Vanessa Wijngaarden

Grant Type

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Grant number

Gr. 9509

Approve Date

October 4, 2017

Project Title

Wijngaarden, Dr. Vanessa, Independent Scholar, Nieuw-Vennep, The Netherlands - To aid filmmaking on 'Meeting 'the Other' In Maasailand: How We See Them, How They See Us' - Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

Tourism is a fruitful space to interrogate the interplay between mental images of ‘the other’ and interactions with this ‘other’. This study employs novel methodological tools to research the encounters between Tanzanian Maasai and Dutch tourists at a small cultural tourism project. Comparing the perspectives of hosts and guests, it makes visible the cross-culturally shared (re)construction processes behind persistent imagery of ‘others’. The variety of audiovisual data shows that these images are recreated despite contrasting experiences, the reflections of the research participants illuminating how this active process of reproduction takes place. Adding to the dialogical process of knowledge production employed in this study, is the filmmaker’s return to the field with a camera, in order to share the data and analysis with the participants, to confront them with inconsistencies in their speech and behavior as well as with the surprise of how ‘the other’ actually sees them. The resulting reflexive, double-sided, multi-layered documentary and the accompanying book challenge the dichotomies of ‘self’ and ‘other’, ethnographer and informant, modern social science and lay or local knowledge. This multi-media publication unveils the specific details of images of ‘the other’ as well as the cross-cultural parallels in their abstract structure. The reflections of the Dutch and Maasai participants on the filmed encounters inform theoretical insights in the dynamics between images and interactions, pointing to the central position of the reflexive agent. Reflexively incorporating anthropology as an encounter that produces an image of ‘the other’ as well, cumulates into a vision for a more symmetrical anthropology, which promotes a reflexive dialogue between people who consider each other ‘other’.