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Laura Harrison

This chapter focuses on how the young working class engaged with neighbourhood space, drawing out the ways youthful identities were initially formed within the overlapping spaces of home and neighbourhood. The chapter also provides a detailed analysis of one working-class district, the Hungate and Walmgate neighbourhood of York, offering a consideration of the rhythms of place at the micro level of a working-class community. Drawing together the representation of young people with their own lived experiences, this chapter considers how the young working class experienced and understood their home and neighbourhood space, and how they interacted with both the physical conditions and outsiders’ perspectives of their community.

in Dangerous amusements
Unpacking intentionality in obstetric violence
Sreeparna Chattopadhyay

This chapter interrogates the utility of the term obstetric violence in the Indian context using ethnographic insights from research conducted between 2015 and 2019 in two geographically distinct areas of India, as well as the scholarship on obstetric violence, disrespect and abuse and respectful maternity care. It argues that the circumstances under which institutional births became widespread in India, the conditions under which rural Indian women give birth, the excessive focus on individual provider responsibility while ignoring the systemic and normative mechanisms that routinise disrespectful and abusive treatment, and poor health that is an outcome of exclusion due to social identities and remoteness in terms of geography, make it difficult to capture these inequities within the conceptual category of obstetric violence. It problematises the role of transnational and global health initiatives (GHIs) that have reduced maternal health to a set of technological fixes instead of using a framework that privilege the social determinants of health and/or strengthen health systems. These GHIs have not been attentive to the quality of care that women receive unless they have causative impacts on reducing infant and maternal mortality. A case study of Shaheed hospital, a worker’s hospital in Chhattisgarh, central India, is used to demonstrate that alternative institutional possibilities may exist, which keep service users at the centre of care. This analysis reveals that a different vocabulary, taxonomy, and imagination is essential for a safe and dignified childbirth experiences in low- and middle-income countries that are rooted in their contextual realities and constraints, rather than importing blueprints that work in the developed countries of the global north, as is currently the case.

in Birth controlled
Technologies of power and language of rights
C. Sathyamala

Regulation of populations has been one of the central concerns of nation states since the latter half of the eighteenth century, when disciplinary power over individual bodies shifted to power over populations, in what Foucault termed biopower. Depending on the biopolitical objectives of indiviudal nation states, this resulted in the promotion of pro- and anti-natalist measures as part of a capitalist, racist, and imperialist agenda. Over time, the biopolitical project of eliminating bodies deemed superfluous to the economy moved from ‘making die’ to ‘letting die’. However, this chapter argues that the active promotion of anti-natal technologies, such as long-acting injectable contraceptives, which are inherently hazardous and life-threatening, indicates the reverse, from ‘letting die’ to ‘making die’. Evidence comes from the three-decade long struggle in India against the introduction of injectable contraceptives into its national family planning programme. The chapter analyses the context within which the struggle gained currency and in which it lost out. It examines the truth claims of the medical establishment, the NGO-isation and conflation of diverse ideologies under the rubric of ‘women’s’ groups as strategies deployed to overcome resistance to these technologies of power. In the context of liberal democracy, the removal of certain populations’ rights and their elimination makes the state of exception the new normal. The chapter concludes that, notwithstanding the rhetoric of reproductive choice and women’s empowerment, the discourse demonstrates the class, gender, and caste dimensions (with its underpinning of racism) of the biopolitical intention of ‘making die’, ably aided by transnational capital.

in Birth controlled
Abstract only
Laura Harrison

This introductory chapter sets out the key themes of the book and argues that through an understanding of how young working people engaged with their sites of social interaction, and with the adults who intervened in these spaces, we are able to gain a fuller picture of working-class youth at a time when they were experiencing increasing opportunities for leisure and sociability. It outlines the study’s methodology, namely, an analysis of the social lives of young working people, reading documentary sources and oral testimony through the prism of space, and outlines the primary research questions addressed in the book. The introduction further situates the study within the existing literature on youth, leisure and working-class lives, and the relevant theoretical literature. Finally, the introduction discusses competing definitions of youth, recognising its transitional and flexible nature.

in Dangerous amusements
Abstract only
Amrita Pande

The Introduction provides the main premise that connects the various chapters – that as fertility rates decline worldwide, the fervour to control fertility, and fertile bodies, does not dissipate; what evolves is the preferred mode of control. The preface introduces connections between the debates around eugenics, Malthusianism and selective reproduction. It provides an overview of the book by outlining the various chapter contributions as well as highlighting the interdisciplinarity of the volume. The final section connects these debates to the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis of reproductive health and justice.

in Birth controlled
Abstract only
Approaching engravings: medium and the parasite
Bethan Stevens

This introduction brings together the technical, imaginative and theoretical qualities of wood engraving as a medium, analysing the distinctive research dilemmas that these set in play. It introduces the Dalziel Archive as a record of an image factory, one that unites works of canonical cultural history with curious ephemera and brilliant pieces of unknown engraving. As a medium, commercial wood engraving was often seen as transparently replicative; this introduction questions this, and thinks about ways of understanding engravers as imaginative producers. It also considers the methodological implications of an archive that is entirely visual: a wordless archive of literary images. Building on influential definitions of illustrations as paratexts (Genette 1997, Thomas 2017), and inspired by Derrida’s (1988) challenges to the boundaries and integrity of individual texts, the chapter proposes a new model for reading book illustrations as parasites, which perpetually belong to a text through and despite their unbelonging. Considering illustrations as disruptive, the textless Dalziel Archive is read in terms of a derailed communication, with reference to the Dalziel Brothers’ engineering diagrams of truncated bridges.

in The wood engravers’ self-portrait
Laura Harrison

This chapter examines the lifestyles of young working people in Britain across the period, exploring in particular the role of work, leisure and courtship in their lives. It considers the way gender and generation shaped the experiences of the working class, and discusses material, moral and gender constraints on access to leisure. As an integral aspect of young people’s leisure across the period, the chapter also examines the role and meaning of courtship in the lives of young people. Drawing upon a range of sources, including published and unpublished personal accounts and oral history testimony, the chapter addresses changes in experience across the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, from the very first stirrings of a distinct youth culture in the 1870s to the increasingly conspicuous consumption of the interwar years.

in Dangerous amusements
Execution, technical violence and the discipline of visual culture
Bethan Stevens

This chapter unpacks some collaborative executions that went on in the Dalziel office, to show how the minute technical changes that were executed by engravers shaped much larger aspects of visual culture. For instance, thinning a young woman’s eyebrow or nose, reducing the size of big hairstyles, or correcting a nymph’s genitals – all were ways in which engravers’ practices of proofing and correction became part of the broader ideological disciplining of bodies in the nineteenth century. Such practices can be seen throughout Dalziel’s oeuvre, from unknown fragments of ephemera to racist picture books, major Pre-Raphaelite prints after John Everett Millais or landmark exemplars of femininity like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In the latter, the queen’s famous cry of ‘Off with her head!’ is uncannily echoed by the material sawing of Alice’s head out of one woodblock, to correct the arrangement of her hair and features. The chapter opens up a consideration of engraved execution in terms of a gendered, sexualised and racialised violence. Corrections to wood engravings were a kind of early airbrushing or photoshopping in which so-called mechanical artists introduced formal, technical changes to achieve ideological regulation. In one of his letters complaining about Dalziel’s shoddy work, Rossetti writes about their deathly ‘execution’ of his drawing, spinning out and delighting in the pun. The chapter concludes with an exploration of the concept of execution through three key images: Dalziel and Rossetti’s ‘Maids of Elfen-Mere’, an anonymous execution broadside, and an amateur-theatrical execution in a middle-class staging of ‘Bluebeard’.

in The wood engravers’ self-portrait
Contested vocabularies of birth violence
Rachelle Chadwick

This chapter explores the contested vocabularies used to name and conceptualise birth violence across a range of geopolitical contexts. Using a transnational feminist approach, it argues that a tendency towards geopolitical bifurcation (rooted in racist and colonial historical legacies) frames the ways in which researchers have approached and conceptualised birth violence in different settings. As a result of this bifurcation, separate literatures and vocabularies have developed, which frame the issue of birth violence in distinctive ways depending on geopolitical zones. The conceptual usefulness of the term ‘obstetric violence’ is thus considered as an alternative, unifying, and transnational vocabulary. However, the limitations of this conceptual lexicon are also discussed, particularly in relation to the ability of the framework to theorise (and address) the multiple modalities of violation that potentially occur during pregnancy, labour and birth.

in Birth controlled
How haplogroups are mobilised in the re-writing of origin stories in the Indian media
Devika Prakash

This chapter investigates how genomic practices can reinforce population thinking beyond the lab, looking particularly at how social divisions are essentialised as biological categories in India. The case chosen is the media discourse surrounding DNA recovered from skeletons belonging to the Indus Valley Civilisation, a sophisticated urban civilisation that flourished in the North West of the Indian Subcontinent between 3300 and 1300 BCE. Debates in the Indian media revolve around the question of indigeneity and the idea of an unbroken lineage of Hindus versus invaders and colonisers. These theorisations of a genetic re-inscription of population groups are bolstered by archaeological evidence and linguistic theories, which have historically resulted in politically charged debates. Through an analysis of 31 articles published in seven Indian newspapers and magazines, the chapter examines ways in which genetic evidence has been mobilised to argue for either an ‘Aryan Migration Theory’ or an indigenous Vedic culture while normatively classifying populations as ‘indigenous’, ‘Aryan’, ‘Dravidian’, ‘upper-caste’, among others. It argues that the popularisation of biomedical ideas of race poses potentially dangerous consequences for India, as ancient DNA testing is used to make arguments against those who ‘do not belong’ and as justification for various forms of political repression.

in Birth controlled