Door Esther Platteeuw Op een warme dag in maart loop ik in de straten van Jinja Town op weg naar het internetcafé ‘The Source’. Met Oegandese radiomuziek in mijn oren zonder ik me af van de blikken, handgebaren en het ‘Mzungu’ geroep waar je als blanke veel mee geconfronteerd wordt in deze Afrikaanse stad. Ik ben net een straat overgestoken waarna mijn aandacht van een Oegandees popliedje naar de realiteit op straat wordt getrokken, ‘Esther’, ‘Esther’ hoor ik opeens. Automatisch draai ik mijn hoofd om en zie daar de stralende lach van een Ugandese meid van ongeveer dezelfde leeftijd als ik. Een gevoel van schaamte komt op omdat ik haar niet meteen herken, terwijl zij mijn naam wel kent. Na een paar tellen van onbegrip en vliegensvlug nadenken, besef ik dat een vriendin voor me staat. “Oh, it’s you, Fatima!”, zeg ik enigszins opgelucht. “Yeah, it’s me”, reageert ze, “I changed my hair, haha”. Lees verder
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. Lees verder
By 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
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
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
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.
(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
By 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
By Laetitia Simorangkir Now that I completed my thesis (on care arrangements in South African communities), I can really say that I love anthropology and do research. But there were times I did not like my work at all. In this blog I will explain why.
“Naoko told me that Salma had come to tell her that she was pregnant. Although the women were not related, Naoko seemed to take a parental-role towards Salma.” A fellow student, who reviewed the draft of my thesis, commented on this statement saying that I should explain more about the parent-child relationship: “Don’t leave it end so flatly. I want to hear what happens between them!”. When rereading my field diary, looking for more notes on these women, I realized I did not have that much information about them. And soon I remembered why. Lees verder
By Marije Maliepaard My Master’s research is about African-Americans who return to Ghana after their ancestors got enslaved and brought to the Americas during the slave trade. My research group themselves have not physically lived in Africa before but they do have the feeling they return. A famous African-American and Pan-Africanist who also returned was W.E.B. Du Bois. He was one of the founders of the American civil rights organization for ‘colored’ people, NAACP. Eventually, he settled in Accra, Ghana, but passed away three years later. He is buried next to his former house, which is now turned into a museum. Lees verder
By Tessa Gruijs For my Master’s research I went to Ghana. In cooperation with a local NGO I got access to a couple of primary schools. There I interviewed and observed many teachers about their experiences with the work of this NGO and their perspectives on (improving) the quality of education.
By Marije Maliepaard Recently my Colombian friend and I were talking about being white in a country like Ghana. I told him I had never been aware of my ‘whiteness’ until I got to Ghana. In reply he said “of course you weren’t aware, you are part of the majority in your country”.
We silently continued our walk along the main road in Accra as I pondered his comment. I broke the silence and said, “It’s not only me being part of the majority but I just don’t see it. I don’t recognize people as being black or white.” He firmly said: “That can’t be true, no one is colorblind! Do you see those people approaching us? You see they are a woman and a man, you also see if someone is black or white.” I thought about it and said: “I don’t register it all the time, when I see people I don’t consciously think that is a man or a woman, or that person is black or white.” He finally saw my point which made me happy because I was starting to think that maybe my views on this differ from the view of others. Lees verder
Door Tessa Gruijs During my three months of fieldwork in Ghana for my Master’s research, together with a local NGO I tried to figure out how (future) primary school teachers experience the provision of teaching-learning materials this NGO produces.
By Dimetri Whitfield The most surprising thing for me about conducting fieldwork is that you encounter all these interesting people that ultimately do not end up in your final project. Alieu Sowe (this is a pseudonym to protect his identity) is one such person. He is Fula by ethnicity, Gambian by nationality, taxi driver by occupation, and refugee by aspiration.
One cool February evening, after his 14 hour work-day, and my 3 hours of writing field notes, we sat down and chatted. Like most 20-something Gambian men, “backway” was on his mind. “Backway” is the illegal method of migrating to Europe, generally via Libya into Italy. He declared, with one index finger pointed to the sky, “by the grace of Almighty Allah, next year I will be in Europe.” Lees verder
Door Ton Salman Excuses dat ik er nu pas mee kom; de krantenberichten erover zijn al oud. De kwestie is dat het krantenkaternen betreft waaraan ik meestal geen prioriteit geef. Maar beter laat dan nooit. Het ging over voetbal, en over “oerwoudgeluiden”. Daarop vergastte een nogal onverkwikkelijk voetbalpubliek een zwarte speler, steeds wanneer hij aan de bal kwam. Een manier om een rekening te vereffenen over club-trouw, heb ik begrepen. Ten overvloede: dit gaat natuurlijk om tuig-van-de-richel, tinnef en geteisem. Maar daarover wilde ik het eigenlijk niet hebben. Het gaat me om de term: “oerwoudgeluiden”. Merkwaardig. En meer dan dat: een zeer ongelukkig gekozen term, wat mij betreft. Lees verder