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Thin Description? Notes on the Amsterdam Anthropology Lecture Series (AALS)

Dr Paolo Favero giving his AALS lecture at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

By Matthias Teeuwen    Last AALS lecture was an inspiring and thought-provoking presentation by Dr. Paolo Favero on the myriad possibilities that emerging technologies provide to conducting ethnographic research. He talked about the implications of the use of i-docs (interactive documentaries such as Highrise), wearable camera’s (used exclusively in Leviathan), user GPS (Dr Favero gave an example of its use in Rider Spoke), and much more in ethnographic research. Here are some impressions.


Palestine Online

‘Palestine Online’ VU mini book launch on Friday 24 June.

By Miriyam Aouragh The Internet is a key feature in the changing character of Arab politics. This topic has seen an explosive spur since the ongoing December/January Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. But the political utilisation was most apparent since the outbreak of the Palestinian Al Aqsa’ Intifada [uprising] late 2000. The Palestinian Intifada fused with the birth of the internet.

Aouragh disseminates two main tensions when studying internet usage amongst Palestinians: mobility vs. immobility and space vs. place. Employing the strategy of a grounded anthropologist, the author enriches online internet/media studies with offline methodology, and vise versa. While filling this gap –roughly speaking, that between qualitative empirical anthropology and quantitative journalistic studies – she sets out to expose the deeper/invisible structures underlying virtual reality.

Aouragh argues that the internet reinforced state-oppression and mainstream media hegemony, yet also enabled new-fangled transnational alliances and political imaginations. She starts from the idea that Palestinian communities exhibit new modes of interactions and, most significantly, have in due course constructed a parallel Palestine, one ‘online’. This Palestine Online is presented as a virtual platform gathering Palestinians of different diasporic localities formerly separated by boundaries and travel restrictions. To demonstrate the offline dynamics Aouragh describes grassroots initiatives such as Across Borders Project which was able to bridge territorial separations; reconnecting many Palestinians for the first time since 1948 and on a scale previously unseen. Palestinian websites became ‘mediating spaces’ through which the Palestinian nation is globally imagined and reshaped. Furthermore, the Arabization of the interface and the mushrooming internet cafes have made the internet a community and non-elite technology. These developments in due course contributed to the ‘rehumanization’ of Palestinians in the global public sphere.

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Palestine Online: nieuw boek van VU alumna

Bron: FSW nieuwswebsite

Miriyam Aouragh, die eind jaren negentig afstudeerde bij Sociale en Culturele Antropologie (VU) en onlangs promoveerde aan de UvA, publiceerde vorige maand haar boek ‘Palestine Online. Transnationalism, the Internet and the Construction of Identity’.

Voor de Palestijnse diaspora en de gemeenschappen in ballingschap is internet een belangrijk medium geworden bij de vorming van hun nationale en transnationale Palestijnse identiteit. In haar boek beschouwt Aouragh het internet als een plek en een instrument voor Palestijnse groepen in Palestina, Jordanië en Libanon om met elkaar in contact te komen. Ze onderzoekt hoe zij de internettechnologie gebruiken en welke beperkingen de oorlogssituatie oplegt.

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The death of the “twitter rev­o­lu­tion” and the struggle over internet narratives

By Donya Alinejad In her latest speech on internet freedom, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared the internet the “town square” of the 21st cen­tury. Clinton seized on the wide­spread atten­tion for Facebook during the Egyptian rev­o­lu­tion and used the oppor­tu­nity to reit­erate internet-oriented US for­eign policy. Just days ear­lier the Egyptian people had ousted Hosni Mubarak, their dic­tator of 30 years. Cairo’s Tahrir Square had been occu­pied by pro­testers, stained with the blood of the revolution’s mar­tyrs, and gained iconic status as the center of the 21st century’s most pop­u­lous rev­o­lu­tionary move­ment. Soon after, pro­testers in Libya named the Northern Court in Benghazi “Tahrir Square Two.” If these events show us any­thing, it is that the town square of the 21st cen­tury is still, simply, the town square.


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.

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