EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W037)

The local in times of change

Location Humanities Large Seminar Room 1
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Malgorzata Rajtar (Adam Mickiewicz University) email
Esther Peperkamp (International University of Applied Sciences Breda) email
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Long Abstract

In times of crises people often turn to "the local" as presumably known and safe. Yet, migrations, new technologies and media have long challenged the notion of "the local" as well as political, religious and social orders that produced locality. Following Appadurai (1996), locality can be better understood "as a structure of feeling, a property of social life, and an ideology of situated community." This workshop invites papers that creatively address questions such as: How is the local and locality produced and reproduced in times of radical change? What strategies people utilize in order to sustain/reconstruct the notion of locality? How do certain activities, practices and technologies provide people with a sense of belonging? Can (a sense of) locality exist without its historical, spacial or temporal context? What is the relationship between locality and (the lack of) social, political or religious order?

One can think of locals and local governments who are looking for ways to imbue land- and cityscapes with a sense of "home" and belonging; migrants who are confronted with a sense of displacement also after returning "home"; the use of media and technologies in creating relational instead of spacial locality, place rituals, etcetera.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Leisure and locality in the lives of Polish labour migrants to the Netherlands

Author: Esther Peperkamp (International University of Applied Sciences Breda)  email
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Long Abstract

In modern society, where mobility is a permanent condition, attachment to and familiarity with places ceases to be self-evident. Instead, locality becomes a fragile social achievement.

This paper looks at the lives of Polish labour migrants to the Netherlands to investigate how locality is produced or achieved. The paper will focus in particular on migrants' leisure activities. It is my assumption that (outdoor) leisure activities, necessarily involving interaction with places and people, carry a lot of potential in acquiring familiarity with and a sense of locality, perhaps even providing labour migrants with a sense of home.

Making place in Copenhagen: local lives and ritual performances among Iraqi refugees

Author: Marianne Holm Pedersen (Danish Folklore Archives at the Royal Danish Library)  email
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Long Abstract

The experience of migration may greatly challenge migrants' notions of locality and belonging. This paper explores how Iraqi Shi'a Muslim women in Copenhagen use ritual performances to construct a sense of belonging to the place where they live. In sharp contrast to the fact that women's religious activities in many ways contribute to categorizing them as outsiders to Danish society, their participation in religious events also localizes them in the city. This happens because they celebrate holidays with local social relations in particular local places. The paper ultimately takes issue with the widespread notion that the performance of traditions and religious rituals among migrants should be interpreted as a site of resistance to incorporation to the local place. By distinguishing between inclusion on the local and national levels, it highlights the complexities and contradictions in migrants' identities and notions of belonging.

Fighting for the homeland: East-Timorese refugees and the reproduction of locality in exile

Author: Hedda Haugen Askland (The University of Newcastle)  email
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Long Abstract

During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, diasporic groups played a central role in the campaign for self-determination. The fight to free East Timor was at the core of the East-Timorese refugees' collective imagination and a sense of co-responsibility, fostered by a social discourse of collectivism, underpinned the political campaign. Orientation towards the homeland and political activism provided the East-Timorese refugees with a sense of locality and belonging. With the return of the homeland, however, the exiles were forced to reconsider what home was and to redefine their notion of locality. This paper, based upon ethnographic fieldwork with the East Timorese community in Australia, explores the process by which the refugees reproduced a sense of locality and belonging during the occupation years, as well as how this process led to the contrasting experience of an imagined, refined, nostalgic vision of home and the embodied, lived experience of home.

"We´ll claim the new streets for our community!" The meaning of locality amidst waterfront renewal in Dublin

Author: Astrid Wonneberger (Hamburg University)  email
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Long Abstract

The docklands area of Dublin – in many ways a typical example of current waterfront development - is home to a number of dockland communities, who, until the 1960s, were almost entirely dependent on port economies. Even today, these communities identify strongly with their port-related history and culture. Port-related places and spaces, specific notions of the urban locality have always played a significant role in this context.

The current redevelopment has triggered many debates between communities, developers and planners. Many of these arguments concern the plans for the new built environment, as community activists consider locality an important means of maintaining culture, community and identities.

In this paper I will explore how urban places and spaces serve as a means of identity and community formation in the docklands. I will analyse how the transformation affects the relationship between locality, identity and culture, what strategies are used by communities to preserve old-established notions of locality, and how cultural meanings of urban space can be very diverse in different groups.

Re-creating sense of belonging to community through cultural practices: example of Lumbarda´s Carnival

Author: Olga Orlic (Institute for Anthropological Research)  email
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Long Abstract

Today, globalization processes have reached every corner of the world, causing changes in the way of people's lives. But, globalization hasn't transformed all communities alike. Each community adds something local to the globalization processes modifying thus the reality created (glocalization (Robertson 1995)). The manifestations of local identity, symbolic or not, have remained equally important in the contemporary world. Therefore, various communities use different strategies in order to re-create their local identity. In Lumbarda (village on the Adriatic island of Korčula) various cultural practices are used for that purpose (local speech, customs etc.). One of these cultural practices is the Carnival. It provides an opportunity to emphasize boundaries, however symbolic they may be, towards the other communities on the island. It also strengthens the sense of belonging to Lumbarda and emphasizes the local identity in the globalized world.

The knowledge in the change of the conceptualization of 'the local': 'imaginative answers' in Italian industrial districts

Author: Viviana Lebedinsky (CONICET)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper argues about the relevance of knowledge as a key element in the reconceptualization of "the local" and considers the contributions of anthropology regarding the "imaginative answer" through a study of the phenomenon of innovation focusing on the Italian industrial districts. It enlarges certain aspects of some research based on a personal doctorate thesis in social anthropology done at l'EHESS. The development of "innovation" is studied in relation to the following aspects: the process of accumulation of knowledge, for generations, of "specific and local resources" regarding historical, temporal and spatial dimensions; specificities on how tacit and codified knowledge complement and improve each other analyzing the industrial and formative districts in the local and global dimensions; and the mechanisms of abstraction. The anthropological contributions of "skill", "know-how", "expertise", "technique", "technology", and "scientific, technical and technological knowledge" are emphasized as well as the processes of learning in the acquisition of knowledge.

'We are Swazis but South Africa is our place!' Neo-traditionalisation, culture and locality in a Swazi chiefdom in South Africa

Author: Severin Lenart (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper will discuss processes of (re-)establishing a neo-traditional Swazi authority, encompassing socio-cultural and politico-legal representations and its implications for disputing in a rural, peri-urban environment in post-apartheid South Africa. Since 1994 globally circulating models of Market-Led Agrarian Reform enable previously disadvantaged people in South Africa to acquire or reclaim land. Through a thick ethnographic description of a recently formed land trust that decided to 'go back to the roots' I will analyze how attempts of legitimizing and consolidating neo-traditional authority are, on the one hand, related to global discourses of decentralization and self-determination and, on the other, construed in relation to a specific (historical) transborder locality with Swaziland. The paper will then show, by providing examples, how these processes of neo-traditionalisation in regard to a specific locality influence local disputing behavior and the functioning of institutions in regard to agency and procedure in a time of transformative crisis.

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Cultural revitalization as a reaction of the crisis of modernity

Author: Rosa Enn (University of Vienna)  email
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Long Abstract

The Dao people on Lanyu (Taiwan) had to face forced assimilation politics caused by the outside world. Especially the Taiwanese government saw the Dao as simple-minded natives who needed to modernize their religious, political and social structures. After several Human Rights violation, including the dumping of nuclear waste without the locals' approval and the efforts of transformation into a modern society committed by officials, a crisis among the Dao ensued. What followed were alcoholism, sickness and emigration to other areas of Taiwan. The Dao found themselves in a situation again, which was going to lead to extinction of their culture and their local customs. After an initial powerlessness the Dao revolted and started cultural revitalization processes to reconstruct locality. Through self-empowerment they were able to produce locality again, with adoption to modern societies. Today, the Dao are a strong people with a unique culture to the outside world.

Localizing the turf: museum politics and global change

Author: Sigurjon Hafsteinsson (University of Iceland)  email
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Long Abstract

With the election of a new government in 1991 in Iceland, neo-liberal ideology of governance was introduced. Now state sponsorship of economic activity was deemed to be morally wrong, because it skewed competition, and was considered economically wasteful. Previously state run businesses were privatized and a powerful discourse arose on the importance of individual initiative, responsibility, and freedom. This political change affected the cultural scene profoundly, including the museum sector, with its emphasis on localization, de-centralization, institutional revisionism and global participation. In this paper, that is based on ethnographic research, I will discuss how these changes have undermined the authoratative status of the National Museum of Iceland in relation to its role as the guardian of the museum´s Historic Buildings Collection and architectural heritage. In particular I will discuss the ways in which Icelandic architectural heritage has become a contested local restitution project at a time when governmentally sponsored initative to reserve a place for Icelandic turfhouse heritage on UNESCO´s World Heritage List takes place.

Missing community

Author: Andrzej Perzanowski (University of Warsaw)  email
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Long Abstract

My paper takes up some of the methodological and epistemological issues that are faced by anthropologists who deal with local communities in contemporary post-socialistic cities.

As a specific example I propose a part of the district of Wola in Warsaw, Poland, where the Jewish ghetto was located during the II World War. Almost completely destroyed in the war, rebuilt afterwards, the district is currently a place of rapid social, economic and spatial changes. Intensifying processes of migration are inseparably connected with the historical context of social and demographic disaster.

The paper aims at understanding the characteristics of the rapid changes of contemporary East-European post-socialist localities/communities in the context of the crisis of anthropological methodology.

What is an anthropologists answer to Bruno Latour's questions: "how many are we": the methodological question concerning the definition of "the social". "Can we live together": which is in fact the political problem of living in multicultural society.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.