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A New Verstehen: A Letter from the Editors

More than 10 years ago, a group of undergraduate students from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Ateneo de Manila University came up with a plan. They wanted to make sociological and anthropological perspectives accessible to other students by using these frameworks to look at everyday experiences. This endeavour resulted in the publication of Verstehen, a student magazine that has seen print in 1999. With the changing communication landscapes and trends in publications, a new batch of students has taken up their predecessors’ initiative.

The mission of Verstehen was established based on an ironic twist. Many sociologists and anthropologists who write for academic journals and similar publications use a lot of complicated and intimidating jargons to make sense of the world around us. As they communicate to other people within the discipline, they are consequently making their work unreadable to everybody else. This is what we would like to change.

Verstehen is an attempt to use non-esoteric language to reach a broader audience, ignite sociological imagination, and fuel anthropological curiosity. Sociology and anthropology can help us go beyond common sense explanations to social phenomena. We believe in what sociology and anthropology can teach us and we hope that you get to appreciate these insights as well. To do so would mean gaining a deeper understanding of the social world and finding opportunities for social transformation.

Our commitment to popularize sociology and anthropology lies in the meaning of “verstehen” as an influential concept in the two disciplines. The German term “verstehen”, which roughly means “understanding” in English, carries with it a sense of participation and interpretation of social phenomena.

As we are all considered active individuals who deal with society and culture on a daily basis, we are all called to look beyond our lived experiences and see things from different perspectives in order to understand more our relationship with the larger context.

More often than not, you are affected by the things that you hear and read about everyday – complex issues of crime, class disparities, human rights, and gender inequality are just some of the things that you try to comprehend. We at Verstehen are attempting to make sense out of them in our own little ways as well and we believe that the tools of sociology and anthropology will help us immensely.

As we embark on this journey of connecting public and private worlds, we hope to spark fruitful conversations and enlightening discussions with you along the way. Join us today as we take Vestehen to a new chapter of its life.

Editorial Board

July 2013


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