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CHAPTER ONE Memorial Culture: The Material Response to Loss

Holly Everett University of North Texas Press PDF



Memorial Culture:


The Material Response to Loss

Like most residents of my hometown, Austin, Texas, I took roadside crosses for granted. When I first became conscious of them, as a teenage driver, I thought of them as grim warnings. I did not know then that the crosses had a long history in Mexico and the southwestern United States, nor that they had analogues in several other countries. I had no firsthand knowledge of the construction of those I drove past almost daily. Nonetheless, I found them fascinating and disturbing.

The communicative process of roadside crosses, as tangible evidence of extremely personal pain, inevitably affects an entire community. As centerpieces of fragile, dynamic memorial assemblages, such crosses are only now being examined as more than incidental specks in the cultural landscape of certain groups. A unique form of public, belief-centered material culture, roadside accident markers occupy a rare place not only in the realm of roadside attractions, but in the cognitive map of the individual, a uniqueness that renders them extra-legal, or “outlaw” and almost untouchable markers of liminal space. They represent the continuation and adaptation of one of the oldest forms of memorial culture.

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Spanish Bird Names

Ricardo Rozzi and collaborators University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9781574410815

3: The Gods and Their Ways

Rod Davis University of North Texas Press ePub



One sultry morning a couple of weeks after the initiation at Lorita’s home, I drove down to the lower end of the Quarter to meet Ava Kay Jones at the Old U.S. Mint, a refurbished brick office building now used as a museum, library and public meeting place. I had met Ava about the time I met Lorita, when Ava was working as lead dancer for her Voodoo Macumba Dance Troupe. Since then, she had not only taken further steps towards becoming an orisha voudou priestess—steps that would lead me in a circle back to her many months down the road—but had also opened a botanica, Jambalaya. Until it closed, another victim of the New Orleans economy, it was the only voudou establishment in the Quarter with any claim to authenticity. Lorita’s Lazarus Spiritual Church Supply, and the other authentic ones, were all elsewhere in the city.

A small, voluptuous, articulate purveyor of both her faith and her talent, Ava became the center of attention whenever she walked through the Quarter in her white dress, big earrings and white kerchief, as striking a picture of a m’ambo, a Haitian priestess, as even the long-time residents were likely to encounter. Some people didn’t know what to make of her—she didn’t fit known stereotypes. Others treated her almost like a celebrity. More than once, whether we were snacking on coffee and croissants or splitting po’boys at an oyster bar, I watched black wait staff scrutinize her minutely, as though something inside, half-forgotten, were registering. Ava sensed it, too. It was one of the reasons she had made her choice, to give up a career as an attorney to devote her life to the orisha.

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6 The One Who Writes Difference: Inside Secrecy

Marcy Brink-Danan Indiana University Press ePub

“In retrospect, it appears that the ability to encourage the voluntarily mute to speak, and the talent to open the innermost thoughts and interpret the secrets of hundreds of interviewees, was a basic condition in writing this study” (Tuval 2004:lxvii).1 So concludes the author of a study of modern Turkish Jewry who describes his work as a “picture of a community that had lain shrouded in thick fog for many years” (lxvii). This scholar was not the first—nor the last—to describe the difficulty in gaining access to Turkish Jewish life. Elazar and others, in a footnote to their demographic description of the Jews of Turkey, likewise assert that the community is “extremely reluctant to have its activities publicized in any way at all, on the grounds that if neither the Turkish government nor the Turkish people are antagonized, the Turkish [Jewish] community might be able to be permitted to continue functioning. The consensus is that the slightest publicity might endanger the status quo” (1984:128). Similarly, Mills writes, “In spite of the fact that, compared with Greeks, Jews were far more open to my research . . . I had a great deal of difficulty using a snowball effect to gain increasing numbers of interviews through primary contacts” (2010:173).

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2 Al-Fātiḥ wa al-Maftūḥ: The Case of Sunni-Shi‘i Relations in Bahrain

Justin Gengler Indiana University Press ePub

TINY THOUGH IT is, the 33-island archipelago of Bahrain, situated 15 miles off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, is an ideal location in which to examine the disruptive influence of group-based political mobilization on the normal function of the rentier state. Indeed, for a kingdom but half the size of London, Bahrain holds a number of distinctions: the global center of pearl production and trading until the 1930s; the first Gulf country in which oil was discovered and mined; the former home of colonial Britain’s Residency of the Persian Gulf and present base of the U.S. Fifth Fleet; and, since the 2003 fall of Iraq’s Ba‘athist regime, the only Middle East nation still ruled by a Sunni minority. While the exact proportion is itself a much-debated and highly divisive issue, it is generally agreed that, despite a decade-long campaign of naturalizing Sunni foreigners, Shi‘a still comprise somewhere between 55 percent and 65 percent of the total population of Bahrain, making it one of just three Middle East states, along with Iran and Iraq, wherein this perennial minority holds an absolute majority.1

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Conclusion: Beyond Suffering and Victimhood

Nell Gabiam Indiana University Press ePub

WHEN I TOLD my friend Saleem, who lived in Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, about the rumors circulating in Neirab and Ein el Tal that the Neirab Rehabilitation Project was a ploy to make refugees “forget” about their homeland, he replied simply, “Tell them that we are living well here and we have not forgotten.” It often struck me that if the Neirab Rehabilitation Project were to achieve its goals, at least as far as UNRWA was concerned, Neirab and Ein el Tal could very well end up looking somewhat like prewar Yarmouk. However, as Saleem pointed out, Yarmouk’s Palestinian refugees had not forgotten. Yarmouk might have become integrated into Damascus and might have acquired hundreds of thousands of Syrian residents, but it was still a distinctively Palestinian space.

If one thinks of memory not as an attempt to recover the past but as an attempt to “underscore the loss inscribed in the social body and embedded in forms of practice” (Hartman 1997:75), then it can take many forms. Despite having physically and economically merged into Damascus, Yarmouk had managed to maintain a distinctively Palestinian feel mainly through the social and political engagement of the refugees who lived there, their cultural activities that celebrated their Palestinian heritage, and their creativity in inscribing Yarmouk’s changing landscape with reminders of their identity as refugees and Palestinians.

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Medium 9780253019028


IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Beautiful. Acrylic and collage on canvas. 180 × 150 cm. ©2013 Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo. Image courtesy of artist and Gallery MOMO.

after Warsan Shire

Your son is dumb, a nobody,

without honor, country or history.

Talk to him.

The books he reads do not.

Have you not told him

life is mean but fair,

God created the stars, wind and sea

and slave ships passed,

God parted the sea

and slave masters drowned?

So what that your son’s belly

bears the marks of your teeth

and blunt edges of your fist.

So what that his father is a ravaging wolf.

Your son is a shark

with no reverence for life,

not even his own.

Does he not know

that no loving outstretched arms,

no prayer, salt, or grail will save him?

Fathers tell their daughters

to not go near him,

not let his words be pomegranates

or the soft-drip thaw of ice on the myrtles.

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Medium 9781782201922

Chapter Seven - Held Captive?

Sue Lieberman Karnac Books ePub

“The past does not change, nor our need for it. What must change is the way of telling.”

—Anne Michaels, The Winter Vault

Seventy years after the event, what do we do with the Holocaust?

Throughout this book I have posed the question not only of what constitutes “collective trauma”, but what it is that constitutes this particular Holocaust-derived “collective trauma” in the minds and experience of ordinary Jews. The term appears increasingly often in relation to all manner of catastrophes and atrocities past and recent but, especially when separated from a direct relationship to the original experience, the parameters of “collective” trauma remain elusive.

The question is not helped by intrinsic difficulties in definition. Like “community”, the very term “collective” is nebulous. For example, in respect of memory Novick (1999), drawing on Maurice Halbwachs (1992), writes about “collective memory”, but Avishai Margalit resists the term “collective”, preferring to talk instead of “shared” and “common” as distinct categories of memory. A “common” memory, Margalit says, is “an aggregate notion”: it aggregates the memories of all those who remember a certain episode experienced by each individually. A “shared” memory is not an aggregate of individual memories but is the process of distilling from a number of disparate individual memories into an overarching memory that can be narrated. In this process, everybody has a different perception of (therefore memory of) an event:

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6. Ladino Drama: Case Studies

Olga Borovaya Indiana University Press ePub

In this chapter, I will examine five Ladino plays that belong to different genres—comedy, high drama, and thriller—and combine elements of instruction and entertainment in varying proportions. The rewriter of The Playful Doctor remains unknown, while the four other plays are signed by their creators. The plays will be discussed in chronological order: the two adaptations of Molière’s comedies, The Playful Doctor and Han Benyamin, appeared in Sephardi Theater’s first period (1863 and 1884, respectively); both Purim Eve (1909) and Devora (1921) were created in the second period and explicitly aimed at indoctrinating Sephardim in Zionist ideology. Dreyfus, produced in 1902(?), reflected the Zionist agenda without making any direct statements. Overall, this selection of plays written within almost fifty years provides an adequate picture of Sephardi Theater’s repertoire. I will not analyze any translations of contemporaneous French plays, since this would not add anything to our understanding of Sephardi Theater beyond what one learns from the list of their authors cited in the previous chapter.

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Medium 9780253008800

Introduction. Poles and Jews: Significant Others

Erica T. Lehrer Indiana University Press ePub

With one culture, we cannot feel!


Kazimierz, Krakow's historically Jewish quarter, is one among a number of iconically Jewish spaces that have been “put back on the map” across the new Europe, in places where Jews lived in concentration before World War II and sometimes long before: Berlin's Scheunenviertel, Paris's Le Marais, Bologna's “Il Ghetto,” Prague's Židovské město (Josefov), and other pockets in Vilna, Lvov, Czernowitz, and elsewhere. Despite Poland's minuscule contemporary Jewish population (estimates from the decade ending in 2009 vary from about 5,000 to 20,000 among 40 million Poles), in the past fifteen years the country has seen a profusion of Jewish-themed events, venues, and sites.1 Significant efforts at the state level to remake Poland's Jewish heritage through museums, monuments, and commemorations have emerged. Jewish conferences, ceremonies, memorials, performances, festivals, and other events in Poland outstrip public programming in countries with much larger Jewish communities.2

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Medium 9780253333605

II. From Njahe to Nyayo: Beans and the Evolution of Agricultural Imperialism in Kenya

Claire Cone Robertson Indiana University Press ePub



Beans are intimately associated with women in central Kenya.1 The symbolism associated with njahe, a variety especially important for the Kikuyu, was no less important than the trade in beans. Dried beans are a women’s crop, a women’s trade commodity, and preeminently a women’s food. The study of beans and their trade turned out to be subversive of established orthodoxies in some ways and requires serious attention to women. Moreover, beans serve as symbolic articulators of women’s labor in both their expropriation and their connection to the soil. In this chapter I will describe the history of beans as a crop, in which women struggled to control their own produce as a part of resistance to the impact of agricultural imperialism, defined as the expropriation of land, labor, profits, and plant genetic materials, and the imposition of alien priorities upon farmers in central Kenya.2 Women have asserted themselves in the matter of crop choice and in so doing foiled some ill-judged export attempts and fostered multi-purpose hardy crops suited to Kenyan conditions. They have also, however, yielded to agricultural imperialism under the pressure of preferential pricing and high labor demands to the detriment of their diet and wellbeing. Given the limitations of the data, I will pay most attention to Kikuyu beans and symbolic systems, but include information about the Kamba where available. The fullest picture was gained by combining oral, linguistic, secondary and archival sources.

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Medium 9780253018816

2 In Praise of the Moral Imagination

Richard Werbner Indiana University Press ePub

THE MORAL IMAGINATION encounters a powerful challenge in wisdom divination. It is at once visual, tactile, and verbal—to draw on an oral archive of archaic praise poetry and to make small things—the divinatory lots—speak with much moral significance about elusive and often ill-defined concerns. Many images are brought to bear with the poetry and the lots; the juxtapositions are sometimes paradoxical, not easily fused together. Yet there is a promise of getting wise guidance from an expert—the experienced diviner. What a diviner and his clients seek to grasp escapes ordinary knowledge—it concerns the occult in their lives, the invisible realities that are beyond sensible experience, yet vital for their well-being.

What also threatens to escape the moral imagination is a more profound synthesis, “the fusion of images,” in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s terms (1962, 231). The difficulty, especially in divination, is “double sight.” “Double sight” is the appearance of competing images, vying for attention, in somewhat blurred vision. Instead of a fusion of images, there is an unstable tension. Trying to grasp the occult, people at a séance have a paradoxically dynamic experience of images, which seem to be in an unresolved, perhaps irreconcilable opposition. Over the course of the divination, the tension moves variably from moment to moment, until—and ideally—under the direction of the diviner as the guide for action, the way toward some resolution of the double sight is achieved.

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Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

During the past few decades, particularly at upper social levels, premarital physical contacts between males and females have been considerably elaborated without any increase in the frequency of actual intercourse (Chapter 11). These contacts may go far beyond the hugging and kissing which occurred in older generations. In their maximum extensions they may involve all of the techniques of the pre-coital play in which sophisticated married partners engage.

In general this behavior is known to the younger generation as petting, although other terms are applied to certain types of contacts. Those which are confined to latitudes not lower than the neck are sometimes known as necking, and petting is distinguished from the heavy petting which involves a deliberate stimulation of the female breast, or of the male or female genitalia. While most of the younger generation of high school and college-bred males and females more or less accepts petting as usual and proper in pre-marital behavior, some of those who have doubts about the morality of their activities ease their consciences by avoiding the term petting for anything except the more extended forms of contact.

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Five. Moral Discourse and Slavery

Jr., Howard McGary Indiana University Press ePub


After two hundred and fifty years of chattel slavery and a scant twenty years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley, arguing against the Civil Right Act of 1875, which guaranteed equality of access to public accommodations, made the following claim:


it would be running the slavery argument into the ground to make it apply to every act of discrimination which a person may see fit to make as to guests he will entertain, or as to the people he will take into his coach or cab or car, or admit to his concert or theater, or deal with in other matters of intercourse or business.1

Justice Bradley then states:


When a man has emerged from slavery and, by the aid of beneficent legislation, has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the ranks of mere citizen and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws, when his rights as citizen, or a man, are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men’s rights are protected.2

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6 Wet Numbers: The Language of Continuity Crisis and the Work of Care among the Organized American Jewish Community

Michal KravelTovi Indiana University Press ePub

Michal Kravel-Tovi

We know more than ever about ourselves. Coupled with continuing efforts to extend and enrich such knowledge, this augurs well for the future of American Jewry.

Sidney Goldstein, “Beyond the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey”

“WE KNOW,” Sidney Goldstein, a professor of sociology at Brown University, assures his audience: we know ourselves. In his Marshall Sklare honorary address—an annual celebratory ritual of Jewish social scientific knowledge—Professor Goldstein publicly performs the sense of security that the American Jewish community places in social science. He uses the unmarked first-person plural “we” to refer to a wide range of leaders in the organized American Jewish world who care deeply about their community’s future. The confidence Goldstein possesses in the potential of social science stems especially from the value of quantitative knowledge—the value of numbers. Indeed, much depends on the reality of numbers for Goldstein and his colleagues: the social scientists, public intellectuals, professionals, and lay leaders of the organized American Jewish community who have come to inhabit—and ultimately quantify—the Jewish communal sphere in the United States over the last three decades. They have filled it with rates, weights, and figures and adorned it with charts, tables, and graphs. In and through their discourse about numbers, the leaders of the American Jewish community have fashioned American Jewry as a numerically imagined community. When these communal leaders “speak of Jews”—to paraphrase Lila Corwin Berman’s work—they speak of numbers.1

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