Mobility and immobility during the pandemic: Experiences on a journey from Amsterdam to Semarang

By Pamungkas (Yudha) Dewanto           As a response to the global corona crisis, authorities all over the world set strict health protocols for travelers. Focusing on the case of China, anthropologist Biao Xiang argues that the COVID-19 epidemic has triggered grid reactions: “Residential communities, districts, cities and even entire provinces act as grids to impose blanket surveillance over all the residents, minimize mobilities, and isolate themselves.” Grid reactions, he argues, are however not about community grids only; the term more generally refers to all-out, undifferentiated, war-like strategies to combat the virus. In this blog, I share how such grid reactions played …

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A picture of a trocha through which David passes almost every day to reach Cúcuta.

Localising the Pandemic: Understanding Global Disruption through Online Media

by Maddalena Conte It does not happen every day that a worldwide crisis completely overturns a discipline’s research methods, giving no choice but to experiment with new practices. This is exactly what is going on in anthropology due to the Covid-19 pandemic: by not being able to go “in the field”, which, anyways, would probably be empty, ethnographers need to expand their methodological horizons, and, together with most areas of life, take research online. In my case, as a second-year Cultural Anthropology student, I gladly accepted Professor Eva van Roekel’s offer to assist her in pioneering social media research, on …

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Podcast #4 is online! Guest: Jochem Kootstra

Jochem Kootstra is onderzoeker, copywriter en programma-maker (om maar een greep uit zijn bezigheden te geven) en bekijkt technologie door een antropologische bril. Door deze bril ziet hij hoe menselijke eigenschappen terug komen in technologie, maar ook hoe technologie de mensheid veranderd. We hebben het in deze aflevering over:– zijn onderzoek bij een groep engineers uit Boston die een menselijke robot voor NASA aan het bouwen waren– design technieken in apps en sociale media– het stellen van de juiste, antropologische vragen. En extra leuk: Jochem is ook onderdeel van Standplaats Wereld! This episode is recorded in Dutch. An English summary …

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In the meantime on the other side of the world…

By Marina de Regt     While we were all busy watching the US elections in the first week of November, an armed conflict broke out on the other side of the world, in the already turbulent and instable Horn of Africa. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to bring about peace between the almost 20-year stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ordered a military offensive in response to an attack launched by the TPLF (the Tigray People’s Liberation Front) on the national defence force. It resulted in hundreds of deaths amongst whom …

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Podcast # 2 is online! Guest: Aleeha Ali

In this episode, Puck de Boer talks with Aleeha Ali, who studied sociology in Pakistan, did a research master’s in anthropology in the UK and is currently a PhD candidate at the department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VU. Topics include:-Aleeha’s research on digitization of religious mourning among Shi’a Muslims in Europe – even more relevant in times of Covid-19.-Her experiences in different educational systems.-The diversification of perspectives in a postcolonial anthropology.-What characterizes anthropology and how it relates to other disciplines.-Conducting (digital) ethnographic fieldwork during a pandemic. The close listener might notice a difference in the sound quality …

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On the Brink of a Pandemic; “World, jiāyóu”

BY JOP KOOPMAN The city of Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus, is 6 six days under lockdown when residents take to WeChat and start to suggest that they should chant uplifting phrases from their apartment windows to one and another. The participants decide that at 20:00 p.m. on the 28th of January the chanting commences. As planned, the participants take to the windows and start to chant: Wuhan, jiāyóu!” from apartment to apartment, to building to building, filling the air with words of solidarity. A sense of harmony that’s unique and powerful in times of crisis.  A video shot …

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Collecting waste in Sicily: old and new ways

BY FREEK COLOMBIJN Every human settlement has to think of a way to dispose its solid waste, but each place finds its own particular ways to do this. I was once again forced to think about this simple fact on holiday in Sicily. Two peculiarities of Sicily are its rugged terrain, with old fortified towns up in the hills, and the many tourists that visit the island who are perhaps more careless away than they would be at home. How does Sicily deal with these challenges? Castelbuono is a picturesque town with a medieval core, hundred kilometres from Palermo. The …

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Do not waste waste

DOOR FREEK COLOMBIJN It is a truism to state that the amount of solid waste produced daily is enormous. Mount Everest has become a symbol of just how widespread the waste problem has become. Mountaineers have left an estimated 50 tons of waste on its slopes, including bottles, food containers, broken equipment, even over two hundred dead bodies. In 2010 a party of climbers on a cleaning mission collected about 2 tons of solid waste in the area above 8,000 m. and these missions have been repeated regularly since then. Nowadays climbers are obliged by law to bring down 8 …

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Ton Salman: The anthropology of the future and the future of anthropology

BY TON SALMAN On Friday June 7th 2019 ABv once again organized the annual “Anthropology Day”. This time the overarching theme was “The anthropology of the future and the future of anthropology”, and the event took place at the “Volkenkundig Museum” in Leiden. Once again it was a huge success, with nearly 100 participants in the panels, seminars and workshops, with different papers, and a wonderful keynote by Professor Rebecca Bryant. As on earlier occasions, Ton Salman was asked to do a sort of epilogue, to pronounce some light “closing words”. Below is his brief speech.  Dear all, This time, …

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Bystander: On a migration experience

By Peter Versteeg A waiting room with benches and very bright light from a fluorescent tube. Clothes and shoes lying all around. There’s sand on the floor. I have to put my shoes in a closet and wait for the alarm to sound. The moment I sit down on a bench I realize I get impatient. And I think to myself: Ah okay, I know what this is. The refugee’s experience has a lot to do with waiting. Not exactly knowing what you are waiting for and why it takes so long. Okay, I understand what they try to get …

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