All posts tagged: anthropology

mirrors: in pluralism, syncretism and construction

Image: The Battle of Algiers (Film) This essay attempts to explore/ deconstruct how Assia Djebar’s socialization informed her literary style in her novel “Children of the New World.” Polarities of praise and criticism Djebar has received, point to how her formative experiences (cultural, political, gendered) have informed the structure and artistry of the novel in ways not often seen in other writers’ works. However, the aesthetic approaches used by Djebar in writing this novel are perhaps equally (more interestingly) derived by how the tools of her socialization aided in achieving her intended goals with this book. Assia Djebar’s Background Born in 1936 in then French Algeria, Djebar was educated at the École Normale Supérieure, and became part of a generation of writers who not only came of age during a series of colonial independence movements, but also whose socialization was shaped by a range of influences — in Djebar’s case, Western, Arab and Berber. The only woman amongst the Algerian literary pioneers of her generation, her work included novels, essays, documentary films and plays, all …

how art has evolutionary value…?

“Without the art of storytelling, without the human impulse to catch and hold the attention of others through narratives with expectation-violating, larger-than-life powers, religion could not have arisen [..] Art has played a central function in human lives, not only in itself, but also in giving rise to religion and then reinforcing, through augmenting the impact of ritual, religion’s power to cement group cohesion.”1 In this paper, I use anthropological viewpoints to unpack the task of substantiating how art has evolutionary value. At the centre of this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, (“Does art have evolutionary value?”) lies the unacknowledged role belief plays in answering it. Drawing on the work of Ellen Dissanayake and others, this essay will illuminate the evolutionary value of art in relation to the core ideas of human adaptation around culture and evolutionary theory.    In the book, “The Artful Species: Aesthetics, Art and Evolution,” author Stephen Davies describes the role of art as “a cultural product resting on evolved capacities, that lead us to be creators, transmitters, preservers, and incremental improvers …

boundarylines

A podcast experiment… created from a series of student interviews on the campus of Ryerson University (Toronto) in autumn 2015. CREDITS studio interview / Julia Walters, (Immigrant & Settlement Studies) interviewees / Dana Dwaik (Journalism), Palma Ghatti (Architecture), Mosaur Motage, Ryan Walsh, Olivia Maeder (Journalism), Aziz Alaschquar (Engineering) host, producer, editing / Janine Ramlochan (New Media) Related reading a socio-determinist critique…

my mom’s eulogy

This has become related to a body of work I have been researching/ developing as I try to trace my family history from Canada to the Caribbean to South Asia.  During exam week in 2015, my mother’s passing stimulated a shift in the focus of my research/ artistic practice on my family origins. With newly acquired family documents and their maintenance (a responsibility my siblings do not seem to want), and the historical significance they seem to have, have stimulated interest in a range of directions to explore.     CECILIA RAMLOCHAN / 03.03.1940 – 12.13.2015 Thank you friends, family and colleagues of Cecilia Ramlochan for making it here today to celebrate her life. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Janine and I am her daughter… the youngest of her three children. When I was little, my mom was an Avon lady… something she did part time. It started when she took time-off from teaching to raise me and my brothers. She’d sometimes take me with her… brochures in hand… cases of …

family folklore

This report follows an existing research project I have been developing. The South Asian tradition of family folklore (reminiscences, family sagas, myths about the family’s connection to supernatural or divine beings), carry the aura of a place with them, illustrating how people draw on the imaginative to sustain themselves. This report supports research for the development of an ethnographic documentary about Indo-Trinidadian oral histories, derived from the descendants of canefield labourers. The emphasis is on oral histories/ family folklore contrasted against sugarcane farming as a dwindling agricultural practice in the country, amidst the recent rise of the oil and natural gas industries. download report APPENDIX SCRIPTED SCENES FROM INITIAL RESEARCH TRIP TO TRINIDAD (2014)

identity construction labels

According to Stuart Hall, identity and representation are intertwined; an exercise in selective memory; the silencing of one voice to enable another to speak. Identity is not a story we tell ourselves about ourselves, but a set of stories that shift with historical circumstances, continuously evolving us from from outside in. A societal mirror that shapes us. ¨Without the others there is no self, there is no self-recognition¨ (Hall 2001, p. 26, 30). This raises questions around definitions of Caribbean vs. Indo-Caribbean vs. Indo-Trinidadian identity, in a region typically referred to as the West Indies. Taken further, how is the notion of identity construction resolved for people who have emigrated to North America or Britain from the Caribbean? In attempts to draw a line around a cohesive identity in the region, using an Indo-Caribbean lens, identity is revealed to be a slippery subject. This essay argues that Caribbean identity, infact does not exist. This is largely due to the legacy of racialized political and economic structures that continue to persist throughout the region today. Across …

kite fighting

Kite fighting is a sport, which traditionally uses unstable, single-line kites. Tension is used for control, while an abrasive line defends against other kites. The skins of fighter kites are often made from thin papers, the spars of light, flexible wood. When flown with a taut line, the wind pressure, paradoxically giving the kite stability, deforms it. With the line of tension reduced, the kite becomes unstable, rocking from side-to-side. Sometimes it begins to spin. By reapplying tension at the right moment, the kite increases in stability, shifts in direction, moving towards where the flyer desires. Kite fighting is perhaps an apt analogy to describe the structure and mobility of Indian families. The males of the extended family create an interwoven kite tapestry, becoming both a shield and a sail. The women form the spars holding the shape of the kite and keeping it together under pressure, while the children trail behind in the tails. The older generations hold the line taut, steering the family against external pressure in an advantageous direction for all. In …