World Cup Mania: Beyond the vuvuzela

By Duane Jethro Since the conclusion of the World Cup, questions have been raised about what could be done with the vuvuzelas accumulated during the tournament. In response, the renowned South African cartoonist Zapiro offered a few creative, novel suggestions in one of his weekly sketches for the Sunday Times. These included deafened fans using their vuvuzelas as a hearing aid, following Paris Hilton’s lead and using it as a cannabis pipe, or as the case may be with recently sacked coach Raymond Domenech, using it as a receptacle for collecting change from the public while begging on the street.

Just as the vuvuzela’s uses as a material object were open to a multiplicity of reinterpretations, the horn has also lent itself to myriad symbolic readings that connected it to notions of culture, religion and social identities. In that case, we could perhaps find another, alternate use for the vuvuzela, using it telescopically to look back and scan the uproarious terrain of the World Cup and canvass some of the things that had been overlooked and not really heard. Lees verder

Whose Development? A Critical Lens on Development in Africa and Madagascar.

Photo by Sandra Evers

By Aliene van Dijk I still remember vividly the expectations that I had of visiting one of the libraries supposedly holding anthropological studies in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo. I naively thought that even in a country as poor as Madagascar, at least the library would be decent. But it proved quite a deception. In a small one-room building, with walls covered in old books, I found out that reality was different. Sitting on the floor and looking through a very old-fashioned cabinet of cards to look up relevant material, my research partner and I found none. It would probably be interesting for a historian, since the books were so old, but for present-day anthropological fieldwork it was not very useful. ‘How can they study in these circumstances?’, I thought.

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Democracy, Kyrgyz-style

Remnants of a destroyed government building in Bishkek (photos by Amieke Bouma)

By Amieke Bouma  

On the 27th of June, a nation-wide referendum confirmed Roza Otunbayeva as the new president of Kyrgyzstan. The referendum was endorsed by most international actors, despite the fact that they had not sent any observers. This was deemed too dangerous due to the violent situation in the south of the country. The relative calm during the referendum therefore obviously caused relief. Only a week before, I had also been astonished by the quiet situation in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek. Ethnic violence was raging between the Kyrgyz and the large Uzbek minority living in the Ferghana valley in the south of Kyrgyzstan, in which an estimated 2000 people died, and another 400.000 fled their homes. Lees verder

Interculturalism at the VU

Pál Nyíri

By Pál Nyiri I have recently received an email from the Onderwijscentrum VU (also known as the  Centre for Educational Training, Assessment and Research, or CETAR) announcing a training  called ‘intercultureel werken in het onderwijs’ (Working interculturally in education). In Seeing Culture Everywhere, Joana Breidenbach and I painted a critical, perhaps even somewhat unkind, picture of the intercultural communication (IC) business, arguing that it often amounts to little more than ethnic stereotyping couched in pseudo-scientific terms like Geert Hofstede’s “cultural dimensions”. At the same time, we acknowledge that there is a useful kind of IC training, which focuses on making participants reflect on the inherent cultural biases of their own practices they might see as universal. Lees verder

World Cup Mania: de Nederlandse identiteit is oranje

Foto door Abiola Lapite

Door Jethro Alons De eerste wedstrijd van Nederland tegen Denemarken keek ik bij een vriend van mij. Toen we tijdens de rust bij hem voor de deur stonden, gekleed in onze oranje shirts, toeterden veel auto’s naar ons en juichten de inzittenden ons toe, waarop wij natuurlijk vrolijk terug juichten. Wat mij opviel was dat veel automobilisten van origine geen Nederlanders waren. Als antropoloog vond ik dit heel interessant. Hoe kan het dat mensen die elkaar totaal niet kennen elkaar toejuichen wanneer “ons” elftal speelt? Lees verder

World Cup Mania: Feel the Gees

Hyundai's giant vuvuzela (picture by Duane Jethro)

By Duane Jethro The car company Hyundai has come up with a solution for those whom the expression “Feel It. It Is Here” has no real emotive purchase. In support of their slogan for the World Cup, “We bring the Gees”, the company has erected a 37 metre long vuvuzela on an abandoned flyover in Cape Town’s city centre. To affirm their commitment to pumping up the World Cup spirit, the instrument is not merely a striking piece of visual advertising, but sonically brings the company slogan to life as a fully operational noise making instrument.

Intended to be sounded off every time a goal was scored during the tournament, the giant trumpet’s sonic booms have, however, been curtailed by the city council on the grounds that it would seriously disrupt traffic at the major intersection below. While the project has been a failure in this sense, it has succeeded in promoting the notion of gees and linking it with vuvuzelas. Lees verder

Hoe bereid je je voor op oorlog?


Lidewyde Berckmoes doet onderzoek met jongeren in Burundi. Eind mei vonden er de gemeenteverkiezingen plaats. Tegen de verwachtingen in, leden oppositiepartijen een grote nederlaag, waarop zij zich terugtrokken uit de presidentiële verkiezingen van twee dagen geleden. Zij wilden niet deelnemen aan oneerlijke, ‘gestolen’, verkiezingen. In het land is het sindsdien onrustig. Gelaten wacht iedereen af wat de toekomst brengt. Oorlog, dictatuur, of is er toch nog kans op  vrede en democratie?

Sinds kort heb ik het gevoel dat ik een vreemde ben in dit land. Ik ben mijn feeling kwijt met wat er speelt. Het begon op de dag van de start van de presidentiële verkiezingscampagne, ongeveer 2 weken geleden. Ik zat bij een Ethiopisch restaurantje met wat vrienden toen de eerste smsjes over granaataanvallen in de stad binnenkwamen.

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