34,348 research outputs found

    Towards a sociology of conspiracy theories: An investigation into conspiratorial thinking on Dönmes

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    This thesis investigates the social and political significance of conspiracy theories, which has been an academically neglected topic despite its historical relevance. The academic literature focuses on the methodology, social significance and political impacts of these theories in a secluded manner and lacks empirical analyses. In response, this research provides a comprehensive theoretical framework for conspiracy theories by considering their methodology, political impacts and social significance in the light of empirical data. Theoretically, the thesis uses Adorno's semi-erudition theory along with Girardian approach. It proposes that conspiracy theories are methodologically semi-erudite narratives, i.e. they are biased in favour of a belief and use reason only to prove it. It suggests that conspiracy theories appear in times of power vacuum and provide semi-erudite cognitive maps that relieve alienation and ontological insecurities of people and groups. In so doing, they enforce social control over their audience due to their essentialist, closed-to-interpretation narratives. In order to verify the theory, the study analyses empirically the social and political significance of conspiracy theories about the Dönme community in Turkey. The analysis comprises interviews with conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theory readers and political parties, alongside a frame analysis of the popular conspiracy theory books on Dönmes. These confirm the theoretical framework by showing that the conspiracy theories are fed by the ontological insecurities of Turkish society. Hence, conspiracy theorists, most readers and some political parties respond to their own ontological insecurities and political frustrations through scapegoating Dönmes. Consequently, this work shows that conspiracy theories are important symptoms of society, which, while relieving ontological insecurities, do not provide politically prolific narratives

    Coloniality and the Courtroom: Understanding Pre-trial Judicial Decision Making in Brazil

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    This thesis focuses on judicial decision making during custody hearings in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The impetus for the study is that while national and international protocols mandate the use of pre-trial detention only as a last resort, judges continue to detain people pre-trial in large numbers. Custody hearings were introduced in 2015, but the initiative has not produced the reduction in pre-trial detention that was hoped. This study aims to understand what informs judicial decision making at this stage. The research is approached through a decolonial lens to foreground legacies of colonialism, overlooked in mainstream criminological scholarship. This is an interview-based study, where key court actors (judges, prosecutors, and public defenders) and subject matter specialists were asked about influences on judicial decision making. Interview data is complemented by non-participatory observation of custody hearings. The research responds directly to Aliverti et al.'s (2021) call to ‘decolonize the criminal question’ by exposing and explaining how colonialism informs criminal justice practices. Answering the call in relation to judicial decision making, findings provide evidence that colonial-era assumptions, dynamics, and hierarchies were evident in the practice of custody hearings and continue to inform judges’ decisions, thus demonstrating the coloniality of justice. This study is significant for the new empirical data presented and theoretical innovation is also offered via the introduction of the ‘anticitizen’. The concept builds on Souza’s (2007) ‘subcitizen’ to account for the active pursuit of dangerous Others by judges casting themselves as crime fighters in a modern moral crusade. The findings point to the limited utility of human rights discourse – the normative approach to influencing judicial decision making around pre-trial detention – as a plurality of conceptualisations compete for dominance. This study has important implications for all actors aiming to reduce pre-trial detention in Brazil because unless underpinning colonial logics are addressed, every innovation risks becoming the next lei para inglĂȘs ver (law [just] for the English to see)

    The Haunted Landscape of the Uncanny North: Scott Graham’s Shell (2012) and Gordon Napier’s 1745 (2017)

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    Focussing on the spatial dimension of historical haunting, this article analyses the depiction of northern scenery in contemporary Scottish cinema, to highlight a shift from the romanticised landscape of historical figurations of Scottish identity to a territory haunted both by the nation’s past traumas and its dark secrets. I examine Scott Graham’s film Shell (2012) and Gordon Napier’s 1745: An Untold Story of Slavery (2017) to demonstrate how, while they reference the sublime aesthetics and identity politics conventionally attached to the representation of the north and the cultural construction of the Scottish Highlands, these films also interrogate the relationship between history and landscape. Shell and 1745 consequently point to an ambivalent definition of belonging, made more complicated by the specific historical and political references rooted in the landscape. The Scottish north is unveiled as an uncanny territory, where a sense of belonging based on established national history narratives is replaced by the subversive (re)possession of the landscape by the less visible stories that continue to haunt it: the contemporary legacy of Highland Clearances in Shell and Scotland’s involvement in Empire and slavery in 1745

    The crisis of cultural authority in museums : contesting human remains in the collections of Britain

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    Museums in Britain have displayed and researched human remains since the eighteenth century. However, in the last two decades human remains in collections have become subject to claims and controversies. Firstly, human remains associated with acquisition during the colonial period have become increasingly difficult to retain and have been transfered to culturally affiliated overseas indigenous groups. Secondly, a group of British Pagans have formed to make claims on ancient human remains in collections. Thirdly, human remains that are not requested by any community group, and of all ages, have become the focus of concerns expressed about their treatment by members of the profession. A discourse arguing for 'respect' has emerged, which argues that all human remains should be treated with new care. The claims made on human remains have been vigourously but differentially contested by members of the sector, who consider the human remains to be unique research objects. This thesis charts the influences at play on the contestation over human remains and examines its construction. The academic literature tends to understand changes to museums as a result of external factors. This thesis argues that this problem is influenced by a crisis of legitimacy and establishes that there are strong internal influences. Through a weak social constructionist approach I demonstrate that the issue has been promoted by influential members of the sector as part of a broader attempt to distance themselves from their foundational role, as a consequence of a crisis of cultural authority stimulated by external and internal factors. The symbolic character of human remains in locating this problem is informed by the unique properties of dead bodies and is influenced by the significance of the body as a scientific object; its association with identity work and as a site of political struggle, in the high modem period

    Performativity and dissensus in the work of Tino Sehgal and Andrea Fraser

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    This article critically engages with curator Dorothea Von Hantelmann’s How to Do Things With Art (2010), in which Von Hantelmann argues that the linguistic category of the performative offers insight into the operation of recent installations realised as events. Her text offers a critical framework for the performative turn in contemporary curatorial practice initiated by Angelika Nollert’s 2004 exhibition series Performative Installation, by arguing that practitioners such as Tino Sehgal invented new relations between conventions of display and reception. She refers to works such as Sehgal’s This Variation (2012-13) as “pure critique”, and claims that the defining characteristic of pure critique is that it is free from all forms of external determination. (Von Hantelmann 2010: 181) However, if Von Hantelmann’s thesis is read in the context of the autonomy function of the art exhibition, it becomes apparent that her argument founders upon an unexamined contradiction. To conceive of art practice as pure critique, and thus free from external determination, requires the determination of a zone of display and reception that is made separate from wider social relations by exhibitionary conventions – and yet practices such as Sehgal’s can be seen in fact to rupture the conventions that constitute the exhibition’s autonomy function, and lead, rather, to a conception of the exhibition, not only as a site of artistic display and reception, but also as a social institution. In this paper, to explore the notion of rupture, I apply Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s theory of the assemblage and Jacques Ranciùre’s work on dissensus to an analysis of both Tino Sehgal’s This Variation (2012-13) and Andrea Fraser’s Museum Highlights (2013)

    Recent Hong Kong cinema and the generic role of film noir in relation to the politics of identity and difference

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    This thesis identifies a connection in Hong Kong cinema with classical Hollywood film noir and examines what it will call a 'reinvestment' in film noir in recent films. It will show that this reinvestment is a discursive strategy that both engages the spectator-subject in the cinematic practice and disengages him or her from the hegemony of the discourse by decentring the narrative. The thesis argues that a cinematic practice has occurred in the recent reinvestment of film noir in Hong Kong, which restages the intertextual relay of the historical genre that gives rise to an expectation of ideas about social instability. The noir vision that is seen as related to the fixed categories of film narratives, characterizations and visual styles is reassessed in the course of the thesis using Derridian theory. The focus of analysis is the way in which the constitution of meanings is dependent on generic characteristics that are different. Key to the phenomenon is a film strategy that destabilizes, differs and defers the interpretation of crises-personal, social, political and/or cultural-by soliciting self-conscious re-reading of suffering, evil, fate, chance and fortune. It will be argued that such a strategy evokes the genre expectation as the film invokes a network of ideas regarding a world perceived by the audience in association with the noirish moods of claustrophobia, paranoia, despair and nihilism. The noir vision is thus mutated and transformed when the film device differs and defers the conception of the crises as tragic in nature by exposing the workings of the genre amalgamation and the ideological function of the cinematic discourse. Thus, noirishness becomes both an affect and an agent that contrives a self-reflexive re-reading of the tragic vision and of the conventional comprehension of reality within the discursive practice. The film strategy, as an agent that problematizes the film form and narrative, gives rise to what I call a politics of difference, which may also be understood as the Lyotardian 'language game' or a practice of 'pastiche' in Jameson's terminology. Under the influence of the film strategy, the spectator is enabled to negotiate his or her understanding of recent Hong Kong cinema diegetically and extra-diegetically by traversing different positions of cinematic identification. When the practice of genre amalgamation adopts the visual impact of the noirish film form, the film turns itself into a playing field of 'fatal' misrecognition or a site of question. Through cinematic identification and alienation from the identification, the spectator-subject is enabled to experience the misrecognition as the film slowly foregrounds the way in which the viewer's presence is implicated in the narrative. This thesis demonstrates that certain contemporary Hong Kong films introduce this selfconscious mode of explication and interpretation, which solicits the spectator to negotiate his or her subject-position in the course of viewing. The notions of identity and subjectivity under scrutiny will thus be reread. With reference to The Private Eye Blue, Swordsman II, City a/Glass and Happy Together, the thesis shall explore the ways in which the Hong Kong films enable and facilitate a negotiation of cultural identity

    “The girl did not recognise him as her husband”: freedmen, sexual violence, and gendered authority after emancipation

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    Historians have demonstrated that white men used sexual violence as a weapon of terror after the Civil War to re-establish and strengthen white supremacy. Freedwomen’s testimonies against this violence have also been analysed as a key site of resistance in which women crafted alternative narratives about race, gender, and freedom. Little attention has been paid to the roles freedmen played in these processes, however. This article examines two ways in which black men shaped understandings of sexual violence against black women in the Reconstruction period: as allies and as perpetrators. In doing so, this work adds critical nuance to understandings of sexual violence in the Reconstruction South

    Keratoconus:An updated review

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    Keratoconus is a bilateral and asymmetric disease which results in progressive thinning and steeping of the cornea leading to irregular astigmatism and decreased visual acuity. Traditionally, the condition has been described as a noninflammatory disease; however, more recently it has been associated with ocular inflammation. Keratoconus normally develops in the second and third decades of life and progresses until the fourth decade. The condition affects all ethnicities and both sexes. The prevalence and incidence rates of keratoconus have been estimated to be between 0.2 and 4,790 per 100,000 persons and 1.5 and 25 cases per 100,000 persons/year, respectively, with highest rates typically occurring in 20- to 30-year-olds and Middle Eastern and Asian ethnicities. Progressive stromal thinning, rupture of the anterior limiting membrane, and subsequent ectasia of the central/paracentral cornea are the most commonly observed histopathological findings. A family history of keratoconus, eye rubbing, eczema, asthma, and allergy are risk factors for developing keratoconus. Detecting keratoconus in its earliest stages remains a challenge. Corneal topography is the primary diagnostic tool for keratoconus detection. In incipient cases, however, the use of a single parameter to diagnose keratoconus is insufficient, and in addition to corneal topography, corneal pachymetry and higher order aberration data are now commonly used. Keratoconus severity and progression may be classified based on morphological features and disease evolution, ocular signs, and index-based systems. Keratoconus treatment varies depending on disease severity and progression. Mild cases are typically treated with spectacles, moderate cases with contact lenses, while severe cases that cannot be managed with scleral contact lenses may require corneal surgery. Mild to moderate cases of progressive keratoconus may also be treated surgically, most commonly with corneal cross-linking. This article provides an updated review on the definition, epidemiology, histopathology, aetiology and pathogenesis, clinical features, detection, classification, and management and treatment strategies for keratoconus