Maaike Matelski wins Faculty PhD Dissertation Award

Maaike Matelski was granted the FSW PhD Dissertation Award for her thesis Constructing Civil Society in Myanmar Struggles for Local Change and Global Recognition. Jury chair Thijl Sunier:  “Maaike Matelski’s work on the development of civil society in Myanmar has theoretical as well as very practical value. She managed to obtain an in-depth understanding of what is going on in this complex and interesting country. Her findings can be generalized to other, similar complex but very different countries in conflict.”

This year's award celebration was unique because there were two winners. The other winning candidate was Jeroen Wolbers from Organization Sciences with his thesis Drawing the line: Cross-boundary coordination processes in emergency management


VU Amsterdam Ethnographic Film Day

AEFDlogoOn the 7th of December the department hosted the second Amsterdam Ethnographic Film Day. It was a day of interesting discussions elicited by the screening of four films which represented four different takes on film in ethnography. It attracted a large audience consisting of students, film-makers and ethnographers. 

The first film was the documentary ‘Inside the Mind of Favela Funk’ by Elise Roodenburg and Fleur Beemster. It is based on the research they did in the Favela’s of Rio de Janeiro and inspired by their desire to share this research with a wide audience. The result was an attractive film of high quality which did well in international film festivals. 

Afterwards we saw ‘Love Home’ by Sanderien Verstappen and Willy Sier. Our film day was the debut of this film which was made in order to capture part of the research that Willy Sier conducted in China on camera. In addition, the film was an unexpected research instrument because the makers came to new insights by watching the footage of their informants countless times in the process of making the film. 

The next film was a webdocumentary called ‘Demal te Niew (Go and Come Back)’ by Marcella Pasotti, Viola Bachini and Silvia Lami, advised by Giulia Sinatti. The makers guided us through the interactive interface of the web documentary (which will be released on 16 December) which allows users to access film, pictures and infographics about Senegalese return migrants. Mattijs van de Port argued that this might be the future of ethnography in which film, text and infographics can be accessed on a single web platform. 

The last film was ‘The Possibility of Spirits’ by Mattijs van de Port. This film represented another take on film in ethnography in which film is used in order to complement text in ethnographic representations.

For the full programme and the synopses of the films: click here.


New project funded and about to start!

The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Vrije Universiteit receives European Commission funding (Erasmus Plus scheme) for the collaborative project: 'PEOple-centred development approaches in Practical and Learning Environments (PEOPLE)'

PEOPLE is a 3-year project bringing together Higher Education Institutions in the social sciences and industries from the sustainable energy sector to engage in joint research, teaching and learning. The project will develop and implement People-centred Learning Cycles, in which students, academic staff and industry professionals jointly solve real-life business challenges. In the Netherlands, the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology will collaborate closely with the Dutch energy grid operator Alliander. Academic and industry partners in the Czech republic, Slovenia and the UK participate in the project Consortium.


Elsevier Beste Studies Gids

Our Bachelor programme Culturele Antropologie en Ontwikkelingssociologie has earned first place among anthropology degrees in the annual ranking carried out by Elsevier. Our Master was awarded a good second place in the ranking. In both cases students highly valued the content of the programme and the quality of the teaching staff.


Inaugural lecture professor Dalakoglou

Inaugural Lecture Dalakoglou

On monday the 13th of June Dr Dimitris Dalakoglou gave his inaugural lecture entitled Anthropology and Infrastructures: From the State to the Commons. He thereby accepted the chair in Social Anthropology of the department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit. The department would like to congratulate Dimitris Dalakoglou with his new chair! 


Good results on the national student survey

Our Master ended up on the top of the list in the national student survey! We scored high on theoretical content and acquired skills and improved greatly on preparing the students for the job market. Check out the results here! Our Bachelor programme also ended up high on the list taking up second place. Also, have a look at the clip of the Master Social and Cultural Anthropology:


The Long March to Rome has arrived in Rome!

Long March to RomeAfter 500 years of denial the Vatican has discussed the issue of the Papal bulls of discovery and the division of the world in Christians and heathen (indigenous) peoples, for the first time with a Delegation of the Long March to Rome. The legacy of this division between Christians and heathens is still felt by indigenous peoples all over the world. While the delegation did its work, indigenous peoples worldwide held meetings in their home territories to support their leaders, the Haudenosaunee for example made fires and conducted rituals in honour of their ancestors and to connect with their representative in Rome.

This project is part of a research programme of Sandra Evers that connects contemporary foreign large-scale land acquisitions with the Terra Nullius discourse of the age of discovery.


European Journalism Grant to produce an ethnographic web-documentary on return migration to Senegal

The Department is involved in a research initiative on return migration from Italy to Senegal, which has just been awarded a European Journalism Grant, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Demal Teniew” (Wolof for “Go and come back”) will be a research-based web-documentary giving insight into migrants’ experiences of return migration. The documentary will be linked to a media campaign that aims at challenging stereotypical images of migration predominant in the media both in Senegal and in Europe. The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology is a strategic partner in the project, in which Giulia Sinatti will ensure scientific supervision for the ethnographic fieldwork.

For more information click here.


Web Lecture Cindy Horst available

Cindy HorstOn thursday 21 April Cindy Horst gave a lecture in the Amsterdam Anthropology Lecture series called: Refugees as Change Makers and the Anthropology of the Good. In front of a full lecture room Cindy Horst talked about the way she approaches the life-histories of refugees. Her angle on the subject is that of the anthropology of the good, where it is not so much about suffering and coping but about empathy, care and hope (which subsequently led to her being accused of optimism). In case you missed the lecture you can watch it here. Next lecture will be on the 19th of May by professor Nadje Al-Ali.


Shooting the new promotion clip

filming promo clip

Currently filming the promotion clip for the Master's programme Social and Cultural Anthropology starring Freek Colombijn! We offer a new Master's degree programme centered on mobility, diversity and development which launches next year. Plus, you can apply for the new Matthew Schoffeleers Scholarship that the department offers in 2016. Keep an eye on the Facebook page and the website for the finished clip!


NWO-WOTRO grant for Ellen Bal and Lorraine Nencel

The department is proud to announce that Ellen Bal of the department of anthropology and Lorraine Nencel of the department of sociology have received a NWO-WOTRO grant. It was awarded for their project: "Migration, livelihoods and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR): A triple case-study of young female migrants in Dhaka, Bangladesh". More info.


Matthew Schoffeleers Scholarships

The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology is proud to announce the installment of the Mathieu Schoffeleers Scholarships. Talented BSc students who graduated in our Department and foreign students wishing to pursue their study in our Master's programme are eligible to apply. for more information: click here.


Film Small Scale Gold Mining in the Amazon by Marjo de Theije

Our staff member Marjo de Theije tells about what's going on in her project Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Amazon (Gomiam). Gomiam researches social conflicts around small-scale gold mining and cross-bordering problems, such as smuggling gold and environmental pollution in the Amazon in order to develop a regional knowledge base on small-scale gold mining, policy development and a dialogue between miners, NGOs and politicians.


Amsterdam Ethnographic Film Festival

AEFFThe first Amsterdam Ethnographic Film Festival was a big success. In all, ten films were screened with topics ranging from truck-drivers to volunteering in South America. We as department of anthropology are very proud of the large attendance and pleased with the interest shown in ethnographic film making.


Wilhelmina Drucker Award for Dr. Giulia Sinatti


The department of Social and Cultural Anthropology is proud to announce that Dr. Giulia Sinatti has been awarded a Wilhelmina Drucker Early Career Award from the Werkgroep Vrouwelijk Talent of the VU Faculty of Social Sciences. This grant will cover the costs of personal coaching as she prepares an NWO VIDI proposal in which she plans to investigate civic responses to the ongoing migration crisis in European cities.

The Werkgroup Vrouwelijk Talent of the Faculty of Social Sciences was founded in 2010 in order to promote the career opportunities of female researchers at the Vrije Universiteit. De Committee praises the work of Sinatti for its outstanding scientific quality and its reflection of extraordinary talent.



Bachelor Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology best according to Elsevier

VU Amsterdam's bachelor in Cultural Anthropology and Developmen Sociology occupies the highest rank among other bachelor anthropology studies in the yearly poll on higher education by Elsevier magazine (Dutch content).



Welcome professor Dalakoglou


We warmly and proudly welcome our new Professor Dimitris Dalakoglou! Until 2015, Dimitris worked as a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Sussex University. His research focusses on the anthropology of infrastructures and urban public spaces. Since 2012, he holds an ESRC-Future Research Leadersgrant for the project The City at a time of Crisis.  

For more information about Dimitris Dalakoglou’s projects, publications, the films that he co-produced, his personal interests and activism, see his personal website.



Lecture Thomas Hylland Eriksen recorded


We recorded Thomas Eriksen's seminal lecture: “Boat refugees in the Mediterranean: An anthropological perspective on the global situation”. Eriksen discusses what anthropologists can do about this crisis, in which Europe shelters itself off from the world, as we need to put the humanity of people center stage.


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