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