Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hands-on Anthropology: Role of the Ethnographer

when 6 July 2019 - 20 July 2019
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 1150

Everyone has a story to tell. For anthropologists, such accounts can reveal as much about the people and societies we study as more conventional research. But the process of collecting stories in the field and retelling them in the academic arena is littered with pitfalls. How do we ensure that our subjects are fairly represented? How do we construct a culturally sensitive narrative whilst maintaining scientific validity?

This course focuses on hands-on anthropology with strong orientation toward storytelling and narrating the life of others from cultural anthropological perspectives. The course is hand-on which means students learn to utilize the skills that they have gathered through their own lived experience as well as the training that receive during the course. Hand-on anthropology brings together reflexivity and academic trainings to show how students can turn their field-notes and observations into coherent narrative that are scientifically valid.

The course is divided in two blocks and they are interdependent of each other however, the blocks are not each other pre-requisite. Students can participate and enrol in either the first block or the second one or they could combine the blocks:

The First Block concentrates on the role of the researcher in the research and how an ethnographic narrative is effected by the ethnographer. The students learn how to tell an ethnographic story through our program DAY (Do Anthropology Yourself). DAY encourages students to consider the background and positionality in ways that they see and perceive the world. By the end of the first block, students learn how to assemble an ethnographic puzzle and construct a coherent narrative that begins with them and it ends with socially relevant conclusion.

There can be few better places to practise this method than Amsterdam. As one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, home to people of 180 nationalities, fascinating personal stories abound here. At the heart of DAY are interactive conversational workshops at which you learn intriguing stories from practitioners and people from various walks of life. Students hear and listen stories from invited speakers and get the chance to practice and ask from them how their stories should be conveyed in a culturally and ethically sensitive manner. Working with experienced ethnographers and creative writers, you learn to construct narratives in collaboration with your interlocutors. In other words, how to turn lived experiences into creative stories with an academic appeal.

Along the way, we guide you through the process of gathering stories as the basis for a scientific inquiry, using simple but effective fieldwork tools (such as mobile phones), and presenting them through “low-tech” media like creative writing and oral storytelling. Obviously, this is a highly practical course requiring your active participation throughout. It is organized by the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at VU Amsterdam in collaboration with social research studio Pollinize and youth theatre project Studio 52nd.

Course leader

Dr. Younes Saramifar

Target group

Students and professionals in the field of social sciences and behavioural studies, humanities, Business Administration, Medical consultancy and Social work with an interest in human behaviour, fieldwork, ethnography, interviews and storytelling. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.

Course aim

At the end of this course, you:
•Are familiar with research methods and crafting styles in scientific inquiry.
•Have acquired fieldwork abilities and strengthened your skills in culturally sensitive research and analysis.
•Grasp the power of biography and representation embedded within stories.
•Have gained experience in collaborative storytelling and making digital visual narratives.
•Can reflect on the idea of “empowerment through participation” and address power inequalities in your research.

Credits info

3 EC
Contact Hours: 50
If you want to earn more credits you can take courses in our other sessions to create a 4 or 6 week programme.

Fee info

EUR 1150: The tuition fee includes:
• Airport pick-up service
• Welcome goodie bag
• Orientation programme
• Course excursions
• On-site support
• Emergency assistance
• Transcript of records after completion of the course

An early bird discount of €150 is available for students who apply and pay before 15 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

There are also discounts for students who attend multiple sessions, combine 2 courses and receive a €200 discount and combine 3 to receive a €300 discount. All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered.


VU Amsterdam Summer School offers three kinds of scholarships: the Academic Scholarship, the Photographer Scholarship and the Vlogger/Videographer Scholarship. More information about these scholarships can be found on the VU Amsterdam Summer School websi

Register for this course
on course website