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African American queer cinema was born as a reaction to the AIDS/HIV epidemic as well as the blatant homophobia that existed within the Black community in the 1980s. It began with the pioneering works of queer directors Isaac Julien and Marlon Riggs and continued during the new queer cinema movement in the 1990s, particularly including the works of lesbian queer director Cheryl Dunye. However, these works were infinitesimal compared to the queer works featuring primarily White lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) protagonists during that time. That trend continues today as evidenced by looking at the highest-grossing LGBTQ films of all times: very few included any African American characters in significant roles. However, from the 1980s to the 2020s, there have been a few Black queer films that have penetrated the mainstream market and received critical acclaim, such as The Color Purple (Spielberg, 1982), Set It Off (Gary, 1996), and Moonlight (Jenkins, 2016), which won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Picture. The documentary film genre has been the most influential in exposing audiences to the experiences and voices within the African American queer communities. Since many of these films are not available for viewing at mainstream theaters, Black queer cinema is primarily accessed via various cable, video streaming, and on-demand services, like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.

Article

Kate Cowcher

The Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) was founded in 1969. It began as an intimate week-long gathering of filmmakers and enthusiasts in the capital of what is now Burkina Faso to watch contemporary films made by African filmmakers. At its peak in the 1990s, it attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators, both local and international. Since the 2000s, iterations have been smaller affairs, significantly impacted by both changes of government in Burkina Faso and wider political instability in West Africa, as well as ongoing debates about what films it should be showcasing. Despite such challenges (and with only one exception in the mid-1970s), however, FESPACO has remained a constant on the African continent, faithfully screening films by African and diaspora filmmakers every two years for more than half a century. FESPACO was conceived in the age of decolonization by a group of men and women who are considered to be the pioneers of African cinema, including the Senegalese writer and filmmaker Ousmane Sembène. It was established as the first sub-Saharan showcase of African filmmaking, an emergent and significant field in the era of independence when cinema was prized for its ability to make visible African realities and to (re)constitute national histories eclipsed by colonial rule. The concept of a distinctly “African” cinema was articulated most extensively by filmmaker and scholar Paulin Soumanou Vieyra and referred to films made by Africans, telling African stories, principally for African audiences. For Vieyra, Sembène, and their contemporaries, it was essential to take back control of the art of cinema on the African continent, where it had predominantly been deployed as a colonial tool; FESPACO was conceived as the regular forum for those committed to its development to come together and share their work. Through the course of its development, FESPACO has been confronted with a number of challenges regarding its form and its evolution. Its strong connections with the Burkinabe state have been seen as both a significant factor for its growth and its success, and, particularly in the era of Blaise Compaoré, as a source for concern regarding freedom of expression. Since the turn of the 21st century, questions about where video filmmaking—an industry that has proliferated on the African continent in a manner unprecedented internationally—fits within FESPACO’s definition of cinema have been consistent. The festival has, over the years, been accused of being both outdated and elitist in its commitment to celluloid, but also of straying from its original remit to showcase African stories for African audiences, accusations it has responded to by the creation of new prize categories and requirements for submission. The year 2019 was one of reflection, but many critics felt that after some difficult years the festival was showing signs of rejuvenation. Though it is now one of many film festivals on the continent committed to showcasing African cinema, there remains significant appreciation for the historic status of FESPACO as a preeminent sub-Saharan cultural institution.

Article

Luis Nicolau Parés

Despite their diverse political and cultural backgrounds, West Africans and West Central Africans shared some basic religious orientations. With a strong pragmatic focus on solving problems in this world, the dynamism and flexibility of their religious practices were critical for their quick reactivation within Brazilian slave society. The Atlantic transfer, however, deprived African institutions of their structural social basis so a complex innovative process of re-institutionalization was necessary to allow new forms of Afro-Brazilian religions to emerge. Ritual associativism first occurred around the colonial Calundu, mostly concerned with interpersonal healing and divination interactions, but rapidly saw the formation of parallel religious congregations inspired by an ecclesiastical mode of organization based on the initiatory recruitment of novices and the worship of multiple deities. Despite common elements of healing, divination, sacrifice, spirit possession, initiation, and celebration, the genesis of Afro-Brazilian religions was marked by astounding pluralism and eclecticism that led to a wide range of regional variation. The demographics and cultural specificities of the enslaved in each place, as well as local historical circumstances, determined distinct processes of creative synthesis among the various African traditions and between these and hegemonic Iberian Catholicism, Amerindian healing practices, and others. The circulation of ideas and priests across the country and between Africa and Brazil after the end of the Atlantic slave trade also added to the 19th-century consolidation of an Afro-Brazilian religious field. Despite a history of continuous discrimination and persecution, alongside occasional selective tolerance, Afro-Brazilian religions offered a unique space for the transformative reproduction of African values, behaviors, and forms of sociability, which had a long-lasting effect on Brazilian national culture. The temples’ struggles for legitimacy and recognition was expressed in a latent tension between those which claimed an alleged African ritual purity and those accused of syncretism, a divide to which scholars greatly contributed to and which has oriented their classificatory efforts.

Article

Queer TV studies have until now focused predominantly on U.S. TV culture, and research into representations of sexual and gender diversity in Western European, Asian, and Latin American programming has only recently found traction. Due to this U.S. focus, queer television in Western Europe has yet to be comprehensively documented in scholarly sources, and Western European queer television studies hardly constitute an emancipated practice. Given that U.S.-focused queer theories of television remain the primary frame of reference to study LGBT+ televisibility in Western Europe, but its domestic small screens comprise a decidedly different institutional context, it is at this time necessary to synthetically assess how the U.S. television industry has given way to specific logics in queer scholarship and whether these logics suit conditions found in domestic television cultures. Queer analyses of U.S. TV programming rightly recognize the presence and form of non-heterosexual and non-cisgender characters and stories as a function of commerce; that is to say, television production in the United States must primarily be profitable, and whether or how the LGBT+ community is represented by popular entertainment is determined by economic factors. The recognition hereof pits queer scholars against the television industry, and the antagonistic approach it invites dissuades them from articulating how TV could do better for LGBT+ people rather than only critiquing what TV currently does wrong. While it is crucial to be attentive toward the power relations reflected and naturalized by television representations, it is also important to recognize that the discretion of prescriptive, normative interventions by queer TV scholars relates to conditions of U.S. television production. The dominance of public service broadcasters (PSBs) and their historical role in spearheading LGBT+ televisibility highlights the distinctive conditions queer TV scholarship is situated in in Western Europe and troubles established modes of engaging the medium. Where the modest scale of national industries already facilitates more direct interaction between academics and TV professionals, PSBs are held to democratic responsibilities on diverse representation and have a history of involving scholars to address and substantiate their pluralistic mission. Consequently, Western European television cultures offer a space to conceive of an agonistic mode of queer TV scholarship, premised not only on contesting what is wrong but also on proposing what would be right. Hence, future engagements with domestic LGBT+ televisibility must look beyond established analytics and explore the value of articulating openly normative propositions about desirable ways of representing sexual and gender diversity.

Article

Lucilene Reginaldo

André do Couto Godinho was born in 1720 in the Brazilian captaincy of Minas Gerais, in the town of Mariana, and died in the Kingdom of Kongo, probably around 1790. Born not only a slave but the slave of a slave, he went on to obtain his freedom, becoming literate, later studying at a university, and finally going on to serve as a missionary in Africa. Between the beginning of his life, in Brazil, and its end, in Africa, he spent a number of years in Portugal, in the cities of Coimbra and Lisbon. While his life story is certainly extraordinary, it provides a window into the possibilities of, and strategies for, social and geographic mobility of free and freed black people in different parts of the Portuguese Empire during the second half of the 1700s. Retracing André Godinho’s footsteps is an exercise in micro-history, a technique that, when used as a counterpoint to a more global analysis, offers fresh insights into familiar subjects, with the seemingly insignificant details of an individual life raising questions that would have gone unnoticed in a strictly macroscopic analysis. André’s path in life, as a free man of color helps understand the larger historical contexts that defined the possibilities, choices, and limitations of his personal history. Godinho’s story provides insights into African descendants’ possibilities for social ascension, also clarifying the limitations imposed by emerging social hierarchies based on skin color and slave origin.

Article

Gabriel Huddleston and M. Francyne Huckaby

The relationships between curriculum studies and qualitative inquiry are built upon similar trajectories and theoretical concerns. There are key points in the histories of both of these inter/trans(un)disciplinary fields, the work of certain scholars working in both, and shared concerns. Historically, the lineage of curriculum studies and qualitative inquiry intersect around a shared investigation of education, specifically in schools. Of note is the common turn away from (post)positivism and an attentiveness to emic forms of inquiry that seek to understand from the inside out. Some commonalities include, but are not limited to, currere, duoethnography, autobiography, and broader qualitative research. Comparing the journey of curriculum studies and its qualitative forms of inquiry to traveling through the universe, travel begins on a home planet, reaching the farthest reaches of spaces, but a return is required, or at the very least, eventually inevitable. In the case of curriculum studies, explorers return to curriculum and, therefore, education. As curriculum has expanded beyond questions of knowledge to include the lives of those experiencing curriculum, qualitative inquiry has been a constant and loyal companion forging a journey that does not require one land at the place from which one launched.

Article

István Czachesz

Ancient religions can be defined as the religions of Mediterranean antiquity, with important connections to the neighboring Ancient Near East. While different approaches to these religions formed throughout European intellectual history, proper academic theories and methods of their study started to emerge in the nineteenth century, with a proliferation of new approaches beginning with the 1990s. Historical approaches reconstruct the development of religions through time and discuss the problems of such reconstructions. Textual criticism studies manuscript traditions and attempts to reconstruct the original text. Various philological methods developed and used especially in biblical studies include the analysis of written and oral sources behind the text, the examination of editorial processes, and reasoning about the original context of the text. Archaeology studies built structures and artifacts from antiquity, employs a variety of dating methods, connects artifacts to social, economic, and environmental conditions, and explores the size, distribution and interconnectedness of archaeological sites. Texts and artifacts might tell different stories and interpretation is needed to gain information from both types of historical evidence. Literary theory approaches texts as finished artifacts instead of looking at the history behind the text. Text-centered approaches include rhetorical, narrative, and typological analysis. Reader-response criticism emphasizes the role of the reader in establishing the meaning of the text. Psychological approaches include traditional psychoanalysis and depth-psychology, as well as historical psychology that uses insights and models from contemporary personality psychology and social psychology. Among social scientific approaches, memory studies look at the formation of textual traditions, including oral composition, transmission, and performance. Models of cultural memory also gained currency. Sociology, social history, and economic history shed light on the socioeconomic background of ancient religions. Religious studies had an intimate connection with anthropology especially in its early period, while models borrowed from cultural and structural anthropology influenced the study of Mediterranean values and social interactions more recently. Gender studies and feminist approaches initially focused on the reinterpretation of women’s roles in ancient religions and especially since the 1990s they addressed gender as a socially constructed category. Work on voluntary associations in the Greco-Roman world sheds light on the social context of private cults. Among new developments, postcolonial criticism both examines the colonial history of ancient cultures and addresses the colonial origins and inclinations of scholarship on religious antiquity. The approach of lived religion focusses on how individuals experience religion in their everyday lives. Cognitive science approaches study the evolutionary and psychological foundations of ancient religious thought and behavior, drawing especially on insights from neuroscience, experimental psychology, and evolutionary theory. Ritual studies employ models of individual and collective ritual behavior to understand cultic practices in religious antiquity. New approaches to magic move beyond cultural constructivism and use the concept as an analytical tool to understand a set of behaviors and attitudes. Insights from cognitive neuroscience have been applied to the study of religious experience. Cultural evolutionary theory has been employed to explain the success of particular religious movements and the development of oral and written traditions. Digital humanities include the computer-assisted collection and analysis of historical evidence and computer modeling tools, such as agent-based models. Finally, network science sheds new light on geographical, social, and textual patterns and dynamics in ancient religions.

Article

Between 1962 and 1971, the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (CLAEM) of the Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires became the central hub of Latin American avant-garde music. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and the wealthy Di Tella family, CLAEM offered two-year fellowships to some of the most recognized young composers of the region to undertake graduate studies in a unique privileged setting under the direction of Alberto Ginastera and with permanent and visiting faculty that included Gerardo Gandini, Francisco Kröpfl, Mario Davidovsky, Iannis Xenakis, Luigi Nono, Aaron Copland, Luigi Dallapiccola, Bruno Maderna, Riccardo Malipiero, Olivier Messiaen, Roger Sessions, and Earle Brown. Engrained in the history of CLAEM were elite worldviews about the role of philanthropy in society and deep Cold War ideologies that shaped US–Latin American foreign relations in the early 1960s such as Kennedy’s “Alliance for Progress.”

Article

Sean McMahon

Astrobiology seeks to understand the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe and thus to integrate biology with planetary science, astronomy, cosmology, and the other physical sciences. The discipline emerged in the late 20th century, partly in response to the development of space exploration programs in the United States, Russia, and elsewhere. Many astrobiologists are now involved in the search for life on Mars, Europa, Enceladus, and beyond. However, research in astrobiology does not presume the existence of extraterrestrial life, for which there is no compelling evidence; indeed, it includes the study of life on Earth in its astronomical and cosmic context. Moreover, the absence of observed life from all other planetary bodies requires a scientific explanation, and suggests several hypotheses amenable to further observational, theoretical, and experimental investigation under the aegis of astrobiology. Despite the apparent uniqueness of Earth’s biosphere— the “n = 1 problem”—astrobiology is increasingly driven by large quantities of data. Such data have been provided by the robotic exploration of the Solar System, the first observations of extrasolar planets, laboratory experiments into prebiotic chemistry, spectroscopic measurements of organic molecules in extraterrestrial environments, analytical advances in the biogeochemistry and paleobiology of very ancient rocks, surveys of Earth’s microbial diversity and ecology, and experiments to delimit the capacity of organisms to survive and thrive in extreme conditions.

Article

John Steele

The term “Babylonian astronomy” is used to refer to a diverse range of practices undertaken by people in ancient Babylonia and Assyria including what in modern English would be referred to as astronomy, astrology and celestial divination, and cosmology. The earliest astronomical or astrological texts preserved from Babylonia and Assyria date to the early 2nd millennium bce, although some basic astronomical knowledge such as the identification of a regular cycle of the moon, the identification of the planets as a distinct type of celestial object from the stars, and the grouping of stars into constellations dates back much earlier, perhaps even before the development of writing in the 4th millennium bce. Astronomical and astrological texts were still being written around 2,000 years later during the 1st century ce. These texts are some of the latest known texts written in cuneiform. Babylonian astronomy encompassed a range of practices, including the cataloguing of stars and constellations, the regular observation of celestial phenomena, the development and use of methods of predicting those same phenomena, and the interpretation of observed and computed astronomical data through various forms of astrology.