The issues of techniques and the body, corporeality and technology — whether in interaction with each other or treated as separate fields — have preoccupied scholars back to the origins of anthropology as a discipline. But bodies and techniques are less often addressed together. The aim of this issue of ‘Forum’ is to stimulate among anthropologists and cultural historians a discussion about precisely this ‘knowledge gap’, and to foster critiques of the interrelationship of corporeal and technological realities, including such areas as the mechanics of technology and its instrumentalisation of the body. This might include topics such as robotisation and ‘cyborgisation’, the expansion of human capacities with the aid of new technologies, the competition between human intelligence and IT, the technological dimensions of biopolitics and biopower, new cognitive techniques such as neurohacking, and the emergence of transhuman studies.
This article focuses on gastronomic fears that have spread in contemporary Russia within last decade, or more specifically, fears associated with the consumption of yeast bread. Shared by various social groups, from Orthodox fundamentalists to new age sympathisers and secular middle class people, these social fears reveal the existence of a new culture of distrust in post-Soviet society. The object of distrust is represented by the State along with its institutions responsible for the production and control of knowledge, including science, medicine, education and the mass media. At the same time, the main object of fear is a loss of personal freedom, which is articulated as quality of life, health issues, and opportunities for self-improvement. This article argues that the culture of distrust is a by-product of an information society where instead of having limited access to information from mass-media, people question its accuracy, and have to define or re-define the criteria of its accuracy in their everyday routine. At the same time, the proliferation of the culture of distrust is a reaction to ‘risk situations’ (U. Beck) where the concept of risk is connected with the diversification of knowledge in modern society which leaves customers incapable of estimating the level of threat that invisible and omnipresent enemies, like GMOs or yeasts, present. This article elaborates on the role of so called ‘new intellectuals’ in this culture of distrust.
Main focus of this article is on narrative representation of the school discipline (student resistance, incompliance and conflicts with teachers) in Russian school folklore and official school documents in the second half of the 20th century. Two genres of school jokes (written and oral), school rules and official lists of allowed punishments were compared. Concept of discipline is operationalized as disciplinary episodes depicting student infringements or disciplinary acts (punishments) taken by teachers. Distribution of infringements and punishments among studied genres and genre differences in perspective on the same disciplinary episodes discover subtle borders between official and unofficial view on discipline in Soviet school. Also I suggest several semantic categories, guiding narrative representation of school discipline: isomorphism of disciplinary and schooling processes, risk involved in initiating disciplinary conflict, connection between discipline and everyday school routine, internal structure of disciplinary system (hierarchy of punishments).
The article addresses the understudied phenomenon of digital quantification of the body and everyday life, which has arisen due to the proliferation of wearable and mobile fitness technologies. The author reviews a number of recent studies which have contributed significantly to the conceptualisation of digital self-tracking. Examining various approaches and directions in the study of self-tracking, the author focuses on three aspects: a) on the manifestations and discourses of self-tracking; b) on its styles and practices; and c) on its social contexts and effects. The works under review show how trackers of physical and social activities can transform people’s everyday practices, and how users interact with fitness technologies, interpret quantified data and construct their own embodied identity. Importantly, the efficiency of self-tracking tools is associated with their ‘sociability’ and ‘intelligence’ — qualities achieved through the anthropomorphising of digital devices and the creation of a culture of sharing. The analysis also emphasises that the practice of self-tracking goes beyond individual experience, actively invading other social worlds, and may eventually become an inherent feature of a ‘sensor society’. Summarising the outcomes of current research, the author comes to the conclusion that further conceptualisation of digital self-tracking must take into account its complex and multi-vectored nature. On the one hand, self-tracking is productive, as it contributes to the broadening of possibilities for self-knowledge and self-management, but on the other hand, it can have disciplinary, discriminatory, coercive, and alienating effects.
The report reviews the conference «Social anthropology in Russia as a research and university discipline: search for past and future» organized by the state university «Higher school of economics» on September 11-13, 2007 in Pushkin. The purpose of conference was to discuss a wide circle of problems of the position of anthropology in Russia. The program of presentations included three sections: social anthropology as part of a curriculum, social anthropology as a scientific discipline and peculiarities of the academic community.
The article provides data received from sociological research on participants of the protest that took place on 24th December. The data describes a typical protest participant as a highly educated representative of the “intelligentsia”, a well-to-do person adhering to liberal values. On the other hand there is also a huge group of people who are much more radical in terms of their political view
What is the language distribution among migrant children in different domains? Which factors influence the relationship between the majority and dominant language? Do second-generation migrants experience problems with linguistic shift? The work also considers data from schoolchildren surveyed by the Sociology of Education and Science Laboratory at the National Research University at the Higher School of Economics from 2009-2010 (around 7,500 surveys of high school pupils, continuous sampling in schools)
The article considers Weber’s theory of charismatic power as an interpretive model for the examination of religious beliefs. Traditionally, academic thought has interpreted the source of the power as either a leader’s personal characteristics or constructive actions performed by his / her group. Instead of searching for the causes of charismatic authority, I am interested in ways of performing charismatic authority and techniques for its realisation. My fieldwork was conducted in a remote Russian village with an Orthodox community, devoted to a spiritual elder (starets). Through careful ethnography, I will describe the post-Soviet conditions that have transformed a collective farm into a religious group, the group’s organisational characteristics, and the process by which the leader’s charisma is routinised. The main goal of the article is to analyse the communicative practices of the community. I suggest that many of the presuppositions on which our everyday face-to-face communication is based would not hold in a case in which an interlocutor, according to believers, had superhuman abilities (e.g., the ability to predict the future). Thus, the micro level of interactions can change the whole structure of a community. My primary perspective for the reconsideration of charismatic authority is a perspective drawn from linguistic anthropology.
The review is devoted to the critical evaluation on the application of the actor-network theory in anthropology of religion.
In the last few years, ways of celebrating Victory Day in Russia have changed signifi cantly and now involve multiple practices of “remembering through acting” (performative commemoration). The paper focuses on the functioning of such vernacular practices (including the decoration of cars, dressing in military uniforms, participating in the “Immortal Regiment” parade, etc.). Public discussions of such new forms show both the integrating and disintegrating potential of this festival. The framework within which the descendants of the victors defi ne their attitude to Victory Day (memory of victims or of triumph, usage of offi cial symbols or reluctance to use them) becomes the basis for unity and mutual disengagement of the two competing “moral communities”.
The article highlights the results of field research conducted in Tanzania from August 24 to September 14, 2018, focused on the historical memory of the Arab slave trade in East Africa and the Indian Ocean in the 19th century and its influence on the interethnic relations in the country nowadays. Structured and non-structured interviews (mostly in-depth) were done in Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo and Zanzibar. In general, opinions divided almost equally: half of respondents are convinced that the relations are completely good, the other half believe that there are some tensions. Both opinions are well-argued and substantiated, it is possible to trace some patterns in people’s perception. The history of the Arab slave trade lies between family trauma on the one hand, and tolerance, non-discrimination, imposed by the state, on the other. Two ways of reproducing the historical memory largely oppose each other: the school system lays the blame on Europeans, promoting peaceful interethnic relations, presenting the slave trade as an essential part of colonialism, and after that emphasizing the story of overcoming the colonial past, while the oral tradition censors nothing and tells the history of the ancestors’ sufferings in its entirety. Thus, connoisseurs of the oral tradition with a low level of education turn to be the most vulnerable category, they become the least tolerant to Arab-Tanzanians part of the country’s population.