Alien Encounters

by Matthias Teeuwen I had read “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang (1998) and I wanted to write a blog about it. It contains a lot of interesting ideas including classic science fiction tropes that have often fascinated anthropologists. In fact, the editors of The Geek Anthropologist blog have alerted me to the interesting synergy that exists between anthropology and science fiction, as did the article of Peter Pels on the fictionalisation (and commercialisation) of nineteenth-century anthropology. One of the fascinations that the genre holds for anthropologists is the possibility of an encounter with totally other life forms or …

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Famine and War in Yemen

By Helen Lackner. The Geneva ‘consultations’ on 6 September between the two Yemeni warring parties failed to happen. According to the media, it was because the Huthis failed to show. In reality their demand was not unreasonable: guarantees of safe travel to and from Geneva in a neutral (Omani) plane and without ‘inspection’ from their opponent, the Saudi-led coalition. Observers and Yemenis are flooded with statements about the good internationally recognised Hadi government seeking peace and the evil ‘Iranian-backed’ Huthis wanting to continue fighting. However events point elsewhere, suggesting that the coalition’s asserted commitment to a political solution is little …

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Writing a tailor-made thesis

by Suzanne Jansen A finished thesis is a tailor-made product: it has that perfect mixture of scientific knowledge embedded in lively ethnographic tales of the field. In my case not only my thesis itself was a tailor-made product. The people my research was about also turned out to be, or at least tried to be, tailor-made: I did research among women with anorexia. Having had anorexia myself, I have been intrigued by its manifestations ever since: young girls, older women, girls that are walking all day, women who are not talking all day, women that purge, girls that don’t, scarily …

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Eenakter over het Vliegend Spaghettimonster

door Ton Salman 3 personages: antropoloog 1 (Lily), antropoloog 2 (Anabel), rechter (Veronica). Onlangs deed de hoogste Nederlandse bestuursrechter, de Raad van State, uitspraak in een hoog opgelopen zaak: hebben aanhangers van de Kerk van het Vliegend Spaghettimonster (zij noemen zichzelf pastafaris), het recht om op hun pasfoto’s een vergiet op hun hoofd te dragen? Zoals ook andere religies het recht hebben om een uitzondering te bedingen op het voorschrift dat het hoofd op zo’n pasfoto onbedekt moet zijn, wanneer er daarvoor godsdienstige of levensbeschouwelijke redenen zijn? De rechter stelde de Kerk van het Vliegend Spaghettimonster in het ongelijk. Het …

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SpW Summer break!

At the end of the academic year we want to give a big ‘thank you’ to all our writers and contributors. A special thanks to Heleen van der Linden, who is leaving the SpW editorial team. If you are interested to join us, drop us a note! We wish you a wonderful summer, hopefully with lots of new stories! See you all in September!

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Hodeidah is being attacked, but the Western media are silent

By Marina de Regt. “Hodeidah is empty, Marina, there is no one there anymore”, says Noura to me this morning, in a short telephone conversation that is repeatedly interrupted because of the bad connection. Noura moved to Sana’a a week ago, fleeing the horrendous violence that has exploded in the city of Hodeidah since Thursday 14 June, the day before the start of Eid Al-Fitr. On that day the Saudi Led Coalition, mainly consisting of mercenaries and ground troops of the United Arab Emirates army, soldiers of the Yemeni National Army and Hiraak al-Tihama started the long planned attack on …

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‘Wasted hours in the field’ as a key to understanding the research topic

By Herbert Ploegman  Originally attributed to Winston Churchill, the statement “never waste a good crisis” has become an aforism that, by now, has been appropriated by many voices. The expression carries several layers, all of which contribute to its perceived versatility. Applying the statement to a research field in contemporary Greece may seem ironic or cynical, given the state of ‘crisis’ the country has gone through (or is currently under). Nevertheless, I feel confident enough to do this without too many scrupules. As an anthropologist having spent almost a year in Greece throughout the past few years, I believe that …

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Re-viewing The Truman Show

By Peter Versteeg.   “We accept the world with which we are presented” is probably the best summary of The Truman Show, a modern classic film from 1998. We, however, only become aware of this once we start to know the secret of the film. So, everything that can be said about this film should really get an instant SPOILER ALERT. 

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Papa D. and the Privacy Law: New dilemmas for researchers*

By Fridus Steijlen Last April, I visited the mountain village of Bittuang in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia for the fourth time. This is one of the eight locations in which we record daily life for our audiovisual project Recording the Future. On each of our visits to Bittuang, we stay at Mama D.’s house. Visiting Bittuang and Mama D.’s makes me feel at home in the village and also within the family. We had already interviewed Mama D. and Papa D. a couple of times, along with their children and their partners.

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Try a Little Legal Tenderness

By Jane M. Ferguson This financial speculation essay acknowledges the inspiration of the Dick Jensen version of the song, “Try a Little Tenderness,” in its principal guiding pun; it is a suggested pairing to savour while reading. Oh, they may be weary. You’ve reached the end of your stay at a small hotel in Myanmar. Your bags are packed; you’re ready to go. The manager at the desk, Ma Thuzar presents you a carefully handwritten invoice in English, with the total amount written at the bottom in US dollars. Fishing into your billfold, you retrieve your US cash and present …

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