The Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University has several researchers who conduct research in Europe.


Europe General

Prof. Peter Pels (1958) is professor in the anthropology of sub-Saharan Africa at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University. In 1993 he graduated in social anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, on a study of Catholicism in East Africa. Between 1995 and 2003 he worked at the Research Centre Religion and Society of the University of Amsterdam. Peter Pels is one of the coordinators of the research profile Global Interactions of of Civilizations and Languages.

He is a specialist in the study of religion and politics in situations of colonial contact, the history of anthropology, the anthropology of magic, and social science ethics. He was the editor-in-chief of Social Anthropology / Anthropologie sociale, the journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, between 2003 and 2007.

He supervises research on religion and cyberculture, the comparative study of images of the future, colonial photography and cinematic representation, water conservation and natural heritage, brand advertising and nationalism, and is an advisor on religion and materiality to the Çatalhöyük Research Project, led by world-leading archaeologist Ian Hodder, since 2007.

He is currently finishing a book entitled The Spirit of Matter. Religion, Modernity and the Power of Objects, and supervises a research project financed by the Dutch National Research Foundation entitled “The Future is Elsewhere: Towards a Comparative History of the Futurities of the Digital ®evolution” (2010-2014).

Keywords: Global Politics, Ethics, Religion and Magic, History of Anthropology, Colonial History, Anthropology of the Future, Global Africa, Tanzania

The Netherlands

  • Dr. Erik Bähre is an economic anthropologist specialized in South Africa. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork, as well as conducted surveys, in the townships and squatter settlements of Cape Town. His main research interest is how dramatic economic changes affect social relations, and particularly why they cause particular tensions within households, among kin and neighbours. He has done research on financial mutuals among neighbours and migrants, on the provision of commercial insurances, social grants, and entrepreneurship.

    In 2002 Erik Bähre completed his PhD at the ASSR (now AISSR) at the University of Amsterdam. He has worked at the University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu Natal) (1999-2000), University College Utrecht (2002-2005) and at the University of Amsterdam (2004-2007). He was researcher at the department of anthropology at the London School for Economics and Political Science, taking part in a Economic and Social Research Council funded research project on economic change in South Africa. He has been awarded a KNAW NIAS fellowship that enables him to write a monograph manuscript on insurances in South Africa (2011-2012).

    Keywords: Economic anthropology, conflict, emotions, methodology, emerging markets, Netherlands, South Africa.

  • Dr. Marianne Maeckelbergh ’s research focuses on the anthropology of globalization, democracy and social movements. Specifically, her research explores the decision-making practices within global social movement networks and the implications these practices have for contemporary assumptions about democracy and democratic values. Her research examines prefiguration as a strategic movement practice and raises questions about what happens to democratic values when they are practiced on a global scale through network structures instead of the nation-state.

    Since the start of the economic crisis, her work has focussed on several of the uprisings that have emerged around the world and the growing distrust of representative democracy being expressed transnationally. Most of her recent fieldwork has explored responses to the economic crisis in Spain and the US, but this research has been contextualized in relation to research in Egypt, Greece, Portugal and the UK to explore what the many contemporary struggles share in common as well as how each location's particular history shapes the protests and government responses. The development and use of new digital technologies within these movements has been a key research interest, particularly how the diffuse networked space of digital technology functions in combination with the centralizing spacial configurations of urban space and place. This research has been disseminated through written publications as well as an online film series available at the Global Uprising website.

    Marianne Maeckelbergh’s other research interests include anthropological approaches to ‘identity’, ‘personhood’ and ‘agency’ in a context of global flows; urban social movements in India, specifically how caste, class, language and especially transnational exchanges affect the way politics is practiced. Marianne’s approach is a political one based on an engaged anthropology that explores the methodological challenges posed by the need for a more ‘global’ ethnography in the anthropology of social movements, development, democracy and digital technology.

    Keywords: Global Politics, Democracy, Social Movements, Development, South Asia.

  • Dr. Dorien Zandbergen is interested in the ‘Anthropology of the Information Society.’ In 2011 she defended her PhD thesis on the intersection of technology and spirituality in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently she is involved in a post-doc research that is part of the NWO-funded The Future is Elsewhere program. As part of this research she enquires into the ways that various groups in the Netherlands as well as in California seek to shape ‘the technological future’. Among these groups are artists, programmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and educators.

    The ultimate aim of this research project is to make explicit the politics of these future-driven negotations. When technological futures are negotiated, what is also brought into the world are notions of what it means to be human, what bodies are, how power is held, what kinds of knowledge and skills are deemed important and ultimately, who is given a future and who is not.

    Keywords: Anthropology of information society, technology, New Age spirituality, counterculture, hacker culture, futurism, Internet of Things

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