posted by Magdalena Grabowska
A review of Nation Queer? Discourses Of Nationhood And Homosexuality In Times Of Transformation: Case Studies From Poland, by Robert Kulpa.
In her landmark work Uncanny Slavdom, literary critic Maria Janion characterizes Poland as an instance of a dubious “postcolonial” space; a colonized nation that at the same time feels superiority over its colonizer, and a country that has been identifying itself as part of Europe, while at the same time struggling with its identification with the “East” (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2006). Over the years within postcolonial and feminist scholarship the ambivalences surrounding Eastern...
posted by Candace Bordelon
A review of Dancing in the Fringe: Connections Forming An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance, by Laura Osweiler.
Dancing in the Fringe: Connections Forming An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance is an exploration of the development of experimental Middle Eastern dance in the United States within the context of “An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance” (hereinafter EEMED), an annual theatrical dance concert produced in a black-box style theater in Los Angeles, California. The author, Laura Osweiler, is the creator and producer of the annual event, which was established in the year 2000. Osweiler’s...
posted by David Tobaru Obermiller
A review of Performing Embodied Histories: Colonialism, Gender, and Okinawa in Modern Japan, by Valerie Holshouser Barske.
Divided into six chapters with an Epilogue and Appendix, Valerie Barske’s dissertation examines Okinawa’s postwar history, identity formation, and the politicization of culture and gender through the lens of Okinawan performance culture.
Providing a comprehensive historiography of both Japanese and English secondary sources, the first chapter emphasizes the methodological and theoretical dispositions of the dissertation. A hybridization of cultural history and historical anthropology, the dissertation’s...
posted by Sarah Elsie Baker
A review of Consuming Underwear: Fashioning Female Identity, by Christiana Tsaousi.
The act of putting on underwear is a practice that most of us take part in everyday. Yet as Christiana Tsaousi makes clear in her dissertation, the decisions central to this practice have been largely unexplored by academic studies. Emerging at the intersection between consumption studies, fashion studies and marketing, Tsaousi explores the socio-cultural factors that influence underwear consumption. The thesis focuses on women and considers the role of underwear in the making of femininity. Through focus groups and semi-structured interviews, the research...
posted by Annabella Pitkin
A review of Death, Gender and Extraordinary Knowing: The Delog (’das log) Tradition in Nepal and Eastern Tibet, by Mary Alyson Prude.
In this engaging and thought-provoking study, Alyson Prude greatly advances our knowledge of the fascinating Tibetan and Himalayan practice of delog (Tib. ’das log). A delog is a person, frequently a woman, who undergoes a death experience and then returns to life, after which s/he typically reports on the post-death experiences, hell-realms, and fates of the recently deceased, and may also function as a preacher of core Buddhist doctrines of karma and ethics. Prude’s important new treatment raises...
posted by Jonathan Schlesinger
A review of Going on Otor: Disaster, Mobility, and the Political Ecology of Vulnerability in Uguumur, Mongolia, by Daniel Murphy.
In the winter of 2007-2008, natural disaster struck Mongolia. Drought hit first, then a brutal winter; herders began to suffer. For some, the calamity changed their lives forever. Many were trapped in degraded pastures, and, with nowhere to go, saw their animals perish. Others somehow survived unscathed; they negotiated an exit to fresher pastures, and when the worst came, they migrated out. The brutal weather pushed everyone, but only some experienced a true ‘natural disaster’ (zud). Two families, two...
posted by Matthew Fraleigh
A review of “The Peony Lantern” and Fantastic Tales in Late Imperial China and Tokugawa Japan: Local History, Religion, and Gender, by Fumiko Jōo.
On a festival night one year in mid-fourteenth century Ningbo, a young student glimpses a beautiful woman walking along the street in the company of a girl bearing a peony-adorned lantern. He invites the woman to his home and a passionate relationship ensues, but not long thereafter, the woman is revealed to be a ghost. Though the student enlists the protective intervention of spiritual authorities, he remains inexorably drawn to the ghostly woman and eventually perishes in the temple where...
posted by Erica van der Sijpt
A review of The Gift of Cure: Childbirth Injuries, Clinical Structures, and Religious Subjects in Ethiopia, by Anita Hannig.
Over the last years, obstetric fistula has received increasing worldwide attention. Popular media, NGOs, and influential personalities have contributed to a portrayal of (African) fistula patients as young, rural, poor, physically wounded, and socially abandoned — relegated to obscure sheds beyond the community borders. In The Gift of Cure, Anita Hannig takes issue with this narrative. On the basis of ethnographic research in two foreign-run, Protestant-based fistula centers in Ethiopia, she provides an in-depth...
posted by M. Colette Plum
A review of Protecting the National Body: Gender and Public Health in Southwest China during the War with Japan, 1937-1945, by Nicole Elizabeth Barnes.
Nicole Barnes’ dissertation, Protecting the National Body, is an ambitious and engaging study that tells three previously untold stories: the importance of the war years for the formation of China’s hybrid and indigenized medical system; the centrality of the Sick (Wo)man of Asia to biomedical projects disciplining Chinese bodies into citizens; and the centrality of China (and Sichuan province in particular) to the global advancement of biomedicine. Barnes’ dissertation fits into a...
posted by Timothy Thurston
A review of Nadun: Ritual and the Dynamics of Cultural Diversity in Northwest China’s Hehuang Region, by Gerald Roche.
Gerald Roche’s dissertation, “Nadun: Ritual and the Dynamics of Cultural Diversity in Northwest China’s Hehuang Region,” is an insightful study into the major annual ritual of the Sanchuan Mangghuer of Northeastern Qinghai Province. This study, however, is more than simply a close reading of a harvest ritual in Western China, but an in-depth examination of both the practices of the ritual itself and the local ontologies and ideologies that inform and surround it. In doing so, Roche does a wonderful job detailing...
posted by Jasmin Khosravie
A review of Contours of Persianate Community, 1722–1835, by Mana Kia.
This dissertation argues for a Persianate culture between Iran and Hindustan based on a shared literary tradition and education which fostered specific notions of belonging, origin and sociability within this community. By doing so, this study challenges proto-nationalist assumptions about the pre-modern period and associated interpretive distortions of Persianate historical texts. The era under consideration is framed by two decisive events: the fall of the Safavids in 1722 and the abolition of Persian as the language of power in India in 1835. Mana Kia draws in her...
posted by Kristina Grossmann
Becoming Better “Men” and “Women”: Negotiating Normativity through Gender Mainstreaming in Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Initiatives in Aceh, Indonesia, by Marjaana Jauhola.
In her transdisciplinary PhD research on the negotiation of gender norms, Marjaana Jauhola masters the challenge of applying aspects of Judith Butler’s post-structuralist theories to critically analyzing gender mainstreaming initiatives in Aceh. After the tsunami on December 26, 2004, Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh was a place of massive reconstruction efforts. The tsunami recovery and reconstruction initiatives amounted to...
posted by Anindita Majumdar
A review of Aulad: Infertility and the Meanings of Children in North India, by Holly Donahue Singh.
Aulad: Infertility and the Meanings of Children in North India seeks to understand the diversity of experiences and meanings attached to the process of having children as encapsulated within the North Indian term “aulad.” The author, Holly Donahue Singh, undertakes an analysis of kinship, motherhood, and reproductive life cycles of women in the pursuit of children. In the process she employs the reflexive ethnographic mode to explore the ways in which intra-familial relationships add to the meanings and experiences of having children. She...