Malìn van Weerdenburg
In Utrecht, hidden in Tuinwijk, lies a remarkable neighborhood that has been renamed ‘Buurland’ by its residents. There have been plans to demolish these portico houses since 2007, yet this has been halted for a long time due to the economic recession. As a result, some residents have lived in Buurland for more than ten years, and a special sense of community has emerged. Tools, soup spoons and gardens are being shared by neighbors. An important ritual for the community is the annual neighborhood festival ‘Zwemfest’, wherefore the backyards transform into a professional-looking festival site. Yet, in 2023, the current residents will have to leave their houses. Housing corporation Mitros plans to create a new community, called: ‘Nieuw Buurland’. Will Mitros succeed in continuing this sense of community?
I have been living in Buurland for five years now. During those years, I learned more and more about the spirit and sense of community that is present in this place. This research let me further explore the ingredients that enabled Buurland as a community to develop. I learned about the spirit and perspectives of the first generation and discovered how Buurland’s sense of community is experienced by different Buurlanders. Moreover, making this film gave me the opportunity to look at my own living community with the eyes of an ethnographer. I suddenly became the observer of my own neighbors. This sometimes led to funny interactions: “Watch what you say! Malìn is observing us.” Making this film is a way to give back to the community and to extend the Buurland archive that has been built over the years.
Malìn van Weerdenburg is Latin Americanist and visual anthropologist. She is engaged with themes surrounding postcolonialism, decolonization, and non-hegemonial perspectives on history. Her first film, “Saber é Poder, Boy!” tells the story of a community library in Recife (Brazil) managed by Kcal Gomes. The film illustrates Kcal’s vision on how to be the protagonist of your own life when the state doesn’t support its citizens in giving access to arts and proper education. During the master, she exchanged a Brazilian community for one closer to home: Buurland, her own living community.