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 …

Lees meer

Colombia between hope and fear

By Lieke Prins        When I initially left my house in Amsterdam to live in Colombia for three months I had planned to go to Chocó and study Afro-Colombian small-scale gold miners and their resistance strategies against large-scale mining companies. However, the first night in my new house with my new roommates in Medellin made me rethink my initial plans and inspired me to change in course of my research. On the first night we were sitting on the floor of our apartment, getting to know each other. One of my roommates, an anthropology student of the Universidad de Antioquia, …

Lees meer

My final week in Cuba: A new layer of asphalt for Obama and the Rolling Stones

By Caroline van Slobbe     Now, it is all over. I went to Cuba, wrote my MA thesis, and in July received an email that I graduated. Wow, that sounds so simple, and quick. Still, when I look through my pictures or lay down in the park (I finally have time for that), I recall some of the great moments. I will share some of them here: For once I do not smell the pollution of the vintage cars when I cross the street in front of Hotel Capri, because the smell of fresh asphalt is even stronger. We are close …

Lees meer

Pregnancies, high-school drop-outs and personal struggles: The joys of anthropological fieldwork

By Laetitia Simorangkir     Now that I completed my thesis (on care arrangements in South African communities), I can really say that I love anthropology and do research. But there were times I did not like my work at all. In this blog I will explain why. “Naoko told me that Salma had come to tell her that she was pregnant. Although the women were not related, Naoko seemed to take a parental-role towards Salma.” A fellow student, who reviewed the draft of my thesis, commented on this statement saying that I should explain more about the parent-child relationship: “Don’t leave it …

Lees meer

How to keep in touch with anthropology

By Ina Keuper  For many students the last week of their studies at the anthropology department of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) has ended today, for Bachelor’s students as well as Master’s. They have worked hard on finishing their final assignment, a thesis with which they prove their proficiency in writing an academic text within the time and word count set for it. The Master’s students presented the drafts of their thesis on the Master’s Festival of last week’s Tuesday, June 14th, while the Bachelor’s did so on the Bachelor’s Festival of Thursday June 16th.

Lees meer

A different kind of pilgrimage

By Dimetri Whitfield    The most surprising thing for me about conducting fieldwork is that you encounter all these interesting people that ultimately do not end up in your final project. Alieu Sowe (this is a pseudonym to protect his identity) is one such person. He is Fula by ethnicity, Gambian by nationality, taxi driver by occupation, and refugee by aspiration. One cool February evening, after his 14 hour work-day, and my 3 hours of writing field notes, we sat down and chatted. Like most 20-something Gambian men, “backway” was on his mind. “Backway” is the illegal method of migrating …

Lees meer

Squeezing one year of fieldwork in New Zealand in three months

By Vivian Mac Gillavry            During the first year of my Bachelor study in anthropology, we were told that the best field research should take at least a year. You might just find out that the two days in which you can collect very relevant information, are in July and in January. It might be obvious that you would not like to miss those days. Unfortunately we only get three months to collect all our data for our master thesis.

Lees meer

Critical thinking: Who’s up for it?

By Georgette Veerhuis            A month ago on Thursday 21 January 2016 I attended the symposium Diversify Philosophy at the VU. It sounded mysterious. Why does philosophy need to be diversified? It also sounded progressive and modern, and therefore almost incongruent with age-old philosophy. Isn’t philosophy ‘simply’ premised on, and specialised in, critical thinking? Why then should philosophy need to change?

Lees meer

Glocalising Social Media

By Jordi Bok            As anthropologist Daniel Miller takes place behind the microphone to start his lecture, a whistle blows through the lecture room. It is not a starting signal, but the noise of a WhatsApp-notification. Some people laugh, some look annoyed and others just ignore it. Slightly embarrassed, the girl sitting next to me quickly checks her phone to see who contacted her at this inconvenient moment. This perfectly sets the stage for what prof. Daniel Miller is going to talk about today, 12 February 2016, as part of the Amsterdam Anthropology Lectures at VU University: social media.

Lees meer

Time to look at girls differently

By Sophie Pape            Are you happy with your life? The way you have constructed it? What if you were born in another country? Would it be the same? It is likely that it will be quite different. Questions like these popped up while watching the documentary Time to look at girls: Migrants in Bangladesh and Ethiopia, which was shown by Marina de Regt during the EASA Anthropology of Children and Youth Seminar on 19 November 2015. Since June 2009, this EASA Network organizes monthly meetings, which bring together students, researchers, NGOs and policy makers working with children …

Lees meer