Altruism or Egoism, an Elegy for Development Projects

A few days ago I was watching a late night Dutch talk show (Knevel & Van den Brink) in which politicians, scholars, writers, artists and other generally well known persons discuss current events in the world. In this particular broadcast two self-proclaimed development workers operating in Kenya were invited to join the table . A few days ago they had been violently assaulted and robbed of their money, phones and digital cameras by a bunch of, what they accuse to be, local people. Supposedly the same people who are benefitting from the hard efforts of the couple in improving the …

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Anthropology and Iraq

I would like to react briefly to Lahay Hussein’s talk as well as to the concerns expressed in her earlier post. These concerns are primarily about (re)building a healthy and democratic political and social order, and within it a healthy academic discipline and educational system, from a condition in which academic qualifications and infrastructure are sorely inadequate. She expects this process to be inspired and aided by colleagues and institutions in the West. These concerns are very different from the preoccupations of Western anthropologists when it comes to Iraq: imperialism; the complicity of anthropology in the occupation (a term Lahay herself …

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Iran elections(2): hitting the tweets

In her earlier post on this weblog, Donya pointed to remarkable transgressions on the eve of the national elections in Iran. In the public protests following the elections we see another major innovation: the unprecedented use of new digital media. The newest digital tools for social networking, especially Twitter and Facebook, turn out to be crucial means to mobilize people and report events to the outside world, as Newsy.com points out in this video: This raises important questions for anthropologists. What role can new media play in making political agitation effective?

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Message from our Iraquain visitor

It has been one month and a half for me in the Netherlands. Fascinating visit to a typical western culture. This is by itself a very moving experience on the personal level. Here one puts all the theories and ideas made by great American and European social theorists in the right context. They have been talking and interacting with this culture. The great works of Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Park and the rest have been inspired and motivated by the ways of life and thinking of this culture. However, back home in Iraq, we (sociologists and anthropologists) continue to …

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