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Category: English posts

Christmas in the Kalahari

By Maarten Deprez

Now that the Christmas and New Year fuss and feasting are over, yet the events still lie fresh in our memory, it is a good time to look back and reflect. One fun and rewarding, though at times somewhat unsettling way to do so, is to take a look at what other people do and then I mean not merely your neighbour (unless he or she had a really interesting party), but people at a greater cultural distance. For maximal effect, I propose to go far beyond the usual “What did you do for Christmas/New Year?” question to friends and colleagues, to read a classical account from anthropologist Richard Borshay Lee, on how he celebrated Christmas with Kalahari Bushmen.

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Riots in Albina Suriname

Marjo de Theije, one of the staff members of the Anthropology Department of the VU, carries out research on Brazilian goldminers in Suriname and was in Albina two days after the riots.  She wrote a personal account of the situation in Albina:

Nobody was prepared for a tragedy like this. Suriname is a country proud to be a place where many cultural groups live peacefully together. This is exemplified by the close proximity of the mosque and the synagogue in the centre of Paramaribo. However, “Albina” happened. And society is short of explanations. Albina, or better Papatam, the industrial area where the attack on the Brazilians happened, was surprised by the riots on Christmas eve 2009. Papatam housed several commerces related to the gold mining business along the upstream Marowijne river (and Lawa and Tapanahoni and into French Guiana).


Master Conference & Golden Moose

Master's conference 2009 at the VU

Last Thursday our department organized a “Master’s Conference”, a study-day in which our master’s students presented their research plans.  After having worked incredibly hard to finish these plans in time, the students will all go off “in the field” in January for their individual 3-months research projects. The end of this conference entailed a little suprise for the editors of this weblog, who were awarded the Golden Gooze 2009…! 

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About: Seeing Culture Everywhere

Earlier this week Pal Nyiri wrote a post on his talk about the evolution of consumer boycotts in China at the AAA. Both of his new books –  Cultural Mobility and Seeing Culture Everywhere – made their debut at this AAA – the latter even sold out! Here a little foretaste about ‘Seeing Culture Everywhere’.

By Pál Nyiri

Joana Breidenbach and I wrote this book as a response to Ulf Hannerz’s lament about the inability of anthropologists – the professional students of human cultures – to respond adequately to “one-big-thing” books such as Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations by presenting alternative visions that were clear and accessible. “Leaving an intellectual vacuum behind is not much of a public service,” Hannerz wrote in Foreign News.


The South African Vuvuzela at the FIFA Football

(picture by Duane)

By Duane Jethro

The FIFA Fan Fest™, a locally organised public festival celebrating the FIFA 2010 World Cup™ final draw, was the watershed event marking South Africa’s official role as host of the 2010 World Cup tournament. Held in Long Street Cape Town, the magnanimous celebration stretched from the Convention Centre on the east, through the heart of the city to its western boundary. Attended by revellers, officials and, celebrities from across the globe, it represented the first major occasion for the local organising committee and the South African public to welcome the global football loving audience to South Africa. Significantly, amongst many nations represented at the event, there seemed to be a large contingent of Dutch supporters present, celebrating the Netherlands’ berth, and indulging in the general festivities.

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Back from the AAA

Photo from Tianya (a Chinese online forum) taken during the Olympic torch relay, Paris 2008

By Pál Nyiri

After my inaugural lecture – in which I suggested that anthropology should study the re-emergence of shared forms of sovereignty like China’s concessions in Africa – I gave a similar talk at the British Inter-University China Centre’s conference in Manchester and then headed to the American Anthropological Association (AAA), which this year took place in Philadelphia. Our department was well represented, with five or so VU anthropologists in attendance. The AAA tends to be overwhelming, but every five years or so it’s worth making the pilgrimage, just to see what’s “in”.


The things Dutch windows tell

By Lorraine Nencel I clearly remember moving here in 1978 and one of my evening pass times was walking through my neighborhood on garbage night scavenging along with the professional scavangers for useable goodies – proletariat recycling. But for this New Yorker who grew up with small windows blinded by venetians, Dutch windows were a delight to my eyes. Big and open, if it would not have been so obvious I could have stayed for hours in front of the window watching people enjoy their 8 o’clock coffee, sitting around the television, in each home generally positioned in the same corner, with Father sitting on the arm chair while mother and children are sitting on the couch.


Sinterklaas beyond black and white

By João Rickli

I must honestly admit: I don’t like Sinterklaas. Being a Brazilian anthropologist studying (in) the Netherlands and living here for 4 years, every time I see the colourful decoration in the streets and hear the foolish songs being played in the supermarket, I think: “here he comes again, the annoying Sint with his Black Pieten. My dislike of the festival has one main reason: I can’t help seeing the racial aspect of its main characters.


Egg Fight

By Maarten Deprez

It sounds more spectacular than it is, but it’s fun anyway: the Afghan/Pakistan custom of “fighting” with eggs during the three day Eid festival. At the end of Ramadan, during Eid ul?Fitr, an Afghan friend told me about this, and after a fruitless attempt to find a YouTube video on the subject, we decided to make our own.

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