Religion, History, and Place in the Origin of Settled Life

This volume explores the role of religion and ritual in the origin of settled life in the Middle East, focusing on the repetitive construction of houses or cult buildings in the same place. Prominent archaeologists, anthropologists, and scholars of religion working at several of the region’s most important sites—such as Çatalhöyük, Göbekli Tepe, Körtik Tepe, and Aşıklı Höyük—contend that religious factors significantly affected the timing and stability of settled economic structures.

Contributors argue that the long-term social relationships characteristic of delayed-return agricultural systems must be based on historical ties to place and to ancestors. They define different forms of history-making, including nondiscursive routinized practices as well as commemorative memorialization. They consider the timing in the Neolithic of an emerging concern with history-making in place in relation to the adoption of farming and settled life in regional sequences. They explore whether such correlations indicate the causal processes in which history-making, ritual practices, agricultural intensification, population increase, and social competition all played a role.

Religion, History, and Place in the Origin of Settled Life takes a major step forward in understanding the adoption of farming and a settled way of life in the Middle East by foregrounding the roles of history-making and religious ritual. This work is relevant to students and scholars of Near Eastern archaeology, as well as those interested in the origins of agriculture and social complexity or the social role of religion in the past

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Posted in Ancient, Religion | Tagged ,

Religion in the Emergence of Civilization

This book presents an interdisciplinary study of the role of spirituality and religious ritual in the emergence of complex societies. With contributions by an eminent group of natural scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists, philosophers and theologians, this volume examines Catalhoyuk as a case study. A nine-thousand-year-old town in central Turkey, Catalhoyuk was first excavated in the 1960s and has since become integral to understanding the symbolic and ritual worlds of the early farmers and village dwellers in the Middle East. It is thus an ideal location for exploring theories about the role of religion in early settled life. This book provides a unique overview of current debates concerning religion and its historical variations. By exploring such themes as the integration of the spiritual and the material, the role of belief in religion, the cognitive bases for religion and religion’s social roles, this book situates the results from Catalhoyuk within a broader understanding of the Neolithic in the Middle East.

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Posted in Civilization, Religion | Tagged ,

Televising the revolution as cultural policy: Bolivarian state broadcasting as nation-building

This article examines the role of the Caracas-based, pan-Latin American state broadcaster, TeleSUR, in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Drawing on Manuel Castells’ communication theory of the information age, in which global society has become a series of interlinked ‘networks’, and the ‘information economy’ has displaced manufacturing, the article argues that the Bolivarian Revolution, led by the late Hugo Chávez (1954–2013), is a network state, and as such is to be understood as a network of interconnected political, economic and communication interests. As an integral part of this network state, then, the TeleSUR broadcaster sets the agenda in the international sphere via satellite, cable and the Internet. Since petroleum is one of Venezuela’s main commodities – the country produces little in the way of manufacturing – and its main export, one of the ways in which Venezuela projects itself to the world is not with material commodities (oil notwithstanding), but images such as those that regularly appear on TeleSUR. This exportation of images of Chavismo and of Chávez himself, the article concludes, has become both cultural policy and a form of incipient nation-building.

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Posted in cultural policy | Tagged

Habermas, Rorty and the Politics of Cultural Change

Although Jürgen Habermas and Richard Rorty both reject the traditional picture of cultural change in which intellectuals are supposed to have the ‘last word’ on cultural issues and envisage cultural changes as the result of ‘dialogue’ or ‘conversation’ between them and the lay public, they nevertheless end up espousing different pictures of cultural change because of their totally different conception of the role and function of language, truth and rationality in such dialogue. In the first two sections of this article, I will recount Habermas’s critique of Rorty’s neo-pragmatism and the latter’s responses to it so that they can reveal the core issues of the debate. In the third section, I will argue that, as a ‘sociologized version’ of Rorty’s philosophy, Jeffrey Alexander’s theory of social performance provides us with a sociological framework that makes possible a wide range of empirical studies of cultural change.

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The Embeddedness of Spatial Planning in Cultural Contexts

This paper recognizes the need to study the complex relations between spatial planning and cultural contexts in a more comprehensive way. The objective is to contribute to a theoretical basis and conceptual framework for a systematic analysis of spatial planning, that is, planning practices related to a cultural and social context, on the basis of a complex system of criteria. This may contribute to achieving a better understanding of the complex relationships between the cultural context—including the specific socioeconomic patterns and related cultural norms, values, traditions, and attitudes—and spatial planning as an operative instrument of territorial policy by introducing the term ‘planning culture’. Therefore, as culture is subtle and complex in nature and is based on fluid concepts, theoretical approaches of cultural change are also introduced to provide a more dynamic conception of planning cultures to analyze and understand recent changes in spatial planning.

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Right-wing hegemony and immigration: How the populist far-right achieved hegemony through the immigration debate in Europe

It is becoming increasingly clear that the debate on Islam and Muslim immigrants has moved into the center of European political discourse. The increasing volume of publications about the role of Islam in social, cultural and political spheres indicates that Islam is now a major political issue, often associated with the debate on terrorism and security. This article argues that the shift in focus should be understood as the result of a hegemonic shift that goes back to the mid-1980s when the populist far-right intervened in the immigration debate in Europe. The far-right not only presented immigration as a cultural threat to the future of European nations but also succeeded in moving immigration to the center of political discourse. This was done through successive right-wing political interventions that helped establish Muslim immigrants as an incompatible ontological category predicated on culture, and kept the national focus on immigration as an imminent threat to ‘our common’ achievements.

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Posted in Immigration, Politics | Tagged ,

Acculturation, Dialogical Voices and the Construction of the Diasporic Self

This article argues that various Third World, diasporic communities (e.g. Indian-American, Chinese-Canadian, Turkish-German), settled primarily in Europe and North America, negotiate their cultural identities as citizens of First World countries while retaining a strong identification with the culture of their home country. A dialogical model of acculturation is employed to explain the psychological complexities, contradictions and cultural specificities involved in the experiences of these non-European, diasporic communities. Such a model illustrates how the diasporic identity is shaped by, and linked to, the cultural and political issues of race, gender, colonization, and power that are present in the hostland and the homeland. I draw upon Said’s memoir Out of Place (1999) to show how a diasporic immigrant’s effort to rework the different parts of one’s heritage or ethnicity entails an ongoing, dialogical negotiation between the I positions of feeling simultaneously assimilated, separated and marginalized.

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Posted in Acculturation, Dialogic interaction, Dialogue, Diaspora | Tagged , , ,

Multiculturalism, Autonomy, and Language Preservation

In this paper, I show how a novel treatment of speech acts can be combined with a well-known liberal argument for multiculturalism in a way that will justify claims about the preservation, protection, or accommodation of minority languages. The key to the paper is the claim that every language makes a distinctive range of speech acts possible, acts that cannot be realized by means of any other language. As a result, when a language disappears, so does a class of speech acts. If we accept that our social identities are in large part constituted by the decisions we make about how to speak, then language loss will amount to a substantial infringement on our autonomy in a particularly important domain.

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Children’s Emotional Geographies of Well-being: The Cultural Constitution of Belonging(s) in Migration and Digital Techs

“My most special place is my home(land) country [“Heimatland”], because there I always feel so comfortable.” The spatial dimension of children´s well-being has been receiving more attention in child well-being research recently. Empirical studies show for example the effects of the built and natural environments on children´s objective and subjective well-being or the subjective meanings that children attach to the concept of well-being in respect to place and space. What is not well understood so far is the cultural dimension of these phenomena and understandings. The aim of this paper is therefore to outline a cultural analytical approach to the spatial constitution of wellbeing and to provide analytical heuristics to reconstruct the spatial constitution of wellbeing as a cultural construct in discursive practices that children take part in. The paper also provides an empirical example that illustrates this heuristic approach and shows how belonging(s) is constituted as a spatial construct beyond local and national territories. The paper ends with a summary of how the findings and the cultural approach might inform child well-being research and the spatial (re)constitution of well-being in the context of migration and digital technologies

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Posted in emotional geographies, relational geographies | Tagged ,

Money spoils the medicine

In this article, I use classical anthropological and sociological theory on exchange to explain the robustness of the cultural economy of healing in Northern Ghana. While many scholars have argued that health care in Africa should be understood through the lens of neoliberal marketization, ethnographic research among Mamprusi healers shows that practices of traditional healing are firmly embedded in a cultural system of exchange. Although confronted with an expanding monetary economy, the healers adhere to the local credo that ‘money spoils the medicine’. This alludes to an approach to healing characterized by a kind of reciprocity that reflects (post-)Maussian principles of gift exchange. Drawing on these principles, I propose to complement our understanding of exchange with the concept of ‘moral monies’. As peculiar monetary (counter)gifts, these serve as instruments to reconcile contemporary monetary needs with the sociocultural, moral, and historical institutions in which traditional health care is rooted.

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