Photo by David Barnas on Flickr
By Matthias Teeuwen As a student of cultural anthropology you are invariably confronted with the question: what is anthropology? It can briefly be answered by pointing to the etymology of the word: άνθρωπος (human; man) + λόγος (word; reason) = anthropology, the study of humans. However, this simple definition of anthropology soon gets swamped in the sheer diversity within anthropology: social anthropology, cultural anthropology, anthropology of crises, anthropology of religion, medical anthropology, digital anthropology, anthropology of the city, anthropology of music, etc….
Here I propose an understanding of what anthropology is based on the juxtaposition with philosophy, and with philosophy I mean that branch of philosophy that regards humans: philosophical anthropology. Anthropology and philosophy seem to share an engagement with the limits of the human: What is human and what is not? Or, stated differently: what is the result of nurture and what is the result of nature? Lees verder
Jorge Luis Borges 1951, by Grete Stern
By Matthias Teeuwen I have read “The Ethnographer” and “Dr. Brodie’s Report” without thinking much of it. Sure, I had found it curious that Borges, who ranks among my favourite authors, would devote some of his writings to ethnography, but I haven’t thought much of it. Or, to be precise, I had planned to do my thinking on it at a later time. So when I came across an article in HAU Journal (2016, Volume 6, nr. 2) by Edgardo Krebs who argues that the anthropologist Alfred Métraux was Jorge Luis Borges’ inspiration to write the two stories, my curiosity was piqued. By reading the article by Krebs and re-reading “The Ethnographer” I have come to see the story as a challenge to the ethnographic endeavour of anthropology.
In this article Krebs relates the affinities and differences the two had. They both belonged to a circle of poets, artists and intellectuals that were active in Buenos Aires around the 1930s. Métraux was an ethnographer from Switzerland who spent most of his youth in Argentina. Borges was an erudite author who inspired the literary genre of “magical realism”. Métraux, it seems, was the inspiration for “The Ethnographer” and “Dr. Brodie’s Report” that Borges wrote in 1969 and 1970 respectively. Here I will turn to the shorter of the two stories: “The Ethnographer”.
Qilinto prison burning, Addis Ababa 3 September 2016. Opposition voices state that not the fire but the prison guards killed more than 60 inmates, most of them political prisoners fleeing and trying to reach safety. © Ethiogrio
(This is the second part of an earlier published article)
By Jan Abbink Next to the demands for more economic rights and protection, the wider background factors of the spreading protests were: mounting dissatisfaction with authoritarian party politics, the interfering presence of party cadres in local life, the lack of accountability of the government, unresolved land allocation issues, lack of proper compensation for those removed from the land, the dismantling of civil society organizations in the last decade, the lack of political and civic freedoms, and the lack of a well-working justice system (as people say, one cannot really bring complaints against the government and get one’s right in the courts).
There is also a longer-term social dynamic involved: large groups of youth are unemployed, and there is still a large urban underclass that is often excluded from high school or vocational education and from jobs. New cultural-political youth movements – in both the classical political sphere as well as in the cultural domain – are seen with suspicion by the government and under close scrutiny. Also, emerging local ethnic elites in the various regional states have been cautiously putting forward new demands – and, paradoxically, their emergence and assertiveness is an achievement of the ‘ethnic politics’ of empowerment that the Ethiopian ruling party and government instituted since 1991 and which has led to many smaller ethnic groups getting ‘special districts’. The ethno-regional rivalry is now also seen in the serious tensions within the ruling party, where the four branches, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) are not always in agreement with the dominant Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Lees verder
Annual Day of Anthropology, 20 May 2016
By Ina Keuper For many students the last week of their studies at the anthropology department of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) has ended today, for Bachelor’s students as well as Master’s. They have worked hard on finishing their final assignment, a thesis with which they prove their proficiency in writing an academic text within the time and word count set for it. The Master’s students presented the drafts of their thesis on the Master’s Festival of last week’s Tuesday, June 14th, while the Bachelor’s did so on the Bachelor’s Festival of Thursday June 16th. Lees verder
Geplaatst in English posts, na de studie, Studenten, VU & hoger onderwijs
Tags: ABv, Annual Day of Anthropology 2016, anthroplogical network, anthropological association, antropologisch netwerk, call for article, carreer anthropology, carrière als antropoloog, carrière antropologie, Dag van de Antropologie 2016, Etnofoor, Ina Keuper, LOVA, Love Journal, publish article
A response to the inaugural lecture of Dimitris Dalakoglou, Chair in Social Anthropology at VU University Amsterdam.
Refugee crisis in Europe, via creative commons
By Herbert Ploegman As Dimitris Dalakoglou argued in his inaugural speech “Anthropology and Infrastructures. From the State to the Commons”, on the 13th of June, “our humanity and our human lives” are truly at stake in the events unfolding at the borders of Europe. He referred in particular to the people trying to cross the Mediterranean while facing extreme risks of drowning, but also to the modified forms of governance in Southern European countries over the years that we understand as crisis. Lees verder
Geplaatst in antropologie & wetenschap, debat, discriminatie & racisme, diversiteit & etniciteit, English posts, Multicultureel & migratie, Oorlog & vrede, Politiek & burgerschap, Regio Europa
Tags: activist anthropology, Dimitris Dalakoglou, Greece, Griekenland, Herbert Ploegman, hot anthropology, inaugural speech, radical anthropology, refugee crisis, role of anthropology, shared reality, solidarity, vluchtelingencrisis
Plaque on the wall of the W.E.B Du Bois Museum
By Marije Maliepaard My Master’s research is about African-Americans who return to Ghana after their ancestors got enslaved and brought to the Americas during the slave trade. My research group themselves have not physically lived in Africa before but they do have the feeling they return. A famous African-American and Pan-Africanist who also returned was W.E.B. Du Bois. He was one of the founders of the American civil rights organization for ‘colored’ people, NAACP. Eventually, he settled in Accra, Ghana, but passed away three years later. He is buried next to his former house, which is now turned into a museum. Lees verder
By Matea Curcovic Westendorp Dr. Cindy Horst is an anthropologist located in Oslo, Norway where she works as a senior researcher at the research institute PRIO. Her main focus for the past 20 years has been on refugees – from spending two years in a refugee camp in Kenya researching Somali refugees, to more recently collecting life stories from refugees residing in Oslo. Lees verder