EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006

(W042)

European discourse gone global: shaping the lives of people worldwide and being shaped by them

Location Biol B75
Date and Start Time 21 Sep, 2006 at 11:30

Convenors

Roos Willems (University of Antwerp) email
Alexander Rödlach (Creighton University) email
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Short Abstract

European discourses have long impacted life outside of Europe, yet have also been adapted and fed back into Europe in a modified form. We invite ethnographies on discourses travelling to and from various parts of the globe, relating to medical, economic, development and political anthropology.

Long Abstract

Due to historical circumstances, the global political and economic core has its roots in Europe; subsequently European discourses have dominated large parts of the global scene and this process appears to intensify even further through today's increased interconnectivity. This workshop delves into how economic, political and health discourses impact daily life outside of the European continent, while at the same time being adapted and modified and ultimately fed back into European discourses. We invite papers that present ethnographies concerned with discourses travelling to and from various parts of the globe, and which are related particularly to medical anthropology, economic anthropology, development anthropology and political anthropology. During the workshop, we will tease out common threads and patterns of the diffusion, adoption and adaptations of such discourses. We pay careful attention to the impact of such processes on the daily life of social groups and their institutions, and attempt to trace patterns of the return path of these altered discourses back to their roots in Europe.

Papers

Global environmentalism through the looking glass

Author: Eva Keller (University of Zurich)  email
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Long Abstract

The Euro-American environmentalist agenda, which promotes 'nature' as a self-evident and supremely valued entity, has in recent years gained great political influence throughout the world. In Madagascar, the conservation of the country's extraordinary biodiversity is now one of the government's prime goals, leading to the creation of numerous national parks such as the Masoala National Park in the east of the country. In Europe, the zoo in Zurich raises money for the Masoala National Park through a massive greenhouse inside the zoo, which houses fauna and flora indigenous to the Masoala region. The creation of Masoala National Park in Madagascar and of the zoo exhibit in Switzerland - named Little Masoala - produces conceptual windows through which Malagasy and Swiss people glimpse at, and form mutual imaginations and representations of, each other. In Zurich, Little Masoala is a window onto Madagascar, providing a space through which various groups of visitors form ideas and perceptions not only of the Malagasy natural environment, but also of the Malagasy people, through the lens of the modern Euro-American concept of 'nature conservation.' In Madagascar, the establishment of the park and its impact on local people's lives form the basis upon which they reflect about the motivations, intentions and the power of those who are thought to be responsible for the park's creation and its management. This paper, based on fieldwork in both localities, examines these dynamics of imagination and representation.

Discourses of empowerment through cultural equity and participation: from Europe to Africa and back

Author: Roos Willems (University of Antwerp)  email
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Long Abstract

International development NGO's have changed their strategies multiple times over the past decades in the wake of outsiders' criticisms as well as from internal reflections. The top down aspect of imposing "western" development models has made way for the bottom up approach that focuses on the identifying and supporting of local initiatives together with an emphasis on organisational strengthening of local capacities. Concepts of gender and cultural equality together with equal participation are so-called cross-cutting issues that are to be mainstreamed in the programme activities implemented by local partner organizations. This strategy endeavours the empowerment of the individual men and women so as to enable them to take control over their own lives and destinies.

This paper explores how this approach is conceived and interpreted by the men and women that are to be empowered by it in Senegal, West Africa. The field data are based on a two year working experience with an international development NGO that has invested greatly in developing and mainstreaming the concepts of gender, cultural equity and participation. The paper looks into how the idea of cultural equity has been developed in Europe, at the level of the NGOs head office, and subsequently promoted at the level of the field offices in Africa, Asia and Latin America with Senegal as a case study. Experience shows that the content of the term is perceived very differently depending on the socio-cultural context of the geographic location of its application.

Between Europe and Africa: discourses of identity and independence among Sahrawi migrants in the Canary Islands

Author: Marisa Ensor (University of Tennessee)  email
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Long Abstract

Western Sahara, a Spanish colony until 1976, is the last African colonized country still waiting for independence. In November 1975, coinciding with the death of Spanish dictator General Franco, Moroccan King Hassan II assembled the so-called Green March—an estimated 35,000 Moroccan civilians who crossed into Western Sahara to annex the northern two-thirds of the territory for Morocco. Many Sahrawis fled across the Algerian border and currently live in one of the four refugee camps set up in the town of Tindouf. Others sought refugee in the nearby Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located about 100 km from the northwest African coast. While the Sahrawi community in the Canaries is fairly well integrated within mainstream Spanish society, links with their African counterparts are constantly being reinforced. Information campaigns, visits to the refugee camps in Tindouf, and hosting of refugee children for the summer holidays are among the many activities organized by Sahrawi NGOs in the Canary Islands. Based on fieldwork carried out in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the two closest islands to the African coastline, this papers explores the strategies adopted by the Saharawi community in the Canary Islands in their efforts to cope with the challenges of prolonged forced migration. In particular, this paper focuses on how displaced Sahrawis' sense of identity, framed by their Spanish nationality and North African roots, is expressed through conflicting discourses of belonging and independence.

Effects of the media on female gender after the change of regime in Hungarian society

Author: Judith Jaray-Vojcek (Medical University of Budapest)  email
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Long Abstract

In Hungary, the change of regime (in 1989) resulted not only in international as well as political changes but in radical social changes as well. Chiefly western influences became increasingly incorporated into the cultural and societal frame of society. The role of women in society and family became re-evaluated, as different perceptions of the feminine gender and new possibilities for women in society became more common. For instance, it became widely acceptable for women to remain single and to excel in the business world, or to become mothers at a very early or a very late age. This paper analyzes these gender developments through anthropological perspectives and attempts to identify the variables that mostly influenced such changes. The conclusions are based on a questionnaire that was administered to young women: eg. mothers who struggle to raise their children often without much support by society , single women and buisness women. The questionnaire aimed at identifying their perception on the role of today's women particularly in the family as mothers and in the job market as professionals. For the final analysis we included data derived from interviews and focus-group discussions. The paper presents findings that emphasize the influence of the global media such as the print media, soap operas, and commercials on local gender perceptions.

We become what we read

Author: Pawel Krzyworzeka (Kozminski University)  email
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Long Abstract

Translated texts from western ethnographers as well as texts from Polish ethnographers influence the perception of Polish ethnographers regarding what constitutes a "good" ethnography, subsequently shaping their own ethnographies. A typical example of such influential texts is Jacek Oledzki's ethnography of the village of Murzynowo. This monograph describes not only the village but also tells much about the intended readership of the text: other ethnographers and the villagers who were studied. In Murzynowo the text stirred up a controversy. While some villagers valued the monograph, others took Oledzki to court. I argue in this paper that a central goal of fieldwork is the production of texts that evoke interest among ethnographers as well as in the studied communities. To achieve this goal, collaborative and dialogic fieldwork and writing process are crucial. I draw on my fieldwork-experience in West Siberia and in Poland to support this contestation.

'Challenges and memories': global connection and the spreading of knowledge about globalisation within anthropological research

Author: Niko Reinberg (Welthaus Graz)  email
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Long Abstract

Western binary concepts such as wilderness/civilisation, tradition/modernity, and stagnation/progress have made their way around the globe. During the past years they have also constituted the basis of many anthropological publications. Development agents, politicians and television documentaries often present marginalised groups by reference to such binary concepts as stagnating, wild, backward, and traditional. At times, even marginalised groups, e.g. some Mexican indigenous peoples, define themselves along this line. Arjun Appadurai, Michael Kearney, Anna Tsing and others argue that global realities challenge binary based (anthropological) thinking. At the end of my fieldwork in an indigenous Nahua community in Michoacán along the Mexican Pacific coast I had the opportunity to discuss globalization processes with local people, especially globalization dynamics locally fostered through the presence of development agencies, environmental projects, and the tourism industry. An important issue is also the local migration to the USA. All these factors led triggered organisational changes of the community and furthered the presence of modern mass media, such as television. I used my own research findings to discuss such issues. I presented them to selected families and to the community during assemblies. I did workshops on my topic in schools and gave a presentation at the regional Indigenous Intercultural University. I had the chance to challenge common views of local stagnation, ignorance and wilderness. In my paper I argue that through engagement in local discourses that are in fact often based on "European discourses gone global" anthropology has the potential to become relevant also in the day to day living of people.

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