How to keep in touch with anthropology

Annual Day of Anthropology, 20 May 2016
Annual Day of Anthropology, 20 May 2016

By Ina Keuper  For many students the last week of their studies at the anthropology department of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) has ended today, for Bachelor’s students as well as Master’s. They have worked hard on finishing their final assignment, a thesis with which they prove their proficiency in writing an academic text within the time and word count set for it. The Master’s students presented the drafts of their thesis on the Master’s Festival of last week’s Tuesday, June 14th, while the Bachelor’s did so on the Bachelor’s Festival of Thursday June 16th.

As a recently retired member of the staff of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology I attended the Bachelor’s Festival, during which I saw and heard a series of presentations of students on a large variety of topics. From the program of the Master’s Festival I learned that here also the issues of research are very diverse. How will these students continue their interest in anthropology and the specific issue they did their research on? Will the Bachelor’s students give it a follow up in their subsequent Master’s studies? Directly after having received their diploma or after one or two years of working and perhaps some travelling? And what about the Master’s students? What kind of career will they strive for and how will they use their academic capacities enhanced in the Master’s? And most of all I wondered how they plan to keep in touch with the anthropological discipline after leaving the university.

I really hope that graduates in the field of anthropology are as interested as myself in keeping up with new ideas and studies in the discipline, after having left the university. There are a lot of ways to do so. One of these is attending conferences and meetings of scholars and students in anthropology. A few weeks ago on May 20th I attended such a meeting, which was organized by two associations of anthropologists in the Netherlands, the Annual Day of Anthropology 2016. For the first time this annual conference of the ABv, Association of Anthropologists in the Netherlands was organized in collaboration with LOVA, Netherlands Association for Gender Studies and Feminist Anthropology. In previous years both organisations had their own annual meetings, and sometimes even more than one, in addition to meetings of local branches. I expect this will be the case again in the future.

The Annual Day of Anthropologists 2016 was visited by around 100 people at the location of the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht. Not only staff members of the various anthropological departments of Dutch universities participated, but many students as well. I did recognize a few anthropology students of the VU. I hope that many more VU students were there because the Day’s programme of Understanding migration: hospitality, home and belonging was really interesting and relevant.

The keynote lecture was held by Nadje Al-Ali, professor at the Centre for Gender Studies at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) about Gendering migration: home and belonging in a transnational context. This lecture showed the importance of using a gender aware perspective in studying migration and the position of men and women in the Middle East (and elsewhere, I would like to add).

In the two rounds of parallel panel sessions and a plenary closing panel I was surprised by the large diversity and social relevance of issues all these anthropologists are thinking about, analysing and researching. One session was about ethical issues regarding how to use anthropological knowledge to improve the living conditions of the people who participated in research; another meeting I attended discussed how to show that which cannot be filmed in an anthropological documentary. So many issues all Bachelor’s and Master’s students who are graduating in anthropology this year at the VU will be dealing with and therefore be interested in.

For keeping in touch with anthropology after leaving the university I would advise students and graduates to become a member of ABv or LOVA, or of both associations. Although the websites of each association provide a lot of information for all visitors about conferences and meetings, blogs of members, and so on, only members receive the journals each organization produces and distributes.

Etnofoor is sent twice a year to members of the ABv. It is an academic journal which takes “anthropology to be a hybrid science born of modernity, (…) seeks to explore and to stretch the boundaries of the discipline as well as the limitations of modern scientific practices and representations” (quoted from http://etnofoor.nl/). LOVA Journal wants to be a platform for scholars, students and graduates in gender aware anthropology working in and outside of the university. The journal is especially available for students and recent graduates to put their first steps in the world of publishing research results for a wider public.

That’s why I want to support the call for contributions for the LOVA Journal of December 2016 (http://www.lovanetwork.nl/index.php/tijdschrift) in order to stimulate students who have submitted their thesis last week to publish an article about it in the journal. Mind that only articles with a gender aware lens in the research or writing are welcome. Also students who did other assignments can submit an article to the journal’s editors. Next to the website and journal, LOVA also organizes each year a one week summer school (School of Experimental Education, SEE); a triennial international conference (in 2017 the fourth will be organized) and distributes a mail service for members only in which vacancies are announced.

Ina Keuper is a retired staff member of the Social and Cultural Anthropology department at VU University Amsterdam. E-mail address: b.g.keuper@vu.nl

2 Comments on “How to keep in touch with anthropology”

  1. I think it would be very interesting to see if and how SCA graduates use the knowledge acquired during studies in their carrier, even if the work they do is not directly related to anthropology. Is the SCA department conducting any surveys on this?

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