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University of Basel

Ethnology establishes alumni group.

Text: Bettina Volz-Tobler

Ethnology has existed as a discipline in Basel for over 100 years. An alumni organization for the subject has now been established.

Events and lectures of the Alumni Organisation convey the meaning and purpose of ethnology. (Photo: Bettina Huber)
Events and lectures of the Alumni Organisation convey the meaning and purpose of ethnology. (Photo: Bettina Huber)

Ethnology can boast a long history at the University of Basel, dating back to 1914/15. However, the first full professorship in the subject, which has proved a rich field of interdisciplinary work and inspired all kinds of research, was not created until 1963. A comparative perspective and a methodology based on participation and observation are particular hallmarks of ethnology.

Dialog and partnerships

In the University of Basel’s ethnology program, there is a regional focus on Africa (especially west, central and east Africa), followed by Oceania (especially Melanesia), Latin America and Southeast Asia, although the thematic research focuses of visual culture, political anthropology and medical anthropology also play an important role. In these and other areas, the ethnology program cultivates intensive interdisciplinary and international dialog, including a wide range of partnerships.

Dr. René Egloff, Professor Brigit Obrist, Assistant Professor Piet van Eeuwijk and Sandra Burri lic. phil. have taken the initiative with regard to former students by setting up the AlumniAnthropology subject group. Together, they also make up the group’s current executive. Its aims are to facilitate networking between current and former students and with other subjects, to promote and support ethnology (anthropology) as a subject and to organize events.

Annual drinks reception

In particular, there are plans to host an annual drinks reception for new graduates and former students, to give young and old a chance to get acquainted and to talk about possible career opportunities. The group also intends to organize events and lectures to inform the public about what the subject is all about – for instance, through presentations on applied ethnology or theory.

The new AlumniAnthropology subject group was launched at a successful event on November 28, 2018, which was attended by many former students. In a lecture that both current and former students found fascinating, Maya Brändli, an alumna who now works as a broadcasting editor at SRF 2 Kultur, spoke about ethnology and the job opportunities that it can open up in journalism. Former students were welcomed at the event by Dr. Roland Bühlmann, the president of AlumniBasel. Afterwards, the alumni took full advantage of the opportunity to exchange ideas at the drinks reception. Another meeting of AlumniAnthropology is scheduled for spring 2019. In short – it is worth becoming a member. To sign up, go to alumnibasel.ch.

More articles in the current issue of UNI NOVA.

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