Journal of Ethnology 2/2017 deals with the theme “The Urban Space”. Petr Lozoviuk documents on the example of the German traveller Johann Georg Kohl (1808–1878) and his study about Odesa, that the text concentrated on the town in terms of ethnology could be found as early as in the mid-19th century (Ethnographic Geognosy and Beginnings of Urban Protoethnology). In her contribution, Martina Bocánová pays attention to town outskirts as a space where the socially weaker and marginalized inhabitants are concentrated (Possibilities and Forms of Adaptation of Socially and Economically Excluded Inhabitants Living in Town Outskirts into the Majority Society /an example from Trnava/). Jan Semrád brings up the theme of ethnological research into prefabricated housing estates in the Czech Republic and he supports several aspects with his own research (Prefabricated Housing Estates as an Item of Ethnology´s Interest /an example of the Lesná housing estate in Brno/). Aleš Smrčka brings a view of an ethnologist – bus driver – on a social and professional group whose part he is (Bus Drivers: an Emic View on a Socio-Professional Group in Prague Urban Environment). In her contribution, Barbora Půtová introduces graffiti as part of the public space in towns and she analyses it from the point of view of anthropological conceptions (Graffiti, City, and Anthropology).
Review Section publishes contributions by Oldřich Kašpar “Homage to a Moravian Native in the Distant California in 2015” (about Wenceslaus Linck /1736-1797/, a Jesuit missionary) and “Ángel María Garibay Kintana – a founder of Nahua Studies”. The interview is conducted with Ladislava Košíková, a choreographer and dance teacher, on the occasion of her birth anniversary. Social Chronicle remembers the birth anniversaries of the ethnologist Milena Secká (born 1957), the historian Eduard Maur (born 1937), the ethnologist Stanislav Brouček (born 1947), the ethnologist Ludmila Sochorová (born 1942) and the amateur ethnographer Jan Pavlík (born 1937). Other regular columns include reports from exhibitions and reports concerning the discipline, as well as reviews of new books.
„“Ethnographic Geognosy“ and Beginnings of Urban Protoethnology
The objective of the submitted study is to point out the fact that examples of unusually mature protoethnological texts, which focus on the urban environment in a surprisingly modern way, could be found as early as in the mid-19th century. As an example for the aforementioned statement, a study from the year 1841 is analysed, which was written by Johann Georg Kohl (1808–1878), a German ethnographer and traveller. Kohl’s text deals with Odessa, a town which – due to its special features – drew attention of many Russian and foreign observers immediately after it had been found. Kohl’s hitherto unusual sensibility for the perception of the town as a specific social space resulted in an unusually modern synthesis. The texts of Kohl’s type can be viewed as valuable sources for ethnographically directed information which is relevant even today due to the diachronic analysis of populations thematised in them; in addition, those texts are important sources usable for the study of the history of European ethnology.
Possibilities and Forms of Adaptation of Socially and Economically Excluded Inhabitants Living in Town Outskirts into the Majority Society (an example from Trnava)
The study deals with the theme of town outskirts as a space where the socially, economically and otherwise handicapped inhabitants cumulate, and it uses the town of Trnava as an example. The study also analyses the possibilities and ways to convert that space into a locality of a different quality. The first section introduces the Kopánka location that was perceived as an outskirts in the first half of the 20th century. There used to live people there who were handicapped due to the problems based on their extreme poverty, and a closed group of Bulgarians who worked as farmers. Another large group included people who moved in from mountainous regions of Orava where they lost their homes when the Orava dam was built. The study highlights the factors which allowed the particular groups to cooperate and create models that gradually changed the character of that town district. In the conclusion, the author describes and analyses the problems in such a type of space, she points out the life and its typical problems in a socially excluded location as well as the processes of adaptation, becoming closer to majority, dynamical changes within that location and its gradual integration into the life of majority as an equal partner.
Prefabricated Housing Estates as an Item of Ethnology´s Interest (an example of the Lesná housing estate in Brno)
The study deals with the theme of ethnological research into prefabricated housing estates in the Czech Republic and the possibilities of ethnological research into this specific type of housing. The text shows different points of view of housing estates and contemporary life of their inhabitants. First, the study brings up the theme generally and accentuates its importance within the contemporary urban-ethnological research. Then the theme is specified through the research into the Lesná housing estate in Brno. In the last ten years, several clubs have been founded there whose aim is to enhance the life space of the housing estate, to safeguard its contemporary appearance and to create or improve neighbourly relations. Through activities developed by these clubs and their members, it is possible to illustrate in which way inhabitants can develop a close relationship with the place or space where they live. The research has shown that the people are aware of the value of their place of living as well as of their affiliation to the given locality, especially when the existing state is endangered. Another finding includes the fact that where strong leaders are available, a wider interconnected group of inhabitants within the neighbourhood emerges more easily. For this reason, a housing estates is not always a space of anonymity.
Bus Drivers: an Emic View on a Socio-Professional Group in Prague Urban Environment
Bus drivers are a peculiar socio-professional group that is associated with certain social position, professional tongue, working habits, nutrition habits and way of clothing. However, a specific form of cohesion, which can be perceived in greetings, verbal and non-verbal communication and way of behaviour not only in the road traffic, is an interesting phenomenon despite the mutual anonymity of the members of that group. We could encounter that socio-professional group in Prague in 1908 for the first time, when the first bus line in the area of Lesser-Town Square and Pohořelec was put into operation. Currently, the urban bus transport services in the territory of the City of Prague are provided by the Prague Public Transit Company, Inc. as well as by several private transit companies with different number of employees. The way of organizing the driver’s shifts, the individual demands of particular employers, the look of uniforms and partially the work performance are different in many aspects and they influence the everyday way of life of bus drivers. The ethnological research on the theme is based mainly on the emic view by an ethnologist – driver; the author of the study has worked as an auxiliary driver in the territory of Prague since mid-2013 until now. His emic view is confronted with literature and interviews conducted with respondents of different age, who worked or still work as bus drivers in Prague urban territory.
Graffiti, City, and Anthropology
The paper analyses and interprets graffiti as part of the urban public space. It focuses on the basic categories given by the motivation of their creators and the recipients’ ability to interpret and decode them. Special attention is paid to the discourses that are used not only to interpret, but also to determine the relation between graffiti and the public space and the degree of its inclusion or exclusion. The objective of the paper is to analyse graffiti from the perspective of anthropological concepts and categories, such as liminality, impurity and ritual. The paper includes a concept of no place that is not filled with meanings and can thus represent a spatial reference that is reflected in the mental map. The paper also accentuates the power context due to which graffiti may be viewed as communication of speech actions. Creation of graffiti (re)appropriates the counter-space that is not absorbed by the dominant standards. Within this meaning, graffiti represents a revolt against inferiority to the space of the majority society, as it generates an alternative space and creates new territories of shared communication. The paper describes how the creation of graffiti allows its makers movement within the liminal space, repeated performance and shared ritual act that may be part of the citizens’ right to change their city through art and visual production.