Staff Members

Home » Dr Vanessa Wijngaarden
Vanessa W

Senior Research Associate
Name: Vanessa Wijngaarden
Department of Communication and Media Research Associates  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: +4915776094056


About Dr Vanessa Wijngaarden

Vanessa Wijngaarden is a social anthropologist with a passion for reflexive and dialogical approaches, methodological innovation, extensive fieldwork and creative research dissemination. Recurring themes in her work include ‘othering’ and (stereotypical) imagery; the interactions between academic and other knowledge systems; and the relationship between humans and other animals.

She studied at the Universities of Amsterdam and Leiden in the Netherlands, and the University of Calgary in Canada, pursuing parallel studies of political science (specialization international relations) and cultural anthropology (specialization sub-Saharan Africa), obtaining cum laude Bacherlor’s and Master’s degrees in both. She obtained her PhD from the University of Bayreuth in Germany, with a double-sided ethnography on the interplay between imagery and interactions in cultural tourism encounters between tourists and Maasai in Tanzania, contributing to innovative methodological and epistemological debates in anthropology and tourism studies. This included the introduction of Q method into the anthropological discipline, demonstrating how it can be integrated with ethnographic research and developing strategies to use it with non-readers. During her postdoc at the University of Johannesburg Department of Communication and Media, she worked with animal communicators from Africa and Europe, exploring how to bring different species as well as academic, Indigenous and other subdued knowledge systems into conversation with each other.

As an ethnographic filmmaker she has spent many years in East-African Maasailand. The documentaries she produced with the Maasai communities she lived with have been screened worldwide, with Eliamani’s Homestead being awarded ‘Best Documentary Short Film’ at the Lisbon International Film Festival, and Goat Breakfast, created in cooperation with Maasai Paulo Ngulupa, winning the ‘Best Cinematographer Award’ at the Mumbai International Film Awards in India. Her Wenner Gren Fejos Fellowship resulted in the feature Maasai Speak Back, which was awarded ‘Best Documentary’ at the Pan African Youths Film & Arts Festival in Nigeria, also winning the ‘Storytelling Award’ at A Show for a Change Film Festival and ‘Exceptional Merit Award’ at the WRPN Women’s International Film Festival in the United States.  During her writing fellowship at the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies and a Wenner Gren Hunt Fellowship she is developing a reflexive ‘making of’ film and a monograph to accompany Maasai Speak Back and create a teaching package.

Currently she teaches Q methodology and works as an ATLAS.ti registered consultant and certified senior professional trainer worldwide. As a a senior research associate at the University of Johannesburg, she is further developing the daring and innovative research project that engages with intuitive interspecies communication in different societies, in order to develop practical strategies to cross the nature/culture dichotomy and the dualisms rooted in it, asking how academics may practically deal with non-human animals as subjects, agents and research participants. By exploring parallels, connections and possibilities for cross-fertilization between new materialism and posthumanist approaches on the one hand, and Indigenous studies and Indigenous knowledge systems on the other hand, she aims to develop novel multispecies methods to help access and represent the perspectives of other animals. With her work, she aims to contribute to the ontological and species turns as well as decolonisation processes in academia.



2016  Dynamics behind persistent images of ´the other´: The interplay between imaginations and interactions in Maasai cultural tourism. Berlin: LIT Verlag. ISBN 978-3-643-90799-8. Description by publisher  Google books Full text

2016  Maasai Jewelry: European beads with African stories / Massai Schmuck: Europäische Perlen mit Afrikanische Geschichten. Bayreuth: Iwalewahaus, Universität Bayreuth. ISBN 978-3-00-052327-4. Description  Full text

2010  Blessings and Burdens of Charismatic Mega-Fauna: How Taita and Maasai Communities Deal with Wildlife Protection in Kenya. Master Thesis for the Department of Anthropology and Sociology of Non-Western Societies, University of Amsterdam, 2008. München: Akademische Verlagsgemeinschaft München. ISBN 978-3-863-06649-9. Description by publisher

2010  The World Bank and the Representation of Africa: The mission behind the rhetoric of poverty reduction. Master Thesis for the Department of Political Science in the Field of International Relations, University of Amsterdam, 2006. Beau-Bassin: VDM Publishing. ISBN 978-3-639-27072-3. Description by publisher

Articles in peer reviewed journals

2020  Maasai perspectives on modernity: Narratives of evolution, nature and culture. In: Critical African Studies. DOI: 10.1080/21681392.2020.1850303. Abstract and article Full text

2020  Intercultural communication in research interviews: Accessing information from research participants from another culture. In: Journal of Intercultural Communication, 20(2): 89-101 Full text

2019  Barnabas, Shanade Bianca & Vanessa Wijngaarden. “When We Are Laughing Like This Now, We Are Also Being Recorded by Them”: Eliamani’s Homestead and the Complicity of Ethnographic Film. In: Visual Anthropology Review 35(2): 187-198. DOI: 10.1111/var.12191. Abstract and article Full text

2019  Eliamani’s Homestead. In: Journal of Anthropological Films, 3(1), e1488. DOI: 10.15845/jaf.v3i1.1488. Full text

2018  Maasai beadwork has always been modern: An exploration of modernity through artefacts. In: Cultural Dynamics 30(4): 235-252.  DOI: 10.1177/0921374018809733. Abstract and article Full text

2017  Q method and ethnography in tourism research: enhancing insights, comparability and reflexivity. In: Current Issues in Tourism 20(8): 869-882. DOI: 10.1080/13683500.2016.1170771. Abstract and article Full text

2016  Tourists’ agency versus the circle of representation. In: Annals of Tourism Research 60: 139-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2016.07.005. Abstract and article Full text

2010  Cosmopolitan Savages: The challenging art of selling African culture to tourists. In: Etnofoor 22 (2): 98-125. Abstract and article Full text

Articles in edited volumes

2021  Barrett, M.J., V. Hinz, V. Wijngaarden & M. Lovrod, ‘Speaking’ With Other Animals through Intuitive Interspecies Communication: Towards Cognitive and Interspecies Justice In: Hovorka, A.J., S. McCubbin & L. van Patter, A Research Agenda for Animal Geographies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Pp. 149-165. ISBN 9781788979986. Abstract and chapter

2021  Wijngaarden, V & G.E. Idahosa, An integrated approach towards decolonising higher education: A perspective from Anthropology. In: Woldegiorgis, E., A. Brahima, A. & I. Turner, Decolonisation of Higher Education in Africa: Perspectives from Hybrid Knowledge Production. London: Routledge. Pp. 36-59. ISBN 9780367360603. Abstract and website

2014  A Tanzanian Maasai view of whiteness: A complex relationship between half-brothers. In: Michael, L. and Schulz, S. (eds.) Unsettling Whiteness. Leiden: Brill. Pp. 203-215. ISBN 978-1-84888-282-9. Abstract and full text

2012  The lion has become a cow: The Maasai hunting paradox. In: Van Beek, W.E.A. & A. Schmidt (eds.) African hosts and their guests: Cultural dynamics of tourism in Africa. London: James Currey. Pp. 176-200. ISBN 978-1-84701-049-0. Description by publisher  Google books

2011  The power behind representations: The World Bank and African poverty reduction from 1970-2000. In: Horáková, H., Nugent, P. & Skalník, P. (eds.) Africa: Power and Powerlessness. Muenster: LIT Verlag. Pp. 107-120. ISBN 978-3-643-11187-6. Description by publisher  Google books Full text

Book and film reviews

2021  The Eye of Africa. In: Visual Anthropology 34(2): 178-180. DOI: 10.1080/08949468.2020.1830675.

2020  In and Out of the Maasai Steppe. In: Visual Anthropology 33(4): 392-395. DOI: 10.1080/08949468.2020.1791576 Abstract and article

2019  Walking to Australia: 21st Century Excursions into Humanity’s Greatest Migration, by David Robbins. In: Critical Arts. 32(5-6): 141-144. DOI: 10.1080/02560046.2018.1551909 Abstract and article Full text

Other articles

2019  The application of ATLAS.ti in different qualitative data analysis strategies. In: The ATLAS.ti Research Blog. May 23. Full text

2017  Maasai beads: the interplay between Europe and Africa. In: The Conversation, October 1. Full text Republished in: Qrius (The Indian Economist), October 3. Full text

2017  Quand familles masaï et touristes se rencontrent sous l’œil de la caméra. In: The Conversation, October 4. Full text

2017  Quand des touristes occidentaux rencontrent des Masai, nobles “sauvages” de leur imaginaire. In: Le Monde, October 6. Full text

2017  A close-up look at what happens when tourists and Maasai communities meet. In: The Conversation, October 11. Full text

2017  Saviez-vous que les perles des Masaï venaient… d’Europe? In: The Conversation, October 13.  Full text

Films  Videos, screenings and awards

2011  Dreams. 6 minutes Manchester.

2014a  Eliamani’s Homestead. 20 minutes. Bayreuth.

2014b  Mkuru’s Church: Mkurus Kirche. 22 minutes. Bayreuth.

2015a  Calabash cleaning and use. 7 minutes. Bayreuth.

2015b  Calabash making. 15 minutes. Bayreuth.

2015c  Needle making. 3 minutes. Bayreuth.

2015d  Sikukuu: Celebration day / Ein Festtag. 11 minutes. Bayreuth.

2020  Maasai Speak Back. 106 minutes. Johannesburg, Bayreuth.2021  Wijngaarden, Vanessa, in cooperation with Paulo Ngulupa, Goat Breakfast: Becoming-with God, volcanoes, livestock and trees. Bayreuth.