“Just as a fish discovers the water only the moment it is being hauled out of it, so does identification become an explicit problem only when it can no longer be taken for granted.”(Eriksen, 2005)
I have always been a curious person, intrigued by questions of who we are and how we manifest our being and locate it in this world. This curiosity and my love for diversity soon triggered a passion for anthropology. And here I am now finishing my master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.
Anthropologists try to understand humans from the inside out by taking the perspectives of the people they are eager to understand. What makes anthropology so outstanding from other science is the fact that as Geertz (1984:275) states:
“Most important we were the first to insist that we see, the lives of others through lenses of our own grinding and that they look back on ours through ones of their own”.
It is this strong sense for reflexivity that I am trying to evoke when I am doing ethnographic research. The goal of anthropology is not norming and evaluating the lives of others. Instead, as Malinowski said, ‘the final goal of which an ethnographer should never lose sight is, briefly, to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world’.
Inspired by Glick-Schiller’s (2016:136) call for a theory from everybody for everybody, I take into consideration that “rather than imposing Europe’s historic universal categories, rather than giving up on a comprehensive theory, and rather than positing the incommensurability of different ontologies, theory for everybody addresses the larger questions of force and power including the power of analysis, which configures human experience”.
Therefore, my goal is to carefully silence myself and let others guide me into their world, so that I might catch a glimpse through their lenses.
Eriksen, T. H. (2005). Risking security: Paradoxes of social cohesion. [Inaugural lecture Vrije Universiteit, 15 March 2005.]
Geertz, C. (1984). Anti Anti-Relativism. American Anthropologist, Vol. 86 (2): 263-278.
Glick Schiller, N. (2016). Positioning theory: An introduction. Anthropological Theory, 16: 133-145. doi: 10.1177/1463499616663792.