Theoretical Orientation on Mobility 1

Periode 1
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
dr. F. Colombijn
dr. F. Colombijn
dr. F. Colombijn
Hoorcollege, Studiegroep

Doel vak

Knowledge and understanding - The student has acquired knowledge and
understanding of:
(1) the most important theories, concepts, and current debates in
anthropology, in particular in regards to debates on mobility, diversity
and development, and other key themes in the program;
(2) the complex interconnections between local and global developments;
(3) key texts (articles) on the central themes of the program;
(4) the possibilities and limitations of the application of
anthropological views, theories and concepts in dealing with societal or
organizational problems

Application - The student has acquired the competences to:
(5) analyse, summarise, and synthesise complex societal issues from a
theoretical perspective and relate them to scientific and societal

Making judgments – The student is able to demonstrate:
(6) critical examination of societal and organizational problems at high
level of conceptual abstraction with special attention for the power
dynamics at play;
(7) reflection on the opportunities and constraints of scientific
theories and research;
(8) critical reflection on developments and debates in science and
society regarding the key-issues and central themes in the master
program, on the basis of theoretical, methodological and societal
(9) critical engagement with various scientific theories and relevant
concepts, to compare them and to connect them to concrete societal

Communication – The student is able to:
(10) translate anthropological issues and debates at a high level of
conceptual abstraction into terms understandable by a wider public;
(11) define and defend an argument and the applicability of it, and to
report about it, both in spoken and written form according to scientific

Learning skills – The student has acquired the skills to:
(12) summarise, evaluate, and synthesise research results from social
and cultural anthropology and related fields and assess the wider
societal implications of these results;
(13) learn, collaborate and communicate in an intercultural context; to
be highly sensitive to cultural and other types of differences;
14. assess the scientific work of peers and to provide academically
sound and constructive feedback.

Inhoud vak

The content of this course is aligned with the research programme of the
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, titled ‘Mobilities,
Belonging and Beliefs: Confronting Global Inequalities and Insecurities’
(MOBB). We take up mobility in the broadest sense of the word as a
conditioning and disciplining, but also a productive and enabling
process. Mobility is about migration and exchange taking place on both a
local and a global scale; it can lead to transnational lives and
hybridization. The research programme is also about social mobility,
life course mobility, and mobilities in terms of shifting societal
stratification patterns. Concrete themes of this course could be, for
instance: the flow of aspiring migrants, tourists, refugees, or
popstars; the propagation of ideologies such as Human Rights and Islamic
fundamentalism; the spread of contagious disease; and the circulation of
iconic images, songs, brands, and goods. We will talk about routes and
borders, car culture and flânerie, slow food and speed.

Mobility and inequality have a mutual impact. Multi-layered mobility
processes make that some agents are better equipped to profit from the
global movement of people, goods, technologies, and ideas than others.
Some groups of people are forcibly uprooted and others, conversely, get
involuntarily stuck. Nonetheless, also less-powerful people analyse,
navigate, create, adapt, resist, avoid, plan, hope, duck, help, and so
forth. Mobility lays bare the resilience and inventiveness of people
confronted with a continuously changing world.

When so much is in motion, the question to whom one belongs becomes
pertinent. Developing a sense of belonging inevitably rests on
principles of inclusion and exclusion. Ethnicity, nationalism, and
gender, through processes of (de)connecting are all manifestations of
the twin processes of inclusion and exclusion. Processes of inclusion
and exclusion can be reframed as questions about social cohesion and

Furthermore, regardless of the outcome of the question whether one tends
to profit or to lose from these global movements, most persons will face
new insecurities emanating from this mix of diversity, inequality,
questions of belonging, and the challenge of understanding a world that
seems in constant flux. Mobility, in short, is a crucial condition in
which people shape their life worlds, confronting inequalities and


Lectures and tutorials.


Three written assignments (30% each), a correction of the first essay
(5%), and a group presentation (5%). Attendance at and active
participation in all lectures and tutorials is compulsory.


To be announced in the course manual (see Canvas).


Students of the Master in Social and Cultural Anthropology.
This course is also open as an elective course for students in the
Master Educatie in de mens- en maatschappijwetenschappen and the
Educatieve masteropleiding Leraar Voorbereidend Hoger Onderwijs in de


In this course you can not enroll yourself for the tutorials, but you
will be assigned by the course coordinator. Note: You do have to
register for the course, with the corresponding parts!

Overige informatie

TOM-1 is taught simultaneously with the course Field Research Design
(FRD), in which students learn methodological skills and develop their
individual research plans. TOM-1 helps to give the research plans a
theoretical foundation and the readings of TOM-1 form potential material
for the research plans and later the Master theses of the students.

TOM-1 will be followed by TOM-2, in which students can choose between
three specializations (for details, see the course description of
• Mobility and diversity
• Development and sustainability
• City, space and politics
During TOM-1 students make a choice for one of these three
specializations of TOM-2 and in FRD they will seek to develop their
research plan into the direction of one of these three specializations.

© Copyright Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
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