allan Anderson, Michael Bergunder, André Droogers and Cornelis van der Laan (eds). Global Studies of Pentecostalism: Theories and Methods (84)
Interesting New Publications
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 3/2011 Volume 36(3): 86.
Ayral, Sylvie 2011. La fabrique des garcons: Sanctions et genre au collège. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Chafiq, Chahla 2011. Islam politique, sexe et genre. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Dyrness, Andrea 2011. Mothers United: An Immigrant Struggle for Socially Just Education. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Elisha, Omri 2011. Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins (ed. by Michael R. Hill) 2011. Families, Marriages and Children. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Hastings, Donnan & Magowan, Fiona 2010. The Anthropology of Sex. Oxford: Berg Publishers.
Klassen, Pamela E. 2011. Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lazreg, Marnia 2011. Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Jones, Jackie, Anna Grear, Rachel Anne Fenton and Kim Stevenson (eds) 2011. Gender, Sexualities and Law. Abingdon: Routledge.
Robinson, Victoria and Jenny Hockey 2011. Masculinities in Transition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Sarat, Austin (ed.) 2010. Speech and Silence in American Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Seurujärvi-Kari, Irja, Risto Pulkkinen and Petri Halinen (eds) 2011. Saamentutkimus tänään. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.
Siikala, Anna-Leena and Oleg Ulyashev 2011. Hidden Rituals and Public Performances: Traditions and Belonging among the Post-Soviet Khanty, Komi and Udmurts. Studia Fennica Folkloristica 19. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.
Taylor, Yvette, Sally Hines and Mark E. Casey (eds) 2010. Theorizing Intersectionality and Sexuality. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Werbner, Richard 2011. Holy Hustlers, Schism, and Prophecy: Apostolic Reformation in Botswana. Berkeley: University of California Press.