Join the fun! An ethnography of fun and subcultural entrepreneurship in the skateboarding scene of Puebla, Mexico


By Kaj Dekker

Scene 1: Another sunny day at the Xonaca skate park in Puebla, Mexico. People are skateboarding, filming or having conversations while secretly sharing caguamones, a bottled liter of beer. A group of friends is sitting in the hot sun, enjoying their conversation as well as their beer. Suddenly, one of them challenges a friend. “I call a bet! If the next guy jumping down the stairs makes his trick, I buy you a new board. If he lands the trick, you buy me one, alright?” The friend agrees and they wait until someone approaches the stairs. In the meantime, cigarettes are shared, jokes are made and fun is had. After some time, a skateboarder starts checking out the set of stairs, clearly trying to visualize his trick. As he takes a few steps back to gain some speed for the jump, he accelerates. He approaches the stairs and jumps. In the middle of the jump he fails to get his position straight. As he lands he breaks his board, he sees the bunch of friends going wild. Seemingly out of nowhere a guy comes up to the skater and asks him if he would like to buy a new skateboard. The friends overhear this conversation and whistle to signal the salesman to come over. What does a shop-less salesman do at the skate park of Xonaca? The friends buy a skateboard from him, which he gets from the trunk of his car. They give the old deck to the skater who broke his board. In the end, one skateboarder broke his boards and two got a new one. How does this informal economy come about in a commerce-free setting as the Xonaca skate park?

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‘Original’ hip-hop and ‘formularized’ K-pop: Authenticity and the good/bad music paradigm


By Ida Bulölö

Rhymin’ astronomical, original, shit is phenomenal
– Nine, Whutcha Want

In this essay I explore the value of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ music, and look into the ways that ideas surrounding the quality of music are constructed. It seems that the verdict of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is largely based on the authenticity of the music. Yet authenticity is a very difficult concept, as ideas on authenticity widely differ, not only between music genres but also personally. I thought it would be interesting to compare two opposites in the spectrum, to see how they are constructed within the ‘good’/’bad’ music paradigm in connection with the music being seen as authentic or not. These two genres are hip-hop and K-pop (Korean pop music). To me, they represent one of the biggest dichotomies when it comes to the notion of ‘authentic music’, despite the fact that I regularly listen to both. In hip-hop, especially the ‘oldskool’ genre, there is a huge emphasis on originality and creativity. Being a ‘real’ rapper—not a sell-out, commercial, in-it-for-the-money-MC—is one of the most important conditions for having the hip-hop audience take you seriously. Rappers cannot admit to being ‘produced’ instead of being ‘authentic’, for this will damage their reputation seriously. MCs should not be merely a product of their record label, but have their own voice. In K-pop—which many people see as the epitome of formularized, ‘bad’ music—we see total recognition for the fact that these musicians are made by companies and are not much different from being a consumer good instead of an artist. The audiences, as well as the musicians, are fully aware of this fact and nobody tries to pretend otherwise. By comparing these two music genres I hope to gain more insight into the way authenticity in relation to music is constructed. Continue reading

‘Discovering the hidden colors’: The ‘awareness process’ of members of theatre and dance company Untold Empowerment


By Gladys Akom Ankobrey

Abstract: ‘You have to know your African roots to know where you are going’, is a statement that is central to the approach of theater and dance company Untold Empowerment. Youngsters are supported to learn more about the history of Africa, the diaspora and the cultures that emerged amongst the enslaved in the New World, such as the Winti culture in Surinam. Untold’s theater and dance productions are inspired by this ‘Untold Story’. A story that is hardly discussed in school history books in the Netherlands but needs to be told as a means to empower Black youth. Through in-depth interviews and observations during rehearsals as the members prepare for the Obia show, I seek to explore how they interpret the African Heritage ‘awareness process’ which is emphasized in Untold’s vision. I will show that this ranges from cherishing their cultural heritage and physical appearance, to unlocking their full potential as a dancer. Furthermore, it ‘activates’ activism, resulting in participation in protests against the figure of Black Pete. But most of all, it means ‘to discover the hidden colors’. Continue reading

Show-offs, stories about sleeping on the steppes and stereotypes: A closer look at the stereotypical backpacker, traveling around today’s increasingly less lonely planet


By Janne Cress

Abstract: In this essay I explore the backpacking culture in a context of stereotypes, identity construction and self-enrichment, and I relate these concepts to topics of authenticity and ‘realness’. My main focus is the extent to which the archetypical, stereotypical image of backpackers corresponds with the self-identity and experiences of backpackers nowadays. At the time of writing, I was in my second year of anthropology. If I would be asked to write the paper again, with all the knowledge that I have gained in only one year, it would probably become a very different paper. But that, of course, is part of the (fun) deal of being a student. Continue reading