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Master Cultural and Social Anthropology

Patricia van der Does: 'Images can show us another world'

Alumna testimonial

Patricia van der Does, graduated in Cultural and Social Anthropology in 1992.

Patricia van der Does
Patricia van der Does

As a self-employed person and documentary maker, I have done filming work ranging from projects for the Dutch Refugee Council (Vluchtelingenwerk), with children in Amsterdam East and I have shot news items for Volkskrant-tv. I also work as a producer, researcher and lecturer of the Cultural Social Work study programme (HvA). Currently, I am working on a documentary on the homeless in Amsterdam. From the belief that imagery is vital to society, I work as a cultural intermediary who offers insights into the worlds of other people. 

Because I film my documentaries without a set storyline, reality is better preserved and I try to limit my subjective influence as the maker of the film and visual anthropologist.

Visual anthropology

I learned technical skills from a variety of courses during my study of Anthropology and Film and Television Studies. It was during my specialisation, Visual Anthropology, that I learned how to shoot film. For my final project, I made a film about modern witchcraft.

Anthropology gave me a particular perspective and the film techniques that I learned while studying have been especially important for my work, my research, my own documentary style and my teaching at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

I have loved travelling ever since I was a child, but for my documentaries I enjoy travelling through Amsterdam. I wanted to shift my focus closer to home and to go in search of other cultures in my own environment.

Working with a passion

I have now been involved in film for around 20 years. As a freelance film maker, I work on a wide range of projects covering a broad spectrum of subjects.  

Turning my hobby into my profession has meant I can work with passion and enthusiasm. I love being able to immerse myself in yet another new subject, as this always opens up yet another new aspect of the world to me.

It is not easy to find constant employment as a documentary maker: it is a rather crowded pond. But perseverance and following your passion will help you get ahead. Be passionate about what you do and follow your own path within the discipline’ is my advice to anthropology students. If your passion is deep enough, you'll succeed.

Anthropology is important, especially now. I think people have a wrong idea about anthropologists. This is truly unfortunate given that modern society is screaming out for anthropologists to provide insights, explain and mediate.