Institute of Cultural Anthropology
Issue 2 - July 2019
HOW DOES ANTHROPOLOGY RELATE WITH ENCOUNTERING
When we started writing this edition of the ICA we chose the theme ‘Encounter’, while we did not know at all what this concept actually meant. ‘Encounter’ is a concept that often occurs in anthropology, because we are in fact researching the encounter within a group of people. However, different groups of people who meet can also result into a very fascinating anthropological process.
Within the most individual and virtual society ever existed, meeting someone in real life isn’t as self-evident as before. However, a simple encounter can say more than many words. Take for example, shaking hands when you meet someone. Some are very enthusiastic and will shake so to speak both hands off your body. Others do not give a handshake but rather look away, while restraining their hand , keeping it close to their own body and hardly try to touch yours. In the first physical encounter your overall view of that person you meet is actually the reflection of how you perceive yourself and others. This is one of the simplest encounters that can take place. However, so much significance can already be given to such a meeting. In the act of meeting someone, every human aspect comes together in terms of not only how we feel about others but also about ourselves. Furthermore, also the status we assign ourselves and thereby the place we put ourselves into a social group.
Encounter helps create an identity, and this repeats itself again by every other encounter. Therefore, the person who does not meet has no one to compare him or herself with. Through the group of people you have around you, you do grow as a person. These people around make who you are and I think that’s the power of meeting people. Think of it as a game, the game of one person who meets another and both have to make something out of it. Nothing more, and nothing less. Get to know yourself; think and reflect about the people around you and what this says about you as a person.
The definition of the term ‘Encounter’ that we use in this edition is generally about ‘to come upon or meet with someone or something.’ It is such a broad definition and therefore also a broad theme, which makes it really interesting. Every person has an own association with this concept. This is why we have made a diverse selection of as many articles as possible so that, there will hopefully be at least one suitable for you. We gladly take you along all kinds of different encounters between people. Ranging from the best known political leaders to the most isolated groups living on a very distant island, from aggression in healthcare to couchsurfing, and from an unforgetable journey to the erotic encounter. These articles are available for you, in both the old school offline version as well as the more extensive online version.
As Social Scientists, it’s more than understandable that we know and understand how interesting people are much more than others. We would like to encourage you to meet others, but also consider and bear in mind the group of people you have already met. Are certain people very typical of a certain trait, or a certain phase in your life? And is there a group of people you would prefer to meet now than ever before? Take your time, reflect and get inspired by the stories about people meeting which gives perhaps a different interpretation than yours. Maybe you will learn something more about yourself.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HUMAN ENCOUNTERS IN NAMIBIAN TROPHY HUNTING:
Economic benefits and the role of science in development and conservation
In this essay I address two important issues relating to human encounters in trophy hunting in Namibia. First, I look into the often championed, but at times also criticised, economic benefits that trophy hunting instigates for so-called ‘community-based natural resource management’ (CBNRM) programmes. I show that, behind these ‘benefits’, a variety of human encounters take place. Second, and building on the first point, I address the role of scientists in the creation of the successful CBNRM discourse. I briefly refer to the indigenous Khwe San (Bushmen) of the Bwabwata National Park and the indigenous Ju/’hoansi San of the in Northern Namibia to illustrate that a focus only on economic benefits tends to mask important human encounters, and that science, especially when conducted by professionals who have an interest in the outcomes, plays a crucial role in this. Parts of this essay are based on a paper that I have recently published (Koot 2019).
Trophy Hunting in South-Africa
Recent years have shown an increase in the, often heated, debate on trophy hunting, with some important developments taking place in southern Africa. To name just a few that have accelerated the debate: In 2012, pictures of King Juan Carlos of Spain emerged in which he posed in front of his trophies, an elephant and two African buffaloes. As a result of the public outcry that followed, the King was dismissed as the honorary president of WWF Spain, which is ironic when realising that various WWF offices in southern Africa support trophy hunting in the name of conservation and development. Other important developments have been a ban on trophy hunting in Botswana in 2013, a very controversial hunt of a black rhino in Namibia for US $350,000 in 2015 and the infamous illegal hunt of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in 2015. Royal connections of this hobby for the wealthy have a long history and continue today. The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, for example, currently speaks out against the trophy hunting ban in Botswana.
Proponents of trophy hunting argue that it is good for conservation and for the development of marginalised people. In Namibia, a flaship country for CBNRM, trophy hunting plays a crucial role in this programme; in CBNRM, local groups are targeted to contribute to conservation and to live together with the wildlife. In return, they receive economic and material benefits, such as jobs in tourism and conservation and the meat from the hunts. Moreover, to keep CBNRM financially healthy, a requirement is a continuous stream of income, and trophy hunting provides for such large revenues because the amounts that hunters pay can be enormous; in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in
Northeast Namibia, the price for a 14-day hunt of one elephant costs US$ 80,000,- (Paterniti 2017). So in Namibia, as in many other countries, conservationists, hunting operators and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) all argue that the hunting industry is very important, not only for the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but especially for the development of marginalised rural populations. However, according to Economists at Large (2013), only 0,27% of the Namibian GDP is constituted by trophy hunting, and most of the revenues go to hunting operators, airlines, governments and tourism facilities. So how serious should we take the argument that ‘economic benefits’ are being created in Namibia for poor rural populations? This argument is problematic for various reasons; it masks differences within communities that are presented as if they are static, homogeneous entities and it masks encounters based on power relations between segments of these communities and outsiders (such as NGOs, hunting operators, donors and government officials). I do not deny that economic benefits at times exist, but by focusing only on these as the success of trophy hunting, other dynamics and encounters are covered up, especially those in the social and human domain. Moreover, such a neoliberal discourse accounts for the idea that the local people do not yet understand how to do ‘proper’ conservation (MacDonald 2005), and therefore need to be taught how things work, strongly resembling colonial structures and power relations, based on paternalistic ideas about moral edification.
The Indigneous San
An interesting group in this regard is the indigenous San (or Bushmen). As 'former’ hunter-gatherers some San groups are today involved in CBNRM initiatives in which trophy hunting plays a crucial role. Take, for example, the Khwe San who live in Bwabwata National Park. When some Khwe tried to establish relationships with impatient, wealthy, white hunting operators, this was considered ‘bribery’ by a local NGO working on CBNRM and the MET, because officially contact with hunters is not allowed when the selection process for a tender is not yet finished. However, on the ground such negotiations often take place already informally. In another example, the Ju/’hoansi San of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy showed how the group that worked with one particular hunting operator felt stressed, suppressed and humiliated by the operator, all for a very low salary. When I asked them why they would not simply leave the job, the answer was that there are only few job opportunities in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy. Indeed, partly due to the CBNRM programme their possibilities to create other types of livelihoods (e.g. through agriculture), are very limited, and the distribution of meat has always been a problem because of the wide dispersal of the settlements in Nyae Nyae. According to the Ju/’hoansi labourers, WWF played a crucial role in choosing this particular hunting operator because he would pay the highest bid for the tender (and thus create the largest income for the CBNRM programme). This does not necessarily mean that jobs always have a bad meaning for people, since in another example with a subcontractor in Nyae Nyae people enjoy their jobs and even receive some extra benefits. Then again, the question remains if hunting operators are indeed the right people to be involved in development; a hunter in Bwabwata recently explained that the ‘lazy’ Khwe employees are mostly a hindrance to his business and he has no interest in community development. In fact, encounters between the San and those working in tourism and trophy hunting are often not very favourable for the development of local people and has at times even led to a further marginalisation of the San (Blaikie 2006).
“it masks differences within communities that are presented as if they are static, homogeneous entities”
Altogether, jobs can be received for good or bad, but to look at jobs and simply call them ‘benefits’ is not enough; it masks structural issues beyond and within labour relations and potential exploitation. It is important to take such encounters into account when analysing trophy hunting. Therefore, I argue for an expansion of the trophy hunting debate beyond economic ‘benefits’ (Koot 2019), for example by using environmental psychologist James Gibson’s (1979) theoretical framework of ‘social affordances’, in which the interactions between organisms create meaning (instead of pre-decided ‘benefits’). By doing so, local perceptions, meanings, multiple experiences and power relations are addressed, and the larger human domain is taken into account (of which the ‘economy’ is only a part). Social affordances are creating the opportunity to analyse the encounters between human and non-human organisms. Moreover, reducing ‘development’ only to ‘economic benefits’ creates a simplistic image of a much more complex reality. But this is not something that is only done in trophy hunting and it is of much larger importance in environmental issues globally; trophy hunting is a good example of what Robert Fletcher (2010) calls ‘neoliberal environmentality’, which entails a situation in which the environment is shaped based on economic incentives with the aim of economic growth (based on market mechanisms) only.
The role of science
What is worrying, is that a large stream of scientific papers that address CBNRM and trophy hunting in Namibia as a golden bullet, are written by practitioners from a variety of organisations whose work is to promote exactly this model (see, for example, Angula et al 2018; Naidoo et al 2016)! The papers originate from organisations such as WWF Namibia, WWF US, and the Nambian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO). Interestingly, they do not provide any information about the researchers’ position in relation to their respondents and, not surprisingly, the findings were overall favouring trophy hunting and CBNRM more generally, showing mostly how ‘successful’ the programme is (cf. Büscher 2014). The potential conflict of interest is, of course, important to be addressed in such cases and it is therefore necessary that researchers, including those originating in more ‘positivist’ traditions, explain their researcher position and reflect upon this when relevant. Moreover, the ‘success’ is all too easily taken over by the conservation movement and the private sector or parties representing their interest, such as the Namibian Chamber of the Environment (see, e.g. Brown 2017) and, especially, the Namibian Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA).
The latter represents the interests of the trophy hunting industry, and has now fully embraced such scientific papers. For example, in their Position Paper NAPHA bluntly states:
“I shall leave it to an internationally respected conservation organisation, the WWF, to point out the benefits that trophy hunting brings to Communal Conservancies in Namibia through a study undertaken by them between 1998 and 2013. The title of this study is “Complimentary [sic] benefits of tourism and hunting to communal conservancies in Namibia”. It must be stressed that this study piece, unlike many of the pseudo – studies available on the internet, has been peer reviewed and independently verified.” (NAPHA 2016)
The paper that is being referred to by NAPHA has been written by WWF practitioners (Naidoo et. al. 2016) and addresses only economic benefits. It remains to be seen what research is meant with “the pseudo – studies available on the internet”, but the way in which NAPHA positions itself and uses ‘science’ to promote their own activities shows only a small part of the global trophy hunting lobby. Moreover, it shows that national and international power relations these days matter more than ever, and this includes scientific research that has the potential to feed neoliberal environmentality. I hope that the Duke of Cambridge is aware of the important realities on the ground that local communities experience in their daily encounters in trophy hunting, and that he keeps this in mind when he negotiates to reinstate trophy hunting in Botswana. My gut feeling though, tells me he is just another puppet in a much bigger game.
Assistent Professor at the Department of Sociology of Development and Change at Wageningen University
Tessa van Hooijdonk
It is the end of December 2016 on a rainy Monday morning when I meet her for the first time. She is a small woman, almost fragile. Her name is Anneke, she is only 53 years old but she looks much older. We meet each other at the Acute Day Treatment: a program for people who lost the structure in their life or, like me, have to pick up their lives again after a longtime stay in the psychiatric hospital. For six weeks, 3 days a week, Anneke and me are together at the treatment center. We do sports together, drink liters of coffee during breaks and cry from laughing at creative therapy where someone is building stairs for a Chihuahua that can’t climb into bed.
After the six weeks, we keep in touch. We meet for coffee, learn about each other’s’ life and support each other when hurdles have to be taken in life. In the late summer of 2017, right before dinner, I thought to message Anneke how she has been. Half an hour after sending the text message, I get an anonymous call, it turns out to be the daughter of Anneke, whom until then I have never met before. I only know her from stories her mother told me. She saw my message but Anneke erased all her contacts from her phone so she doesn’t know who I am. Something has happened to her mother and she is calling everyone who tries to make contact with her. Anneke has had a stroke and is in the hospital; she can’t talk and is one-sided paralyzed. I burst into tears and lose my appetite immediately. This can not be happening, it isn’t fair. Her daughter explains to me what has happened exactly and we cry for a while together on the phone. By saying goodbye the daughter promises to keep me posted when the situation of her mother changes.
Slowly, Anneke´s condition gets better. She is able to use her body and is learning to speak again. She is released from the hospital to go to a caring home. This is where I visit her multiple times. At first with her daughter and later on my own. We cry together about the situation, she doesn’t understand why she survived the stroke with her fragile body that constantly is in pain. Somewhere, deep down, she would have wanted her body to give up. However, we also laugh a lot, especially by the memories of the day treatment. All of this happens, as per tradition, while we enjoy a cup of coffee. At this point, we know each other for over a year and a special friendship has been developed between us.
In the beginning of April 2018, I get a message from Anneke herself, she is allowed to go home soon, whether I want to come over for coffee when she is home. Of course I want to. Unfortunately, this will never happen. On the 22 of April 2018, I get a phone call from her daughter. Anneke is dead. She did it herself. I go silent, I am shocked. At this point, I hadn’t expected a call from her daughter anymore. We say goodbye and I wish her and her family all the best. The tears will come later. And even as I’m writing this, I can feel the tears running down my cheeks again.
I met Anneke in a place where I didn’t expect friendships to develop. She is the proof that it can happen: friendships do develop in the most unexpected of places. Keep opening up yourself to meet new people, even in the moments you don’t see it happening.
Tessa van Hooijdonk
2019 IS ALL ABOUT KIM JONG-UN AND MOON, NOT ABOUT KIM AND TRUMP
Although there have already been multiple encounters between the president of the United States (Donald Trump) and the leader of North-Korea (Kim Jong-un), that have had a great influence on the overall world order, there are other meetings on the political agenda as well.
Although the summit meeting between Kim and Trump was one of the
most spectacular happenings of 2018, we must focus more on the discussions between Kim and Moon. In my opinion the encounters about the engagement between North- and South-Korea will be much more thrilling than all the Trump commotion we have seen the last years. But first, I will give you a short recap of the recent meetings of the world top.
Deal or no deal?
In June 2018, the summit meeting between Kim and Trump took place. North-Korea wanted to sit down with the American president and be treated as an equal for years now. Trump has granted this wish by placing the North Korean president on an equal footing during the June summit. It’s clear that the meeting has reduced tension, but it hasn’t solved any problems. No war has broken out, but no deal has been concluded either, nor have promises been redeemed. It turned out we should not expect anything this way. It should be handled in a more realistic way. Thus, my expectations for upcoming meetings between Kim and Trump are not very high.
This expectation turned out to be true, because Kim overplayed his hand during the world top summit of February 2019. Kim Jong-un and Trump came together in Hanoi to negotiate about the denuclearization of, and the sanctions against, North-Korea. There was no agreement made, nor were there any arrangements made for another meeting.
‘Sometimes it’s better to walk away,’ clarified Trump during the press conference. According to the American president, Kim Jong-un asked for a complete defeasance of the sanctions against, North-Korea. There was no agreement made, nor were there any arrangements made for another meeting. ‘Sometimes it’s better to walk away,’ clarified Trump during the press conference. According to the American president, Kim Jong-un asked for a complete defeasance of the sanctions against his country. In return, Kim Jong-un offered to dismantle one facility. This was not enough for Trump to continue in the negotiations.
Kim Jong-un’s proposal came as a surprise to me. North Korea is offering its thirty-year-old nuclear power plant for the umpteenth time, which is likely to be demolished anyway. After so many times, that offer has become worthless. The North Korean leader would have been more likely to make a deal if he had requested a reduction of sanctions rather than total elimination. Trump could have responded much more easily to that.
The self-confidence of the North Koreans has troubled them in recent years. The attitude to get the most out of it may have been caused by everything that is going on in Washington, such as the testimony of Michael Cohen. North-Korea obviously smelled blood, but they really overplayed their hand this time.
Realistically though, is it really that bad that there is no deal? Personally, I believe the outcome could have been worse. The course of this summit shows that this is not the way to come to solutions; there are too many structural limitations. It’s good that, without everything collapsing, it has been made clear that negotiation between these two has its limits.
Kim and Moon
It is not only this encounter between two exceptional regimes that is interesting. Let’s take a at the rapprochement between North and South Korea. Trump is a real showman, but the man quietly in the background that made everything possible is the South-Korean president Moon Jae-in. Moon turns out to be a very skilled diplomat. If any plans or arrangements are made, they are made with Moon and Kim. Trump will hear about it afterwards.
Steps towards unification of North and South Korea followed each other rapidly this year. For example, a united rail network seems to be emerging over which business people and workers will commute. It is a very powerful symbolic gesture that a train runs between North and South just like in the old days. Trains bring economic development everywhere they stop and this is exactly what it is all about. That train will not be for the ordinary North or South Korean, it is purely economic.
Not fast enough
After a series of special encounters between the various countries, the big question is of course how these encounters will further develop. Whether the reduction of sanctions Kim Jong-un should have proposed are off the table, I dare not to say. It remains to be seen how long Trump will continue to spend time on this, especially now that he has other things on his mind in Washington. However, Kim Jong-un will in the long term be forced to be concerned about the sanctions that are not reduced, and that makes life difficult for this regime.
Besides, reduction in sanctions is not only important for Kim Jong-un’s country, but for South Korea as well. The big South Korean corporations are excited to cross the border to vastly invest in North Korea. However, this is not possible because of the sanctions. President Moon will try to mingle himself in the situation, just as he has done before. Whether he will get the Americans and North Koreans in that, too, remains uncertain.
Things seem to go too slow for Kim and Moon. With the resignation of Moon as president coming up in 2.5 years, there is a danger for Moon that his successor will look more skeptical at the North. So far nothing has been done between North and South that cannot be reversed. However, far-reaching steps will be difficult to take without the support of the international community and citizens themselves. Yet, both countries seem to want to sacrifice a lot for unification. For example, in terms of human rights, there remains deafening silence. A worrying situation.
““It is a very powerful symbolic gesture that a train runs between North and South just like in
the old days.””
Historian of Korea and Northeast Asia at Leiden University and works on medieval Korean and Northeast Asian history and on contemporary North Korean affairs.
Morocco, a country full of encounters. Where poor and rich meet each other, as well as modern and classic, bustle and tranquility, dirty and clean, warm days and cold nights, colorful yet not. An interesting mishmash of all aspects of daily life. The most striking thing about this country is the encounter between tourism and daily life. Social media is a special mediator in this regard. The use of social media in travelers’ decision-making has a significant impact on the tourism system (Leung 2012)
Research findings show that the importance of social media for the competitiveness of tourism is growing rapidly. However, this leads to situations like this in daily life. The girls on the left, who photograph all corners of the fountain with themselves as the focal point of the photo. On the right, the two ladies quietly enter the mosque. Not even a glance is given to the photographing girls. A fraction of a second, but in many large cities of Morocco the self-experienced truth.
Limits in both tourism and social media are becoming increasingly difficult to identify. However, with this photo we want to show that not everything has to be shared on social media when on vacation. Because sometimes, a memory is more worth than a thousand pictures.
THE JU/’HOANSI AND THE OTHERS:
How the local and the tourist gaze shape the touristic encounter
Based on the definition by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism involves activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside of their usual environment (UNWTO, 2001). More specifically, tourism results from the binary division of the ordinary and the extraordinary (Urry & Larsen, 2011). On their quest to get out of their routine, to find the extraordinary, travelers seek experiences “off the beaten track”. The African continent offers a wide range of such activities for the adventurous traveler. Africa for many is considered as a dangerous place, a “wilderness” with wild animals and strange people (van Beek & Schmidt, 2012). The curiosity for these “strange people” is leading tourists to travel from faraway places to meet these people who are often described as untouched by western civilization.
The tourism that involves interaction between hosts and guests in this context can be seen as cultural tourism, which can be defined as a “form of tourism which provides new knowledge, experiences and encounters; tourism which meets the people’s need for diversity and aims at raising the cultural level of the individual”. Cultural exchange is a key aspect of this kind of tourism, as the tourists seek to experience the former and contemporary everyday life and society of the other (UNWTO, 2016). Cultural tourism thus potentially involves contact with historically unique groups and settings (Donlon, Donlon, & Agrusa, 2010).
This article focusses on cultural tourism of the Ju/’hoansi, who inhabit the Nyae Nyae conservancy, in Namibia. They are active stakeholders through a Community Based Natural Resource Management program (CBNRM), (Koot & van Beek, 2017). Referred commonly as ‘Bushmen’ or ‘San’, the Ju/’hoansi have often been presented as the typical hunter-gatherers who were untouched by the outside world. The Nyae Nyae area is not overflowing with tourists but there are many who reach this remote place in north-east Namibia in order to witness the ancient and unique culture of the Ju/’hoansi.
Cultures are not static though, like other indigenous communities, the Ju/’hoansi have been influenced
by the political and economic system. The conservancy supports them with agriculture and livestock
projects, they have access to income through tourism and other activities, so they do not depend
solely on the hunting and gathering lifestyle. In literature this is referred to as a double identity.
While marketed as pristine, hunter-gathers, living an authentic life, the Bushmen are at the same
time victims of modern-day capitalism (Hitchcock, Ikeya, Biesele, & Lee, 2006). In other words,
while the Ju/hoansi have been getting Western influences which have been incorporated into their
lifestyle through the years, they are still promoted as the “noble savages”, the last authentic people
(Gordon & Douglas, 2000). For this reason, it is important to understand how this double identity influences the touristic experience.
The data presented in this article are part of a broader qualitative research in the Nyae Nyae conservancy, where I spent 3 months doing ethnographic fieldwork. I conducted interviews, both formal and informal. By interviewing visitors, I was able to acquire insights on their experiences about the tourism activities, and by interviewing local Ju/’hoansi and other related stakeholders (e.g. the Nyae Nyae conservancy), I was able to acquire a local perspective on cultural tourism encounters. On the core of cultural tourism in Nyae Nyae are the tourism visits on the local villages where I joined the tourists in order to observe the interactions and the dynamics between the hosts and the guests. Moreover, I visited the villages individually to observe the locals in a setting outside of the tourism context. However, this claim can be contested since through the eyes of many locals I was also a tourist, my translator was a tour guide as well.
Cultural tourism activities are held by the TUCSIN Tsumkwe Lodge, the main tourism lodge in the area which has an arrangement with three villages. When tourists book a cultural activity, they are taken to a so-called traditional village which is a representation of the way the villages were constructed in the past. There, the visitors, depending on how many hours they wish to spend in the village, are taken on a “bushwalk”, where the local Ju/’hoansi show the properties of regional plants, invite the tourists to try some of the “bush food” that they gather on the spot and demonstrate how to set traps and make fire with wooden sticks. Then, back at the village, visitors can participate in traditional craft making, observe traditional dances and games. Hunting and tracking are also options depending on the amount of time and money the visitors are willing to spend in the village. The “Little Hunters Museum” is another tourism venture operating in Nyae Nyae. Here, the same activities are provided, but the total amount of the revenues is allocated to the local community of the //Xa/oba village, whereas in the case of the activities organized by the lodge, the participating Ju/’hoansi acquire between 40 to 50 percent of the total revenue.
Cultural tourism under certain circumstances can be used as a positive force for local communities (Craik, 2000). Involvement can empower by reinforcing the sense of pride and community cohesion (Cole, 2006). However, when hosts are behaving in a way to cater to the guests’ needs it can lead to different outcomes. The repetitiveness of the interaction leads the hosts to look at the tourists as dehumanized objects, as stereotyped national character images that are tolerated for the financial benefit, and the tourists to look upon their hosts with curiosity and as to objects as well (Smith, 1989). From the perspective of the tourists, what they usually look for is predetermined (Koot, 2013). The tourism industry creates images of destinations with specific characteristics and tourists expect to understand those places through the imaginary construction of reality contained within this context (Goss, 1993). In other words, the way tourists ‘gaze’ on a place is socially constructed and highly depends on social discourses and practices (Urry & Larsen, 2011). In response to these expectations, the locals reflect the gaze back and behave accordingly in order to benefit financially (Urry, 1996). Thus, it can be drawn from the above that the gaze is mutual; as Urry and Larsen (2011) stress out, guests indeed have a certain power when they gaze upon the hosts and objectify them, but hosts also exercise power and objectify their guests through the ‘local gaze’.
In the case of the Bushmen of Namibia, tourists have certain expectations, when visiting
the Bushmen. The reproduced images and narratives illustrate the Ju/’hoansi as the
fascinating Bushmen, the pure and typical hunter-gatherers (Koot, 2013). Tourists visit their
traditional villages to witness the primitive, to experience the authentic way of living,
untouched by the western civilization, unaware of their “modern” identity. Indeed, many
visitors, when asked why they decided to visit the Ju/’hoansi, responded that they want to
experience “the original bush experience”, “the real thing as it is shown on TV
Locals believe that tourists want to see the unique “bush culture”, the tradition and not how they are currently living. “They want to see us in skins, to see how we survived all these years with our lifestyle,” responds an elder Ju/’hoan. “When tourists come, they want to see the way we lived in the past. So, we take them to the traditional village. This one (the modern village) is dirty, noisy. They don’t travel from so far to see this” says a Ju/’hoan woman. “We don’t take the tourists to the modern village because it is not something they would be interested to see, if they ask then we will take them,” says a local guide. From the above, it is clear that both sides have predetermined views on the experience. On the one hand, the tourists expect to see the ‘primitive’, the authentic, the untouched ‘others’. On the other hand, the locals have specific views on what the tourists expect and behave accordingly.
Tourists can thus experience the ‘ancient’ culture of the Ju/’hoansi by visiting ‘traditional’ villages, where activities are directed from a local tour guide who also explains the different activities. As the majority of the Ju/’hoansi who participate in the cultural activities do not speak English, the tour guide acts also as a translator. Consequently, the interaction between the hosts and the guests is limited. The Ju/’hoansi are relatively reserved and hesitate to engage more with the tourists in most cases; the interaction is narrowed to questions the visitors may ask, which the guides usually answer directly without addressing them to the locals. Therefore, the role of tour guide is key on how the local gaze is exercised; tour guides promote the pristine image of the Ju/’hoansi and sometimes purposely hide the way the locals are currently living. “The tourists want to see the Bushmen and that is what we offer them,” says a local tour guide. “It feels so natural, so primitive. This is the authentic bushman experience!” explains a Canadian tourist. “These people are so untouched from the West. They live so secluded and peaceful,” says a German visitor.
On the other hand, other visitors did not experience the cultural activities the same way. When realizing that this is a performance of the traditional culture and not an exact representation of their everyday life, the impressions were mixed. “This was not worth our money, it was just a show,” responded a German tourist. “It feels like a zoo or worse like a circus!” says a surprised young tourist. “We come to their village, we make them wear skins and tell them to perform for us,” he continues. But responses are mixed; “I felt disappointed at first to see that this is not the authentic thing, but it is was overall an interesting experience,” says an English visitor in the //Xa/oba village. “I think it is great that these people found a way to generate income by demonstrating their culture,” says another visitor at the same village. Finally, another visitor notices “It is very interesting to see how this community is changing through the years,”.
The responses were closely linked to the different perceptions on authenticity. When visitors associated authenticity with the premodern and “primitive”, they were expecting to meet the “real Bushmen” and they eventually were satisfied or unsatisfied depending on the level of “primitivity” they experienced. Other individuals were characterizing the experience which was closest to ‘reality’ as authentic. So, for many the performance was a representation of the old culture, but they were also interested to see how development has influenced their society in general.
In conclusion, cultural tourism is one of the main sources of income for the Ju/’hoansi
of Nyae Nyae, and many choose to participate in such activities. Tourists from all over
the world are curious to meet these ‘last pristine hunter-gathers’. When these two worlds
finally meet, they both exercise a mutual gaze at each other, making the encounter to fall
under specific predetermined expectations. In fact, when these expectations are not met,
the experience becomes disappointing from the side of the tourists. As the interaction
between the two parties is limited, intercultural communication is difficult, and escaping
from the gaze is almost unfeasible. In order for visitors to engage truly with the Ju/’hoansi
a 3-hour visit to a traditional village is inadequate; understating the culture, modern and
traditional is close to impossible. Thus, cultural tourism in theory may involve cultural
exchange and raise the cultural level of the individual as the definition of the UNWTO
(2016) claims, but in reality it is much more complicated.
“While marketed as pristine, hunter-gathers, living an authentic life, the Bushmen are at the same time victims of modern-day capitalism”
“The interaction between the hosts and the guests is limited”
MSc student Leisure, Tourism and Environment, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
It is raining really hard and it is very windy. We’re cold, but armed with raincoats and umbrellas we stand strong. As we walk towards the Dam square, we hear fragments of a speech. Unfortunately, we couldn’t understand much of it, but everyone stood pointed towards the stage and tried to listen, which caused a feeling of unity. Although people stung each other with their umbrellas, still the mood was jovial.
Pushing or Diving
We see two women with a sign saying ‘Drammen of Duiken’, which can be translated as ‘Pushing or Diving’. We wonder what it means and discuss it with the others, but no one has a clue. We decide to approach and ask the women about it. They tell us that people who fight for the climate are called ‘klimaatdrammers’ (climate pushers) in the House of Representatives. She enthusiastically tells us that this became a sort of geuzennaam, a badge of honor. The diving stands for the rising sea level, which would lead to floods in the Netherlands. This is a theme that came back multiple times during the march. For example, we remember hearing people shout the slogan ‘Wheehoo, wheehee, Nijmegen hoort niet aan zee!’ (wheehoo, wheehee, Nijmegen doesn’t belong next to the sea!) One of the women told us it was her first time protesting, whereas the woman holding the sign had already protested multiple times. We asked them whether they would also be protesting if it were only the two of them. The woman who had been protesting before, said she would, whilst the other woman wouldn’t go. She thought there would be no use in protesting on your own; it’s easier to fight for the climate when you’re together. She told us it’s harder when you’re shopping and you want to know where the products come from, for example. She is quite concerned about the fact that many shop employees (klopt dit als vertaling voor winkelmedewerkers?) don’t even know where their own products come from.
She asks us if we ever discuss the climate with our friends. We told her we don’t. Maybe sometimes with a few fellow students, but apart from that, we feel like other people aren’t that keen to discuss this topic with us. She admits she feels lonely sometimes, because people around her seem to be less engaged with the climate. We feel like she misses a community in her close circle that strives for the same same cause: the climate. She finds this community at the march.
ANGER AND HOPE
at the Climate March in Amsterdam
Lotus Bueno de Mesquita and Willemijn Punt
An encounter of 35 thousand people in the pouring rain at the Dam. Elderly, youth, scientists and nature lovers. One by one all different people, but all with one purpose: asking attention for climate change and asking for a better climate policy. We were there too and looked around at this special encounter. We spoke to different people during the march, asking them about their reasons to stand up for the climate.
The man with the flag
We see a small group of people walk with enormous flags. We suppose the flags are of countries, but we don’t know which countries. We try to get closer to the flags through the dense crowd. When we walk next to one of the men who is holding a flag, we ask him what country he is representing. He told us the flag is of the Moluccas and that a lot of deforestation takes place on these countries. The other flags were of other countries that share this problem. There are many oil palm plantations in the Moluccas, whichfore much of the rainforest is destroyed. According to the man, the Dutch government subsidizes these plantations and therefore pays indirectly for the deforestation in these countries. He wanted to address this issue at the climate march.
The European Union flag
Through the dense crowd we spot a man walking with a flag of the European Union. We ask ourselves why he’s got a flag of the EU. After all, we’re at a protest for the climate and not a protest for the EU or against the Brexit or something. We laugh and wonder whether the man even strikes for the climate. We’re trying to come closer to the man. Willemijn taps him at his shoulder and asks him why he carries a flag of the EU with him, since we’re at the climate march. The man smiles at us and tells us he is born in Germany, grown up in France and that he considers himself a Dutchman now. The borders don’t matter to him and therefore he doesn’t think only Rutte should do something about the policy for the climate. He believes fighting for the climate should be a collective act. According to him the EU should change something and that’s why he carries a flag of the EU. He adds that he thinks we shouldn’t just blame the government for not taking action, but should take matters into our own hands as well. He illustrates this argument by pointing out that he plants trees and plants around his neighbourhood to offer a home to insects.
On the tram home
As soon as we arrived at our final destination, Museumplein, we decided it was time to go home and warm up. However, thousands of people had the same idea, so public transport was crowded. I managed to claim a chair in the tram as people filled every last inch of the space. At every stop people tried to get in and some even managed to, but the conductor warned people and begged them to stay outside for safety reasons. I realised this was still part of the encounter. The conductor knew we were the climate strikers and he asked us to yell some slogans, and so some people did. Wouldn’t we all know we were all cramped up in this little space for a good cause, maybe the encounter wouldn’t have went so smoothly and friendly, but I think deep down, we were all a little proud of each other.
AGRESSION IN CARE:
‘Where life is at stake, the aggression is nearby’ Jan Rolies (2005: 17)"
It is one o’clock at night, the night from Sunday to Monday. I sit unsuspectingly behind the counter when two paramedics with a stretcher rush into the department. That occurs regularly in an Emergency Department, I only get up when I see four policemen walk along. The patient Markus lays, to put it mildly, unusual on the stretcher: on his stomach and with his hand tied on his back in handcuffs. On the back of his head I see a wound and his face and neck are covered with stains of dried blood. Markus yells angrily at the police officers in Polish. The only world I recognize, he repeats it multiple times; ‘kurwa!’ he shouts, which just about means ‘whore’ or ‘cunt’. One of the police officers says: ‘Hey, take it easy man’, while grabbing Markus by his shoulders.
A young, female E.R. nurse in training, Marie, receives the paramedics. When Markus sees her, a smile appears on his face and he makes a kissing gesture. Marie flinches and reacts shocked. Markus’ smile disappears and now he yells at Marie: ‘Kurwa!’
Marie takes everyone to a room near the counter. The paramedics tell they receiver a call from people at a party, and that upon arrival they immediately called the police because the man was behaving aggressively. They took him because the headwound needs to be stitched and it is unknown how it came about. They presume the man is intoxicated. The police officer thinks he might have fallen down the stairs, or that he has been hit by someone.
Marie looks through Markus’ pockets for his identity document. Markus resists violently and makes a lot of noise. The four police officers now push him hard against the bed. Marie seems to be looking fearfully. She doesn’t find an identity document but does retrieve a bag of weed and a small tube from his pockets. The officers tells it could presumably be a tube to sniff cocaine or speed. When the E.R. doctor enters the room, it is decided to carry Markus over to a hospital bed. Marie asks me to help her with putting him in restraints. When this is done, the man is held firmly by the officers, freed from his handcuffs and rolled from the stretcher onto the bed. This all goes paired with a lot of agitation, shouting and meddling of officers, the nurse and the E.R. doctor. The doctor says he can’t treat the man well. ‘He first needs to calm down’, he says, and he goes to discuss with the psychiatrist for a medicine.
First the wound needs to get stitched.
A few minutes after Markus has gotten an injection with lorazepam. he turns calm. He stops yelling and barely moves. A police officer asks if they are still needed. ‘If there is anything, then you call. Just 112, that is always the quickest after all,’ says an officer.
When I leave the room with Marie, she says enthusiastically: ‘Well, like this you see quite something!’ The next patient is already waiting. I asks Marie if she has felt threatened by the situation. ‘No, not at all’, she says, ‘with all those cops around.’ Many outsiders, because of all the screaming and the physical contact, would presumably have experienced this encounter as rather extreme. Yet the nurse says enthusiastically that she did not feel threatened, in this case partially due to the presence of the police officers. Her reaction is a sign that such encounters are part of the job to her.
Some nurses state that they have gotten used to forms of aggression and consider it as an inseparable part of the job. This turned out to be a constant in the research. Moreover, nurses make a distinction between reasonable aggression and personal aggression. Reasonable aggression is according to them caused by the clinical picture of the patient – like a psychiatric past, long waiting times or the suffering of the patient. The nurses understand this form of aggression, without necessarily approving of it. Another kind of reasonable aggression consists of behaviour that is experienced as annoying or disturbing, but not as aggressive. Not only patients, but also family members and friends show such behaviour according to personnel: ‘Oh yes, very forcing. Really such a suck-up! That kind of person demanding all your attention and energy, while it usually is not even about them. But saying something against it, no way. That won’t matter!’
It is, according to the nurses, not worth the effort to record such occurrences and encounters/ forms of ‘reasonable aggression’ are daily practice for them, they deal with it routinely, it is part of the job. They consider complaining and demanding behaviour as bothersome, but not as serious or drastic. Complaining patients believe they can forcefully claim certain services and usually pose as dissatisfied and impatient customers wanting to get served quickly and persist their wishes in an annoying way. Because the nurses want to keep the peace, they generally accept this behaviour.
Personal aggression on the other hand, is directly aimed at the nurse as person or at objects and causes an unpleasant or unsafe feeling. In short; this is about physical violence, verbal violence in the form of insults, threats or sexual intimidation, aggression aimed at objects and aggression aimed at oneself. The concept ‘vulnerability’ is of importance here. The possible mental and psychological damage as result of the behaviour plays a distinctive role: ‘Well, here I am wearing a white suit that makes me vulnerable. Here I am seen as someone from the hospital and it is expected from me that I handle patients and family professionally. So yes, in such a situation here I feel more vulnerable’.
Nurses experience a gap between their specific professional role, related to the medical discourse of care and understanding on one hand, and their own individual norms about what is acceptable behaviour for patients on the other hand. Contrary to the public tasks of for example police officers – who hold the monopoly on violence, and who in their approach of psychiatric patients on the street first of all want to neutralise risks and dangers – nursing staff primarily operates from the professional mission of care and empathy and aims to be sensitive to the emotions of patients and family. ‘Does is affect you?’ I ask. ‘When they really swear and attack me, really aimed at me, then yes. But otherwise I let it go past me.’ I ask what she means with this. ‘Well, if they say “what a shit hospital” or so, whatever. But if they call me cunt, then yes I say something about it.’
The manner in which nurses speak about these forms of aggression, corresponds with the distinction in the so-called expressive (reasonable) and instrumental (personal) aggression (Middelhoven and Driessen, 2001). In the last form, aggression is used to reach a certain goal, for example when counter staff us being put under pressure to give priority to the aid. In the first form, aggression is an emotional expression of for example a worried parent. A counter worker says about this: ‘Yes, i am staff here and I sit here for the hospital. Those people then again aren’t angry at me but it mostly is the emotion. It’s usually not personally aimed at me, so I let it go. It’s also quite good to let your emotions go sometimes.’
The mental state of the patient, for example in the case of a psychosis, with dementia or when the patient is under influence of heavy medicine, is also seen as expressive or reasonable aggression. For the nurse it then is always the question to what extent the care recipient is responsible for the aggressive behaviour. Some also sort alcohol usage in this category of aggression. Expressive and instrumental aggression can also occur simultaneously. A concerned parent worrying seriously about their child can also conduct (slightly) threatening and aggressive means of pressure to get priority.
The distinction is not so unambiguous. The following story from a security guard shows how these levels flow over into each other: ‘Still too bad that you aren’t always here, Sunday there was a really annoying man. So this man came in with his son and wanted to get helped immediately. He was practically screaming. The secretary was immediately intimidated, because the man was very forceful. I walked over right away and asked the man when it happened. “Yes, what does it matter if it happened yesterday or just now. He has to be helped now by you,” this man then said. He continually pointed his finder at me and was yelling. He crossed a border with me because of this. He kept attacking me personally, so I said: “Nutcase, this doesn’t work like that.” Marieke, the secretary listening along, says: “that wasn’t that smart.”’ The security guard continues: ‘So this man says: “Nutcase, are you calling me nutcase?!” Then I walked away and went to the inside-counter and asked a nurse to help the man’. ‘But has the man been helped quicker?’ I ask. ‘Yes, he actually got help immediately,’ says the security guard. ‘When he came inside he went to the counter right away, while there was a baby laying in a Maxi-Cosi. The mother of that child then said: “Well, you can help this man first.”
It does thus matter for nurses what the reason or the goal of the aggression is. When the behaviour correlates with the symptoms of the patient, or when the patient is intoxicated, the nurse if more tolerant. Such behaviour, the nurses experience as reasonable aggression, or, in line with the literature, as expressive aggression. Towards the personnel, whether it is about security guards, desk staff or nurses, instrumental aggression sometimes seems to be effective. The counter worker in the next situation opts for a pretend reason to prevent further escalation. This method is often induced by empathy with the patient and the family members.
In the next case it becomes clear that when patients cross a personal border, the nurses can indicate this. Encouraged by the management is the idea that aggression-incidents are not tolerated, to prevent them from becoming routine and normal. The management and the political discourse state that aggression is unacceptable. Simultaneously, the discourse of caring is in the way of setting boundaries. ‘I sit behind the counter and hear Machteld and Clara talk about a patient. “Yes, I don’t know where he keeps it, it is all over the floor, but I think he spits it in his cupboard.’ Machteld says that she is going to take a look at him and I decide to walk along. Machteld tiptoes into the room and peeks around the corner of the curtain. ‘Sister!’ screams the man. I walk inside, so that i can see the man too. A stout man lays on his side on a stretcher. He is somewhere between the age of fifty and sixty, has long wild hair and a long wild beard. It does not smell fresh. Machteld engages in a conversation with the man.
“May I have something to drink?” he asks. “Water?” “No, rather jus d’orange,” says the man. “I can only give you water now, as you have just thrown up and jus d’orange is not good right now.” The man mumbles something incomprehensible and then says: “Some lemonade then.” “No,” says Machteld, “I will only give you water, that is easier on your stomach.” She turns around and gets the man some water and ask him how he feels. When he receives the water, the man says: “Thank you, sweetheart.” I see Machteld stiffen. “No, sir, you must not call me sweetheart. I am just a nurse and I am working. I don’t want you to call me sweetheart.” When we left the room, I asked Machteld what she thought about it. “Well, now he still was kind of friendly because I gave him water. Otherwise He’ll just call you a cunt.”
Machteld finds that the man crosses a personal boundary for her. in this case it also becomes clear that undesired intimacies can be interpreted by nurses as forms of aggressions, following the broader policy definitions of aggression encounters, amongst which the order of Sikkema et al. (2007).
Al these cases are about what nurses would define as reasonable aggression, whereby should be mentioned that the distinction between reasonable and personal aggression is diffuse. It turns out that the assignment of meaning from the ones involved about what ‘aggression’ is, coheres with their professional socialisation, but also with time and place and with the directly involved people in a situation. While the government and the hospital management mark more and more behaviours as aggressive – expanding the concept and decreasing its clarity – it simultaneously becomes visible that these definitions from higher up have insufficiently reached the work floor. For the time being, they do not make up a permanent part of the thinking and operating framework of the hospital staff. Nurses then also experience a tension between their personal individual norms about respectful behaviour, their socialisation in the professional norms of care and empathy, and the expectations from the management about permissible behaviour. Shortly; aggression does not form a clearly demarcated and objectively determinable notion in the social reality. The day-to-day encounters on the E.R. underline that the meanings assigned to ‘aggression’ are contingent – they change throughout the time – and that the perspectives of the ones involved can agree and overlap, but also often differ and conflict.
Cultural anthropologist at Utrecht University, Tilburg, Bradford, Vincennes-Saint Denis. Research and advice focused on police organization, security and diversity management
AN ETNOGRAPHER'S LUDIC DIARY
Experiential Anthropology in the Domain of Sexuality and Romance
Introduction by Lotus Bueno de Mesquita
I contacted R. Bolton, who wrote the article Sex, Identity and Erotic Subjectivity in Anthropological Fieldwork which you can find in the work of D. Kulick & Willson, M. (1995) as chapter 5. When I first read this article I must admit I was quite surprised. However, it made me wonder about the topic of sexual relationships between researcher and informant. It made me think about the fact that I always regarded anthropology as a field so free that there were no taboos at all. Now, we’ve already dived into a lot of different encounters, but the actual and literal encounter between researcher and informant has so far been neglected. As R. Bolton himself points out: ‘The taboo on sexual involvement in the field serves to maintain a basic boundary between ourselves and the Other in a situation in which our goal as ethnographers is to diminish the distance between us’ (R. Bolton in: D. Kulick & Willson, M., 1995). I chose to contact professor R. Bolton because I believe it’s important to introduce students and readers to topics that don’t usually occur in social research to obtain a broader understanding of the social world and how it’s perceived.
Sunday night, Oct. 16, 1988
After a terrific day spent with Ruud, including dinner at his place (he's a good cook: potatoes, some Belgian vegetable and a delicious steak), I went to the Big Noise. Harry was there, as were Willi and Jacques, two of the friends of Serge whom I have known since last winter. I greeted all three with the obligatory kisses and then stood back against the railing by the heater observing the scene.
The bar was relatively full. At one point in came the chap I thought I recognized as Serge's lover, the one presumably responsible for his shabby treatment of me during the summer, the jerk. His name is Javier. Javier was with a taller, dark-haired Jacques. I leaned over and asked Harry who the short one was (he's short, dark, and not very good looking… just so-so). Harry, who previously had told me he didn't think Serge has a boyfriend, that he fucks around every time with someone new, said: "Oh, that's Serge's boyfriend. He's Portuguese. I prefer the other one who's just a copain, another Portuguese.
Sometime later Serge entered the bar and passed both of them and came up to Willi and Jacques for the kisses and to Harry. He had to pass me--we merely nodded to each other. He stood in this area of the bar for a while talking to several people, who ordered drinks but not for Serge. Harry had already told me that since Serge has a reputation for not reciprocating, people generally don't buy him drinks anymore when they order rounds. Eventually, Serge went over to the Portuguese couple and they talked for a while and finished their drinks, and then all three left the bar.
At some point, I noticed that Jacques would be looking at me curiously from time to time. Now in the past, because his English is not as good as Rudi's, I have always been on friendlier terms with Rudi, his lover. Rudi has always greeted me and made sure he talked to me for a few minutes. He's a pleasant fellow and I remember how much he can party and have fun when there's a special event at the Big Noise. Tonight, both of them were quiet. Rudi explained that they had been at his parents' place for the day and they were not there "recovering." Standing next to Jacques, hand on the rail, suddenly I feel his hand on the rail in contact with mine. When he put it there, I simply left mine where it was, not moving… and he didn't move his either. They remained in contact for minutes.
Eventually one of us moved to pick up a glass or a cigarette (he had given up smoking a year or two ago but he takes a drag from time to time from friends' cigarettes. I offered him one after he took my cigarette for a drag, but he refused it, explaining he merely takes an occasional puff from his friends). But it wasn't long before the fingers were back in contact, and the pressure became less tentative, the fingers caressed each other, gently at first, less subtly later, until they became entwined.
Jacques and Rudi were also holding onto each other, in touch. I couldn't catch all their conversation, not much at all really, during the evening, but I did hear Rudi respond to something Jacques said to him: "That's not a problem for me." Then I knew what was going on, although I suspected it earlier. I recalled Serge saying that he had been in three-ways within Brussels with lovers. The thought was exciting. Both men are attractive, thirtyish, tall, medium builds. Rudi has dark hair, a ready smile; Jacques is more serious usually, lighter hair, big chest. I wouldn't necessarily say they are my "type" but they are definitely sexy. The seduction took an hour or so. I went into the bathroom at some point and Jacques came in and stood at the other urinal, both of us glancing in the other’s direction, almost furtively. Eventually, when Rudi was talking to some other persona at the bar, Jacques turned to me and said:
“Would you like to make love to me?”
“Uh, that sounds very exciting…”
“With me and my lover?” With a nod of his head in Rudi’s direction.
“Does he really want to?”
“You can ask him about it.”
By then, Rudi had taken his place back with us. So, I walked over to him and asked: “Do you really want to get together.”
“Yes, that would be nice,” he replied.
“Ok, then, if you’re interested."
Although I was almost positive from the beginning that this was a three-way deal, I was still slightly worried about Rudi's reaction. After all, he had been a closer friend, and I would not have gone just with Jacques for fear of offending Rudi. There had never been anything sexual before in his or my interest, pure friendship which had developed because I was Serge's lover when we met.
I couldn't help but think about the oddity of this, however.
And I hesitated, for an instant maybe, because they are friends of Serge. My God, what were they up to? Trying to find out what Serge had had? But if Serge had given it up, they could hardly have thought that it was something terrific. Or had they read the part in the personals ad that Serge had composed in which he stated that I was very sexually active? What the hell, it didn't matter what their motives were… it was a great proposition.
Flattered to be invited into their marital bed. Besides, I love three-ways and have always had a great time when they have occurred, which is only four or five times before. And at this moment I am reading a book on the subject, which might be more interesting if it were about gay three-ways. It deals mostly with straights, although three-ways always have the potential and sometimes the reality of a homosexual component, more often between women than between men. We left the bar when we finished our drink. They had bought me a drink along with one for Harry earlier. Also, during much of the evening there was another Jacques standing talking to them… he had bought them drinks, excluding me. He was somewhat attractive, blond but balding, thirtyish too. They talked to him, but it was clear they had something on the mind other than a three-way with him, but from his behavior I got the impression that he was after them… perhaps for a repeat performance with them? He left before we did. Before we left, too, there was some clowning around and exaggerated kissing between Rudi and a couple of other men and same for Jacques.
They live just around the corner from the Big Noise. We climbed the stairs to the fourth floor to their apartment. Quite a climb, and when I commented on it, they said jokingly, yes, we figure if someone can't manage the stairs it's not going to be worthwhile. When we got inside, Jacques went to do something and Rudi and I started kissing, deep, long, good. Jacques returned and Rudi came up for breath and said something approvingly about the kissing. We started shedding clothes, and then it was Jacques's turn to kiss while we undressed. We moved into the bedroom. The two of them lay down and I joined them, facing down between them, arms around both and taking turns kissing while they caressed me, each other...three-way kisses, too. We made love for an hour. Care taken by all to be equally involved with each other, although eventually Jacques became the centerpiece of the action. And he really got into it. They opened poppers and before I knew it had shoved some to me, which I tried to avoid, not breathing for a minute after the wetness hit my nostril, hoping it dissipates before getting too much of it, worried about its effect since I've never used it.
Rudi sucked me, I stroked cocks, squeezed balls, and then I felt a rubber being slipped on my prick. At least I think so, but in truth I never saw a rubber after all was done. And then Rudi was guiding my cock into Jacques who was sitting on me while I worked his tits. Too hard at one point, and Rudi laughingly said something about his not being able to take it too hard, but he enjoyed it and so did Rudi, who seems not to mind hard at all. I fucked Jacques for a while but then due to the rubber or maybe performance anxiety, the consciousness of the actions, which sometimes has that deflating effect on me, I was no longer hard, and so Rudi then got up and fucked Jacques from behind while Jacques was on top of me.
Both went wild, but especially Jacques. I could watch Rudi's face as he fucked. He said some things in a hard tone of voice, I slapped Jacques's buttocks, eliciting appreciative comments. Jacques came, moaning loudly...to the point that Rudi leaned forward and placed his hand over Jacques's mouth and said, joking, "The neighbors".
After that they turned full attention to me, massing, masturbating me. I was slow in coming because I'm so used to using lubricant which they had nowhere in sight. Jacques got up after some time, and then I changed positions and lay on top of Rudi to stomach fuck. He got excited but was no longer hard. I don't know if he ever came, in fact...maybe in Jacques. But he liked it as I pumped on top of him. Jacques returned and stroked my back. With the aid of saliva, I came. Rolled off and lay back, all three of us together for a few minutes, kissing.
Rudi then got a small towel to wipe up, asking if I wanted to wash. He took me to the bathroom, gave me a fresh towel and soap in a bottle, and I showered. I came out and started dressing, Jacques was sprawled on the bed nude. Rudi in the kitchen asking if I'd have something to drink. He and I had a beer and talked for half an hour or so, sitting at the table.
"Well, I've had three-ways before, but never with two lovers. How does that work out?"
"It seems to work out fine. Not always, of course, but we do this and it's fun. We think it's better than fucking around alone. It's more Jacques's idea than mine, but it's a good compromise. He was in a relationship before he met me in which the lover was very jealous and yet at the same time was screwing around himself. So, this way we can be honest with each other and reasonable and still have the excitement of sexual variety. It's much better. We've been together three years now, and of course we have our problems, but we love each other, we make plans for things we want to do in the future, and I think our relationship will go on for a long time."
"How do you usually go about picking up someone?"
"Well, if he sees someone he wants, or if I do, we talk about it, and then if we agree, one of us does the talking. Generally, I guess it's the one whose idea it is who makes the approach, but often I'm the one regardless who does it."
We conversed some more about their lives. Rudi's mother knows about his being gay, and probably his father does too, but the father doesn't want to know. Whenever Rudi goes home, he is with Jacques. They spend holidays together. When his mother buys something for Rudi she always buys an identical item for Jacques.
Rudi woke Jacques up - or got him up, don't know if he was asleep or just lying exhausted in the bedroom. Rudi had to prepare for the next day...he had to go to work but it was Jacques's day off. Jacques was to see me to the front door downstairs since it required a key to open. Rudi and I kissed goodnight. He had given me their phone number and said perhaps they'd arrange a dinner or something. I gave my phone number and address. I'd go for a repeat performance...wonder if they would? Downstairs Jacques and I French kissed and said goodnight.
It was only 1:00 am when I left, so I headed for the Company to see if I could find someone to take home for the night, and lo and behold who should be there but Michel, Bernard, or whatever his name is. After 14 months I still do know how it's spelled or exactly what it is. He was sitting in a booth near the window with an older man. I got a drink of coffee from Harry and stood near the DJ booth. Michel had seen me and when he went to the bathroom he nodded to me, and returning he stopped to talk. Now he's the world's worst tease. We only ever had sex once but all the other times I have seen him, he has played with me because he knows I'd love to have sex with him again. I started out on the offensive a bit this time, having seen him briefly the day before in Le Baroque where we ran into each other after the Spectacle when Ruud and I went for coffee because my trick from the night before, Marc, works there. More on him later.
"We had a date for a Friday night some weeks ago and you didn't show up, eh."
His reply, "Oh, we did? I thought it was for tonight."
"Yes, maybe, but you're here with someone else now."
"That's just a friend. We have a date tonight, don't we?"
"When are you going to show me your apartment, on the Rue de Stassart, right?"
"Yes, how do you know? You and Marc must have had quite a chat after Ruud and I left yesterday?"
"Yes. He told me everything. When I saw you there, I knew you had sex with him. And he told me that when he came to your apartment, he intuitively knew that you and I had already had sex. We’re roommates, you know? And we have the same tastes in men. Whenever he has seen someone, I can be sure that it will be someone I like, and vice versa. He and I never have sex. We sleep together but we don't fuck."
He reached over and started to unbutton my shirt. He stuck his fingers through a space in the fly of my 501’s. “Ah, I remember everything: The White Horse Hotel”.
“Do you want to suck?”
“Perhaps. And you, you like to suck?”
“Yes, but I think you are too tired tonight from last night with Marc. Do you fuck with the Jacques you were with at Le Baroque?” “No, we're copains.”
The playful bantering went on for some time. There was someone working at the door of the Company that night who I don't know. He kept watching Michel and they talked. From the look, it seems he is someone in love with Michel. But Michel left alone after further teasing:
"No, I don't go with you tonight. Some other time, when I see you and I say 'let's go fuck,' then we go right away to your place."
Earlier we kissed and being normally the gentle sort myself, it was he who grabbed me hard and said, "I like my men to be tough." He's strong, it seems, but still it is his eyes which are captivating and irresistible for me despite my disdain for his brusque manner at times. He alternates between being smooth, seductive, charming, and domineering, in control (he is obviously). Quite likely we'll never end up in bed again. He was interested in how many men I've slept with in Brussels, for instance last winter. I said that maybe a few but then I met someone and was with that person most of the time. "I was with one for a whole month back then," he said. And this time, he wanted to know, too.
Clearly, he and Marc had discussed me in detail. He knew it all. I never admitted having had sex with Marc, because it was not certain that Marc had said that. But knowing them, I doubt they keep info from each other. They're both sexy, self-confident, hyperactive, teasing types. They must be wild together---even though no sex between them. Sex with Michel might be anticlimactic a second time...it was not the sex itself the first time that was so powerful. But the same is not true of Marc.
October 18, 1988
Before continuing to retrieve back events, I'll catch up on today. After I wrote about 10 pages, those damned beeps sounded on my computer and I knew the power supply was low. I turned it off hoping to short circuit the problem by stopping immediately and connecting to the electrical supply. Alas, everything went blank and I thought I had lost the entire diskette. The error message said that the drive had been in operation when the machine was disconnected. So, I spent the next couple of hours learning Norton Commander to try to retrieve lost data, and to my pleasant surprise I managed to recover the files, although I don't think all is well because I keep getting a message that a former screen cannot be exited, whatever that means. Nonetheless I can continue working, having made a backup disk of the recovered material, some 40 pages.
Last night Olivier, my early French trick, the one who came five times, wanted to go home with me. We sat at Company for a while, but I resisted his importuning. He seems to like me, wanted to give me his (cheap) chain, and was being openly affectionate in the bar, which rather irritated me because there was Serge, watching, and he has had a crush on me (not bragging, not my type), and also Dion the friend, and it turns out a former short-term lover of Freddy, also with his eye on us, especially since he's a friend, probably more in his mind, to Olivier as well. There was an Englishman in the bar wanting to know where to go to find people; he has a lover in London and is here only for three days. Hated to disappoint him by telling him that except for weekends, this city can be pretty dead. I thought maybe Olivier would get together with him when I left.
I had told Olivier he could call me today or come by at 4:00 p.m. He was here promptly at 3:45. I asked him to wait for 15 minutes while I finished some work, but I really needed to take a shower. He was here until 6 and would have stayed but I took him for coffee and said I had to return to work. He is still terrific sex, And I was horny as hell this afternoon. We jacked off mainly, both coming twice. I intended to fuck him on his stomach but he seemed to be having a hard time of it and so I desisted in my efforts. I think he doesn't get fucked but was willing to try for me. He does have a beautiful cock, eight inches or more, and average in circumference. He caresses lots. We didn't French kiss... I wasn't interested. He has a smooth body, taut, no fat. He speaks French with me all the time and his articulation is such that I comprehend him well. But I don't feel comfortable with him. He says he works for British Airways but it can’t be. He says he's being sent to San Francisco in January to work, but I doubt it. I don't dare leave him out of my sight for fear he might steal. He interacted well with the bartender, and that's a good sign, but.....Says he'll have his own apartment starting next week ... says he loves me. That's crazy. I prefer not to see him again. He said he'll look for me at the Duquesnoy and to come there if I go out tonight, a night when the Company is closed. Closing nights for the bars in Brussels are Tuesdays and Thursdays, some on each of those nights do not open.
When we were finished having sex, preparing to shower the phone rang. It was Brendan calling from Luxembourg. He won't be coming this weekend as originally planned. He's leaving for Spain---Valencia. He has a lover from Paris, a Lebanese, but it's a relationship also fraught with problems. The Jacques had a lover in Paris, spending the week with Brendan, but now the Parisian affair is over, and Brendan doesn't know what will happen, especially since his stay in Luxembourg is coming to an end in 10 days. Brendan and I always seem to have the same problems. Won't get to see him now until late November or December.
On a Monday night I was walking between bars in the bar district, which in Brussels is an area about five square blocks; most of the gay bars are located in that area of the city near the Grand Place and the Bourse. As I headed toward the Big Noise on Boulevard Anspach, I noticed a man ahead of me. He caught sight of me but kept on going, turning left on the street where Le Sept is. He passed Le Sept and continued. I followed at a discreet distance but on the opposite side of the street. He noticed me a couple of times but didn't pause until he got to a cigarette shop which he entered. I lounged around and then crossed the street further along in that direction. He came out and came in my direction for a block or so and then crossed to the other side. I slowed and looked in some windows. He turned into a building entrance in two blocks, while I stood across the street and looked in the window, glancing in his direction from time to time. He unlocked the hall door and turned on the light but instead of closing the door he stood in it half open, watching me.
In a couple of minutes, I crossed to his side and looked in a window adjacent to the building entrance. He stayed put. I tried to light a cigarette. Luckily it was windy, and I "had" to step toward the entrance to get it lit. He then nodded his head to indicate I should come in. I went in and he told me in French to wait there while he went upstairs.
Time dragged on. Maybe it was only 3-4 minutes, but the light went out automatically. I found the switch and relit it. Then I started to panic. Had he locked the door when he closed it. Was I in this building for the night, not knowing which apartment he'd entered? He climbed the stairs at least 3 or 4 flights. Was he some sort of sadistic maniac who got kicks by playing tricks on gay men? Actually, his look was classic gay leatherman. He was short, my height, short black hair, dark complexion, dressed in jeans and a red sweatshirt hood showing out of his jacket. Really a hot number. I tried the door and found it unlocked, and I sighed in relief. Some people entered the building about that time, and also my "trick" came downstairs. We went out and headed in the direction of Anspach again, in silence. Where were we going? For a drink? To another apartment? When we turned the corner toward Place Fontainas, he dug into his pocket and said, "Damn, I've forgotten my key. Oh well, there's one in the restaurant here." He left me on the sidewalk and went into the restaurant for a minute, returning with the key to a door on the opposite side of the street. After some fumbling, he found the right lock/key combination, and we entered a hallway which was piled full of junk, a storage area. He closed the door and we started to hug and caress, chests, arms, butts, baskets. We were soon unbuttoning each other's shirts and pants, pulling out cocks and stroking each other’s cock and balls. Nothing was spoken. He took out some poppers and offered them. I refused, he used.
Within a few minutes we both came, him first, then me. He grabbed a piece of cloth from a pile and we wiped off, buttoned up, and left. We conversed a bit on the street. He has a lover in Switzerland, but he's here for a few weeks while his lover is serving some army time at home. He's of Italian descent but born in Belgium.
We separated in the street and I was sure that was the end of an anonymous Italian trick, one of the most gorgeous men I've tricked with. Exudes sexiness. But a night or two later when I was at the Company he walked in and talked with Bill. When I had a chance, I inquired about him from Bill. He confirmed what little I knew, and then added that he was appearing in the amateur artists' show that the Company had organized, and I could see him in it with almost nothing on. Of course, I resolved to attend, to see both him and Bill practically nude. I did not let on to Bill that I had rather intimate knowledge already of the chap whose name is Salvatore, of Sicilian extraction.
On my way out, Bill introduced us, but I fled in embarrassment. I always do in the face of extreme beauty. He smiled but didn't say anything, just nodded. Then on Saturday night, October 15, I was sitting at a booth in Company when he came in. He stood nearby at the DJ booth, talking to various people. He has a terrific smile, laughs quietly, but is lively. He was having a great time. When the guy he was talking with went to dance or to the toilets I got up my nerve and went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and asked when he was coming to my place. He smiled demurely, with a sparkle in his eyes and explained that it was difficult because of his lover, who knew where he was staying, and he could call there, and also because the person with whom he was staying might say something if he did not come home at night. The conversation was pleasant, but non-committal. We were joined by a friend of his, Marc, who began to take an interest in me. I kept giving attention to Salvatore....thinking he might eventually accept my offer. In any case we stood together for a long time drinking. I bought him a couple of drinks. Marc started to unbutton my shirt and make praising comments on my hairy chest, all in good fun.
Almost forgot that I had seen Salvatore one afternoon after our sex in the Tek Tiz, talking to three guys. He didn't really acknowledge my presence in the bar that time, not that I really expected him to.
Ruud and I went to the spectacle on Sunday the 16th and Salvatore appeared in quite a few numbers, always either in male dress, leather, or almost nude...dancing. He was spectacular. His chest is hairy but not too much, with hair going down the front to his pubic area. He was so hot on stage, but not an ounce of attitude. He was having a great time, seeming a bit shy---charming. During the intermission he was talking to friends two tables up from ours, and Ruud pushed me into going over to talk to him, to congratulate him on his performance. What the hell, I did it. He was pleased and talked with me. He asked who my companion was, and I told him a friend. I invited him to come and meet Ruud. He accepted. Ruud bought him a drink, and he sat and talked with us until it was time to prepare for the next part of the show. He told us he never goes to the Big Noise because of a row with Alain the owner, who he claims was jealous because he had opened a bar nearby. It remained open only a few months because the owners had rented it without a long-term contract and the building was to be used for something else. Ruud had heard that there had been problems with drugs at that bar. Really delightful conversation, and when he left, he said, "see you later." But after the show we remained seated, but he didn't join us, and we left. I haven't seen him since, but I talked to Bill who says, "Oh he's single. The affair with the Swiss guy won't last, but you have to hurry if you want to see him because he's here only for another week." I was surprised that Bill was encouraging...he usually warns me about people, doesn't have me get my hopes up. I hope in this case that he passes along to Salvatore my intense interest in seeing him again. Salvatore has been in the States, just New York, which he didn't like too much. He says he and Marc are good friends.
My God, I have to do a "kinship" chart of my tricks in Brussels:
The interaction stars are rather densely connected it seems. Salvatore wants to visit California. I gave him my card and told him to call, did that at Company when I talked with him before leaving with Marc. He's too handsome, of course, but I was wrong about attitude. He was friendly. His lover is the same age as he, roughly, according to Bill, around 30. My guess also, though Ruud thinks he looks 25. He's so hot looking, but when I told him he's cute he replied that he doesn't like for people to say that. Thought I'd blown it. When I complimented him on his performance, I said: "I know you don't like anyone to say how great you look, but up there on stage you looked fantastic." He didn't complain that time.
There'll be pictures for sale from the show, and Bill says I can buy one of Salvatore, and he might make a duplicate of the video that's to be produced of the show as well.
Salvatore, Salvatore....he could be my savior anytime. . . . . .
It was with mixed emotions that I accepted Marc's invitation to spend the night together, either his place or mine. I opted for mine… lubricant. Sometimes I carry a small tube with me just in case, but that night I didn't have a supply with me.
Marc wanted to go first to the Why Not for a drink. We went there. He paid for my entrance and drink. He's a funny Jacques. Dresses real funky, black and white checkered pants and a jacket that was loose, floppy and also black and white, and a cap to match, amusing. Says he either wears black and white or loud colors. The style goes well on him because he's this freespirited person. And what a night!! Sex with Marc was better than with any other Belgian I've been with, and on a par with Franklin the Brazilian (more on him later). We danced a few dances at Why Not and then came home by taxi. We made love for hours, and he was totally involved. He did keep my hand from his ass itself, but on the other hand he rimmed me briefly and positioned himself so that I returned the compliment until I could gracefully withdraw from that action which is of questionable safety. Lots of caressing, kissing. He has short blond hair, a solid build with a slightly hair chest, and a rigid prick during the entire encounter. We both sucked cock, and when he came he was audibly expressive.
"I really like you," I said afterward.
"Oh, I don't say I like you," he replied, "but I say I like being with you."
That remark makes a wonderfully perceptive distinction that is wiser than mine was, honest. He's bright and adventurous. He loves to travel. Last years he spent time wandering around Peru. He'd been to Cuzco, Puno, and he especially liked Arequipa. Didn't find the Peruvians friendly, but he liked the place. He'd gone down into the jungle beyond Machu Pichu where no gringos had been in two years. He has a magnificent joie de vivre. He'd also travelled not long ago to the interior of Turkey, another country he loved. And he's off for two weeks in New York at the end of the present week.
He's another one who's so hot that I would not expect a repeat encounter, but when I gave him my card, I said: "If I don't see you before you leave for the States, maybe you give me a call when you get back." "Oh, I'll see you again before I leave," he replied. We'll see. I don't believe people until they showed themselves trustworthy when it comes to situations like this.
In the morning he was supposed to be at work at noon. He works in a restaurant on the Grand Place, the one with a more than average gay clientele. But he was in no hurry to get up. In fact, I just remembered that neither of us came when we made love on going to bed, but we resumed in the morning and both came. Our lovemaking at night was interrupted by a call from Ruud, with whom I was to spend Sunday afternoon. I told him I'd be ready by 12:30, but when he showed up at that hour Marc and I had just finished having sex and were having some coffee in bed. Marc made no move to rush away when Ruud rang the doorbell. He stayed in bed, and Ruud came in. I had told him who the arrival was, un copain, and not to worry. Then all three of us had coffee and talked for half an hour or more, until he had to leave for work. He didn't shower here because he had to go home anyway to change clothes. Ruud clearly enjoyed meeting him too, and we all hit it off, talking about travels etc. He was at ease, going into the living room to dress quite casually. Wonderful. We hugged and kissed goodbye in the doorway.
That afternoon Ruud and I stopped at the restaurant for a coffee. He was eating his dinner at the time and we didn't talk much. He was attending the restaurant alone just then, too. But he was friendly...and then Michel walked in...which caught me by surprise. Michel came and kissed me when he entered, saying hello. Then he sat down at the table with Marc. Ruud and I were finished with our coffee and got up to go. Michel said,
"Are you leaving because I came in. I'm not dangerous."
We all laughed, and I replied: "Oh, you're not?"
We left wondering what their conversation would be when we were gone. They shared everything, it turns out, just like they share an apartment! Marc and I spoke English. He has mixed Walloon and Flemish ancestry, but his main tongue is French.
The weekend was fast-paced, full, and fun. It distracted me from the deep depression that I had fallen into on Thursday and increasingly on Friday as a result of the phone conversation with Freddy on Thursday morning in which he told me that he had decided to return to Alphonse, his former lover with whom he is still in love. I was in shock over the sudden announcement of something I had not begun to contemplate as a possibility until the day before. But Freddy is another story. Marc, bless him, was such marvellous sex and so exciting to be with that I managed to suppress thoughts of Freddy and how much I was missing being with him. Why is it that I seem to be able to have either a memorable sex life or a satisfying love life and relationship with someone, but never at the same time. It is gratifying to know that I can connect with super sex partners, men much more attractive than I expect for myself with my physical qualities, age, etc., but it is frustrating not to be able to land one of these for a permanent partner, which is what I want so much. Even without hot sex, I'd be happy with someone like Freddy or Serge, but these affairs don't last. When I realized that I had seen the breakup of five significant relationships (one of them only in my mind perhaps, and another two only minimally significant to the other persons involved, I see in retrospect), it is small wonder that I am beginning to despair and wonder whether the search is fruitless and more painful than worthwhile. Success in one-night stands does not lead or translate to success in finding a suitable long-term lover. I am still lonely after the weekend, but I feel better about myself than I did when Freddy decided against me.
Professor of Anthropology at Pomona College, California. Works on HIV/AIDS prevention issues and medical anthropology. Areas of expertise include gay and lesbian culture and human sexuality.
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