Entering the World of Fieldwork: first experiences at the NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam

By Zoë Oosterveld Entering the field The first day in the field was nerve-wracking for me. Firstly, because this was my first time ever doing official fieldwork. Secondly, I was apprehensive about approaching people to ask them questions. I feared that there would be many people who would object to us interviewing them or consider our questions a waste of their time. However, I quickly realized that this was my anxiety filling me with unnecessary fear. I was relieved to conduct the fieldwork together with one of my group members, who, on our ferry ride to the NDSM Wharf in …

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Who needs shopping malls?

By Ton Salman There are markets. There are big markets. And there is the superlative degree of market. Arguably, that is the Feria de 16 de Julio, in El Alto, Bolivia. We are talking here a genuine street market: it has the stalls, the ambulant system, the vanishing of it all in the evening. The 16 de Julio is claimed to be the biggest in the Americas. It occupies a big chunk of El Alto, the new, still rapidly growing neighboring city of La Paz, on the highlands adjacent to Bolivia’s governmental seat La Paz (which is not Bolivia’s official …

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Ethnographic Monographs – or now for something else?

By Herbert Ploegman; Didi Boldewijn, Maya Roettger and Lorenzo Horwitz; Alice Riva, Claudia Rapisarda, Elisabeth Jongmans and Jasper Schotte; Ashley Prather and Maira van Emden Two crumpled up sheets of paper: the only traces left of the course Ethnographic Monographs that I took about a decade ago at our department of anthropology. Retrieved from a pile of old documents, I find on them forty-five book titles divided into two categories: “Classic monographs (from before 1970)”, and “Contemporary monographs (after 1970)”. As a student, I had to pick and read one from each, although I can’t remember if we were told …

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Ekeko

Rituals to help us out, and beliefs one professes tongue in cheek – Part II

By Ton Salman This is part II of the blog “Rituals to help us out….” If you have not yet read part I, you can read it here. Ekeko would by some probably be coined as “a small god”. No capital “G”. He is the “power-giver” to the magic, the sorcery that makes that small miniature objects have a faculty that radiates into the future. They are just small and at best endearing now. But they’ll come true. They’ll be real, and big, and they do not await, but rather they make the future. As far as Ekeko is concerned, …

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The meaning of crisis: reflections on doing fieldwork in Lebanon

By Viviane Hamans Almost anyone who has been ‘in the field’, will confirm that at some point, crisis is part of the process. The amounts of time that I worried about whether I was on the right track or that I ‘for sure’ still didn’t have enough data to say something valid about my topic, are quite significant. What seems to be adding to that feeling of being in crisis, is that our way of doing research is changing, due to the circumstances we find ourselves in. The whole world seems to be in crisis, and how are we supposed …

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Why the world needs anthropology of religion

by Thijl Sunier According to Dutch media, the Netherlands has reached a milestone these days. For the first time in history, the country has a majority of inhabitants who are ‘non-religious’. This is how journalists summarised the outcomes of a recently published report by the Dutch think-tank SCP (Report SCP). It is the third report in a series. The first two were published in 2018 about Christians and Muslims in the Netherlands. The third one focuses on people who are not any more affiliated with ‘traditional’ religious denominations. A smaller part of this category consists of people who are engaged …

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The flea, the canyon, and racism: Reflections on outrage

By Benjamin Koponen On January 22nd, 2022, an elderly white woman punched me in the arm while I, a black man,  was biking to help a friend paint her new apartment. It wasn’t the first time this has happened. Though the physical contact only lasted a second, and didn’t hurt, it felt like she had imprinted something on my forearm. As I biked away I didn’t say anything. Not because I didn’t have the words, but because I did not believe I had the option to speak them. I knew, or believed, that nothing good would come from me speaking …

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Alasitas Festival

Rituals to help us out, and beliefs one professes tongue in cheek – Part I

By Ton Salman People celebrate, joke and banter. Hunger, disaster, conflict, violence, repression, all ruin people’s lives and cause enormous pain. But people will not cease to honor birthdays, make something of festivities, mock the force majeure, even laugh at times about their own misery. Or better yet: ridicule and shit all over the whims of fortune or the perpetrators. Fortunately, bad luck never lasts an eternity. Good times, or at least “doable times” prevail in most people’s lives. But in many places, people are acutely aware of the fragility of prosperous or even doable times, of the flimsiness of …

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Vegan in Buenos Aires

Bondiola, matambre, chinchulines, choripan en milenasa napolitana zijn slechts een paar voorbeelden van de enorme keur aan vlees en worst in Argentinië. Vaak vergeten we de stapels pizza’s, bergen verse pasta’s en uiteraard de alom geliefde empanada die de Argentijnse keuken kent. Als we denken aan Argentijnse cuisine blijft de geur van asado (barbecue) echter aan ons geheugen plakken. Afgelopen december was ik in Buenos Aires voor veldwerk en een lang uitgesteld familiebezoek door de coronapandemie. De geur en het gesis van gebraden vlees was deze keer echter ver te zoeken. Zoals elders in de wereld maakte inflatie het leven …

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Loneliness and despair in the field: Revisiting my first fieldwork

By Marina de Regt Recently, during a supervision meeting with three of my Master students (all of them women), one of them asked about my own experiences in the field and what I struggled with most. I told them how difficult I found it to approach people for interviews, how I battled with the ethical dilemma of being a white, young Dutch female student, studying Moroccan women who were making a living as carpet workers in Rabat. But perhaps even more important: how miserable I often felt because I was not doing fieldwork but spending most of my time with …

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