Skip to content

Tag: China

Some thoughts on film in ethnography

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.

Leave a Comment

7 December: VU Amsterdam Ethnographic Film Day

aefd_bannerWhat is the value of film as medium for ethnographic fieldwork? With which dilemmas are film-making anthropologists confronted? What is the relationship between visual methods and other methods? What do visual methods contribute to research?

The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam presents the Amsterdam Ethnographic Film Day during which we will screen ethnographic films and discuss the various theories and methods of visual anthropology. We aim to provide a platform for anthropologists and documentary makers engaging in visual anthropology to show their films and communicate their experiences with, and thoughts on, ethnographic film-making. For more information, visit our Facebook page or website.


“China seeks tips on how to boost Christianity,” or Wang Zuoan meets Max Weber in Kenya

By Pal Nyiri Kenya’s Sunday Nation reports that a Chinese government delegation “led by State [Administration] for Religious Affairs minister Wang Zuoan is in Kenya to ‘copy good practices’ that could help it grow Christianity.”

“Religion is good for development,” the minister reportedly said at Bishop’s Gardens in Nairobi, at a meeting with Kenya’s Anglican archbishop. He also said that “he was happy with the localisation of Anglican Church in Kenya after independence, so that all its bishops are locals.”

Well. Where to begin?

Leave a Comment

Chinese workers in Libya

By Pal Nyiri Acccording to a feature in Nandu Zhoukan, 36 thousand Chinese workers have been evacuated from Libya with an efficiency that, the paper claims, astounded the world. The largest operation belonged to China State Construction Engineering (CSCE, ??????????, which alone employed 10 thousand Chinese workers. The paper interviewed an engineer working at a smaller operation, China Transport Construction Group (????????), which employed a total of 5,000 workers in Libya. This engineer, from Henan Province, worked on the real estate project near Benghazi that comprised the construction of 5,000 houses.

At the end of February, armed Libyan rebels assembled in front of the work site and commandeered two trucks. The Chinese workers assembled into units armed with crowbars and bricks; they barricaded the entrance with more trucks and threw stones over the wall. The attackers retreated, but the offices at another, unguarded work site were looted. The article refers to these Libyans as thugs and provides no political context, but the engineer is quoted as saying that Chinese workers have encountered hostility and have even been thrown stones at before. He attributes this to causing a rise in the price of consumer goods such as cigarettes: the price of Rothmans has doubled since Chinese visitors have been buying them up. The article quotes a Chinese researcher, Liu Zhirong, as saying that the Chinese media’s portrayal of African friendliness towards Chinese is skewed. The reality, it suggests, is more mixed, just as Chinese see Africa in a mixed light (they like that cars let pedestrians cross the road).

Leave a Comment

Chinese media in the Netherlands censored?

By Pál Nyiri On the website of RNW (Radio Netherlands Worldwide), Sigrid Deters writes that Chinese media in the Netherlands, except the Chinese website of the RNW itself, are “not free from censorship.” She sees avoiding the coverage of political issues such as the Dalai Lama’s visit or the riots in Xinjiang, or reporting on them one-sidedly, as evidence of censorship, although she does not explain who does the censoring and why. Editors of the Chinese papers and TV stations she interviewed denied censorship and said instead that their outlets reflected the opinions of the “community” or that it was better to stay away from controversy. An interesting exception was (???), a popular website that has registered in China in order to avoid being blocked, and therefore, as its founder said, had to comply with Chinese regulations about content filtering.

The shift in overseas Chinese media toward a single discourse of China is a trend I have also noticed, but I am not sure if “censorship” is the right explanation for what is happening.

Leave a Comment

Pál Nyíri on Chinese migration

“Our” Pál Nyíri recently published a book called Mobility and cultural authority in contemporary China. Daan Beekers asked him a few questions about this new book.

Leave a Comment

Rebiya Kadeer at the VU, or the anthropologist’s dilemma

By Pál Nyiri When I lecture on China and democracy, I show students excerpts from Carma Hinton and Geremie Barme’s 1992 film, The Gate of Heavenly Peace. In the film, one of the leaders of the Tiananmen Square student movement, referring to exaggerated stories of the 1989 massacre, asks: “Must we use lies to stand up to our lying enemy,” i.e. the Chinese Communist Party?

The same question arose in me on 30 March as I listened to Rebiya Kadeer, the “leader of the Uyghur people” according to the president of the Turkish Academic Student Association (TASA), which organised her appearance at the VU. He had asked me, as a “China scholar,” to speak at this event, which he called a “symposium”, on the situation of the Uyghur people in China.


Inaugural lecture on China’s foreign concessions

Prof. dr Pal Nyiri

 Thursday, November 19th, Prof. dr. Pal Nyiri hold his inaugural lecture called ‘Foreign concessions: the past and future of a form of shared sovereignty.’ 

How are China’s experience of Western colonialism and today’s Chinese projects in Southeast Asia and Africa related to each other? What are the similarities between the 19th century foreign control over customs and security in treaty ports on Chinese territory and contemporary concessions on for instance palm oil plantations in Congo-Kinshasa? And why do we need both anthropology and history to understand these connections?


Een Nederlandse docent in China

Een van onze vroegere studenten – Anne Geerdink – heeft het afgelopen jaar Internationale Communicatie gedoceerd aan de Medische Universiteit van Ningxia, de Hui-autonome provincie in het noordwesten van China. Zij is de enige Nederlander in deze Chinese provincie. Hierbij een korte impressie van haar ervaringen.

Het universiteitsrestaurant, drie verdiepingen met uitstekend Han (Chinees) en Hui (halal)voedsel, heeft overal televisies hangen die altijd aanstaan. Meestal hard, vooral wanneer er NBA basketballwedstrijden zijn. Basketball is hier sport nummer één. Werkelijk overal zijn veldjes!  Studenten en medewerkers kunnen drie maal per dag een maaltijd gebruiken voor  minder dan een euro. De universiteitsleiders hebben een aparte eetruimte, waar ze zich in geval van “meetings” door hun chauffeur over de campus naar toe laten rijden. Hun bakken blokkeren de ingang, de chauffeurs drentelen ernaast of poetsen de auto. Zo weten wij, docenten, studenten en medewerkers,  dat er op dat moment “leiders” in het restaurant zijn.

1 Comment