Browsing by Organization "Helsingin yliopisto, humanistinen tiedekunta, Renvall-instituutti"

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  • Virtanen, Pirjo Kristiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This thesis discusses the contemporary construction of the lived worlds of indigenous Amazonian youths. Today’s native peoples are considerably affected by the processes of globalization and urbanization, which have led to new ways of relating to their cultural traditions. This work presents a case study of Manchineri youngsters aged between 14 and 24 years old living in Acre state in Brazilian Amazonia. The Arawak-speaking Manchineri number some 1,000 people; their legally demarcated reserve is situated next to the River Yaco. The research is based on ethnographic material collected in the Mamoadate reserve and in the state capital, Rio Branco. By comparing the youth in different physical and social environments (the reserve and the city), my attempt has been to search for the most typical elements maintained, altered and created in the current lived worlds of Manchineri youths. Fieldwork methods included interviews, participant observation, photographs, video recordings, and drawings. The material was analyzed within the multidisciplinary framework of the social and cultural construction of knowledge. The study applies the concepts of social field, symbolic capital, and habitus as they have been used by Pierre Bourdieu; perspective as developed recently in Amazonian ethnology; the sacred as a cultural category as understood in the study of religion; and individual and person as concepts central to anthropology and sociology. Additionally, the study can be contextualized within youth studies, Latin American studies, and urban studies. The results of the study show that the everyday lives of young Amazonian native people are formed by a complex mixture of ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’, fragmentation, and transitions between different conceptual frameworks. Part II discusses the ethnographic material in depth and shows that indigenous adolescents act from a variety of social perspectives: the native youth’s own ethnic group, divided into sub-groups, especially into urban residents and those living in the reserve; ancestors, super-human agents and spirits; other indigenous groups and non-natives. Consequently, besides the traditional initiation ritual, we find various contemporary rites of passage to adulthood: state-education, learning traditional practices, shamanism, matrimony, and transitions between the reserve and urban areas. According to these results, new social roles, political organization, responsibilities, and in general the desire to be respected, require both ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ abilities. In Part III, the study shows that the current power relations constituted by new social contacts, ethnic recognition, and cooperation with different institutions have resulted in the formation of new social fields: youth cultures, the ethnic group, shamanic practices, the ethnopolitical movement, and indigenous students. The capacity of young Amazonian Indians to act in contemporary social fields produces them as full persons. The study also argues that the elements of the lived worlds can be divided into these social fields. When focusing on these fields, it became evident that these comprise the strategies adopted by young Indians to break through social and cultural barriers.
  • Leskinen, Auli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    This dissertation examines linguistic deconstructions in literary data constituted by selected tropes and metaphors in four novels of the Chilean writer, Diamela Eltit (1949–): Lumpérica (1983), Vaca sagrada (1991), El infarto del alma (1994), and Los trabajadores de la muerte (1998). The research focuses on a linguistic change carried out by Eltit in her narrative project from its experimental peak in 1983, when her first novel Lumpérica was published, through the 1980s and 90s. We regard Eltit’s narrative as historically important and try to clarify the process by which literature might transform linguistic structures and be connected to a theoretical change in cultural discourses. The time period we study includes Eltit’s progress as a writer during the rule of General Augusto Pinochet’s military regime, from the coup in 1973 through expansion and empowerment of civil society in 1973-1990 and the first years of democracy until 1998. The selected data of corporal tropes and metaphors is analyzed within a multidisciplinary framework of linguistics, literature, history, and gender studies. Therefore this dissertation is related to the disciplines of Spanish philology, Comparative Literature, Latin American Studies, and Gender Studies. Our three major research strategies are linguistic structuralism, deconstruction, and feminist literary theories. Subjects relevant to deconstruction include the philosophy of meaning and the ways in which meaning is constructed by writers, texts, and readers. The methodology is constituted by a semantic and deconstructionist analysis of literary data and a literary analysis of this data through the structuralist model created by the Danish linguist Louis Hjelmslev (1899-1965). We emphasize, that instead of using Hjelmslev’s structuralist model directly as such, the methodological model of this research is an application of that model to the literary texts. Concerning the epistemological framework this dissertation is placed in the rupture of structuralism and post-structuralism. It highlights the radicalization of representation and theatricality in Eltit’s narrative, the prominence of visuality in her language, and the density of erotic corporal metaphors, like the phallic gaze in Lumpérica. Old Greek myths, particularly those of Éros and Thánatos, arise from western arthistory in new images. They establish a constant topic in Eltit’s narrative, turning her writing gloomy and desolate and filled with dark and erotic tones. This study shows that Diamela Eltit deconstructs the Spanish language in her writing, but this linguistic deconstruction is not continuous or equivalent in all of her works. Her linguistic deconstructions are highly variable in her texts and the syntactical and morphological deconstructions are not carried out in every novel. Therefore, we challenge the various critics who use the term deconstruction in an undefined manner or argue that deconstruction appears as a rule in Eltit´s whole narrative project. As a matter of fact, linguistic deconstructions constitute a multiformal writing strategy, which is manifested in a different manner in every novel.
  • Quesada Avendano, Florencia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This work examines the urban modernization of San José, Costa Rica, between 1880 and 1930, using a cultural approach to trace the emergence of the bourgeois city in a small Central American capital, within the context of order and progress. As proposed by Henri Lefebvre, Manuel Castells and Edward Soja, space is given its rightful place as protagonist. The city, subject of this study, is explored as a seat of social power and as the embodiment of a cultural transformation that took shape in that space, a transformation spearheaded by the dominant social group, the Liberal elite. An analysis of the product built environment allows us to understand why the city grew in a determined manner: how the urban space became organized and how its infrastructure and services distributed. Although the emphasis is on the Liberal heyday from 1880-1930, this study also examines the history of the city since its origins in the late colonial period through its consolidation as a capital during the independent era, in order to characterize the nineteenth century colonial city that prevailed up to 1890 s. A diverse array of primary sources including official acts, memoirs, newspaper sources, maps and plans, photographs, and travelogues are used to study the initial phase of San Jose s urban growth. The investigation places the first period of modern urban growth at the turn of the nineteenth century within the prevailing ideological and political context of Positivism and Liberalism. The ideas of the city s elite regarding progress were translated into and reflected in the physical transformation of the city and in the social construction of space. Not only the transformations but also the limits and contradictions of the process of urban change are examined. At the same time, the reorganization of the city s physical space and the beginnings of the ensanche are studied. Hygiene as an engine of urban renovation is explored by studying the period s new public infrastructure (including pipelines, sewer systems, and the use of asphalt pavement) as part of the Saneamiento of San José. The modernization of public space is analyzed through a study of the first parks, boulevards and monuments and the emergence of a new urban culture prominently displayed in these green spaces. Parks and boulevards were new public and secular places of power within the modern city, used by the elite to display and educate the urban population into the new civic and secular traditions. The study goes on to explore the idealized image of the modern city through an analysis of European and North American travelogues and photography. The new esthetic of theatrical-spectacular representation of the modern city constructed a visual guide of how to understand and come to know the city. A partial and selective image of generalized urban change presented only the bourgeois facade and excluded everything that challenged the idea of progress. The enduring patterns of spatial and symbolic exclusion built into Costa Rica s capital city at the dawn of the twentieth century shed important light on the long-term political social and cultural processes that have created the troubled urban landscapes of contemporary Latin America.
  • Kettunen, Harri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Kuusinen, Asta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The dissertation analyzes and elaborates upon the changing map of U.S. ethno-racial formation from the vantage point of North American Studies, multi-disciplinary cultural studies, and the criticism of visual culture. The focus is on four contemporary Mexican American (Chicana) women photographers, whose art production is discussed, on the one hand, in the context of the Euro-American history of photographic genres and, on the other hand, in the context of so-called decolonizing cultural and academic discourses produced by Mexican Americans themselves. The manuscript consists of two parts. Part I outlines the theoretical and methodological domain of the study, positioning it in the interstices of American studies, European postmodern criticism, postcolonial feminist theory, and the theories of visual culture, particularly of art photography. In addition, the main issues and paradigms of Chicano Studies (Mexican American ethnic studies) are introduced. Part II consists of seven essays, each of which discusses rather independently a particular photographic work or a series of photographs, formulating and defending arguments about their meaning, position in the history of photographic genres, and their cultural and socio-political significance. The study closes with a discussion about ethno-racial identity formation and the role of Chicana photography therein - in embodying and reproducing new subjectivities, alternative categories of knowledge, and open ended historical narratives. It is argued that, symbolically, the "Wild Zone" of gendered and race-specific knowledge becomes associated with the body of the mother, a recurrent image in Chicana art works under discussion. Embedded in this image, the construction of an alternative notion of a family thus articulates the parameters of a matrifocal ethno-racial community unified by the proliferation of differences rather than by conformities typical of nationalistic ideologies. While focusing on art photography, the study as a whole simultaneously constructs, from a European vantage point, a "thick" description of Mexican American history, identities, communities, cultural practices, and self-representations about which very little is known in Finland.