A day in Makata village (Malawi)

The neighbour baking mandasi early in the morning


Liza Koch
        My day starts at 5:15 because of the noise outside. The sun is rising and people are starting their day. My ‘host mom’ is already fully dressed and almost finished cleaning her house. She pushes her daughter to get ready for school. When I go outside I see the neighbour baking mandasi (comparable to our new year dough balls), she starts around 4 o’clock in the morning to sell them later at the small market 200 meters from here.

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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

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

Antropologie in de praktijk: aan het werk

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Foto door Mariska van Zanten

Door Mariska van Zanten       Naar aanleiding van de blog van Freek Colom-bijn, reflecteer ik, als “pas” afgestudeerde antropoloog in deze blog op de eerste baan direct na mijn afstuderen. In 2014 mocht ik mij gelukkig prijzen dat ik meteen werk vond bij een Nederlandse NGO. Ook omdat al in 2014 verondersteld werd dat je als antropoloog niet snel een passende, leuke of hoog betaalde baan zou kunnen vinden, greep ik deze kans met beide handen aan. Want de baan leek mij fantastisch en het salaris vond ik prima. Ik startte bij een NGO die zich richt op kennisuitwisseling tussen professionals op het gebied van mensen met communicatieve beperkingen. Lees verder

“I belong in Africa”: African-Americans going ‘home’

Sankofa. Image: Damiyr Saleem Studios
Sankofa. Image: Damiyr Saleem Studios

By Marije Maliepaard        The Ghanaian ethnic group of Akan is (among other aspects) known for their Adinkra symbols. Symbols that represent concepts and are often connected to proverbs. They are used in African fabrics, clothes and pottery and nowadays also in logo’s, advertisements and wall paintings. One of their symbols of a bird stretching back to get an egg, named Sankofa, has become an important representation for Africans in the diaspora. The combination of the symbol and the associated proverb ‘se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi’, which translates to ‘it is not wrong to go back for something you have forgotten’ embodies precisely what returned African-Americans feel: a desire to return home, to the soil of where their ancestors were taken from.

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Stable Instability: renewed turmoil in Ethiopia (part 2)

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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

Stable instability: renewed turmoil in Ethiopia (part 1)

qilinto-burning1By Jan Abbink    Ethiopia in 2016 is seeing a new round of major turmoil: massive protests and demonstrations have led to severe state repression, with more than 600 people killed by security forces, thousands injured, and tens of thousands arrested (as of September 2016). The story gets somewhat repetitive, as many rounds of political and ‘ethnic’ clashes have occurred in the country since 1991 when the current regime took power.

This time, the protests of masses of unarmed students, youths, peasants and others started peaceful – i.e. there was no agenda of armed insurrection ‘fed by diaspora Ethiopians and foreigners’, as the Ethiopian government likes to assert. But early this month, the protests turned into a full-blown revolt, notably in the northern Amhara Region, populated largely by Amharic-speaking people that have felt regionally and politically marginalized for many years. Lees verder