Tag Archives: Religion

Islam Nusantara: Conferentie over een vreedzame Islam.

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-28 at 00.14.59Door Freek Colombijn. Van 27-29 maart vond in Nederland de “1st Biennial International Conference on Moderate Islam in Indonesia” plaats. De conferentie was georganiseerd door de Nederlandse afdeling van Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). NU is een traditionele, Soennitische beweging in Indonesië, die claimt 40-90 miljoen leden te hebben (de cijfers verschillen nogal). De eerste dag vond plaats op de Vrije Universiteit, waarna de conferentie zich verplaatste naar Den Haag, Leiden en Badhoevedorp.

De conferentie was deels een interne NU aangelegenheid, maar had vooral op de eerste dag een duidelijke boodschap aan de buitenwereld. De Islam is groter dan het Midden-Oosten en, sterker, de meeste Moslims komen niet uit de Arabische wereld. De Indonesische Islam, of Islam Nusantara, is een tolerante, niet-gewelddadige Islam. Continue reading

Aesthetics or Ethnography? Notes on the Amsterdam Anthropology Lecture Series (AALS)


Photography by Omar, one of Termeer’s respondents

By Matthias Teeuwen            When one thinks of a Muslim artist in the Netherlands one naturally thinks of someone who, with his or her art, tries to address issues of integration, tensions between Islam and secularism or the clash between Islamic and western society. Because that is what art by Muslims in the Netherlands is supposed to be about. Right?

In last week’s AALS lecture Dr. Bregje Termeer came to talk to us about her dissertation research on artistic strategies of young Muslim artists living in the Netherlands. What she discovered was that these artists did not subscribe to the definition of what art by Muslims is supposed to be. These artists were, as Termeer called it, ‘disengaging culturalism’.

Continue reading

What war? Whose war?

Internal changes must come about. © Cindy Cornett Seigle, via creative commons.

By Thijl Sunier            The day after the attacks in Paris, the French President François Hollande declared war to Islamic State. In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte also declared that ‘we are now at war’. Not with Islam, he added.

What bewilders me is that these declarations suggest that we are only now dragged into a conflict we supposedly have no part in. Baffling and indeed cynical. The Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State are monsters that the West and Russia have co-created in a decades-long struggle for power, influence and resources. This war has already started a long time ago at the cost of many thousands of innocent victims primarily in the region itself and the West has been involved in this right from the beginning. Continue reading

The here-and-now-after is online: death and afterlife in virtual gaming worlds

“EVE is real. It’s as real as real life,” says a player of the online science fiction game EVE Online on a forum. “I can’t wait until there is technology with which I can upload myself and live in the universe of EVE forever, ” he reflected.


Tarmak Spurgeon, a character of the author in EVE Online

By Peter Versteeg    The virtual world as hereafter. Except as a space in which the impossible can happen and players can master dragons or conquer solar systems, the virtual reality of the ‘massively multiplayer online’ game (MMO) touches our imagination of eternity. It is the experience of virtuality itself that evokes images of the never-ending. Against that background people reflect upon the possibility to live on virtually, after death. Continue reading

Religious violence and intolerance against Muslim minorities in South(East) Asia

FILE - In this June 13, 2012 file photo, a Rohingya Muslim man who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, cries as he pleads from a boat after he and others were intercepted by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh. She is known as the voice of Myanmar's downtrodden but there is one oppressed group that Aung San Suu Kyi does not want to discuss. For weeks, Suu Kyi has dodged questions on the plight of a Muslim minority known as the Rohingya, prompting rare criticism of the woman whose struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar have earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, and adoration worldwide. (AP Photo/Anurup Titu, File)

June 2012 – A group of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar seeking refuge in Bangladesh (AP Photo/Anurup Titu, File)

The issue of large numbers of refugees arriving by boat has recently made headlines both in Europe and in Asia. Anthropologists at VU University will reflect on both these cases in the coming weeks. Continue reading

Little room for Jesus in Bethlehem: The situation of Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem

Standplaatswereld 1By Elizabeth Marteijn. The Palestinian people have usually been associated with Islam. People often think of politically dominating groupings like Fatah and Hamas. However, those who visit the Palestinian town Bethlehem at the Westbank, a town world famous as the birthplace as Jesus, will sooner or later be confronted by the facts: Christianity is evidently present in Bethlehem. In the centre of Bethlehem, the towers of different church denominations flaunt proudly in the sky. This summer I visited Bethlehem to conduct a research, in collaboration with the ‘AEI’ (Arabic Educational Institute), on the Arab Christianity of the Palestinians. In this article, I would like to share some of my findings and hope to raise awareness of the situation of this specific group of people.

Continue reading

Dancing Bamboo

SpW Ulrike foto SAM_0185

Another fieldwork 2013 report!

By Ulrike Scholtes  Walking up the little hill in Yokohama to reach the studio my Sunday-workshop takes place at, I have to pass a bamboo forest. On sunny days, which are common here in Japan, it looks nicely illuminated, showing all the different shades of brown and green it has to offer. Towards the centre the forest turns extremely dark, but I am still able to see the many rows of bamboo trunks, that appear almost artificially organized. From here I have to walk a few meters straight and turn right at the massive orange tree, one of the landmarks I desperately need to survive here in Japan and find back the places I have been before. Soon a discrete sign will appear on my right hand, saying “Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio”, I believe the only sign in this neighbourhood that provides an English translation for the Kanji words. The sign leads to the – with childish mosaic patterns cheerfully decorated – path, I have to take in order to reach the studio. The second path leads to YoshitoOhno’s house. It used to belong to Kazuo Ohno, one of the two establishers of butoh dance. Out of different parts and materials that belonged to an old, and now fully deconstructed, elementary school, Kazuo Ohno had the first butoh dance studio built on this piece of lands, where he and HijikataTatsumi would practice and philosophize about what authentic Japanese, dance, but most importantly about what the body is. Continue reading

Apple as Religion?

twee mensen aanbidden een zwevende appelBy Jethro Alons An article in De Pers last week examined the success of Apple in the light of the impending introduction of the new iPad. In this article Apple was compared to a religion. Apparently, research showed that when people see the brand Apple the same areas in the brain become active as in people who are religious. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, himself said that his products are a mix of art, science and religion.

Although my inner anthropologist is always excited at the prospects of a new form of religion, I have to say I was quite skeptical about this. Apple as religion? Really? Continue reading

Anthropology Day: Religion = Conflict?

Anthropology Day 2009“Anthropology, the study of human cultures and societies, is exceptionally relevant as a tool for understanding the contemporary world, yet it is absent from nearly every important public debate in the Anglophonic world. Its lack of visibility is an embarrassment and a challenge” (Thomas Hylland Eriksen 2006, ix). Continue reading