By Dominique van de Kamp During the pre-master of Social and Cultural Anthropology, we followed a course called “Core themes of Anthropology,” by Ton Salman. In our first class, he mentioned that every anthropologist would like to be a fly on the wall, almost invisible – however impossible *. From that moment on, we started calling ourselves the “Flies on the wall.”
Two years later, we handed in our theses and a great part of us went to celebrate together in Rome. There I wrote something about the flies on the wall, which turned out to be my notes of an engaged anthropologist:
By Dominique van de Kamp UnDivided is a conference on how to explore diversity and promote inclusion in higher education, organised by a group of students from different universities in the Netherlands. This is a report of the day, which turned out to be the start of a promising dialogue between diversity commissions at different universities.
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.
The NGO is located in little town in the peripheries of Arequipa
Pauline van der Valk I have always had a keen interest in the local beneficiaries’ perspective on development projects. It was only when I started my Masters in Anthropology that I learned more about the phenomenon of voluntourism. Scholars agree voluntourism is part of the tourism sector, but also acknowledge voluntourists combine leisure activities with development practices. For this reason I found this niche market in the tourism sector highly intriguing and I decided to focus my thesis on voluntourism rather than on development. During my preparatory work I had read up on voluntourism, and the first discovery I made was that opinions on voluntourism differ greatly. There is a myriad of works concerning this topic, and I read it all – from moderately positive scholars claiming voluntourism increases mutual cultural understanding, to plain depressing works from scholars arguing voluntourism reinforces underlying global North – global South power relations. My main interest was in gaining the perspectives of those on the receiving end of the voluntourism chain. For this reason I focused my research on the experiences of the local parents and their children involved in voluntourism: the local beneficiaries. I choose this particular topic because during the preparation for my fieldwork I was rather surprised to find that the perspective of the local beneficiaries was often overlooked or under highlighted. Continue reading →
Solidarity during the protest in support of CEU and academic freedom on 2 April 2017. (Photo courtesy of Index.hu)
By Georgette Veerhuis A few weeks ago I was writing a blog about the Women’s Strike demonstration I attended on the evening of Wednesday, March 8, in Budapest, organised both in honour of and critical of International Women’s Day, but I wasn’t able to finish it. There was no clear message, just speculations and a mere description of the event. In light of new events, however, it seems I can now more clearly reflect on the peculiar situation in which I find myself – how a changing attitude of the Hungarian government can shift my (academic) position and possibilities. And surely I won’t be the worst off. I have other privileges to fall back on… Continue reading →
Portrait of Giambattista Vico by Francesco Solimena
By Matthias Teeuwen I want to thank Ton Salman for his insightful take on the question whether anthropology is the most scientific of the humanities or the most humanistic of the sciences or both, it gave me food for thought. For one: how is it that anthropology is considered science? It seems that Ton sees the scientific aspect of anthropology in its critical function of looking past the representations and meanings of people and examining the empirical conditions in which they arose.
I very much agree with Ton on this point. But I think that this hybridity is easily misunderstood in the sense that the critical, scientific side of anthropology is emphasised at the neglect of the hermeneutical, humanistic side. Continue reading →
By Ottla Lange In my first week of studying cultural Anthropology I had been told to write down everything I observe, when in a new or semi-new environment, within the first twenty-four hours. After this short period of time a person starts to become blind for the things that used to catch their eye. Now after travelling through East-Africa for two weeks – to visit the countries where my father, who died in the airplane crash of MH17, had spent most of his time working as an aids researcher – I can say that this could not be more true. Continue reading →
Sheila Carapico (chair), Marina de Regt and Erika Cortes.
By Erika Cortes Anthropology is a way of life. It, if I may, is life. It can present us life at its most complex state. And, more often than not, the topics we choose to work on as anthropologists usually stick with us beyond purely academic pursuits. Continue reading →
By Gaya Nikolsky Who are you? No, let me rephrase that to avoid a complicated philosophical debate. What is your identity? Okay, although this question is also quite complex, as an anthropologist I do have more grip on it. Your social identity is who and what you are to other people. Often, at least when regarding identity as a more superficial construction, it would involve different labels that will tell the outside world something about you… Or so it seems. Let’s leave it at that for now: your social identity is what you are to other people and it usually involves aspects such as your gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, career, hobbies etc. Continue reading →