Financial crisis worldwide

By Kim Knibbe What do a window washer at a cross-roads in a metropole who starts washing your window unasked, an old lady from a village in Africa who visits her son in the big city to ask for financial support, a beggar and a pickpocket have in common? According to the anthropologist James Ferguson, they are all involved in what he calls improvisational distributive labour. Ferguson said this during the seminar The Financial Crisis: views from anthropology, which was held at our department last week. 

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Hungarian nationalists claim Eastern origins

‘Hungarian Party campaigns for recognition of Scythian heritage’, Pál Nyiri recently wrote on the Culture Matters blog. Here we reproduce his post, which raises many interesting points about the politics of ethnic identity and the relationship between nationalism and academic writing.   According to Hungarian newspapers, the xenophobic, anti-Semitic party Jobbik (“The Righter”), which has three seats in the European Parliament, has launched a campaign to expunge from textbooks the accepted theory according to which Hungarians are a Finno-Ugric people, and replace it with one according to which they are related to the Huns, Avars and Scythians, Indo-Iranian nomads that inhabited large parts of …

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Bonus on the beach

Tijo Salverda explains what the financial sector can learn from a former colonial elite. Hedge fund managers, the City and Wall Street’s top bankers, regulators and politicians involved in reshaping the financial markets, should take a look at the tropics. They can learn a great deal from the former white colonial elite of Mauritius.

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Altruism or Egoism, an Elegy for Development Projects

A few days ago I was watching a late night Dutch talk show (Knevel & Van den Brink) in which politicians, scholars, writers, artists and other generally well known persons discuss current events in the world. In this particular broadcast two self-proclaimed development workers operating in Kenya were invited to join the table . A few days ago they had been violently assaulted and robbed of their money, phones and digital cameras by a bunch of, what they accuse to be, local people. Supposedly the same people who are benefitting from the hard efforts of the couple in improving the …

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Anthropology and Iraq

I would like to react briefly to Lahay Hussein’s talk as well as to the concerns expressed in her earlier post. These concerns are primarily about (re)building a healthy and democratic political and social order, and within it a healthy academic discipline and educational system, from a condition in which academic qualifications and infrastructure are sorely inadequate. She expects this process to be inspired and aided by colleagues and institutions in the West. These concerns are very different from the preoccupations of Western anthropologists when it comes to Iraq: imperialism; the complicity of anthropology in the occupation (a term Lahay herself …

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Iran elections(2): hitting the tweets

In her earlier post on this weblog, Donya pointed to remarkable transgressions on the eve of the national elections in Iran. In the public protests following the elections we see another major innovation: the unprecedented use of new digital media. The newest digital tools for social networking, especially Twitter and Facebook, turn out to be crucial means to mobilize people and report events to the outside world, as points out in this video: This raises important questions for anthropologists. What role can new media play in making political agitation effective?

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Making of: documentary of the release of a Mexican prisoner

So much is happening at our department, that we can’t keep track of it ourselves sometimes. Suddenly, Joan, a PhD student who is doing research on violence,  masculinity and substance abuse in Mexico, was gone to make a documentary about the release of a Mexican prisoner that she had been planning a long time. A report by Joan van Wijk.

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Message from our Iraquain visitor

It has been one month and a half for me in the Netherlands. Fascinating visit to a typical western culture. This is by itself a very moving experience on the personal level. Here one puts all the theories and ideas made by great American and European social theorists in the right context. They have been talking and interacting with this culture. The great works of Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Park and the rest have been inspired and motivated by the ways of life and thinking of this culture. However, back home in Iraq, we (sociologists and anthropologists) continue to …

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