Anthropology as post-hermeneutics

Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole, by Lawrence Weiner, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1991).

by Peter Versteeg

The first thing that came to my mind in the discussion about the scientific/humanistic nature of anthropology is the awareness that cultural anthropology is a label which for political and historical reasons has kept together a number of sub-disciplines, some having a substantial family resemblance but others sharing hardly any characteristics at all. A categorical understanding would immediately show a difference between humanities-anthropology and social science-anthropology. And then there is also a cross-cutting continuum of methodological positions, ranging from a kind of qualitative ‘measuring’ to ‘story-telling’, which indicates a similar kind of categorization. Salman seems to me an example of trying to be in both positions at the same time. What we, in the end, share as anthropologists is a common package of methods called fieldwork. Lees verder

Why is Anthropology so Critical?

Portrait of Giambattista Vico by Francesco Solimena

By Matthias Teeuwen            I want to thank Ton Salman for his insightful take on the question whether anthropology is the most scientific of the humanities or the most humanistic of the sciences or both, it gave me food for thought. For one: how is it that anthropology is considered science? It seems that Ton sees the scientific aspect of anthropology in its critical function of looking past the representations and meanings of people and examining the empirical conditions in which they arose.

I very much agree with Ton on this point. But I think that this hybridity is easily misunderstood in the sense that the critical, scientific side of anthropology is emphasised at the neglect of the hermeneutical, humanistic side. Lees verder

Anthropology as speculative realism

Photo by Ashley van Haeften on Flickr

By Younes Saramifar            In the following blog, Younes Saramifar responds to Matthias Teeuwen’s contribution to Standplaats Wereld of 13-2-2017, titled “Is Anthropology the most Humanistic of the Sciences and the most Scientific of the Humanities?“.

It was amusing to me to be asked if I have always enjoyed to ‘do science’ whenever I met Western European youngsters. I understood the implications and why they assumed ‘doing anthropology’ is something scientific but I never took my manner of practicing anthropology as something scientific. This is not to imply that ‘anthropology’ is not scientific. But what is scientific perplexes me because it immediately brings to mind a red line between everyday life practices and the study of those everyday life practices. So, my amusement at the question of the ‘scientific-ness’ of anthropology is due to the fact that we are the part of the phenomena around us and we are entangled in the hermeneutics of its making. It is this that distinguishes us from other disciplines. However, this statement brings an avalanche of theoretical, philosophical and psychoanalytical debates, or if you like, ‘scientific’ problems.

Lees verder

Construction of Power – Het LaSSA Congres

Van een grote organisatie zoals de Verenigde Naties tot de relaties die men met familieleden heeft, macht is overal aanwezig. Maar hoe komen machtsrelaties eigenlijk tot stand? Deze vraag zal centraal staan tijdens het LaSSA (Landelijke Samenwerking Studenten Antropologie) Congres 2017. Tijdens dit congres zullen een aantal inspirerende sprekers, waaronder Standplaats Wereld redacteur Marina de Regt, verschillende aspecten van het fenomeen macht op een antropologische manier belichten. Hieronder enkele praktische gegevens van het congres:


Datum en tijdstip: 20 maart, 12.30 uur – 17.00 uur

Thema: Construction of Power

Locatie: Cultuur centrum Parnassos (Kruisstraat 201, Utrecht)

U kunt zich hier inschrijven. Voor vragen over het congres, kunt u altijd mailen naar

Wij hopen u te mogen verwelkomen op 20 maart!

Koen Donatz, mede-organisator van het LaSSA Congres 2017, en tweedejaars Bachelorstudent Culturele Antropologie en Ontwikkelingssociologie aan de VU.


Anthropology’s heterodoxy

“Flowers” by Claude Monet

By Ton Salman            In the following blog, Ton Salman reacts to Matthias Teeuwen’s contribution to Standplaats Wereld of 13-2-2017, titled “Is Anthropology the most Humanistic of the Social Sciences and the most Scientific of the Humanities?

First of all, allow me to thank Matthias Teeuwen for, once again, an intriguing and pertinent contribution to the ongoing dialogue on the nature of anthropology and its potential contribution to contemporary societal issues and challenges. The question is not a new one – but it is correct to make it a persistent one in anthropological reflection, because the –always provisional– answers have real consequences for what sort of endeavor anthropology in the end might be and what its ambitions may entail. A frequently heard characterization of anthropology is that it is something “between the sciences and the humanities”, or “the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities”. The phrase is indeed often attributed to Kroeber, but sometimes also to Eric Wolf or Edward Sapir. But let that be the least of our worries. The substance of the matter is of course about the métier’s epistemology, methods and relation to other disciplines and professions like philosophy and text exegesis, but also sociology, political sciences and other social sciences. Lees verder

Thin Description? Notes on the Amsterdam Anthropology Lecture Series (AALS)

Dr Paolo Favero giving his AALS lecture at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

By Matthias Teeuwen    Last AALS lecture was an inspiring and thought-provoking presentation by Dr. Paolo Favero on the myriad possibilities that emerging technologies provide to conducting ethnographic research. He talked about the implications of the use of i-docs (interactive documentaries such as Highrise), wearable camera’s (used exclusively in Leviathan), user GPS (Dr Favero gave an example of its use in Rider Spoke), and much more in ethnographic research. Here are some impressions. Lees verder

Is Anthropology the most Humanistic of the Sciences and the most Scientific of the Humanities?

Still Life with Flagon, Glass, Jug and Bridle, by Johannes Torrentius, 1614

By Matthias Teeuwen       The epithet in the title, commonly attributed to Alfred Kroeber, is often used to classify anthropology in-between the sciences and the humanities. Apparently we anthropologists manage to, once again, place ourselves in a position of simultaneous intimacy and distance, this time with regard to science and the humanities. Now, the question is: Is this where anthropology belongs? Even though a position between science and the humanities sounds like a very fruitful one, I would like to argue that anthropology belongs more properly in the humanities. Lees verder