Category Archives: Studenten

Only looking forward?

“In front of the office of the NGO stood a traditional ‘hanok’ house which caved in just a few days before I took this picture.”

By Maaike van Nus

“My initial expectation before meeting them was that they would be more, ehm, that they wouldn’t be as assimilated as they are, I mean it’s a good thing that they are, but it seems they all have cell phones, and they all have grown fairly accustomed to the life here”

This was told to me in an interview with one of my informants about the North Korean refugees he’d just met. For my master in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VU I conducted three months of fieldwork in Seoul, South Korea. I worked with an NGO that provides North Korean refugees with free English lessons by matching them with volunteers who speak fluent English. My research revolves around these volunteers. North Korea has always been a great interest and concern of mine, as well as the resettlement of North Korean refugees once they have escaped their homeland through China, and thus I decided to focus my research on volunteers who help them in this resettlement process.

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Negligent NGO with happy parents: Voluntourism and the voice of the local beneficiaries

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.
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Het verhaal achter haar Ugandese haar

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“Een vriendin op een ‘boda boda’ (motortaxi) op weg naar het Victoriameer”

Door Esther Platteeuw            Op een warme dag in maart loop ik in de straten van Jinja Town op weg naar het internetcafé ‘The Source’. Met Oegandese radiomuziek in mijn oren zonder ik me af van de blikken, handgebaren en het ‘Mzungu’ geroep waar je als blanke veel mee geconfronteerd wordt in deze Afrikaanse stad. Ik ben net een straat overgestoken waarna mijn aandacht van een Oegandees popliedje naar de realiteit op straat wordt getrokken, ‘Esther’, ‘Esther’ hoor ik opeens. Automatisch draai ik mijn hoofd om en zie daar de stralende lach van een Ugandese meid van ongeveer dezelfde leeftijd als ik. Een gevoel van schaamte komt op omdat ik haar niet meteen herken, terwijl zij mijn naam wel kent. Na een paar tellen van onbegrip en vliegensvlug nadenken, besef ik dat een vriendin voor me staat. “Oh, it’s you, Fatima!”, zeg ik enigszins opgelucht. “Yeah, it’s me”, reageert ze, “I changed my hair, haha”. Continue reading

A day in Makata village (Malawi)

The neighbour baking mandasi early in the morning


Liza Koch
        My day starts at 5:15 because of the noise outside. The sun is rising and people are starting their day. My ‘host mom’ is already fully dressed and almost finished cleaning her house. She pushes her daughter to get ready for school. When I go outside I see the neighbour baking mandasi (comparable to our new year dough balls), she starts around 4 o’clock in the morning to sell them later at the small market 200 meters from here. Continue reading

Mijn Griekse vrienden van de Gouden Dageraad

Graffiti in Corfu stad: ‘Gouden Dageraad’ veranderd in ‘Gouden Eieren’ door slechts een aantal streepjes aan te brengen. Een bekende manier om supporters te ondermijnen.

Kostas Brejaart    Mijn onderzoek naar het electoraat van een politieke partij die in zowel de media als in academische kringen omschreven wordt als neonazistisch en fascistisch vindt plaats op het idyllische eiland Corfu, in Griekenland. De ‘Gouden Dageraad’, welke streeft naar een ‘nationalistisch ontwaken’, haalde tijdens de verkiezingen van 2015 op dit eiland rond de 6% van de stemmen, iets onder het landelijk gemiddelde. In heel Griekenland stemden er zo’n 400.000 mensen op deze extreemrechtse, ultranationalistische partij, ondanks dat de partij gelinkt wordt aan geweld tegen immigranten en er al vanaf 2013 een rechtszaak tegen een groot deel van haar parlementsleden gaande is. Continue reading

Why is Anthropology so Critical?

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

Construction of Power – Het LaSSA Congres

Van een grote organisatie zoals de Verenigde Naties tot de relaties die men met familieleden heeft, macht is overal aanwezig. Maar hoe komen machtsrelaties eigenlijk tot stand? Deze vraag zal centraal staan tijdens het LaSSA (Landelijke Samenwerking Studenten Antropologie) Congres 2017. Tijdens dit congres zullen een aantal inspirerende sprekers, waaronder Standplaats Wereld redacteur Marina de Regt, verschillende aspecten van het fenomeen macht op een antropologische manier belichten. Hieronder enkele praktische gegevens van het congres:

lassa

Datum en tijdstip: 20 maart, 12.30 uur – 17.00 uur

Thema: Construction of Power

Locatie: Cultuur centrum Parnassos (Kruisstraat 201, Utrecht)

U kunt zich hier inschrijven. Voor vragen over het congres, kunt u altijd mailen naar congres.lassa@gmail.com

Wij hopen u te mogen verwelkomen op 20 maart!

Koen Donatz, mede-organisator van het LaSSA Congres 2017, en tweedejaars Bachelorstudent Culturele Antropologie en Ontwikkelingssociologie aan de VU.

 

Being engaged with the Middle East

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

Another Answer to the Question "What is Anthropology?"

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Photo by David Barnas on Flickr

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: άνθρωπος (human; man) + λόγος (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 I mean that branch of philosophy that regards humans: philosophical anthropology. Anthropology and philosophy seem to share an engagement with the limits of the human:[1] What is human and what is not? Or, stated differently: what is the result of nurture and what is the result of nature? Continue reading

Rereading Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Ethnographer”

Jorge Luis Borges 1951

Jorge Luis Borges 1951, by Grete Stern

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 curiosity was piqued. By reading the article by Krebs and re-reading “The Ethnographer” I have come to see the story as a challenge to the ethnographic endeavour of anthropology. Continue reading