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Preface by Jonathan Mijs
The fireworks launched at the stroke of midnight mark not just the start of the new year. It kicks off a new volume of Amsterdam social science. in this issue, our contributors explore the boundaries of their respective disciplines. (…)
Inter-human attractiveness has for long been subjected to biological or psychological methods of study. this paper examines the sociological principles that are inherent to inter-human attractiveness. it is argued that what people defne as attractive features in one another, is shaped by its cultural and social contexts, and can therefore be seen as a social construction. Furthermore, there are two ‘logics of attractiveness’, which to some extent defne ‘the rules people have to play by’ in the course of selecting a partner.
In the 1990s, the French artist Saint-Orlan staged a series of ten invasive cosmetic ‘interventions’, which aimed to radically alter her appearance.
Her face after surgery would be an amalgam of the features of famous (portrayed) women in art-history: Botticelli’s Venus’ chin, Psyche’s nose as painted by Gerome, the lips of Francois Boucher’s europa, Diana’s eyes as painted by an anonymous member of the French school of Fontainebleau, and the forehead of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The operations themselves, moreover, were carefully orchestrated media events that were broadcasted, live, to museums across the world. Orlan herself, under partial anaesthetics only, would lecture her audiences and answer questions during surgery. These reincarnations have received much attention from feminist commentators, who saw this gesture as a liberating way to make use of (largely oppressive) technology, or as a dystopian illustration of the increasingly popular disposition to aggressively mould bodies, and especially female bodies, into shape. Central to the feminist reception of these reincarnations was a concern with the use (and misuse) to which plastic surgery may be put.
This paper is situated in this debate, yet aims to broaden the scope of the discussion to pay attention, too, to what Orlan’s performances suggest about the relationship between technology, the body, and identity in more general terms. It will be argued that their simultaneous engagement with questions of technology, the body, and identity may aid feminists in thinking imaginatively about the future of feminism in the 21st century.
The Presidency of Rafael Correa in Ecuador, attained in novem- ber 2006, presents a synthesis of power in its raw form. in a country that has experienced multiple military Juntas and no term finishing presidents within the last decade and a half, the area is ripe for a study of the synthesis of power and how it is actualised.
Narratives on family, gender and sexual behaviour are signifcant for the investigation of national identity construction, because they always bring up discussions of morality and cultural essence. This article poses the question how the national self is contested and reassured during debates on restrictive policies in spheres of reproduction and sexuality, and explains interrelation between gender and nationalism in Lithuania, where in 2008 the government took initiatives to ban abortion and to promote marriage. A critical discourse analysis of public discussions is used to explore images of a woman and nation in the context of these political projects. This analysis shows how fragility of the nation is compared to the weakness of a woman, and how the repulsive image of ‘contemporaneity’ is constructed and posed as a threat to national identity.
The debate on sociology’s relation to biology rages on but doesn’t seem to get anywhere. This essay argues that the terms of the debate are part of the problem. By looking back into the common history of these disciplines I hope to show the plausibility of an alternative framing. in this history I show broad and crucial commonalities in ways of thinking in sociology and biology. This suggests that instead of “bridging the two sciences” we need to think of other forms of cooperation.