The UCU Alumni Magazine
It’s not often we have a moment to look back and remember those runny ice cream Sundays, carefree beach walks and never-ending tricycle rides. Time passed by slower back in the day. Often it never seemed to pass at all.
Now we’re driving cars, working jobs, paying taxes. Some of us are even making babies, reliving our youthful moments with them. We catch ourselves speaking in high-pitched baby voices, eating lukewarm carrot mash and playing with Lego again. Kids arguably have the most important jobs in the world: as we get more grey and wrinkly, and the memories start to fade, who else will help us remember the roads we’ve travelled?
Post | the alumni magazine of University College Utrecht June 2012
04 06 09 14 18 21 22 24 26 28 33 37 41 42 43 Photo (& cover photo) / Maria Salaru (‘11) ‘
Our Lawn, We’d Appreciate You Not Being on It Being Private in Public: Some Thoughts on Toilets From Flower Power to the Occupy Movement Playing James Bond on the Nile Liberal Arts, Sciences & Beer Chugging Word from the Dean Opa Anton & Edward Cape to Cape 2012 KONY2012 Demystifying Networks Historical Re-enactments Class of 2012 Who, What, Where? / Funny Moppets Colophon
wn, Our La reciate
We’d App You Not Being on It L
ike some sort of yearly recurring Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the end of another school year means another group of UCU students have now graduated to alumni (not that we’re calling the class of 2012 gremlins; you’re all adorable little Mogwai). It also means another edition of Post! What is this new edition of Post all about? Well, while the Post editorial board was sitting around the offices of Post Conglomerate Enterprises’ corporate headquarters (magazine editorial and microwaves division), batting around movie references from 1990, we came to the realisation that there were already alumni that hadn’t even been born at the time the sequel to Gremlins came out and that made us feel, like, super old, you guys. So we got a bit nostalgic. To the days when UCU was still the only Liberal Arts & Sciences college in the Netherlands and we were all secret agent sailboat captains, fighting for Napoleon during the Vietnam War protests at Berkeley, still blissfully unaware of that evil Kony guy. As you can see, we have led very rich and complicated lives. Hoping you’d be too polite not to indulge us in our old grandpa story time, we reached out to our fellow alumni to write these (and other) stories down in the magazine before you.
And to prove to ourselves that, yes, we really were that young once upon a time, we also went through our old photo albums and spread some of our most treasured memories over the pages of this magazine. If you can guess which alumni belong to which pictures you get a cookie*!
www.ucaa.nl firstname.lastname@example.org www.talkingpost.org
We had a lot of fun taking this trip down memory lane and thus we hope your experience will be equally enjoyable. All this reminiscing has taken a lot out of us though, so we’re going to have to lie down for a while. Is it cold in here? It’s probably those young whippersnappers in HR, they’re constantly messing with the thermostat...
Vice-Chair / Iris Otto (‘09) Secretary / Kiran Coleman (‘05) Treasurer / Sarah Carmichael (‘06) PR/External Relations / Leonie Hussaarts (‘08) Events Coordinator / Roeland van Beek (‘11)
Decrepitly yours, The Post Editorial board
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The UCAA Board consists of:
* Cookies are redeemable by giving the required amount of money to your nearest cookie purveyor. Answers are also in the back.
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Being Private in Public:ts
Some Thoughts on T
Liselotte Heikens ponders the gender distinction that’s happening right in front of us.
private, sex-segregated space used for the ‘leaking’ of our bodies and other activities - some illegal - which features a Victorian invention intended to promote hygiene, but of which the hygienic standards terrify us; what’s not to love about public toilets? Surprisingly, little has been written about them. This is probably related to the everyday nature of the topic and the taboo on the ‘leaking’ of our body. Think about it: sweating, bleeding and urinating are all topics that do not feel appropriate to discuss in many situations. Where the taboo on sex has been broken in the last decades, the taboo on ‘elimination,’ as it is sometimes abstractly referred to, appears to be alive and kicking. This is a shame, as there are few things that illustrate one of humankind’s most basic fears - that of contamination by ‘the other’ - as nicely as a statement that you will only use the toilets at Bijenkorf and not the ones at the train station.
Sex vs. Gender I use the term sex-segregated rather than gendersegregated, following Christine Overall, one of the world’s few researchers into sex-segregation and public toilets. The general assumption is that sex is one’s biological sex (the kind of genitals one has; male/ female) and gender used to describe other, social, traits of a person (feminine/masculine). In other words, sex is solid and relatively unchangeable whereas gender is socially constructed. Overall goes further still, stating that sex is also socially constructed; that a person’s genitals determining their category is just an idea. She quotes Stoltenberg ‘Penises and ejaculate and prostate glands occur in nature, but the notion that these anatomical traits comprise a sex—a discrete class, separate and distinct, metaphysically divisible from some other sex, the ‘other sex’—is simply that: a notion, an idea.’
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Perhaps it is because of the taboo on elimination that relatively little has changed in the world of public toilets in the western world since their introduction in the 19th century. In Japan, the old invention of the water closet has been updated and modernized to live up to a standard of comfort that we expect in all other parts of our lives. A heated seat, music and a warm water washing, to name a few of the options, would make many in the western world quite uncomfortable. An important part of the discourse on public toilets is segregation, of which sex segregation is the most common today. Historically toilets have been segregated in different ways: ladies and women, blacks and whites, and so on, and today there are still toilets intended for people who fit in different places in the social order in order not to disturb the hierarchy. Imagine Barack Obama, or Queen Elizabeth, having to use the same toilet as their secretaries and lackeys. It would make them very uncomfortable. In the same way professionals such as social workers or doctors do not usually share toilets with their clients or patients, but have been assigned different facilities. Overall states that it is important for the people ranking high in society to not be associated with ‘leakiness’. A person who admits to bodily needs or seems to be lacking control thereof reduces their credibility as an objective, rational and in control person who needs to be taken serious.
ama, “Imagine Barack Ob or Queen Elizabeth, having to use the same toilet as their eys.” secretaries and lack In a discussion on public toilets in London in the 19th century, George Jennings, producer of toilets, was trying to get a committee to support his idea of creating more public toilets. He observed that the ‘gentlemen’s’ attitude towards toilets was ‘one [that] would suppose that they themselves never required any convenience of any kind’ . With sex segregation there are several problems. According to Goffman, segregated toilets that are presented as a natural consequence of the difference between the sexes, are maintaining, ‘if not producing,’ the differences. This could also hold true for other forms of segregation. Besides this, Greed comments on the inequalities segregation can produce in terms of the quality of facilities the different groups have access to. Just think about the long queues for the ladies. In addition, there are the problems of people that aren’t easily categorized in a system of binary sexes. Barcan states that ‘[e]ntering a public toilet is not only an individual, embodied experience, but also a public and largely unconscious reaffirmation of one’s gender identity and of the modern western cultural law that there can only ever be two, bipolar sexes’.
So then, why are toilets segregated? The first and main argument that is given in favor of sex segregation is that it is what women and men want. Overall relates this preference for segregation to our notion of privacy and that as children we “learn to define bodily privacy primarily in terms of separation and concealment from members of the other sex”. This seems to be a reason that would properly explain why a person would feel more at ease with their own sex while they engaging in acts that, no matter how natural, are a taboo. This notion of privacy is linked to an assumption of heterosexuality as privacy is especially important when it comes to the opposite sex. Of course, many people are not heterosexual and they use sex segregated toilets. Overall sees this as evidence that there is no inherent need to shield your elimination process from those that you might engage in sexual acts with. She suspects that new toilet etiquette will automatically emerge as soon as toilets are mixed. But segregating toilets goes further than just not being seen or heard by the opposite sex. Members of the opposite sex do not even enter the same space. Overall poses that sex segregated toilets are representing ideas about dirt and impurity and the possibility of contamination if facilities would be shared (something that suddenly seems of no importance when planning toilets for people with disabilities). For instance, the menstrual taboos and the notion that menstrual blood is contaminating for men and thus men
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need to be protected from it. They should even be kept in the dark about when a woman is menstruating, something that is facilitated by segregated toilets. Women, for a similar reason, should also not have to go into men’s toilets, as they are dirtier. Overall points out that, with this reasoning, people of the same sex are not at risk for contamination. So the fact that the men’s room might be dirty should keep women out, but not men who might appreciate a clean toilet. This clean man is then seen as less sensitive to the ‘mess’ than a woman for no other reason than that he is a man. In other words, the stereotype of women being cleaner and more sensitive to dirt whereas men need to be protected from the menstruating (sexual) woman is reflected in the built environment. A reasoning that seems questionable to say the least, filled as it is with stereotypes of sex and gender. Safety for women is another reason that is often mentioned as to why toilets should be segregated. However, men who mean to do women harm are not the kind of people who will be stopped by a sign that says the toilet is intended for women. In fact, it might be very convenient for such a person to have a room exclusively for women. As Overall states, it is the assault that should be prevented, not a vague and generalizing approach implemented to ‘protect’ women from it. This is also ignoring that women can assault other women and that men can assault each other. So far the reasons why sex segregation is often maintained. The most visible result is the long queues for the ladies. The cause of this problem is quite straightforward. In many segregated toilet situations the number of ‘peeing-points’ (so including urinals) is the same or almost the same for women and men. This sounds very equal but segregating based on sex in the case of toilets is not creating two random groups who generally have the same characteristics. Women take longer, because they go into a cubicle and have to get partially undressed. Women also need to go more often (e.g. approximately a quarter of the adult women has their period at any given time). So women need the toilet more often, and need it longer but do not get more toilets. It could be solved in different ways, of which no longer segregating is only one, however the fact that it seems to be rarely addressed and accepted as a fact of life seems to indicate there are some rather deeply ingrained notions interfering with simple problem-solving.
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t stall / ls vs. 1 toile am: 16 urina o by the author phot
On the other hand, to give a somehow balanced view on toilet issues, women in their queues aren’t the only victims. Men sometimes do not even get one cubicle and have to make do with urinals, which is based on some strange notion that men are per definition capable and willing to use a urinal. In short, it’s food for thought, perhaps for the next time you’re standing or sitting in that confined space dating back to the Victorian era, conducting whichever taboo-sensitive act. Liselotte Heikens (‘06 1/2) has an MSc in Social Policy and Social Work from Stockholm University and an MA in European Urban Cultures for which she studied in Brussels, Tilburg, Manchester and Tallinn. She is currently looking for a job in the Netherlands.
Goffman 1987 in Eräsaari, L., 1994. A story of toilets in street-level bureaucracies. Scandinavian Journal of Management. [online]. 10(2), pp. 193-206 Greed, C. H., 2003. Inclusive Urban Design. Public Toilets. Oxford: Architectural Press Stoltenberg 1989 Overall, C., 2007. Public Toilets, Sex segregation revisited. Ethics & The Environment [online]. 12(2), pp. 73 Overall, C., 2007. Public Toilets, Sex segregation revisited. Ethics & The Environment [online]. 12(2), pp. 71-91 Barcan 1999 in Rasmussen, M.L., 2009. Beyond gender identity? Gender and Education, [online]. 21 (4), p. 431-447. Jennings in Wright, L., 1963. Clean and Decent, the Fascinating History of the Bathroom & the Water Closet. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul p. 201
From Flower Power to The Occupy Movement The first holder of the Mondriaan Chair, Prof. Dr. Orlanda Lie, reminisces about her student days and contrasts them with her recent Visiting Professorship at UCLA.
n the Fall Quarter of 2011, I had the honor of being the first holder of the Utrecht-Mondriaan Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Utrecht University initiated this Visiting Professorship to foster the collaboration and exchanges between the two universities. My core activity as Chair holder was to teach two courses and give a public lecture. In consultation with my host department (History), I offered a course on the Cultural History of Magic and Science, and one on Women’s Medicine in the Middle Ages. The topic of my public lecture was Sarah’s Menopause: A Clerical View on Women’s Physiology. What was it like to be teaching at UCLA? A few preliminary remarks may be helpful in this context. I was born and raised in Suriname; my parents are Hakka Chinese immigrants from Guangdong Province. When I finished high school, I was accepted at UC Berkeley, where I registered as a student in the College of Letters and Science, from 1967 to 1976. In this period I pursued a BA (double major German and Spanish), MA (German) and PhD (German and Medieval Studies). While working on my dissertation (a comparative study of French, German and Dutch medieval Ar-
thurian romances), I found my way to Utrecht, was offered a job in the Dutch department and have lived in the Netherlands ever since. I joined the UCU faculty in 2004. Returning to teach at an institution where I was a student more than forty years ago turned out to be a very special experience. Although UCLA is not my alma mater, it is part of the University of California system and, as such, it shares with Berkeley a similar teaching concept to my own student days: a Liberal Arts educational philosophy. As a faculty member of the History department, I was working with colleagues and students who shared my affinity with the broad-based educational system that has also been characteristic of our own UCU Liberal Arts & Sciences context. All these aspects, in combination with the unsurpassed Californian spirit of friendliness and hospitality, made my stay at UCLA both personally and professionally enriching. Not only could I take a look behind the scenes and experience firsthand what it was like to teach at another institution and compare notes, I could also take the time to reflect, to look back and benefit from the insights that I had acquired over the course of my professional career.
In revisiting my own academic journey, I realized how decisive and formative my years as a student were. When I started as a first-year student at Berkeley in 1967, Lyndon Johnson was nearing the end of his presidency and Richard Nixon was already gearing up to succeed him. America was deeply divided by the war in Vietnam. The Berkeley campus was the center of the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and the hotbed of the student revolution. Telegraph Avenue formed the backdrop for people with flowers in their hair (hippies) and monks in flowing orange robes, who were dancing and chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare. On my way to class, I would pass the campus police, standing tall behind masks and shining shields, and I stayed as far away as possible from the battle grounds: police
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charging into rock-throwing demonstrators, pillars of smoke and the pungent smell of tear gas. There were peaceful sit-ins and noon rallies on the steps of Sproul Hall, with passionate speakers such as Mario Savio, Marshall McLuhan and Jerry Rubin. Unforgettable performances by Joan Baez (‘We shall overcome’), Judy Collins, Simon and Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan. In my second year, Martin Luther King was killed, and two months later, Robert Kennedy. In my third year, American troops invaded Cambodia and four students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration at Kent State University. The Watergate Affair that forced Richard Nixon to resign as president unfolded when I was a graduate student. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two Washington Post reporters who investigated and uncovered the dirty political tricks behind this scandal, were our heroes. Another milestone was my first literature course (Introduction to German Literature). The professor wore bellbottom pants, had a ruddy complexion, long hair, and granny glasses. He always began his class by reading the
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to e owed it w , s t n e d u “As st world, e h t o t d n ,a ourselves ur not only o op l e v e d to ities, but l bi a l a u t intellec al values.” r o m r u o also
headlines in the daily news about the war in Vietnam and the student demonstrations. One day, one of my fellow students raised his hand and said: “Professor, what is the sense of taking your class, reading poems by Goethe and novels by Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse, while at this very same moment, hundreds of people are being killed in Vietnam?” The ensuing discussion taught me a few lessons that have stayed with me until this very day. According to the professor, being a liberal arts student at Berkeley, one of the top universities in the world, was not only a privilege, but also a moral responsibility. As students, we owed it to ourselves, and to the world, to develop not only our intellectual abilities, but also our moral values. The pursuit of knowledge
could never be an end in itself. Academics have a moral obligation to use their knowledge and insights in service of a better world. It did not matter what major or which disciplines we would study, our education at Berkeley would give us the academic tools to become critical thinkers and socially engaged citizens. As a specialist of literary studies, his task was to teach us how to read, analyze and interpret poems and novels, and how to communicate one’s findings to others. The mastery of all these reading and writing skills would be part of our academic toolkit for responsible and critical citizenship. With these academic skills we could analyze new developments and make meaningful contributions to the current political debates, like the Vietnam War.
The US political climate of 2011 is marked by the economic crisis. During my stay at UCLA, the student demonstrations that made the news were part of the Occupy movement. Statewide, students rallied against the increase of tuition and corruption in banking. At UC Berkeley, student demonstrators clashed with the campus police in Sproul Plaza. At UCLA, students and workers blocked traffic at the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevard to voice their concern about the growing cost of higher education and budget cuts in public services. Most media attention went to the Occupy protest at UC Davis. The video of a campus police officer who deliberately pepper-sprayed sitting protesters went viral. I also discovered that the use of pepper spray was not limited
to riot police. On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving (generally, the last Friday in November) and the opening of the Christmas shopping season, pepper spray was in the news again. On this particular Friday, retail stores lure customers by offering substantial discounts on their products. Some stores already opened their doors after midnight. Bargain hunters slept in tents in front of the stores or in the parking lots. The morning news on Black Friday opened with the story of a woman who had used pepper spray on fellow shoppers to make sure she would get to the merchandise (electronics) before them. When I discussed the Occupy movement with my students, their primary focus was on the rising cost of tuition for their college education. California students at UCLA pay about $31.000 per year; non-California students have to reckon with $50.000 per year. The majority of the students have to borrow money and/or combine study with work. The only way to pay back these loans as quickly as possible is to earn a lot of money after graduation. This means that students who want to qualify for prestigious graduate schools or jobs, must distinguish themselves by getting outstanding grades. Especially descendants of immigrant parents study under a lot of pressure. They feel a great sense of duty and want to live up to their parents’ expectations. Getting straight A’s is the least they can do to show their gratitude. The extraordinary emphasis on grades was a recurring theme during office hours. For some students, getting anything lower than an A is not only a sign of personal failure, but also shameful for the family. The drive to work hard and the ambition to be successful were salient characteristics of the majority of students I encountered. My drive as
a teacher was to find a format for my classes that would challenge them intellectually, provide an opportunity to explore unknown territories, and discover new things about themselves. In other words: How can I share with them the joy of learning, get them out of their comfort zone and, in the process, make them forget the pressure of grades? I found the answer after a visit to the beautifully renovated Charles E. Young Research Library. The UCLA Library System, with more than 8 million volumes, is one of the top research libraries of America. The collection is spread over several libraries, archives and research centers on and off campus. The Special Collections Department of the Young Research Library has an interesting range of rare books and manuscripts. Standing face to face with a piece of parchment, smelling its oldness, and knowing that centuries ago someone like me was reading this very same passage, is a feeling that I find deeply satisfying. While browsing through the contents of two boxes at the Special Collections Department, labeled ‘loose leaves’, I was thrilled to find that one of the manuscript fragments had preserved an episode from La Mort le Roi Artu (The Death of King Arthur), the subject of my PhD dissertation. If only I could share these treasures with my students! And that was the moment when the idea occurred to me to use these original medieval sources as a time machine that would catapult the students back to the Middle Ages: operation Ad Fontes (back to the sources). I discussed my ideas with the Library staff and everyone got very excited about the project. To protect the manuscripts, we agreed on making high quality digital scans available to the students and organizing a small exhibition of the original sources at the end of the project.
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“the idea occurred to me to use these original medieval sources as a time machine that would catapult the students back to the Middle Ages” Organizing the project was both enervating and challenging. To complement the other (individual) assignments of the course (open book exam 30%, final essay 30%), I decided to use the format of a group assignment, with a group grade (30%). The remaining 10% was for ‘participation’, and was based on individual log books that students kept during this project. I randomly divided the class in 10 groups of 5 students. Each group was assigned a medieval source that was connected in one way or the other to the themes of the
course: world view, magic and witchcraft, magic and (medical) science. During an intense five-week period, students got their first taste of historical research and experienced firsthand the frustrations and pleasures of working with sources that are more than 700 years old.1 At the final event, each
Prof. Dr. Orlanda Lie holds a PhD in German and Medieval Studies from the University of Berkeley and is a professor of Medieval Culture at Utrecht University and Head of the Humanities Department at University College Utrecht.
group proudly presented their findings in the elegant setting of the Library Conference Room, surrounded by the original manuscripts. It was an unforgettable and rewarding experience for all of us.
Since the majority of the students were not trained in deciphering medieval script and did not read Latin or French, they were guided by the information from the catalogue description by M. Ferrari & R.H. Rouse (Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the University of California, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1991, pp. 92-144). The ten fragments that were selected for this assignment are the following: Aristotle (De somno), Aristotle (De physica), Aristotle (De anima),
Above: Collection of medieval manuscript leaves, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Aristotle (De metaphysica), Macrobius (Saturnalia), Burchard of Worms (Decretum), Isaac Israeli, (Liber urinarum; Latin translation: Constantine the African), Thomas Aquinas (Summa theologiae), anonymous (Treatise on the Liberal Arts), anonymous (La Mort le Roi Artu). With special thanks to Octavio Olvera, Visual Arts Collection Specialist (Department of Special Collections).
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Eelke Kraak goes overboard on honey wine and finds himself in the middle of a true spy thriller, facing off against his nemesis’ henchmen and -women.
n the 2nd of April 2011, Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi made a remarkable announcement at a press conference that was convened not in the capital Addis Ababa, but in the unremarkable town of Guba 700 kilometres away. “Not far from this place,” he told the gathering, “Ethiopia just started construction on the largest dam of the Nile river, or of any African river for that matter.” The dam, which was later re-branded the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, would stand 145 metres tall, submerge an area twice that of the country’s largest lake, and the hydropower station below the dam would quadruple Ethiopia’s energy production. The location of the dam on the Nile river makes the plan a divisive venture. This arm of the Nile flows from Ethiopia through Sudan to Egypt, who both rely on the water supply for their irrigated agriculture. Egypt in particular, has always feared that Ethiopia would interfere with the source of its water. Its former president, Anwar Sadat, once even stated that his country was prepared to go to war over water. Finding out more about this project in order to make sense of the geopolitics, seems more the task of a spy than of a humble PhD student. Only three days before Zenawi’s announcement, I had arrived in Addis Ababa for a conference on hydropower in Africa, sponsored by Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned company that prides itself as being the largest dam-builder in world. The conference and the ensuing five weeks of fieldwork were to provide me with useful data for the empirical chapters of my PhD. My work on the politics of transboundary rivers and dams brought me to Central Asia previously, and now I found myself in Ethiopia studying the Nile amid the pomp and circumstance of a new dam. Learning about dams. I actually found out about the new dam a day before Zenawi’s speech. As research
goes, I was at a place not unlike our college bar, with the Ethiopian minister of water and the CEO of the country’s power utility (and perhaps a hundred other conference attendees) to celebrate the successful completion of the conference. We had some injera with tibs and kitfo1, while I was placed in a far corner among the interns, assistants and other minions. Under the influence of more than a glass of honey wine I dared to introduce myself to these two dignitaries. Although they accepted my business card seemingly disinterested, during our brief conversation they slipped the big news of the next day, probably also under the influence of more than a glass of honey wine. More importantly, they introduced me to high-profile policy-makers in the ministry from whom I learned a great deal about the logic of this dam and its implications. The reader will be excused for thinking that the timing of my trip and the gathering of this information was based on coincidence and luck, but the methodology section of my thesis speaks of research skills instead. As it often goes, listening to the town’s gossip is more fruitful than formal interviews and long policy documents. The new dam is part of a long and turbulent history of water management in the Nile, of which Moses managing the seven meagre years in biblical times is perhaps the earliest example. The river has a notoriously high seasonal and inter-annual variability which makes agriculture quite the challenge. Reservoirs that are created by dams provide storage that is theoretically the answer to variability. Yet it comes at a cost too. In the Nile basin alone, millions of people have been displaced and even more had their livelihoods altered or destroyed by the
n alone, “In the Nile basi le have millions of peop nd even been displaced a ivelihoods more had their l oyed by altered or destr s.” the impact of dam
impact of dams. Because of the unequal distribution of costs and benefits, no project is without controversy. Although Ethiopia has had aspirations to build a large dam on the Nile for decades, the start of construction of the new dam came at a geopolitically opportune moment. The dam was announced only a couple of weeks after President Mubarak of Egypt was ousted during the popular uprising in his country. Sudan organised its referendum on the secession of its southern part only two months earlier. With both downstream states that traditionally oppose Ethiopian water developments occupied with their own business, nothing would stand in the way of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The paradox of Ethiopia is that, although 86 per cent of the world’s longest river originates in its territory, there are still massive shortages of water, food and electricity, leading to famines and arrested development. This cynical contradiction has been milked out well by the country’s politicians and the development industry and in the last decade Ethiopia has been re-branded as the ‘water tower of Africa’ to attract investment rather than humanitarian aid.
1 Injera is the traditional base of any Ethiopian meal. It is a pancake or flat bread made out of flour. Tibs are sauteed meats and vegetables and kitfo is raw minced meat.
A propaganda banner, proudly strung across Addis Ababa’s central Meskel Square, pictures Meles Zenawi not only with children and schoolbooks, but also among fertile agricultural fields. The text lauds the upcoming Ethiopian Renaissance and is lined with photos of large hydropower dams. Discursive depictions like this suggest that the new dam is much more than just a response to the country’s energy needs. Political theorists Timothy Mitchell describes this phenomenon well in his book Rule of Experts when he observed that “large dams offered a way to build not just irrigation and power systems, but nationstates themselves”. A hegemonic discourse that directly equates the dam with development is also utilised to raise the required funds for the dam, which are estimated at a prohibitive $5 billion. The government has issued bonds that are marketed towards its own population to finance this dam, a novel strategy for any African state. The bonds come in uniquely small nominations, starting with the equivalent of $20, but the interest rate of 4 per cent after a period of 5 to 10 years is much smaller than the risk of the project or the devaluation of the currency would justify. “This
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does not matter”, said Feleke, my driver in Addis Ababa, “because now the population finally has the chance to do something for the country.” How circumstantial the comments of a taxi driver may be, they hint at a broader strategy of the government that does not just raise finance for the dam, but also enrols the population in the controversial project. What makes this dam different from previous large-scale top-down interventions is that the dam is not just an elite pet project anymore, but quite literally owned by the population. Unfortunately, this does not make the project less contentious or more transparent. The turbulent waters of field research. A couple of weeks earlier, while still in the UK, I had met with the Ethiopian ambassador in London for an interview. I was hoping to gauge the mood, find out about the general sentiment towards nosy researchers, and ask some general
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questions on government policy. Instead, fearing that I was yet another anti-dam protester, he gave me his regular tirade against what he calls neo-colonial NGOs who prefer the lives of butterflies over the developments of human beings. I applied for my visa during this embassy visit, which was perhaps not the smartest move. Indeed, in Ethiopia there were remarkably many people that were ‘expecting’ me. After just a couple of days, for instance, I was approached in my hotel by a young lady whom I suspected to have a rather questionable profession. But instead of complimenting me on my blond hair or making shameful and even unspeakable proposals, she inquired after my research results and asked when I would visit the dam site. How amazing, I thought, no girls in Europe are interested in my research! Talking this through with my contacts in Addis Ababa, I was warned to be careful.
Ethiopia has one of the largest internal security organisations in the world that was originally set up and trained by the Stasi, back in the days that Ethiopia was a staunch East German ally. Prime Minister Zenawi is not the biggest fan of opposition movements, as his crackdown after the stolen 2005 elections suggests, and he would not take critique on his pet project lightly. Indeed, the girl’s intentions were probably beyond a general interest in the geography of dams, but without the sound effects and background music spy movies usually have it is hard to interpret the trickiness of the situation. At the same time, I found out more and more about the murky geopolitics of the dam. As was expected, relationships between Ethiopia on the one hand, and Sudan and Egypt on the other, were deteriorating. Sudan and Egypt have distributed virtually all Nile water amongst themselves by virtue of two dubious legal agreements dating from 1929 and
“Already, I was dreaming away of a career running thro ugh the night in black tie, atte nding glitzy parties with glam orous people, and reporting back on my findings by microchip.”
1959. A dam of this size is bound to have a significant impact on the hydrology of the river. It will take years of decreased flow to fill the 63 km3 reservoir and the dam has the potential to make the water needs of Egyptian farmers second to energy demands in Ethiopia. Reality does not need to look so grim. With a storage facility in the cool mountain valleys of Ethiopia, Egypt could decrease the volume of its inefficient reservoir behind the High Aswan Dam – a place where currently 10 per cent of the Nile waters evaporate. A decent framework of cooperation could optimise electricity provision for Ethiopia as well as water supply to Egypt and Sudan: a win-win solution (albeit a very expensive one if we include the costs of the dam). But rather than talking about some of the opportunities the dam offers, the Egyptian and Ethiopian vox populi echo the threat uttered by former President Anwar Sadat decades ago. Rumours over an impending water war circulate internet forums and the popular press in both Egypt and Ethiopia. The Ethiopian news site ethioforums.com published an article in April 2011 under the forbidding title “Will this be the next Middle East water war?”. In a widely copied but ungrounded argument it notices that Egypt had already instructed its military to prepare for any eventuality regarding the water dispute over the new dam.
In contrast, Egyptian diplomats have tread more cautiously and met with Meles Zenawi a couple of times since the fall of Mubarak in order to discuss the dam. There seems to be a clear distinction between popular geopolitics and formal geopolitics, which should dissuade a water war. Discharging the tension. I was to present my first findings in a presentation to the ambassador of the Netherlands at the end of my stay in Addis Ababa; a range of other diplomats were invited, including some from Egypt and Sudan. The event got cancelled last minute. The ambassador informed me that he was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain why the Netherlands would support opposition to the dam and development of the Ethiopia. In diplomatic terms he was urged to cancel my presentation, because it would give the wrong sign of Dutch intentions. Although I had not even formulated my conclusions yet, it was feared by the authorities that my talk would not fit in the formal Ethiopian discourse.
tion that a handful of people will read). Already, I was dreaming away of a career running through the night in black tie, attending glitzy parties with glamorous people, and reporting back on my findings by microchip. But my academic supervisor managed to put my feet back on the ground. She is much more advanced in her academicspy career, being banned from Russia for an indeterminable number of years for activities undermining the state. “Eelke, the main risk you run with these experiences”, she advised me, “is that they make you find your findings much more interesting than they really are. Why don’t you write up your results in a nice 100,000 word format first, and then we’ll talk again.” A year and a bit later, I doubt that my work can stir more than a tiny academic debate on the nature of some obscure geographic theory, let alone make a high priority microchip, but the experience gives some good stories for late-night reunions in our college bar. Eelke Kraak (‘08) left for the UK to do an MPhil (‘10) and a PhD (‘12 - hopefully) at the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford, for which he spent considerable time in Central Asia, Russia and Africa. In October 2012 he will start as a senior associate at the Boston Consulting Group in Amsterdam.
Back in Oxford, I reflected on my trip with mixed feelings. Interestingly, perhaps the difference between a field researcher and a spy is not that big after all. Both are generating unique knowledge with specific goals in mind (military intelligence or an obscure publica-
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Folke Eikmeier sheds light on the steadily increasing co-operation between University Colleges in the Netherlands – and on the steadily increasing rivalry.
hich of the five University Colleges is the best, largest, coolest, and prettiest?
University College Utrecht students have an answer and since the introduction of the Inter-UC Championship last year, they also have the chance to prove it. This past May students from five UCs again competed in football, basketball, chess and other sports, drama, a Battle of the Bands, a DJ Battle, and a beer-chugging competition. “For me it’s just another student activity,” UCU thirdyear Yuhan Yang says. “It’s just more fresh and exciting because it’s not just organized by the UCSA.” Not just organized by the University College Student Association? Since last year another organization with an equally uninspiring name is in charge of co-operation between UCs: The University College Student Representatives Netherlands (UCSRN). Consisting of two students from each of the five participating colleges, it is meant as an informal forum for co-operation. At yearly UC summits the boards of student organizations from Amsterdam (AUC), Leiden (LUC), Maastricht (UCM), Middelburg (RA), and Utrecht (UCU) come together to exchange information.
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“The UCSA is like a mother ship or a big brother,” the Academic Student Council’s Academic Affairs Officer Omri Preiss says. “LUC and AUC pretty much copied the UCSA statutes and policy manual.” As the student organization of the oldest and most developed University College, the USCA frequently gives advice to the other UCs. Hot topics for information requests are how to operate the bar, board transitions and the auditing team. “The board at AUC all take four courses,” says UCU third-year Nathalie van Haaren, this year’s Chair of the UCSRN. “They asked us how it works at UCU and want to get course reduction as well.” She thinks the role of the UCSA in the UCSRN is larger this year because a UCU student is chairing it. “Because of a rotating system, next year nobody from the UCSA will chair. If nobody signs up to be secretary, we’ll just be a participant then.” UCU is also profiting from the co-operation. During last year’s reform of UCU’s academic student representation, formerly called ‘ASIC’, was changed into the Academic Student Council (ASC). The reformers used a model simi-
lar to the one at Roosevelt Academy. “At RA they had the same student council experiences,” Preiss says. “We talked about their and our [General Assemblies]. This helps us a lot in our job.” UCSA chair Romain Bruyère thinks the board learns from the different models of student organization and their methods. “In other colleges they don’t inform students with a daily update, but with a weekly newsletter.” It seems, at this point, mostly UCSA and ASC board members are making use of the contact with other UC students. “If we learn from co-operation we pass this on to the student body,” Bruyère says. “We try to organize events that everyone can enjoy.” One of those events was a field hockey match, UCU vs. AUC, in Amsterdam a few weeks ago. “There was this rivalry and competitive atmosphere: ‘which UC will win?’” UCU first-year Willem van Geel says. “After the match we drank a beer together with AUC and it was much like any other ‘borrel’ on campus.”
Committees like SportsCo and DebateCo have great opportunities for competing against other UCs. For other committees, like PoliticsCo, it’s different. “I don’t even know if there’s another PoliticsCo,” PoliticsCo Chair Anne-Marie Spermon says. “Our [Committee Affairs Officer] never talks to us about co-operation.” So far, events with other UCs have still been limited in size. Last December, at a debate in The Hague between the deans of all Dutch UCs, only 50 UC students could participate. The debate took a step towards defining a shared identity and tackling common problems for the UCs. For most UCU students this remains an abstract idea, though many seem enthusiastic about co-operation. “It forms one UC culture. It adds something to my time at UCU,” firstyear Linda Barry says. A long-term goal is to develop the UCSRN into a strong representative of Liberal Arts and Sciences education to the Dutch Ministry of Education. “All UC students can
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now become a more serious body and start promoting what’s useful for us,” Preiss says. “That’s important now that honors colleges can increase their tuition.” Despite these plans, the UCSRN is currently not a representative organization, in that it doesn’t have legal powers. “All boards of student organizations are legally responsible for their own actions,” Preiss says. “It doesn’t make sense for them to give power to an external body.” Van Haaren thinks creating an actually representative organization would be difficult, as such a body would require its own budget. It would also complicate the structure of all the different organizations and their boards. “Not all organizations are the same; in Maastricht UC students don’t automatically become members of their student organization Universalis. They have to recruit members.” Van Haaren says. According to her, the largest obstacle to increased cooperation is the lack of dedication and professionalism in some of the participating boards. “We’re all students and have different functions and courses next to the UCSRN,” she says. “Sometimes we have to make new team members aware of the professionalism that has been going on. In some boards the transition is not yet formalized.” Another obstacle is the geographical remoteness of RA and UCM, located in the west and south of the Netherlands, respectively. “This makes it difficult for their members to take part in events and for their board to function in the UCSRN,” Van Haaren says. “I can quickly go to Amsterdam for a meeting with the UCSRN Secretary.” In this sense, Utrecht, being located right in the center of the country, has an advantage. This is one of the reasons why the second UC Championship also took place in Utrecht. “We said: ‘Let’s have it somewhere else this year,’” recalls Preiss. “They said: ‘Let’s have it in Utrecht.’ We’re just lucky to have all the campus facilities.” Where last year the UCSA paid for the Championship, this year every board pays a thousand euros. The exception is UCM, which, because of their different membership structure, doesn’t have enough funds and the UCSA helps out with an additional 500 euro. “We didn’t want the event to flop just because one college didn’t have enough money,” Bruyère says. “It’s in everybody’s interest to meet new people.” Around 500 students came to campus, the largest Inter-UC event so far.
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Preiss hopes that championships like this continue in the future. “All new UCs are now in a developing process. I hope they grow and that we can see what our specialties are, so we don’t compete but work together. UCU students could go to AUC for nice summer courses.” Bruyère agrees: “I hope funny traditions and healthy rivalry between the UCs can emerge. There could be an inter-UC football league.” To organize more than three big events a year would be difficult, Van Haaren thinks. Yet she hopes contacts will increase through smaller tournaments in sports, debate, or Model United Nations. “Once we’re alumni, we all have the same diploma with ‘Liberal Arts & Sciences’ on it.” A member of the class of 2012, Folke Eikmeier (‘12) is one of the newest members of the alumni community. During his time at UCU he studied history and political science and served as the Editorin-Chief of the campus magazine The Boomerang.
Word from the Dean Male and female at UCU I know that gender is about more than just female / male distribution, but I hope that you will excuse me for focusing on this aspect. UCU selects its students, as you all know. When you select students at age 17-18, you will typically get more women than men. It is a well-known phenomenon in all schools and universities that apply selection “before the gate” in a domain that is not male-biased (such as engineering).
Do we have gender balance in UCU management? I would say: give us a B+ to A-. The Management Team has two males (Director of Education and me) and one female (Managing Director). But the student assessor in the MT was female this year, so it balanced out. One Head of Department retired recently (Aafke Komter, Social Sciences) and her successor is male (Wil Pansters). But even the feminist wing of the selection committee fully agreed that he was the best candidate. So for the Heads: male score 2, female score 1. Again balanced out: the Senior Tutor is a woman.
Women – sorry, fellow males – are just more mature, focused and motivated at that age (in defense of my own sex I must say that men tend to catch up a few years later). So what is the result of this at UCU? Enrolment in 2007 was 66% female, 34% male. It “improved” step by step and in 2011 the freshmen were 61% female and 39% male. How did we manage to create a slightly better balance? The secret is in the three “balances” we apply in the final phase of the application process. Those three balances are: Dutch versus non-Dutch, prospective majors of the students (humanities, science, social science), and the male/female distribution. Outstanding students are always invited, whatever their sex, nationality, or field of interest. But there is always a big group of applicants of equal ability, motivation and promise. Among those, a male applicant who wants to major in humanities stands a better chance of being invited than a female applicant who wants to do social science. In that way, balances can be improved without jeopardizing quality.
Is the whole issue trivial? I would say no. UCU has to be alert about the issue. There is nothing to gain from a “girls college” image – diversity in all sorts of ways is much more interesting. And Utrecht University is still far away from attaining a gender balance in its senior faculty positions. Dear alumni: who will apply to be UCU’s first female new Dean in a few years time?
Prof. Dr. Rob van der Vaart has a doctorate in human geography from the University of Utrecht and has been the dean of UCU since 2008.
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On a motorboat to Samalona Island to collect sand. Taken in July 1948.
We begin life with sentiments for a futuristic utopia and, should we age till old, we end it romancing nostalgia. But the latter is a privilege, and one not it my grandfatherâ€™s fate. Affected by Alzheimerâ€™s disease, my grandfather lives between a moment already past and an impossible future. The illusion left burns on his face.
With his daughter and granddaughter in December 2011 in Goes, the Netherlands, at a care facility for people with dementia.
I canâ€™t comprehend how my grandfather inhabits and encounters his unknowable history and unnamable material reality. My photographs of him resemble, but fail to restore him. Here, between that which is seen and that which is said, the shock of mortality dissipates under the mercy of finitude. Annelien van der Mark (â€˜06)
Anton d r a w d E & piece, by Vanessa n io ct fi t rs fi ’s st o P of two old men. le ta a is f, e le C n va
nton met Edward at breakfast. Anton politely asked whether he could join Edward, as all the other tables were occupied. Something, habit perhaps, had steered him away from the windows to the back of the dining room, and he picked Edward’s table as his was the only remotely familiar face, although he couldn’t remember whether he had met him before. The polite and pleasant conversation over this shared meal, distributed on slightly greyed trays by well-meaning but tired-looking staff, having established they enjoyed each other’s company, although Anton’s slightly quixotic nature occasionally elicited a single momentarily raised eyebrow from Edward, Anton confessed he was used to taking a mid-morning stroll through the gardens and asked Edward whether he would keep him company. After a short chat with the nurse who gave Edward regular updates on his brother’s condition, the two old men shuffled from the slightly stuffy dining room to the gardens. The brothers’ conversation naturally evolved from how Anton was enjoying his stay in this place to the importance of a good night’s rest, to the significance of dreams. Anton confessed he sometimes had difficulty separating his waking state from his dreaming state, a natural
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side effect of being a life-long practitioner of conscious dreaming. Edward suggested that he try telling the two apart by determining whether he could fly in his current state. With a subtle butt at the originality of this idea, Anton agreed that, as stated by Pierre Menard in his seminal work on levitation abilities in dreaming and waking states, this was generally observed to be the most effective manner. The conversation shifted to exactly what technique to use when flying in one’s dreams. Anton had collected many explanations from people as to the exact flying techniques and their effectiveness. His exasperation shone through as he listed the statistics to his companion. The majority of people had to put in a lot of effort, running and jumping just to get off the ground, and never really able or motivated to develop substantive height. They tended to be satisfied staying close to the ground, needing to make exhaustive arm movements just to stay in the air. A few people were slightly more skilled, not needing to put in great effort to take to the air, but still needing to make some form of movement or strike some sort of ‘Superman pose’, to retain levitation, never really soaring higher than the treetops. Sometimes they would even resort to crude measures
such as growing wings in their dreams. It was only a gifted few who would merely need to picture the movement to find themselves rising past the birds, or even further, moving easily between the stars. Edward assented that this would most certainly require disciplined practice to accomplish. That evening Anton found Edward while moving towards the dining room. They made their way towards the same table that they had taken their breakfast at, settling in the same seats they had sat in that morning, waiting quite a while for the food, again served on the same greyed trays by the same well-meaning but tired-looking staff, to arrive. Edward, relieved his brother had recognized him, enquired whether he’d had a restorative nap. Anton shrugged, said that he didn’t have time to rest in his dreams lately, and, worried about being overheard, leaned in and asked whether Edward would be able to keep a secret. Sufficiently satisfied by Edward’s assur-
gardens, where he amused himself playing around with the kinds of animals and plants that grew there instead of flying. Last week he had woken up to find he had dirt under his fingernails.
ances, Anton explained how he thought that lately he was able to diminish the barrier between his dreaming and waking states. As he had told Edward that morning, conscious dreaming had been his life’s passion. Of course he would never say so himself, but he’d become as much a respected authority on the subject as the expert Edward had shown himself familiar with during their morning walk. It had started when he was younger, teaching himself to know when he was dreaming. As this became easier, he had started being able to manipulate and steer his dreams. His waking hours were devoted to studying and preparing for his dreams. When he was slightly younger and in better shape he could, with barely a thought, travel to and manipulate known and unknown galaxies. Now, however, he was starting to feel his age, even in his dreams, and would stray less far from home. This meant he had more dream time around their current establishment, especially the
Edward blinked uncomfortably, unable to return Anton’s expectant gaze. Anton sighed and explained that this was a completely unknown phenomenon. This was a groundbreaking, world-shattering, astounding first. He had taken something back from his dream world to the waking world! This was the kind of breakthrough that would change everything! He had been practicing as much as he could since that day, but had not been able to take anything sizable back yet that would irrevocably prove what he’d been able to do. Therefore, no, his sleep nowadays was not so restorative. As the trays were cleared, there was nothing Edward could do to keep the now slightly agitated Anton from returning to his bed at once. He went to talk to one of the nurses before leaving, asking them to keep a close eye on his brother that evening, as he had seemed a bit out of sorts and excited. Reasonably reassured by the nurse’s promise to look in on him during the night, Edward went home.
punctual Anton. The nurse informed him that he had asked them to let him sleep in, as he was really rather tired, and so they hadn’t been to check up on him. Edward quietly knocked on his brother’s door, knocked slightly louder, and shuffled into his brother’s room. The past year his brother had recognized Edward on only a few occasions, and he didn’t want to distress him by suddenly appearing as a stranger at his bedside, but when he had called his name a few times without Anton stirring in the slightest, he did gently shake his shoulder. His brother was not asleep. He was laying on his side with his back to the door, his eyes were open, peering through the opening between his thumb and index finger at something he held in his cupped hands. But he wasn’t awake either. Edward closed his brother’s eyes with tears in his, and carefully pried open the now stiff fingers. He only caught a glimpse of the butterfly´s wings before it flew off, escaping through the slightly opened window. Vanessa van Cleef (´03) has an MSc in International Development Studies, works in a bookstore in Amsterdam and as a freelance translator.
The next morning he went back to visit his brother. He sat down at their regular table, and waited. After about twenty minutes he asked one of the nurses whether they had seen the usually
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While riding his electric bicycle from the Norwegian North Cape to the South African Cape of Good Hope, Gijs Stevers explores the possibilities of renewable energy.
act: Every day the earth receives five-thousand times the energy it needs from the sun. This might be a random fact, yet it is the random fact which inspired me to cycle 22,000 km on an electric bicycle. I started on April 12th from the North Cape, Norway and will cycle down to the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. During this journey I want to explore our renewable energy future. The first people I visited were Hans and Aurelien, who work at Havoygavlen – the northernmost wind-park in the world. That day they went up to the wind-park by snowscooter and climbed one of the 80 meter high towers to clean the slipring of one of the turbines, which ensure that Norway is the country where already 100% of the produced electricity comes from renewable sources. Hans and Aurelien are just two of many who regard renewable energy to be exciting, necessary and profitable. It is people like them who I want to meet during my journey. I want to listen to their stories and share the things I
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learn with others. Because producing renewable energy requires science, but above all, it needs bright motivated people. Our renewable energy future needs bright people Fact: The yearly subsidies on fossil fuels are almost four times the subsidies received by the renewable energy industry. History shows that energy revolutions take time. Even though oil had clear benefits over coal it still took the transportation industry decades to shift from one to the other. Currently we are in a similar situation where electricity generation from renewable resources is about to take off. Yet, the vested interest of the fossil fuel industry is hindering this, both directly and indirectly. With both amazement and shock, I see how current young talent is still so attracted to a fossil fuel industry which extracts our resources at such a fast pace that there will be nothing left for our grandchildren. I would understand this choice if there
was no alternative, but there is one and it’s fantastic. Wind turbines are becoming more powerful, solar cells more efficient and the sales of electric cars are skyrocketing – it must be great to work in such an industry. Actually, the costs per kWh of solar and wind power have halved several times over the past 10 years. It has come down to such a level that they are very competitive to conventional methods of electricity production. Now that science gave us the solution to a prosperous and clean world it is still people who need to implement this future. A shift in investment from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy will only come when more people start believing in a future without fossil fuels. As the current youth will be creating and living in our renewable energy future I will give workshops around this theme at secondary schools along the route. With help of LEGO bricks the students will try to change the energy towers of 2030, the bricks represent units of energy. The workshop gives a good insight into the possibilities and challenges which we will face while changing our energy systems. Renewable energy and e-mobility Fact: Recently an electric car reached a
North Cape in Norway /
“I could use the energy from the of battery package to my electric bike iron my shirts.”
photo by the author
top speed of 250km/h – on ice!
The high energy density of gasoline and diesel did give us the possibility to drive more than 500km without having to refuel. Soon this will also be possible with electric cars, yet, do we really need this 500km range? As an example, the UK Department for Transport estimates that 93% of all journeys in the UK are below 40km. For most people including speed junkies on frozen lakes in Finland - the electric car is already a viable option. At the same time, though, together they could become an essential part of a future based on renewable energy production by acting as a gigantic battery.
I have studied Environmental and Natural Resource Economics in Copenhagen and worked at the sustainability department of Maersk. Even though I heard a lot about renewable energy and e-mobility I never installed a solar panel, smelled any bio-diesel or drove an electric car. Cape to Cape 2012 will give me a good practical insight in an industry which will be developing extremely fast with many opportunities. Aside from the fact that I like to see my parents grow old in a world with clean energy I am doing this project for myself. I believe it will prepare me well for starting a business in this sector and - as an added bonus - I will be outside breathing fresh air for a year.
The nice thing about fossil fuel is that it was both an energy source and carrier. The challenge of most forms of renewable energy is that the energy needs to be stored one way or the other - as it is not always sunny or windy. The electric vehicles which are (still very) slowly replacing the fossil fuel powered vehicles could be the solution and store surplus energy for some time. As an example, when there is not much wind I could use the energy from the battery package of my electric bike to iron my shirts, when there is more wind a smart system makes sure to charge the battery so it is fully charged at the moment I need to continue my journey.
Gijs Stevers (‘08), while working for the shipping company Maersk, obtained his MSc in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Copenhagen. He is currently biking somewhere between the North Cape and Cape Town, to explore the future of renewable energy.
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d gu Let’s get the ba If you haven’t heard of the KONY2012 campaign, you probably live under a rock. Casper van der Ven explains why you might as well stay there.
ost of you have heard of Joseph Kony, many of you perhaps through a video called KONY2012. Consequently you know that the goal of the campaign is to make Joseph Kony famous and get him to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Though this may sound like a noble goal, I strongly disagree with Invisible Children, the organisation behind KONY2012, on the way they want to reach that goal. By providing some background information and illustrating my opinion. I would like to convince you to think twice before posting videos like KONY2012 to your blog, Twitter or Facebook. In October of last year, Invisible Children successfully convinced the Obama administration to approve sending one hundred combat-equipped troops on a kill-or-capture mission, assisting the Ugandan Army (UPDF), after president Obama signed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act into law in May of 2010. Despite the passive nature of the mission (no engagement unless for self defence) many Ugandans do not feel the need to have American troops deployed in their country. The violence that occurred in February 2009 as retaliation to the unsuccessful mission “Lightning Thunder”, aimed at extracting Kony from his base in Garamba National Park in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, has inspired numerous tribal and religious leaders to take a stance opposing American involvement. It seems that Ugandans prefer local solutions and recognise the importance of local leaders in achieving peace. In fact, Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi insisted that the video did not
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represent the current situation, stating: “The KONY2012 campaign fails to make one crucial point clear. Joseph Kony is not in Uganda. Uganda is not in conflict. Uganda is a modern, developing country which enjoys peace, stability and security.” Additionally, civil society, human rights organisations and religious leaders in northern Uganda, despite the fact that the situation in Uganda has been brought to the attention of the ICC by the Ugandan government, disapproved of the ICC’s decision to issue arrest warrants. Primarily because in 2000 the Ugandan government passed an amnesty act that guaranteed that any Lord’s Resistance Army combatants who defected would be granted a reprieve from prosecution and be reintegrated into society. This was done because many LRA commanders were initially introduced to the LRA through abduction and because, in this way, rather than through a trial, justice would be attained through traditional reconciliation mechanisms that take into account the context. The Ugandans prefer seeing their abducted family members return home over having all the LRA members killed. Besides the obvious primary outcome of demonstrating that criminals are brought to justice, the US military involvement in capturing Kony can have two secondary, unfavourable outcomes in Uganda if the mission is successful, regardless of whether Kony is killed or captured. The first is that one of Kony’s commanders will follow in his footsteps and continue on a similarly violent path,
leading to retaliation and revenge. The second is that the LRA breaks up into smaller, armed gangs consisting of former LRA soldiers that, for the past twenty years, have known nothing but a life full of violence, rape, looting and torture. Both outcomes will probably lead to an unstable, volatile and violent environment in which civilians will be the victims. Fighting fire with fire, Machine Gun Preacherstyle, is not the right approach in this case. Long term sustainable peace can only be achieved through diplomatic agreement between the parties that control the armed forces, and by solving Uganda’s fundamental problem: poor governance. Despite its poor governance, Uganda has experienced one of the highest economic growth rates (6.4%) in Africa. What the KONY2012 campaign overlooks is that there has been peace in Uganda for the past six years; the first time since the dictatorship of Idi Amin between 1971 and 1979. The DRC and South Sudan, however, are still highly volatile. The most important problems of the Ugandan people do not involve the LRA or Kony; many Ugandans are more concerned with ousting the current president Yoweri Museveni, from the western Banyankole tribe. Museveni has been in power since 1986, following a five-year jungle war, fought with child soldiers, against the tyranny of Milton Obote, and the subsequent six-month presidency of Tito Okello, a northern Langi, who had lead the coup against Obote. How has Museveni been able to stay in power if he allowed a man like Kony to commit the atrocities he com-
mitted? In the early 1990s many northern Ugandan peoples – Acholi, Langi and Alur – were forced to move into internally displaced persons camps. More people died due to lack of sanitation and food in these camps than the LRA ever killed. And why is it that the presidential administration gets approval for financial support that is nine times as high as the denied request for financial support by the minister of health for an urgent response to nodding disease, a fatal, mentally and physically disabling, neurological disease in children between the age of five and fifteen that is currently killing more children (four thousand reported cases) than the LRA? That too is overlooked by the campaign. In fact, it seems that the video ignores all the changes that have been going on in the past six years. It displays that Kony is the only problem on the mind of the average Ugandan, rather than acknowledge that the focus of Ugandans has shifted to more pressing issues, now that the LRA has moved to neighbouring countries. Having taken the history and progress made in Uganda into account, I would like to draw your attention to a relatively new phenomenon. Allow me to set the scene: Jason Russell, the producer of the KONY2012 video, the bloke with the hipsteresque look, one toddler, one Ugandan friend, and a look-at-me-doing-good-attitude, has an idea “whose time is now”. This idea can be broken down into multiple steps, but is relatively simple. Step 1 is to identify an international criminal as public
Video still from ‘KONY2012 Part II: Beyond Famous’
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enemy number one. Here’s why Joseph Kony is the most logical choice for Invisible Children: Originally, Jason and his buddies went to Sudan in 2003 to film a genocide, because musicals were not ‘hot in Hollywood’ at the time. When they were driving through northern Uganda they saw how many children were running away from their villages to spend the night in Gulu, afraid they would otherwise be abducted by the LRA. Jason and his friends were shocked. They had never heard of this before, and they definitely had not seen it with their own eyes. No one in the Western world had brought it to their attention. And because they didn’t know about Kony, they assumed no else knew what was happening and thus they decided to film their first documentary “Invisible Children: Rough Cut”. Two years later they founded the charity Invisible Children. So Joseph Kony is a logical pick, seeing that he committed awful atrocities in the name of the LRA. Fortunately, he is also the first one on the list of indicted people of the ICC. That makes him the first person added to the list, not the most wanted.
“Cover the Night” was issued to ensure the non-tweeting people were reached as well, and that the coverage of the campaign would be increased. It remains to be seen how successful this has been. Before this took place on April 20th, another event put KONY2012 in the news. It was Jason’s mental breakdown, dehydration and malnutrition which lead to his midday jog in various degrees of undress, screaming nonsense about the devil. Some believe there is no such thing as bad publicity. Step 3 is to use the attention the campaign has gotten as leverage to convince governments, institutions and policy makers to start chasing Kony. Democracy at its best: the Photo by Glen na Gordon / Inv isible Children of the Sudan People’s Libera filmmakers po se with office tion Army on failed peace tal rs the Congo-Sud ks between the an border du LRA and the Ug ring andan Governm ent, April 2008 .
Step 2 is to make sure that everybody in the world knows that this man, Joseph Kony, is in fact a monster. KONY2012 is doing a great job at that: hashtags, bracelets, posters, viral videos, memes and this warlord is now the most popular topic on Twitter. A call to action dubbed
“It is too early to judg By Fritz Streiff (‘09)
verything new and powerful provokes rejection in us humans. We are hesitant towards the unknown in order to protect us from what could later turn out to be ‘wrong’ change. But not moving forward means getting left behind. And it is the 21st century: the warfare of the last century is history. The US has recently shown how incredibly efficient the hunt for international criminals can be, using an ad hoc helicopter invasion to execute bin Laden, and amazingly timed drone rockets to eliminate terrorists in Yemen. (Not compatible with the rule of law? Let’s talk about that!) Reports now show that Joseph Kony is feeling his pursuers
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approaching, and, as a result, has already stopped using radios. Some now play down what they felt when watching that powerful video. Some call it PONY2012. That’s funny, but not very helpful. It is also discarded as clicktivism or slacktivism, both terms carrying an intrinsic criticism: young kids sitting behind a computer calling themselves activists. I say it is too early to judge. It might not be too early to judge evangelist Jason Russell and his NGO. But why bury KONY2012 before the campaign reaches its self-proclaimed terminus at the end of this year? Yes, Kony is water under the bridge in Uganda; there are more pressing first needs at the moment. I mean, he is not even there anymore! True, Obama would love to have him caught for his election
people speak, the leaders listen and justice is served as Kony is handcuffed and dragged before the court in The Hague. Sounds like a good result, doesn’t it? But despite the undoubtedly good intentions of Invisible Children there is something terribly wrong with this campaign, and it scares me. If this works, if Oprah and Lady Gaga tweeting in favour of going after the bad guy will lead to military intervention with devastating consequences in a country that most people supportive of these campaigns cannot point out on a map, will it ever stop? If these figures and their followers have more persuasive power than the institutional organs and advisors who possess detailed information on the region and all parties involved, and can adequately predict the effects, outcomes and inevitable casualties of military interventions, what will happen next? I have an idea. Just like the KONY2012 viral video, people will have an I-can-be-a-superhero-and-catch-bad-guys motivation and will be completely unaware of the impacts of those operations on the local situation. Every single one of us can contribute to catching bad guys from behind our laptops, by clicking links and buying action kits. There will be no limitation on using force in political conflicts if the opinion of the public is more powerful than advisory organs and if the public opinion can be leveraged with sensational
campaign – another bad guy dead. And I am convinced that the US Africom mission naturally has an oil agenda, like every global power does. And yes, Invisible Children’s motives can be questioned, just like those of any fundraising NGO should be. And they’ve made it easy to do so; posing with AK-47s alongside South Sudanese soldiers was a major PR-oops. I am a pacifist and hate war. At the same time, it is a deep, natural, human desire to see injustice corrected; forgiveness only gets the victim so far. That’s why I also believe that there is a thirst for justice amongst the people of Northern Uganda, despite other first needs currently taking priority. Who are we kidding? Not only the Western clicktivist world wants Kony behind bars! Every mother who has lost a child to Kony’s abduction practices, every young boy who has managed to escape from the jungle and is now living in constant fear of being re-recruited, every father who has
one-sided marketing campaigns like KONY2012. I think that selling a simplified version of the truth, which completely ignores the consequences in the local environment and the death of innocent people, in order to crowdsource military intervention is both dangerous and immoral.
Casper van der Ven (‘11) traveled through East and Southern Africa for several months after finishing his BSc and is currently doing an internship with the development organisation Simavi in Haarlem. In his free time he enjoys sports, photography and the outdoors.
lost all his crops and belongings to one of the many LRA lootings, and every girl who has been raped by one of his sidekicks wants Kony arrested. So we should support the KONY2012 campaign and lobby for a militarily efficient mission to arrest Kony by the end of the year. Let’s jump on the wagon and steer it to where we think it should go, instead of letting it speed by while bombarding it with our criticism. Everything else would mean regression. Fritz Streiff (‘09) is currently finishing his degrees in Dutch and International Law and organizes a monthly discussion event, called Salon Jeudi, which aims to offer a platform to share knowledge on and discuss solutions to worldly issues both small and big.
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There’s a lot more to networking than we realise, Hannah van der Deijl explains. Apparently Tolkien knew this as well.
he Myth of Urgent Networking
The word “social network” seems to conjure up two types of associations in the current discourse. At job fairs and job market seminars, ‘networking’ is mostly presented as a conscious activity. You ‘build’ your network, in order to later be able to ‘use’ your network for various purposes, such as finding information, jobs or other opportunities. In an extreme example, a friend told me about a seminar in which the speaker encouraged her audience to create a folder with information about their contacts, including such information as birthdays and the names of their kids. The second association that comes with “social networks” has to do with social media1, which are built on friend-tofriend connections and recommendations. Ultimately, there does not seem to be a big distinction between the popular view on ‘job market’ networks and these online networks. Again, job market gurus and web writers have been quick to jump in and extend advice in this area: it is important that you are in control of your web presence and use the new social media to create an attractive profile of yourself. Taken together, we might call this story The Myth of Urgent Networking. In this story, social networks feature as a tool that exist for us to use and further
ourselves in the world. After all, these (online) networks have sprung up and why not explore what they can mean for us? I am not trying to argue against the importance or existence of networks. Instead, I’d like to ask these questions: should we care about network effects? And how can they be useful? In answering these questions, we will mostly bring some nuance to the existing views on networking by adding some lesserknown details about networks.
A second problem on of incomplete information on network structures. Forming new connections is not always helpful (for instance, you might not like the person you just met). In short, a little extra knowledge on the structure of networks can help you navigate networks and put them into a less urgent perspective.
Problems with the urgent networking view
There are a few principles that illustrate how the ‘utilitarian’ view of networks can never hold true over the long run.
The first problem with the general representation of networks is a misguided and overly simplistic focus on the utilitarian side of networks and the question: “what can my network do for me?” This is sad because it takes a lot of the fun out of meeting people as it re-categorizes various activities that were previously simply called “socializing”, “drinking”, or “procrastinating”. This view, which encourages taking an unemotional stock of our environment furthermore discounts the importance of individual agency and inflates the importance of getting things done through magical connections, with little understanding of the underlying structure of these connections and too much talk of carrying the names of peoples’ kids around in a special folder?
Adding reciprocity to the network view
Clue 1: networks exist irrespective of “networking” Whether you are an early Facebook adopter or a conscious internet objector; a social butterfly or someone who prefers to hang with their inner circle – if you talk to people every once in a while, you’re in a network. In this sense, the verb “networking” doesn’t make that much sense, other than as a proxy or cover-up for ‘partying’ in a work context (see also the above). What is more, networking is not something that does not require active doing most of the time; it can simply imply the observation of existing ties and social patterns between individuals. Any time people meet each other you could also
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apply the network perspective as an alternative way of observing the situation. In that sense, networks are also not restricted to the work environment and there is no urgent need to build anything. Clue 2: spiraling causality Furthermore, there is a logical inconsistency to the idea that networks can magically further our career or success. One way to look at this is the simple observation that ties between people are generally reciprocal2. Another way to look it is to connect network effects to individual productivity. Perry-Smith and Shalley3 (2003) speak of “spiraling creativity”: if you are good at something, people will hear about it. It will help you form connections, which will help you do a better job with what you are doing, which people will then hear about, and so on. In other words, networking is never going to be useful as an isolated activity; it is not the cause of success or a substitute for hard work; and it can never be one-directional over the long run. We may summarize in the epic words of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”4 (Taking “country” loosely as “group of people you care about.”) How network knowledge can help The other problem described above is the incompleteness of the generally vague use of the term words “social network”. There seems to be a notion out there that ‘networks and connections matter’, without specifying how these networks work. There are a few pieces of information that help specify why the network paradigm, at the end of the day, is a very useful way to look at the world.
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Building blocks: ties and triads A tie, or a connection between two people, forms the basic building block of networks. A useful distinction at this level is the difference between strong and weak ties. Your direct friends and family are known as your strong ties; people you talk to on an infrequent or spontaneous basis form the weak ties. A key realization in this field is that if you need help, in most cases your strong ties will be the people to look to, especially for emotional support and sharing. On the other hand, your strong ties are likely to have access to a lot of the same information as you, while weak ties are likely to move in different circles and may open doors to a whole set of new information, ideas and people to talk. It’s been said that three’s a crowd, and networks support this statement. Moving from a tie with two actors to a triad or a combination of three actors, we jump to 18 ways for three people to interact (seeing each tie as either positive, negative, or non-existent). “A friend of the devil is a friend of mine” as The Grateful Dead once detailed.
The Shire: bubbles or tribes of similar people When we take the argumentation one step further, we can look at what happens at the ‘community’ level when you combine the building blocks. Studies on large network structures consistently show that the level of ‘clustering’ in social networks is much higher than one would expect if the formation happened according to a random pattern6. In other words, people flock together in tightknight groups. When we combine this observation with a second observation from social identity theory – people prefer to connect to ‘similar others’ – and you can see that you are likely to be ‘embedded’ in a group of like-minded people. We might call these clusters ‘bubbles’ or tribes7. A great example would be J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Shire from “The Lord of the Rings”: a social bubble that features known perimeters, shared norms and values and possibly inside jokes (another great example of a Shire-like environment would be a certain little campus we all know). The Shire vs. wizards Now, if we are talking about The Shire,
Studying networks as sets of ‘triad’ connections has another important implication: networks have a strong tendency towards “closure”; i.e. for these triads to close up. In real life, the dominant effect is not the one described by the Grateful Dead, but rather that of “the friend of my friend is my friend”. As such, networks tend to become ‘small worlds’5 of the same interconnected people.
where are the wizards? A long-standing debate in the literature of networks concerns the importance of ‘closure’8 vs. ‘brokerage’9. In other words, the advantage of being a Hobbit who hangs out around his village versus the advantage of being the middleman and connecting two such villages – let’s call the latter person Gandalf. Roughly summarized, we could say that bubbles are good for safety and support, getting things done, stability and producing known things, while brokering between two ‘villages’ helps generate new ideas, and additionally places you in a great position to negotiate and potentially select or translate information in selective ways (this may well be where networks got their bad rep). Influencing – Peregrin vs. Gandalf Christakes and Fowler10 studied obesity in networks and discovered clusters of healthy and of unhealthy people, and found these pattern of clustering become stronger over time. While the pa-
per focused on eating behavior, it is a powerful illustration of the ripple effect: your behavior influences those around you, who in turn influence those around them.
havior as interconnected rather than isolated. It shows the reality of the social structure shaping the options of the individual, but equally the power of the individual to shape their social reality.
Going back to our Hobbit analogy: a hobbit change may be as powerful as the change brought about by a wizard (although Gandalf would want us to note a wizard is still far superior in transmit-
If there’s a message in this odd compilation of network facts, it’s that we shouldn’t look at networking as an isolated activity, but rather take the insights offered by network theory as an
ting information between distant locations).
invitation to venture out of our own circles every once in a while. Finally, don’t buy into the obligation to network, do think about what you have to share, stay critical and by all means, shake your head like Gandalf from time to time.
Concluding remarks - the network perspective as an alternative metaphor At our common Shire, also known as the Campus, I learnt that the paradigms a person chooses in life affect the outcome of both one’s research and observations and one’s research outcomes. This effect cannot be helped, but one can be made aware of this inevitable choice.
Hannah van der Deijl (‘04) is a PhD researcher and FWO fellow at the University of Leuven. Her research uses network analysis to gain a better understanding of the organization of science within universities, specifically looking at internal and external network structures of research groups.
As a paradigm, I can only recommend the social network view, which takes people, their beliefs, habits, and be-
1 For example, a search of the words “social network” in the NY times article section yields 9 articles on Facebook, 3 articles on Twitter and a further 8 articles on other social media on the first page of the search. 2 See for example the “The Gift: An Interdisciplinary Perspective“, (2005), edited by: Komter, A. 18–26. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, from prof. Komter’s course “The Gift” at UCU. When they are not, this is because of a difference in hierarchy or power. This undermines the story in which you need to network to receive help: help is always a two-way stream over the long run.
Perry-Smith, J.E. and C.E. Shalley, (2003), “The social side of creativity: a static and dynamic social network perspective” The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 89-106
6 Newman, M.E.J. (2001), “Scientific collaboration networks - I Network construction and fundamental results, Physical Review E, Volume 64, 016131 7
Seth, GodinTribes: We Need You to Lead Us, London, Piatkus, 2008
4 Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, Friday, January 20, 1961 5 Milgram, S., (1967), “The Small-World Problem”, Psychology Today (May), 62-67.
8 Coleman, J.S., “Social Theory, Social Research, and a Theory of Action”, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 91, No. 6 (May, 1986), pp. 1309-1335, Published by: The University of Chicago Press 9 Burt, R.S., (1992), “Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition”, Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Christakes, N.A. and J.H. Fowler, (2007), “The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years”, New England journal of Medicine, Vol. 357, No. 4.
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Historical .enactments e R Nina Brands tells of her passion for dressing up as a Napoleonic soldier amidst men who would rather she didn’t.
oluntarily spending several weekends a year sleeping on sheepskins and hay in a canvas tent, cooking your meals on a campfire in between fighting battles on a muddy field might not sound like your ideal way to pass the time. However, historical re-enactments are becoming increasingly popular and more people, including myself, do choose to spend their free time recreating life as it may have been in the past. A large part of this is focused on life in the military, ranging from a Roman legion to a U.S. platoon in Vietnam. While some people are quick to dismiss this as simply a bunch of grown-ups playing soldiers, there is much more to it. Historical re-enactment can perhaps best be described as an attempt to recreate a certain historical period as accurately as possible. While re-enacting, it is strictly forbidden to use any objects or materials that would not have been available in the period you are trying to recreate. You will not find a medieval trader dealing in coffee and tea or a Napoleonic soldier brandishing an AK-47. This is why re-enacting entails more than just the weekends spent on the battlefield. Most re-enactors spend a lot of time researching the time period they aim to recreate.
As many items and pieces of clothing needed for an accurate portrayal of, for instance, a 17th century Dutch pikeman are far from readily available, most of the clothing and uniforms worn by reenactors are homemade. This is not as easy as it sounds. For instance, try finding buttons that belonged on the uniform of a specific Confederate regiment from the American Civil War era. These kinds of items are therefore often homemade as well. Not only do re-enactors gain a lot of theoretical knowledge, they often gain practical knowledge in the form of practicing a certain skill. Many of these abilities, like spinning, smithing, or even cooking historical dishes, are partially preserved through historical re-enactment. This is just one of the reasons historical re-enactment can be seen as more than grown-ups dressing up. As a reenactor, you get to visit historical sites that might not normally be open to the public, you meet many people who share your interest in history, and you get to share your passion with an audience you might not otherwise reach. You get a glimpse of what life must have been like for a French soldier
serving under Napoleon when you’re trudging through a muddy field wearing your heavy woollen uniform, uncomfortable spiked shoes and carrying a musket that weighs 5 kilos. Then again, you’re lucky you even have shoes, you had a proper breakfast and a reasonable night’s sleep inside a tent; luxuries the average soldier could only have dreamed of. Of course, this is only valid for those actively participating in the re-enactments, not those viewing it. However, visitors to re-enactment events do gain insight into a certain period as well. By simply asking questions, seeing how food is prepared on a campfire or viewing the tents used to sleep in, they get an understanding of how different life was in the past. It is a truly handson experience, as visitors are often allowed to sample some food, touch the uniforms to feel how heavy the fabric is or get an explanation of the steps involved in readying a musket for firing. Re-enactors transfer their knowledge and insight through these interactions with the public, making history
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be excused ly p m si t o n n a c “this id not serve d n e m o w g in y sa by certain era, a in s k n a r e h t in ely, neither did because, most lik weight men.” 50-year old over very accessible. This is what makes reenactment a valuable contribution to the more traditional ways of teaching and studying history. However, try as they might, re-enactors will never actually be able to fully recreate all the circumstances and hardships that came with living in the past. Like historians, re-enactors face boundaries that cannot simply be put aside. For instance, a lack of historical sources may mean a recreated regiment can never be quite sure their uniforms are exactly the same as those worn by soldiers serving the regiment in the past. Moreover, certain aspects cannot be recreated for the sake of hygiene and safety. Most reenactment units try to compensate for these unavoidable modern influences (think: the use of modern toilets instead of digging a ditch and food brought from home rather than scavenged in some nearby village) by striving for a representation that is as accurate as possible in every other way. This is of course very commendable, though certain problems do arise; some of which I have personally encountered. You would think that any re-enactment unit would be more than happy with a young, new recruit. Taking myself as an example, I appear to fit the description
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of the average soldier: I’m in my early twenties (I was 19 when I joined my group) and I’m of average build and height. There is, however, one small problem: I’m also a woman. This would not necessarily be a problem if I was willing to spend my weekends re-enacting a camp follower, doing dishes, cooking and selling small trinkets. While many women are content in this role, I am far more interested in the military side of things. I want to wear the uniform, carry arms and engage in the (simulated) battles. This is a problem because most re-enactment units do not allow women in their ranks. Unless you’re talking about a select few groups recreating units that explicitly allowed women in the ranks, for instance Second World War-era Soviet snipers, you will have a hard time convincing a group to allow you to serve in
a male role. This might seem obvious, seeing as these groups put a lot of effort into being as historically accurate as possible. Before World War II, women were generally not allowed to join the armed forces serving in the field. Women were sometimes allowed to perform auxiliary functions but were rarely allowed on the actual battlefield. So it does not seem too strange that re-enactment units would not allow this either. And indeed, on the surface, these groups seem to have a very valid point. Why sacrifice such an integral part of your authenticity and historical accuracy for the sake of gender equality? The problem is that authenticity and historical accuracy are sacrificed to allow men in the ranks all the time. If a re-enactment group truly cared for authenticity in the form of bodily appearance, they should, for instance, not allow overweight men in the ranks. Most common soldiers would have struggled to find enough food to make it through the day, let alone finding enough to become overweight. This privilege was usually reserved for officers. Any grown men portraying a common soldier could thus be said to not be allowed to weigh over 70 kilos. The same goes for age restrictions; most foot soldiers would not live or serve as foot soldiers past the age of thirty, either because people in general, let alone soldiers, simply died
younger or because those older surviving soldiers would get promoted to a higher rank. Having men over the age of thirty portray a common soldier should then also not be allowed. If you would tell a potential male recruit he’d have to go on a diet because he doesn’t adhere to the historical standards concerning the average soldier’s body, he would probably think you’d gone insane. Yet this is the exact same argument potential female recruits get when asked why they can’t portray a male role. Moreover, if groups would only allow members to serve as soldiers until they are thirty years old, most groups would struggle to even exist. It appears that even though age, weight and build are not important standards to adhere to when it comes to historical accuracy, gender is.
simple: “girls” play house, while “boys” play soldiers and fight. Whenever a woman wants to join the ranks, the traditional gender roles are mixed up and the supposed masculinity of the hobby is undermined. No re-enactor would probably admit that this is the reason for not allowing women in male roles, though it seems likely that this is the real reason. Most re-enactors probably do not consciously exclude women, yet they do subconsciously seem to view women as a threat to their hobby.
there are women present in the ranks when you see units moving on the battlefield; my bet is you won’t even be able to tell us apart from our male counterparts. Nina Brands (‘10) has an MA in Cultural History, works as a museum employee and volunteers at the local archives in Oss. In her free time she is a member of a historical re-enactment society aiming to recreate a French Napoleonic infantry regiment as accurately as possible.
Putting the gender trouble aside, I would heartily recommend everyone to come and have a look at a re-enactment event if you ever get a chance. And be sure to check if you can actually tell if
And this cannot simply be excused by saying women did not serve in the ranks in a certain era, because, most likely, neither did 50-year old overweight men. Many re-enactors might still believe they’re protecting their authenticity by not allowing women in the ranks, yet it seems something else is at play, namely that historical reenactment is a male-dominated hobby. The ratio of men to women is probably around ten to one. Most women in reenactment are wives, daughters, friends or colleagues of a male re-enactor and it is very rare for a woman without any existing connection to a re-enactor to join a group. This is not just because it is simply less likely for women to somehow come in contact with reenactment, but also because their participation seems to be discouraged. Women are rarely seen on websites run by re-enactment groups, unless it’s in a special female unit or category. Perhaps the underlying principle is very
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e h t o t lations
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er / Sibel Bal as / Marit Bakk Ba a th cin Ja van der / jmen van Ark ersma / Saskia lie Arends / Ti er / Tiffany Bo Ju Bruyn Bo / de rt de a e oo ici sv nn Al el ria / / Jesse van Am si Boeijen / Flo Celine Bricteux / we Jo u ig / sc Julia y Ad le / oo ia ai Bl dr ee Br ez a An de / an / Ioan n / Bart Cr Berg / Hans Grégoire Adam n / Anne Braakm / Wendy Colema chard van den Drees / u ma Ri an er uw / th ob n Bo Es Ci or ia / a ho sk é ili rn Sa Ot am / Irene Ba Bouklieva / Banta-Eric Dr oman Çelik / Emma Gans / se van Dorp / Boreel / Martina en Buvelot / Te an Viet / Deni erike Fransen / Boor / Daniel n Buuren / Co ed Do va Fr se / ka ui en an Lo ur Grevel Fr / / Fle en s nhui n Gool / Thomas n Ende / Lucas / Carlijn Dieder / Manuel Buite ke / Sophie va erma nathan van de hl n van Deursen Jo He Go Ja / s / en n Ba rg ve / ms El Jü n Da / n se s s Czichy / Tie / Kippy Gilder / Marissa Harm eier / Sophie va ni km en yce an Ei ar Gi Jo Ha / lke da n Fo ek va lin / be Ka ie on Haar / Nathal / Samuel Hons ssa de Geus / Martin Dubuiss Chloë van der Katy Hofstede ura Geurts / Te / Maciej / / La l a ng / el sm Jo ab en ag ts St de Ha rri el k t er Ga Ho Lennart Gueye / Joos Janssen / Si s / Leif-Erik ska / Matthijs huis / Nafissa Jacobs / Sem Sjir Hoeijmaker / Sylvia Klodzin / Naomi Groten mker / Jeroen leen Hermans / ra IJ st He th / ijn be Kl hs x isa ric El Ma in Kruseman / / a He van der Kleij Kragten / Anna Shao-Jung Hsu van Voss / Wand a Khosla / Lisa ubenec / Lynn ip Maas / Hovenkamp / Ko Di e ijs a / dd ur tth Hi ey La / Ma nn / / n a Ke l or Hoogendo Kalkyte / Maia ine van Lumme Lubomira Kostov a El / Ul / n / ani / a h lw ma ov sc op Me sk bi Li Ko Ka am a n derts / Neel Königs / Inez Li Yim / Elen Jurczak / Anto cky / Rixt Mein gué / Andrew lenaar / ersvelt / Tomas Me Le Ko Mo el ex no sa Al Li lia Ju / / / Ju l rg / en Mo bu Knijnen n / Yourai ska de Lang ne van Marwijk la Mizzi-Moulto van den Noort Flore Kunst / Jo van Marle / An Minster / Isabel / Mela Kuch / r / Sophie Jane l / Sebastiaan je ou el oi -L ns No ne Ma An de a / k ss k / William ie Te m lin h/ nelie van Mi n van Oostrom ala Noë / Anne Jasmina Machla Meuleman / An Oomen / Maarte vier Noach / Ny tte llem Pino es Xa se / Wi rlo Ly / en / Ma an n / uy e no Ng jlm Mythili Me / Olivier Onvle z Valdez / Lien rs / Annerixt Pi ic te ño om Pe Mu -T bastiaan sa er ja Li Se iv Le / / Ol / rs a hka Ramsteijn armaine Pete Bejar / Marin Nicholas Mulder ep Roet Preiss / Anousc Pawlowska / Ch Jo / Trilce Oblitas a ri / j va icj Om Ri ko Al / n / va t t va or No en Po ma na / Zuza / Raphaël Parm Riemsma / Em Poonath / Eva i e ap s Cruz sh nn ta Pa ak Sa ei / nn en Fr r -A Me de ge se / s ur e Ouellette / Ro Salazar Antune Mariëlle Rhijnsb Sophie van Poel na / / le a ijn da ur Romy Rh Ma / nt n / Ve ob va s ab Sl el Po / Rosalyn Sa melink / Alie kkenk / Jana / Alba van der na Rzeznitzeck ndil / Tycho Si Spek / lou / Arent Rem ni r Se Re l Ja de / Ni rly n / n Ca va / t rg tte Je be ep Ru / van der Re Speelberg od / Daniel ke Schoonen onck / Marijke rt Schoo / Djoe brock / Simon / Lavinia van Ro rijn van Spaend Schapira / Robe / Nicole Römer / Renske Taggen ma re al ze ai Ta Cl Ro a / / rbon ss va ki ne Na ws Va sing eelen / Eline Ve kolaj Sokolo Stumphius / / Tibisay Sankat / Catherine Verb ralen / Emilie Piotr Sokól / Mi nne St is / Lia l n ad / va ili ne s l ss ep ie Vo Va So ch a e rte dr Ma Sneep / Larsk ura Volaric / My rensma / Alexan na Stepanova / La To An / ng / t ke Ya la n ug rie ril Vl ha Ma r sp Yu / de La / s / Alice van ey Woodley s / Sabine Tjia Mariana Spijker Westhof / Jess / Joris Vincent Laureen Tilman as n / le om n eu Th we rm / eu d Ve Te er le el We Tak / Erica rhoef / Dani mme van de riam Waltz / Po m / Priscilla Ve ie Vriezen / Mi / Nava Verboo ph So / s ie Vr ris de Zwaal June 2012 | Post 41 Vostermans / Jo Denise van der r / Paula Zijp / / Kirsten Zelle
Who, what,where? Annelies Vredeveldt (‘07) successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “The benefits of eye-closure on eyewitness memory” at the University of York, and won two awards for her research: the American Psychology-Law PhD dissertation award (first place) and the British Psychology Society Social Psychology Section PhD award. Anne Smit (‘04) was married to Sander Klijnstra on April 2nd, 2011. On August 5th, 2011, their son Sybe Jonathan Klijnstra was born. Marjan van der Burg née Verdaasdonk (‘03) gave birth to a baby girl, Aimée, on February 9th of this year. Daphne Paree (‘02) married Stefan Engelke on June 25th 2011. They celebrated their wedding ceremony in the province of Zeeland, the Netherlands. Daphne and Stefan live in Zurich, Switzerland. Danique van Koppenhagen (‘10), along with Tomas Beerthuis, beat out more than 70 other teams to place first in the 2012 Dutch national debating championships held in Groningen on the 21st and 22nd of April. Fleur Odylle van Wijck (‘05) released her first album under the name Odylle. Istanbul Bana Ne Yaptin is a 12-song English language album, written by Fleur and arranged by her four Turkish musicians. It’s available throughout Turkey, as well as internationally
through iTunes, Spotify and Amazon (we’ve listened to it, it’s really good!). Mark Ruitenbeek (‘07) married Jennifer Pees on May 16th, 2012. The UCU Campus, since it is shared with the Utrecht School of Economics & the James Boswell Institute, has been renamed ‘International Campus Utrecht’. Andrea Goezinne (‘05) will be getting married this summer and is helping organise and participating in the charity run Helden Race 2012 in The Hague. Help her reach her fundraising goal by donating at heldenracedenhaag2012.alvarum.net/ andreaschoice. Luuk Bressers (‘05) got married to Maaike Boselie on May 11th, 2012. Frederique Schut (‘08) got her Dutch language debut novel ‘Met Muijs’ published with Uitgeverij Atlas Contact. It’s available through bol.com and, in the Netherlands, at a bookstore near you. Lynn Zebeda (‘06) was the runner up on the Dutch TV show ‘Premier gezocht!’, looking for the most promising young political talents in the Netherlands. Many of the ideas she presented on the show she is currently working on implementing through Dr. Monk, the company she founded with fellow alumna Ama van Dantzig (‘04).
Funny s Moppet
UCU’s dean Rob van der Vaart was appointed Vice Rector for Education of Utrecht University. Rob will represent UU in international networks that are concerned with education, and will be responsible for stimulating opportunities for collaboration, looking after the interests of students and teachers. UCU’s founder and former dean Hans Adriaansens was the recipient of the first ever NEWS-award for the internationalisation of higher education for proving the ideals of an internationally oriented liberal arts and science education were also tenable in the Netherlands. Claudia van den Heuvel (‘05) successfully defended her PhD in in Critical and Major Incident Psychology entitled ‘Inaction in Action: The effect of uncertainty on critical incident decision making’ at the University of Liverpool. Martin Zebracki (‘05) received a PhD in human geography at the University of Utrecht. His dissertation “Public Artopia: Art in Public Space in Question” investigates the appreciation of art in the public sphere. Gijs Stevers (‘08) embarked upon his 22.000 km electric bike ride Cape to Cape 2012, from the North Cape in Norway to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Along the way he wants to meet the people who will make renewable energy possible in the twenty-first century.
edeveldt (‘07) 13 Annelies Vr jck (‘05) 14 Fleur van Wi (‘10) ke hn Ja a ur 15 La (‘08) 01 Stef Groen t (‘02) oo Gr de n (‘05) 16 Jochem 8 & ‘10) 02 Kiran Colema tel Scheske (‘0 ris 3) Ch (‘0 & a en ur rg La be m 17 Hi n va ijs Th 03 r (‘02) ad (‘04) 18 Nicole Grethe 04 Donya Alinej (‘09) to Ot s 9) Iri (‘0 19 05 Fritz Streiff der Mark (‘06) 5) ‘t Klooster (‘09) 20 Annelien van 06 Noortje van n der Reijden (‘0 va se ni bly (‘03) 21 Anna De 2) (‘0 el uv He 07 Wendelien He n de Leersum (‘04) 22 Eveline van priceless 08 Florien van ens Hebly (‘01) e to share your 7) ur sir La (‘0 de y ng 23 g bl di in He an gl d xp tin ar 09 Rich If you have a k out our ever-e an (‘01) nts with us chec 10 Peter Clausm s.tumblr.com/ et pp childhood mome mo ny un /f ael (‘06) :/ tp ich ht rm : Ca og h bl ra 11 Sa dean) Talking Post bergen (former m Hi n 12 Hans va
Post | June 2012
Colophon Editorial Board Sarah Carmichael (’06) Kiran Coleman (’05) Laurens Hebly (’01) Thijs van Himbergen (’03) Leonie Hussaarts (‘08) Iris Otto (’09) Layout, design & illustration Laurens Hebly (’01) Thijs van Himbergen (’03) cargocollective.com/vanhimbergenhebly Advertisements Leonie Hussaarts (‘08) Contributors Nina Brands (‘10) Vanessa van Cleef (‘03)
Hannah van der Deijl (‘04) Folke Eikmeier (‘12) Liselotte Heikens (‘06 1/2) Eelke Kraak (‘08) Prof. Dr. Orlanda Lie Annelien van der Mark (‘06) Maria Salaru (‘11) ‘ Indra Spronk-Baas (‘06) Gijs Stevers (‘08) Fritz Streiff (‘09) Prof. Dr. Rob van der Vaart Casper van der Ven (‘11)
Rob van der Vaart Roeland van Beek (’11) Printed by Drukkerij ZuidamUithof A very special thanks to all UCAA contributors and to the UCU administration for believing in this magazine and for making the many UCAA events possible.
Many thanks to Mike Blommestijn (‘08) Sebastiaan Cassé (‘03) Bas Defize Fried Keesen Bettina Nelemans June 2012 | Post
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