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I had rad part of her drafts long before this was published and I have to say the final edit is much better. Still her style of presentation could benefit more from sore really good editing. Stylistic questions out of the way, I was part of the same community she describes during the same time and I find that "ethnography" lacking in many parts.

She grasps some issues very comprehensively and follows that with sound analuses, some of which will offend a number of people who don;t like having a mirror presented to themselves. On other occasions she misses complex and interesting parts completely. One of the main drawbacks her work is suffering from is that she never fully immersed herself in some of the groups she is describing or even talked at length with some of the representatives. At several points it becomes very clear to me from knowing the people she uses as examples that she is missing crucial parts of their personal story because she could never converse with them in Dutch. As much as Dutch people in general and squatters in particular are proficient in English, not all of them feel confident to open up fully or can express themselves to the same depth in a language which is not their own. As a US American she remains very much in the English-speaking expat bubble and misses a very fundamental social dynamic that has existed (and probably still exists) in the Amsterdam sqatting scene: the divide between the Dutch born squatters and the immigrant or transitory cohort. In that way, Nazima Kadir retains much of the fetters that have plagued colonialist anthropology where "civilized" people studied "the savages" without ever fully understanding them.

In the same vein she is constantly mixing personal statements and almost narcissistic autobiographical notes with observations of the people around her. From what I know of contemporary anthoropology, this is not generally accepted practice in the field, but then again I come from a social science background that is much more removed from direct involvement with the subjects (sociology and economics) and might be heavily conditioned against.

In the end the book is an interesting read, and many things stated in it strike true. Nothing will be much of a surprise for anybody with a mind that's used to social analysis, many will reject a lot of the content because it might be uncomfortable to them, and under the bottom line I find this book to be more of a conversation starter than a contribution to social science.


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