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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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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De sjamaan en de sofa

door Peter Versteeg Hoe vreemd is vreemd? Waarom noemen we sommige dingen gek en andere niet? Het zijn de bekende vragen waarmee antropologen graag hun publiek vermaken en onderwijzen. Het vermogen om het perspectief vanuit andermans werkelijkheid te kiezen kunnen we wel het unique selling point van de antropologie noemen. Maar een ander perspectief kiezen betekent nog niet dat we automatisch ook onze eigen bril hebben afgezet. Dat viel me onlangs op in een interview met organisatieantropoloog Danielle Braun.

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The representation of Africa in Hollywood movie Black Panther.

By Rhoda Woets
Almost every month, I join a small group of anthropologists from the VU to go to the movies. Last month, we went to the action movie Black Panther to do a little bit of fieldwork from a soft, lazy cinema chair. Combining a relaxing evening with collecting data for a blog post has little in common with the hardship of fieldwork that anthropologist write about in their ethnographies. No mud on my boots, thank you very much. Let the arm chair anthropologist return, this time freed from an ethnocentric view on culture and armed with 3D glasses.

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The Magnificent Indians: Sebastião Salgado’s studio in the Amazon forest

by Barbara Arisi The Javari Valley has always attracted cameras and documentarists. The beauty of the Indians living in this high forest is irresistible. As I learned from Txema Matis, such beauty is so exuberant that it can even kill an unwary person if the indigenous persons exhibit themselves in all their splendor. The photographs taken by Sebastião Salgado and published by Folha de S.Paulo’s newspaper show the beauty of the Korubo in a studio set with a seamless background amid the magnificent canopy of samaúma and many other  trees. With their clubs, dressed in palm leaf hats, painted with …

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“This garden is who I am”

by Ola Plonska This month the Master thesis ‘This Garden is who I am’ has been awarded as the best thesis written on Latin-America and the Caribbean in 2016/2017 by NALACS (the Netherlands Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies).  ‘These gardens are spaces that reflect more about the world then generated them, then one would first assume or the eye can tell.’  My inspiration for doing fieldwork in Cuba started a long, long time ago. Being an inspiration to me, in many aspects, my father would tell me stories about how he traveled to Cuba when he was younger …

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Nederland houdt van gewoon

Door Irene Stengs. In het kader van ‘onderzoek om de hoek’ kom ik nog een keer terug op mijn veldwerkexcursie naar de Huishoudbeurs van afgelopen februari. In mijn vorige blog omschreef ik deze ‘grootste braderie van Nederland’ als een voor de antropoloog interessante event omdat de beurs in feite een geconcentreerde uitstalling is van allerlei vormen van alledaagse cultuur in Nederland. Veel zaken die in het dagelijks leven een rol spelen en juist door hun alledaagsheid nauwelijks opvallen worden op de Huishoudbeurs ‘uitvergroot, uitgelicht en op een voetstuk geplaatst’. Voor de meeste bezoekers spreekt de invulling en inrichting van de …

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Human rights: Why debating their universality is unhelpful

By Koen Donatz  Human rights have become a hotly debated topic in both the academic and the political world, one of the main points of contention being whether they are universal or not. As Eva Brems has shown, feminists and cultural relativists are among the staunchest opponents of the claimed universality of human rights, criticizing its male bias and Western bias respectively. Thus, many debates discuss the universality of human rights at what Jack Donnelly calls the historical or anthropological level, examining its historical roots. However, most of such debates (and debates with different approaches, for that matter) ignore the …

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Seeing like a miner: The joys and menaces of informal gold extraction in Chocó, Colombia

by Jesse Jonkman ‘Let’s not fool ourselves, the Colombian state always tries to shut the door to the poor man in order to lead him to war.’ Manuel* spits out the words while he is contemplating the tranquil flow of the Bebará river that passes alongside his natal village La Villa. His criticism is directed at the government administration of President Santos and its eagerness to combat ‘illegal’ mining. ‘The state made up that mining is illegal. I understand that cocaine is illegal. It’s something that inflicts harm upon a lot of people. But a metal that comes from the …

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