Volume 4, issue 2, 2012

To access the complete Amsterdam Social Science Volume 4 Issue 2 click here.

Preface by Menno Soentken

Following the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, ‘winds of change’ are also blowing through academia. Neelie Kroes (European commissioner Digital Agenda) sets out to ‘a crusade’ in favour of open access publishing (NRC, 24-07-2012). More bottom-up, this crusade has already been started by the more than 12.000 academics that decided to boycott Elsevier on www.thecostofknowledge.com, an initiative spurred by the prominent mathematician Timothy Gowes. This first battalion in the ‘academic spring’ refuses to accept the high profit margins made by large publishing houses through exorbitant subscription rates for journals and imposing large costs on university libraries. In other places, such as www.doaj.org, open access initiatives are starting to accumulate. What position does Amsterdam Social Science take in this new academic movement? (….)

Oscillation: A Life-Stories Analysis of Women Who Experience Bisexuality by Irina Dimitriade

This paper analyses the experience of bisexuality in the life stories of seven young women, aged between 22 and 27, living in Amsterdam. The ways they experience bisexuality stand as proof for the complexity of such a lived experience, varying from having been sexually and emotionally involved with people of similar genders to having been sexually and emotionally involved with only men, but having strong desires also for women.

Blurring Sexual Binaries: Men, Masculinities, and the Israeli Military by Channa Zaccai

This paper primarily aims to expose the complexity of everyday reality in the Israeli military in terms of sexual ‘identity’ and behavior as opposed to formal claims. It is argued that, although the Israeli military portrays itself as an ostensibly ‘all-inclusive’ gender egalitarian institute for all its Jewish citizens, bringing ‘the diverse strata of Israeli society together’ (Belkin & Levitt 2001: 555), gay men’s identity is in fact informally restricted. Not only gay men, however, have to constantly maneuver in a context that upholds a hegemonic masculine and heterosexual norm; heterosexual men and women as well have to negotiate such norms.

Home Talks on the Battlefield: Broadening our Understanding of Home in Social Scientific Research By Minke Nouwens

In this article, I stress the importance of home in people’s everyday lives and the insights we can gain as social science researchers by studying it. Yet, I will do so from a different premise than most social studies into the home. Many of these studies often bare in them the implicit conceptualisation of the home as linked to the house, i.e. the domestic setting. In this article, I unfix home from this rigid conceptualisation and show that it is also meaningful in the world beyond our front doors. Furthermore, I use this unfixing of the home to think critically about the place of ‘home’ in social scientific research and how we can extend our imagination.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Field Work Ethics and Ethnographic Writing Since the 1960s Shashi Roopram

The critique that anthropologists are complicit in reproducing colonial practices is a critique that is haunting them since the nineteenth century. This was one of the reasons that anthropologists started to emphasize the importance of ethics in their research. This is an essay that reflects on the implications of ethics in anthropology and the moral models that sprung out of them.

An Imaginary Dinner-Table Conversation on Trophy Hunting Between Norbert Elias and Elizabeth Costello By Femke Brandt

Picture a tourist lodge elevated on wooden stilts somewhere in the South-African wilderness and imagine it is dinnertime. The dark sky is filled with countless bright yellow stars. African waiters walk up and down to serve guests who have just returned from an evening game drive where they possibly spotted a leopard in a tree or a zebra drinking at a watering hole. This text is a fictional dialogue in the place just described. It zooms in on an exchange between two individuals in that setting, on that particular summer night. They discuss and theorize trophy-hunting practices in South Africa based on insights from recent ethnographic material presented in scientific circles. The speakers are the sociologist Norbert Elias and novelist Elizabeth Costello.

 Resource or Vulture Wars? Confusing Views on Recent African Interstate Conflicts by Jerry Tjon

This essay is a response to the article “African Vultures, The New Prevalence of Interstate Wars in Africa” by Karel Hendriks, published in the last issue of Amsterdam Social Science 4.1 (2012). The article posits that after the Cold War, a new type of interstate war became prevalent which did not fit neatly within the Old and New Wars framework of Mary Kaldor. These are dubbed “Vulture Wars” and are closely related to African states and their international context. Vulture Wars are defined by the presence of weak states and the rule of neo-patrimonial regimes. These regimes have strong incentives to acquire resources and capital from weaker states through the use of violence, hence the name Vulture Wars. Though Hendriks’s essay offers some nice ideas, on the whole it fails …

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One Response

  1. Willem Kranendonk
    Willem Kranendonk at | | Reply

    @ Femke: Brandt: I quote from ‘Figurations. Newsletter of the Norbert Elias Foundation’ #39 (August 2013) 24:

    “Joop Goudsblom just informed us that ASS 4:2 contains ‘a very nice piece’ by the anthropologist Femke Brandt [... he] describes it as ‘entertaining and insightful’.”
    Did he tell you so himself?

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