Why is Anthropology so Critical?

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 …

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A Journey to Experience: Tanzania-Kenya-Uganda

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 …

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Diet as a New Identity

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 …

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Some thoughts on film in ethnography

By Ina Keuper     On 7 December the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology organized its second Ethnographic Film Day, which featured four rather different ethnographic documentaries. Former staff member Ina Keuper was there and shares some thoughts on Standplaats Wereld about these particular films and the role of this visual medium in anthropology.

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Match-making: the Pakistani way

By  M. Amer Morgahi      Migration has its own dynamic of bringing people together in situations or locations where they otherwise might not have thought of. However, migration sometimes also compels people to take certain steps, occasionally out of sheer desperation, otherwise just to make use of new possibilities created.

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Another Answer to the Question "What is Anthropology?"

By Matthias Teeuwen            As a student of cultural anthropology you are invariably confronted with the question: what is anthropology? It can briefly be answered by pointing to the etymology of the word: ???????? (human; man) + ????? (word; reason) = anthropology, the study of humans. However, this simple definition of anthropology soon gets swamped in the sheer diversity within anthropology: social anthropology, cultural anthropology, anthropology of crises, anthropology of religion, medical anthropology, digital anthropology, anthropology of the city, anthropology of music, etc…. Here I propose an understanding of what anthropology is based on the juxtaposition with philosophy, and with philosophy …

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Wind Energy

By Alexander Dunlap    Wind Energy is undoubtedly my favorite of all the energy systems, which retains an immense potential for eco-logical sustainability. This potential, however, can be utopic, dystopic or somewhere in between, which is intimately intertwined with the futures people wish to create. Before moving to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region in Oaxaca, Mexico to investigate the impact of renewable energy on semi-subsistent Indigenous groups (Zapotec and Ikoot), I knew that wind projects triggered, what is known in political ecology as, ecological distribution conflicts. These are conflicts arising from development projects that affirm regional power inequalities, unequal distribution of …

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Rereading Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Ethnographer”

By Matthias Teeuwen        I have read “The Ethnographer” and “Dr. Brodie’s Report” without thinking much of it. Sure, I had found it curious that Borges, who ranks among my favourite authors, would devote some of his writings to ethnography, but I haven’t thought much of it. Or, to be precise, I had planned to do my thinking on it at a later time. So when I came across an article in HAU Journal (2016, Volume 6, nr. 2) by Edgardo Krebs who argues that the anthropologist Alfred Métraux was Jorge Luis Borges’ inspiration to write the two stories, my …

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Vamos a la lucha!

By Lieke Prins         During the three months of my fieldwork in Medellín (the second-largest city in Colombia) I researched the political ideology of social science students and how this ideology manifested itself in practice. In order to understand their position and their actions, I lived with two Colombian students and participated in their day-to-day life. From the very first moment that I met the two girls, I noticed their passion concerning the construction of peace, their resistance movements against the politically right capitalist mindset, their fight for justice and their search for human security. Not only did …

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