Negligent NGO with happy parents: Voluntourism and the voice of the local beneficiaries

The NGO is located in little town in the peripheries of Arequipa

Pauline van der Valk        I have always had a keen interest in the local beneficiaries’ perspective on development projects. It was only when I started my Masters in Anthropology that I learned more about the phenomenon of voluntourism. Scholars agree voluntourism is part of the tourism sector, but also acknowledge voluntourists combine leisure activities with development practices. For this reason I found this niche market in the tourism sector highly intriguing and I decided to focus my thesis on voluntourism rather than on development. During my preparatory work I had read up on voluntourism, and the first discovery I made was that opinions on voluntourism differ greatly. There is a myriad of works concerning this topic, and I read it all – from moderately positive scholars claiming voluntourism increases mutual cultural understanding, to plain depressing works from scholars arguing voluntourism reinforces underlying global North – global South power relations. My main interest was in gaining the perspectives of those on the receiving end of the voluntourism chain. For this reason I focused my research on the experiences of the local parents and their children involved in voluntourism: the local beneficiaries. I choose this particular topic because during the preparation for my fieldwork I was rather surprised to find that the perspective of the local beneficiaries was often overlooked or under highlighted.
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Het verhaal achter haar Ugandese haar

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“Een vriendin op een ‘boda boda’ (motortaxi) op weg naar het Victoriameer”

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

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. Lees verder

Mijn Griekse vrienden van de Gouden Dageraad

Graffiti in Corfu stad: ‘Gouden Dageraad’ veranderd in ‘Gouden Eieren’ door slechts een aantal streepjes aan te brengen. Een bekende manier om supporters te ondermijnen.

Kostas Brejaart    Mijn onderzoek naar het electoraat van een politieke partij die in zowel de media als in academische kringen omschreven wordt als neonazistisch en fascistisch vindt plaats op het idyllische eiland Corfu, in Griekenland. De ‘Gouden Dageraad’, welke streeft naar een ‘nationalistisch ontwaken’, haalde tijdens de verkiezingen van 2015 op dit eiland rond de 6% van de stemmen, iets onder het landelijk gemiddelde. In heel Griekenland stemden er zo’n 400.000 mensen op deze extreemrechtse, ultranationalistische partij, ondanks dat de partij gelinkt wordt aan geweld tegen immigranten en er al vanaf 2013 een rechtszaak tegen een groot deel van haar parlementsleden gaande is. Lees verder

Why is Anthropology so Critical?

Portrait of Giambattista Vico by Francesco Solimena

By Matthias Teeuwen            I want to thank Ton Salman for his insightful take on the question whether anthropology is the most scientific of the humanities or the most humanistic of the sciences or both, it gave me food for thought. For one: how is it that anthropology is considered science? It seems that Ton sees the scientific aspect of anthropology in its critical function of looking past the representations and meanings of people and examining the empirical conditions in which they arose.

I very much agree with Ton on this point. But I think that this hybridity is easily misunderstood in the sense that the critical, scientific side of anthropology is emphasised at the neglect of the hermeneutical, humanistic side. Lees verder

Construction of Power – Het LaSSA Congres

Van een grote organisatie zoals de Verenigde Naties tot de relaties die men met familieleden heeft, macht is overal aanwezig. Maar hoe komen machtsrelaties eigenlijk tot stand? Deze vraag zal centraal staan tijdens het LaSSA (Landelijke Samenwerking Studenten Antropologie) Congres 2017. Tijdens dit congres zullen een aantal inspirerende sprekers, waaronder Standplaats Wereld redacteur Marina de Regt, verschillende aspecten van het fenomeen macht op een antropologische manier belichten. Hieronder enkele praktische gegevens van het congres:

lassa

Datum en tijdstip: 20 maart, 12.30 uur – 17.00 uur

Thema: Construction of Power

Locatie: Cultuur centrum Parnassos (Kruisstraat 201, Utrecht)

U kunt zich hier inschrijven. Voor vragen over het congres, kunt u altijd mailen naar congres.lassa@gmail.com

Wij hopen u te mogen verwelkomen op 20 maart!

Koen Donatz, mede-organisator van het LaSSA Congres 2017, en tweedejaars Bachelorstudent Culturele Antropologie en Ontwikkelingssociologie aan de VU.

 

Being engaged with the Middle East

Sheila Carapico (chair), Marina de Regt and Erika Cortes.

By Erika Cortes         Anthropology is a way of life. It, if I may, is life. It can present us life at its most complex state. And, more often than not, the topics we choose to work on as anthropologists usually stick with us beyond purely academic pursuits. Lees verder

Another Answer to the Question “What is Anthropology?”

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Photo by David Barnas on Flickr

By Matthias Teeuwen            As a student of cultural anthropology you are invariably confronted with the question: what is anthropology? It can briefly be answered by pointing to the etymology of the word: άνθρωπος (human; man) + λόγος (word; reason) = anthropology, the study of humans. However, this simple definition of anthropology soon gets swamped in the sheer diversity within anthropology: social anthropology, cultural anthropology, anthropology of crises, anthropology of religion, medical anthropology, digital anthropology, anthropology of the city, anthropology of music, etc….

Here I propose an understanding of what anthropology is based on the juxtaposition with philosophy, and with philosophy I mean that branch of philosophy that regards humans: philosophical anthropology. Anthropology and philosophy seem to share an engagement with the limits of the human:[1] What is human and what is not? Or, stated differently: what is the result of nurture and what is the result of nature? Lees verder

Rereading Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Ethnographer”

Jorge Luis Borges 1951
Jorge Luis Borges 1951, by Grete Stern

By Matthias Teeuwen        I have read “The Ethnographer” and “Dr. Brodie’s Report” without thinking much of it. Sure, I had found it curious that Borges, who ranks among my favourite authors, would devote some of his writings to ethnography, but I haven’t thought much of it. Or, to be precise, I had planned to do my thinking on it at a later time. So when I came across an article in HAU Journal (2016, Volume 6, nr. 2) by Edgardo Krebs who argues that the anthropologist Alfred Métraux was Jorge Luis Borges’ inspiration to write the two stories, my curiosity was piqued. By reading the article by Krebs and re-reading “The Ethnographer” I have come to see the story as a challenge to the ethnographic endeavour of anthropology. Lees verder

Colombia between hope and fear

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By Lieke Prins        When I initially left my house in Amsterdam to live in Colombia for three months I had planned to go to Chocó and study Afro-Colombian small-scale gold miners and their resistance strategies against large-scale mining companies. However, the first night in my new house with my new roommates in Medellin made me rethink my initial plans and inspired me to change in course of my research.

On the first night we were sitting on the floor of our apartment, getting to know each other. One of my roommates, an anthropology student of the Universidad de Antioquia, Ana Paula, had made us a simple dinner and aguapanela, a sweet sugary drink from Colombia. The small talk you normally have when you meet new people lasted for only two minutes; the conversation soon got a more serious tone and the two girls started to discuss the developments of La mesa de Havana – the peace negotiations between the insurgent group the FARC and government Santos. Lees verder

My final week in Cuba: A new layer of asphalt for Obama and the Rolling Stones

Niew asfalt DSC_0470By Caroline van Slobbe     Now, it is all over. I went to Cuba, wrote my MA thesis, and in July received an email that I graduated. Wow, that sounds so simple, and quick. Still, when I look through my pictures or lay down in the park (I finally have time for that), I recall some of the great moments. I will share some of them here:

For once I do not smell the pollution of the vintage cars when I cross the street in front of Hotel Capri, because the smell of fresh asphalt is even stronger. We are close to the United States Embassy. The sound of drilling machines hurts my ears. Drips of paint are falling down from above; the facades and balconies are rapidly (but not so carefully) given a fresh color. Park benches and fences too. Suddenly the usual garbage on the street corner is gone. And everyone knows: Obama will pass here, in this street! Lees verder

Pregnancies, high-school drop-outs and personal struggles: The joys of anthropological fieldwork

DSC_0327By 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

How to keep in touch with anthropology

Annual Day of Anthropology, 20 May 2016
Annual Day of Anthropology, 20 May 2016

By Ina Keuper  For many students the last week of their studies at the anthropology department of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) has ended today, for Bachelor’s students as well as Master’s. They have worked hard on finishing their final assignment, a thesis with which they prove their proficiency in writing an academic text within the time and word count set for it. The Master’s students presented the drafts of their thesis on the Master’s Festival of last week’s Tuesday, June 14th, while the Bachelor’s did so on the Bachelor’s Festival of Thursday June 16th. Lees verder

A different kind of pilgrimage

Photograph by Neil Rickards
Photograph by Neil Rickards

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

Squeezing one year of fieldwork in New Zealand in three months

Photo: A. Martineau

By Vivian Mac Gillavry            During the first year of my Bachelor study in anthropology, we were told that the best field research should take at least a year. You might just find out that the two days in which you can collect very relevant information, are in July and in January. It might be obvious that you would not like to miss those days. Unfortunately we only get three months to collect all our data for our master thesis. Lees verder