Anthropology and religion at the Vrije Universiteit – a short history

By Matthias Teeuwen The Vrije Universiteit originally had a strong confessional commitment to the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and I have always wondered how anthropology meshed with this confessional background. I wondered particularly at the tensions inherent to  missionary work and anthropology. It turns out this confessional background has given anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit a history that is quite distinct from other anthropology departments in the Netherlands. Anthropology in the Netherlands, or at least its constitutive parts, can be traced back to the 1770s according to historian Han Vermeulen. In the nineteenth century there was an academic discipline …

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De ondergang van de yup: The Nest en het failliet van het neoliberalisme

Door Peter Versteeg Veranderen, verandering – waarom willen we dat eigenlijk? Weten we werkelijk  waarom we soms ons leven om willen gooien of zijn onze motieven ten diepste verborgen voor ons zelf? Onze wil om te veranderen is ook geen kwestie van begrijpen, zal iemand zeggen. Het gaat erom dat je het voelt, zoals het hedendaagse adagium voorschrijft.  Rory, de Britse hoofdpersoon uit The Nest, wil ook iets anders. Hij is een durfkapitalist, iemand met de expliciete ambitie rijk te worden binnen een money making business. Rory is wat we een yup zouden noemen. Niet gedreven door het volgen van …

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Mobility and immobility during the pandemic: Experiences on a journey from Amsterdam to Semarang

By Pamungkas (Yudha) Dewanto           As a response to the global corona crisis, authorities all over the world set strict health protocols for travelers. Focusing on the case of China, anthropologist Biao Xiang argues that the COVID-19 epidemic has triggered grid reactions: “Residential communities, districts, cities and even entire provinces act as grids to impose blanket surveillance over all the residents, minimize mobilities, and isolate themselves.” Grid reactions, he argues, are however not about community grids only; the term more generally refers to all-out, undifferentiated, war-like strategies to combat the virus. In this blog, I share how such grid reactions played …

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A picture of a trocha through which David passes almost every day to reach Cúcuta.

Localising the Pandemic: Understanding Global Disruption through Online Media

by Maddalena Conte It does not happen every day that a worldwide crisis completely overturns a discipline’s research methods, giving no choice but to experiment with new practices. This is exactly what is going on in anthropology due to the Covid-19 pandemic: by not being able to go “in the field”, which, anyways, would probably be empty, ethnographers need to expand their methodological horizons, and, together with most areas of life, take research online. In my case, as a second-year Cultural Anthropology student, I gladly accepted Professor Eva van Roekel’s offer to assist her in pioneering social media research, on …

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A different perspective on “child marriages” among Syrian refugees in Jordan

By Marina de Regt For years, humanitarian organisations in Jordan and Lebanon have been concerned about the increasing number of “child marriages” among Syrian refugees. While early marriages of girls (between 14-18 year) have also been prevalent in certain regions in Syria, and still occur, these marriages are increasing in the context of refuge. In the period between 2011 and 2015 the percentage rose from 18,4 per cent to 34,6 percent, according to the Higher Population Council in Jordan. Studies of international organisations such as Save the Children (2014) and UNICEF (2019) give insight in the causes and consequences of …

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Military coup in Myanmar: back to square one?

In the early morning of 1 February, the day that a newly elected government was supposed to convene, Myanmar’s military staged a coup, taking government leaders captive and seeking control of the country. The takeover was announced on national television, followed by intermittent disruptions in internet and other media. Military leader Min Aung Hlaing cited alleged election fraud as justification for this takeover, which is to last for at least a year. Meanwhile, the country’s elected leadership is facing charges in line with previous military fabrications: state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is charged with illegally importing walkie-talkies, while president …

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The discomfort surrounding talks on historic and present-day racism in class

Image from a Dutch high school history book. Photo by author. By Sientje Trip When browsing through one of the history books of the high school I researched I came across some paragraphs on the Dutch colonial and concomitant slavery history, on the VOC and the WIC. It describes the so called triangle trade between Europe, Africa and The Americas and the way enslaved Africans were fitted with as many as possible in big ships with Dutch flags. Later on in my fieldwork, I asked one of the teachers at the high school if this slavery history can be hard …

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“Actually it’s pretty chill”: taking and giving online education

by Anne and Freek Colombijn The corona lockdown has forced schools and universities to switch to online teaching. While we recognize the often justified complaints voiced by many students at universities and schools of higher vocational education (HBO), we have discovered many advantages of online teaching as well. We have gained this experience with online education as student of pedagogical science at Leiden University and a teachers’ college at the Leiden School of Higher Vocational Education (Anne) and teacher at the anthropology department of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Freek). We do not claim that our views are better and happily admit …

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copyright Yatou Sallah

Photo Essay: Finding a place for historical nostalgia in Postcolonial Anthropology

by Yatou Sallah I have long been intrigued by the anthropological framing of Africans in the context of postcolonialism. As scholars and theorists in the field attempt to uncover the remnants of the horrendous control and exploitation of beings, bodies and resources, they paint communities in the Global South as figures who are and ought to be making their way out from underneath the heavy rubble of colonialism. Studying Anthropology at the VU and reading texts by Ferguson, Fanon, Chakrabarty, and those alike, students are taught to see through the narrative that the structures of colonialism have been dismantled. Instead …

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Podcast #4 is online! Guest: Jochem Kootstra

Jochem Kootstra is onderzoeker, copywriter en programma-maker (om maar een greep uit zijn bezigheden te geven) en bekijkt technologie door een antropologische bril. Door deze bril ziet hij hoe menselijke eigenschappen terug komen in technologie, maar ook hoe technologie de mensheid veranderd. We hebben het in deze aflevering over:– zijn onderzoek bij een groep engineers uit Boston die een menselijke robot voor NASA aan het bouwen waren– design technieken in apps en sociale media– het stellen van de juiste, antropologische vragen. En extra leuk: Jochem is ook onderdeel van Standplaats Wereld! This episode is recorded in Dutch. An English summary …

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