Accepted paper:

Three innovations from clinical anthropology: fieldwork among young men coming of age as knowledge validation procedure


Dirck van Bekkum (MOIRA CTT)

Paper short abstract:

Three decades of ethnographic fieldwork in guiding clients (young men) and in teaching professionals in Dutch adolescent care settings yielded three epistemological and applied innovations. A transitional model, tested in clinical and educational practices, is presented by three exemplary cases.

Paper long abstract:

Since three decades the author performed fieldwork in Dutch adolescent clinical psychiatry, in youth and juvenile care and in teaching professionals in these areas. From this research a number of anthropological rooted concepts and models have been 'co-developed' in collaboration with young men (clients) and professionals (students). During this long term collaboration between academic and applied anthropology three innovations emerged. 1) A century of ethnographies, in particular on male initiation rituals, offers a rich source for applying anthropology in youth and juvenile care policies and care practices, 2) testing concepts in clinical and professional educational settings turned out to be a scientific validating procedure and, 3) from this insight follows that academic anthropology could be trapped in 'misplaced concreteness' and 'scholastic' fallacies. These innovations are illustrated by exemplary young men's cases. One important product from the academic and applied collaboration is the innovative 'transitional model'. It gained some recognition within the Dutch (mental) health care settings (Van Bekkum 1992; De Jong & Colijn 2010; Van Bekkum et. al. 2010). The transitional model is based upon Van Gennep's three stage 'rite of passage' model (1908/1972), Victor Turner's ritual-processual approach (1969) and Patrick Meurs 'transitional space' model (1998). During coming of age young men become both mature members of their families-communities and 'full-fledged' citizens. Young men with and without migration background are 'layered transitional vulnerable' when coming of age coincides with a) migration effects, b) with destructive excluding effects and c) strong incongruencies between family-community and nation-state values.

panel P010
Applied anthropology as a source of innovation (EASA Applied Anthropology Network)