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Category: Studenten

Tech Startup Culture: ‘I am machine’

By Vivienne Schröder For my master Anthropology at the VU Amsterdam, I am doing three months of fieldwork in San Francisco, where I am researching Tech Startup Culture. Through observations, informal talks and interviews like this one, I try to discover the daily practices and motivations of the humans behind the startups. My focus is mostly on the work-private life situation and the entanglement between humans and their business.

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Student Experience: The Scale of Avoidance

By Telissa Schreuder

We all know it, the scale of avoiding things. Level one on that scale would mean no actual harm, all the while a severe level ten has something more of a major self-destructing result to it. Thinking back to exactly one year ago, the deadline of going to fieldwork in January would be ranged in about the same level on the avoidance scale as when back in the day my mother would ask who ate all the cookies in the cookie jar. Definitely a level ten. In both cases I was trying to avoid questions to such an extent that anyone could read the panic on my face. As if it publicly announced the level that I was on.

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Graduation speech Class 2016/2017

By Dominique van de Kamp         During the pre-master of Social and Cultural Anthropology, we followed a course called “Core themes of Anthropology,” by Ton Salman. In our first class, he mentioned that every anthropologist would like to be a fly on the wall, almost invisible – however impossible *. From that moment on, we started calling ourselves the “Flies on the wall.”

Two years later, we handed in our theses and a great part of us went to celebrate together in Rome. There I wrote something about the flies on the wall, which turned out to be my notes of an engaged anthropologist:

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Only looking forward?

“In front of the office of the NGO stood a traditional ‘hanok’ house which caved in just a few days before I took this picture.”

By Maaike van Nus       “My initial expectation before meeting them was that they would be more, ehm, that they wouldn’t be as assimilated as they are, I mean it’s a good thing that they are, but it seems they all have cell phones, and they all have grown fairly accustomed to the life here”

This was told to me in an interview with one of my informants about the North Korean refugees he’d just met. For my master in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VU I conducted three months of fieldwork in Seoul, South Korea. I worked with an NGO that provides North Korean refugees with free English lessons by matching them with volunteers who speak fluent English. My research revolves around these volunteers. North Korea has always been a great interest and concern of mine, as well as the resettlement of North Korean refugees once they have escaped their homeland through China, and thus I decided to focus my research on volunteers who help them in this resettlement process.

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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”.

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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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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.

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