No space for grief

By Aniek Santema       The floor in Ouzai where Mariam lives becomes a familiar place. I know the people in this corner of the tall building and they greet me happily when I visit them. Today, the stairs that lead up to this floor are slippery and covered with garbage like empty bags of chips, chocolate wraps and orange peels. While climbing up the stairs to the third floor, I pass by some small kids with stains on their clothes, faces and hands, running and playing on the stairs. The youngest must be around 2 years old. Many of …

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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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African-Americans returning to Ghana: A photo blog

By Marije Maliepaard            My Master’s research is about African-Americans who return to Ghana after their ancestors got enslaved and brought to the Americas during the slave trade. My research group themselves have not physically lived in Africa before but they do have the feeling they return. A famous African-American and Pan-Africanist who also returned was W.E.B. Du Bois. He was one of the founders of the American civil rights organization for ‘colored’ people, NAACP. Eventually, he settled in Accra, Ghana, but passed away three years later. He is buried next to his former house, which is now turned into a …

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‘Vat en sit’: South African men through the eyes of the women?

By Laetitia Simorangkir While conducting fieldwork for my research on the orga-nization of care arrangements in South African communities, I surprisingly often ended up in situations where my female respondents started to see me as ‘one of their own’. An unexperienced, ignorant one though, but still, ‘one of their own’. They enjoyed telling me about their communities and teaching me about their ways of living. One of the topics we discussed regularly, was the difference between men and women, especially their efficiency and usefulness within the household.

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The reality of race: fieldwork experiences from Ghana

By Marije Maliepaard     Recently my Colombian friend and I were talking about being white in a country like Ghana. I told him I had never been aware of my ‘whiteness’ until I got to Ghana. In reply he said “of course you weren’t aware, you are part of the majority in your country”. We silently continued our walk along the main road in Accra as I pondered his comment. I broke the silence and said, “It’s not only me being part of the majority but I just don’t see it. I don’t recognize people as being black or white.” He firmly …

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“I was nowhere”

By Marie Linne    Dalal contacted me during my fieldwork among refugees who aspire to study in the Netherlands. She agreed to meet with me for an interview, to talk about her experiences as a refugee and as a student in the VASVU programme at VU University Amsterdam. It is a 9 month long programme, that tries to function as a bridging programme for international students before they enter a Dutch Bachelors programme. About 80 percent of the students are refugees, and the course provides them with the basics in different subjects. It is mostly set up with the aim to …

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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 …

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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.

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