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

A Journey to Experience: Tanzania-Kenya-Uganda

artikel-reis-ottlaBy Ottla Lange      In my first week of studying cultural Anthropology I had been told to write down everything I observe, when in a new or semi-new environment, within the first twenty-four hours. After this short period of time a person starts to become blind for the things that used to catch their eye. Now after travelling through East-Africa for two weeks – to visit the countries where my father, who died in the airplane crash of MH17, had spent most of his time working as an aids researcher – I can say that this could not be more true. Lees verder

Being engaged with the Middle East

Sheila Carapico (chair), Marina de Regt and Erika Cortes.

By Erika Cortes         Anthropology is a way of life. It, if I may, is life. It can present us life at its most complex state. And, more often than not, the topics we choose to work on as anthropologists usually stick with us beyond purely academic pursuits. Lees verder

Diet as a New Identity

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Photo by Gaya Nikolsky

By Gaya Nikolsky       Who are you? No, let me rephrase that to avoid a complicated philosophical debate. What is your identity? Okay, although this question is also quite complex, as an anthropologist I do have more grip on it. Your social identity is who and what you are to other people. Often, at least when regarding identity as a more superficial construction, it would involve different labels that will tell the outside world something about you… Or so it seems. Let’s leave it at that for now: your social identity is what you are to other people and it usually involves aspects such as your gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, career, hobbies etc. Lees verder

Some thoughts on film in ethnography

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Still from ‘Inside the Mind of Favela Funk’

By Ina Keuper     On 7 December the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology organized its second Ethnographic Film Day, which featured four rather different ethnographic documentaries. Former staff member Ina Keuper was there and shares some thoughts on Standplaats Wereld about these particular films and the role of this visual medium in anthropology. Lees verder

Match-making: the Pakistani way

matchmaking-pakistaniBy  M. Amer Morgahi      Migration has its own dynamic of bringing people together in situations or locations where they otherwise might not have thought of. However, migration sometimes also compels people to take certain steps, occasionally out of sheer desperation, otherwise just to make use of new possibilities created. Lees verder

Another Answer to the Question “What is Anthropology?”

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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:[1] 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