By Lysanne Vrooman Almost half a year ago, on the 25th of March 2017, it was the sixtieth anniversary of the treaty of Rome. In 1957 the treaty of Rome was signed by the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Germany and Italy. The treaty was envisioned to open borders, prevent war and create endless economic and trade opportunities. The countries would not restrict each other anymore. Now sixty years later the treaty that was supposed to unite the countries, is looked at with scepticism and frustrations by some citizens of Rome. The current migration-influx has led to tightened border controls and policies that divide instead of unite.
For my master’s thesis in Social and Cultural Anthropology I studied a group of citizens in Rome who started an association to support migrants in the city. Whereas the citizens started their association to provide the migrants with food, a place to stay and support, I found in my research that they also strive for a better situation for migrants in Europe in general. They question the current developments and policies of the European Union when it comes to migration, and aim to present a counter-message.
Protesting is one of the ways they try to send such a counter-message. And on this Saturday, March 25th, a big protest was organised to show their disagreement with the current situation and to question the (changed) implications of the treaty of Rome. Through pictures of this protest I will show what this day looked like. Continue reading →
By Aniek Santema Around 2 million Syrian refugees who fled the war have been stranded in Lebanon and many of them live in harsh circumstances. The following pictures will give a small insight into the lives of Syrian youth and show the world from their perspective, through their eyes. The pictures in this photo essay were taken by Syrian refugee girls in the city of Saida who participated in a workshop where they learned how to use visual methods as a way of self-expression. During the workshop the girls answered questions about themselves and their lives by using photographs and they took photographs about things that are meaningful to them. Here, a selection of six of the pictures is presented, along with the titles that the girls gave to them and a small explanation from my side.
Mariam is Maha’s sister and they are very close. Mariam took this picture and she shows how the childhood is lost for many children when they experience war, flight and exile. But Mariam feels that children do have this right.
This picture shows the collective shelter where Mariam and Maha live with their family and a few other families. It is an old house where the families are packed together. Each family lives in one room. For Mariam and Maha, this place has little comparison to their home village in Syria, where they had their own house and could walk around and play with their friends. Here, in the old house, it is hard to adapt.
Ayat lives in an unfinished university building, where she shares a room with her 9 brothers and sisters and parents. This shelter houses around a 1000 people, mostly from a community from the same rural area in Syria.
Whereas Syrian refugees in Lebanon are deprived from many civil rights, Ayat also calls attention to another right: the right to happiness.
Aniek Santema graduated from her master SCA at the VU last year, and wrote her thesis on lived experiences, education and future perspectives of Syrian refugee youths in Lebanon. She is currently working at Edukans, a development organisation for children’s education worldwide.
Quote on a classroom wall in Wairaka – From January to March 2017 I conducted my fieldwork in Uganda to examine the dynamics of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education on sexual practices and strategies in everyday lives of youth in Jinja District, eastern Uganda. In the beginning of my stay, I contextualized the field youth live in and what stand different actors take with respect to relationships and sex before marriage. This photo summarizes what youth told me about what school teachers advise them: “pre-marital sex is risky” and “choose to abstain”. The latter is in accordance with the ‘ABC’-campaign of the government in fight against HIV/AIDS. The ‘A’ stands for ‘abstinence’, ‘B’ for ‘be faithful’, and ‘C’ for ‘condom use’, whereby schools emphasize abstinence.
Shop with office stationaries in Jinja Town – Besides the dislike of schools towards relationships and sex before marriage, also religious leaders from churches and mosques preach “no sex before marriage”, and, moreover, parents too are against it because they tell youth “not to spoil their future”. The latter refers to parents’ fear for school drop-out of their son or, in particular, their daughter when she gets pregnant.
After a focus group discussion with youth of Jinja Town – Youth told me that, against the norms of school, religious leaders, and their parents, they have relationships, in most cases more than one at the same moment, and practice sex, whether or not in secret.
A boy preparing a ‘rolex’ (rolled eggs), which are two baked eggs with some cabbage and onion rolled into a ‘chapati’ (i.e. flat pancake). – In regard to gender relations, both boys and girls told me that it is the boy who approaches a girl, expresses his love for her, and is the one who initiates a relationship or sex. Nowadays, sometimes a girl takes over this role, however, in most cases she would be seen as a prostitute or someone who has many boyfriends. Which is happening, according to girls, but which is not accepted by society.
Door Ike Haasjes Donderdag 5 oktober is het zover: voor het eerst in jaren gaan basisschooldocenten een hele dag staken op een schooldag. Zij hebben symbolisch geko-zen voor de Dag van de Leraar en trekken dan in groten getale naar het Malieveld om de volgende eisen kracht bij te zetten.
1. Een eerlijk salaris: het primair onderwijs wordt structureel onderbetaald.
2. Een investering in het onderwijs voor minder werkdruk.
Toen ik in 2015 mijn masteronderzoek deed en mijn scriptie schreef over hoe basisschoolleraren omgaan met grote onderwijshervormingen (Haasjes, 2015), heb ik deze ‘eisen’ veelvuldig langs horen komen. Op de basisschool waar ik mijn veldwerk deed zag ik bijvoorbeeld vaak dat docenten die ruim voor 8:00 uur begonnen met werken ook pas na 17:30 naar huis gingen, en zelfs dan met een tas vol nakijkwerk (ibid, p. 26-28). Daarnaast vertelden de leerkrachten uitgebreid over de semesterplannen, groepsplannen en individuele plannen die voor klas en kind geschreven moeten worden, vaak gevuld met gelijksoortige informatie en die in de dagelijkse praktijk weinig gebruikt worden (ibid, p. 33). Daarnaast moeten docenten soms onhaalbare doelen in hun plannen zetten, bijvoorbeeld een voldoende citoscore voor 80% van de kinderen in de klas, ook wanneer ze weten dat dit niet realistisch is (ibid, p. 31). Dit vinden zij enorm demotiverend. Over de administratiedruk die docenten ervaren, zeiden ze het volgende: Continue reading →
This photo essay gathers statements from both outside (West Bank/Jericho area) and inside the peace project EcoME (“Ecological Middle East”) in the contested Palestinian Territories. The texts and their contexts portray the dynamic relation between outside hopes, fears and separation policies and the project’s inner striving for connection, warmth and openness. (The author wishes to stay anonymous).
A reminder to hang on, tattooed on a eighteen-years-old Palestinian’s underarm. The young man proudly presented me the inscription, when I visited his family home in the West Bank in 2014. Returning there in 2017, I met him playing with his new German shepherd, which he introduced me with equal elation. Despite unemployment and their challenging living conditions in a conflict area, young Palestinians try to thrive and pursue their dreams, thereby often yearning faraway places.
Arriving at EcoME during the night. If one looks up the project for the first time, its low-key signposting imports wonder: does the place exist at all? Or is this plate just a remnant from the past? Indeed, unlike the young Palestinian’s exhibition of endurance above, EcoME’s public representation reacts with subtlety to the outside threats of othering and unduly state policing. It reflects how these forces constantly work against the meeting space and put it in a precarious position.
Meeting beyond wrong and right – as promoted by the Sufi poet Rumi – is EcoME’s vision and common practice. Inside, this philosophy is directly forwarded to newly arriving foreign guests, who take an obligatory tour through the project. Although couches, cushions and blankets are still messed up from a drug raid by the Israeli police which marks an intrusion of EcoME’s security, its participants continue their work of connecting people in an open space.
A few hundred meters from EcoME, separation instead of meeting is declared. This typical Israeli warning board on the way to the Palestinian city Jericho demarcates the border between Israelis and Palestinians. At the same time, it symbolizes the fear embedded in their social boundaries. Most Jewish participants are afraid to be treated adversely in Arabic areas, the Palestinians vice versa. Though many also sneak through the division lines. This puts them in danger, but it also creates a new, promising and less clear-cut reality.
Again, in the inside, EcoME’s core values defy the outside separation. To communicate in an empathic way, numerous participants apply Non-violent Communication (NVC). The board is from an NVC workshop, during which intensive self-reflections and attentive encounters peak, and EcoME’s culture of care and exploration gets strengthened and forwarded to foreigners and locals.
Also outside the peace project, hope can be found. At least, advertising water bottles in a small supermarket in Akab Jabr, a Palestinian refugee camp next to Jericho. In contrast to this labeling, water is an issue of the Palestinians’ frustration, since their sources are controlled by Israel. One of EcoME’s participants thus works in the supermarket to get a chance to leave for a freer place, even if it is just for a while.
While studying sociology and cultural anthropology, the author has spent more than half a year participating in and researching the ecovillage-inspired peace project at hand. Currently, she is writing a master’s thesis about its relationality with the outside world of conflict and cultural difference.
It is the morning of Wednesday, September 6, 2017. My eyes are only open through trepidation. I was barely able to get more than an hour of sleep the night before. Hurricane Irma, the second strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, is barrelling through the North-Eastern Caribbean. The core of her 185 mile-per-hour winds sweep across Saba, St. Maarten, Anguilla, St. Kitts, among many other places. Places where I have numerous acquaintances, friends, and family members. Continue reading →
By Vera van Rijn Although the media frequently reports on African children dying from malaria or HIV, it is actually pneumonia that is the biggest killer in children under five. With nearly 1 million annual deaths, pneumonia kills more children than HIV, diarrhea and malaria combined. Pneumonia is called ‘the silent killer’ because even today little attention is paid to this disease. In 2015 I joined a research team in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, in search of a way to stop children from dying of this disease. Continue reading →
“In front of the office of the NGO stood a traditional ‘hanok’ house which caved in just a few days before I took this picture.”
By Maaike van Nus “My initial expectation before meeting them was that they would be more, ehm, that they wouldn’t be as assimilated as they are, I mean it’s a good thing that they are, but it seems they all have cell phones, and they all have grown fairly accustomed to the life here”
This was told to me in an interview with one of my informants about the North Korean refugees he’d just met. For my master in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VU I conducted three months of fieldwork in Seoul, South Korea. I worked with an NGO that provides North Korean refugees with free English lessons by matching them with volunteers who speak fluent English. My research revolves around these volunteers. North Korea has always been a great interest and concern of mine, as well as the resettlement of North Korean refugees once they have escaped their homeland through China, and thus I decided to focus my research on volunteers who help them in this resettlement process. Continue reading →
Hayate Ait Bouzid is a Master student Anthropology at the VU who did her research about the environmental behaviour of middle-class people in Brunei Darussalam. A country that is often not known by the large public or at best misconceived. She is sharing her story about how the preconceived view of Brunei made her question her trip to this Southeast Asian country.
Being back from my three months fieldwork in Brunei Darussalam, it feels like I have never been there really, it all seems like a dream. With emphasis on the word dream,not nightmare. To be honest, in the beginning I was quite afraid of this country, afraid of the unknown. Especially with having very few people in my surroundings knowing about this country and if they knew about it, the first two things they would say were: ‘Oh yes, it’s located on the Island of Borneo, I have been to Sabah you know’ or ‘Oh.. do you know they have the Sharia there..?’.
The latter really made me question my trip to Brunei. In one way or another I was afraid it would limit my research. So a few weeks before going there I really had this thought: ‘Sh*t, what did I get myself into, by going to this country…?.’ I was searching on YouTube for a few minutes of reassurance, but I couldn’t find much. The feeling got worse, with every news article I read about the restriction of the Sharia law in the country, the negative stories about the Sultan and how Christmas was totally banned in Brunei. Continue reading →