Symposium 2003

On the 5th of November 2003 the ethnological debate club WDO celebrated its 75th anniversary. To honour this occasion, a conference on the topic ‘Facing Fieldwork: Challenges for Anthropology in a Globalising World’ was organised by the contemporary board of WDO. This conference will took place on the 11th and 12th of December 2003 in the ‘Academiegebouw’ (Academy building) in Leiden the Netherlands.


The topic choice was based on the impression that, following the post-modern critique on fieldwork methodology, fieldwork seems to have disentangled itself from its classical theoretical bearings. The current focus on issues of globalisation has led several scholars to adapt other methods and address new issues, in theory and in practice.


Like the former WDO-board formulated the announcement: "as anthropology students, either facing fieldwork in the near future or retrospectively reflecting on it, we are all too aware of the dilemmas related to the practice of fieldwork. With this symposium we would like to engage the debate on the futures of fieldwork and create a dialogue between renowned anthropological theorists and the new generation of ambitious students".

Sprekers Symposium 2003 tijdens plenaire discussie

During the symposium the following internationally renowned keynote-speakers presented lectures on the main topic, followed by short reviews of discussants:


  • Prof. Dr. Jean Comaroff (University of Chicago)

“Ethnography on an awkward scale: postcolonial anthropology and its objects”


  • Prof. Dr. Kirsten Hastrup (University of Kopenhagen)

“The ethnographic attention: founding anthropological knowledge”


  • Prof. Dr. Rajni Palriwala (University of Delhi)

“Fieldwork, the experiential comparative and self-reflexivity”


  • Prof. Dr. Jos Platenkamp (University of Münster)

“Structural analysis and the dynamics of political change: the case of Laos”

  • Dr. Hans v/d Breemer (Universitity Leiden)

“Fieldwork and globalisation in Eastern Senegal and the Gambia”


  • Prof. Dr. Albert Trouwborst (Former presdent WDO, University of Nijmegen)

Facing Fieldwork: the beginnings in Leiden


See also: further descriptions of the key-note speakers, extensive reports of the lectures and pictures.


And take a look at the history of the WDO and the most recent Symposium in 2008, when 80 years WDO was celebrated.



Symposium 2003 Poster