Helena Wulff

Telephone: +46 (0)8 16 26 85
E-mail: helena.wulff@socant.su.se
Room: B624
Office hours: Mon 3-5 pm


Helena Wulff is Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. Her research is in the anthropology of communication and aesthetics, based on a wide range of studies of the social worlds of literary production, dance, and visual arts. She has held visiting professorships at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National University of Singapore, University of Vienna, and University of Ulster, as well as a Leverhulme visiting professorship at University of East London. She was Chair of the Swedish Anthropological Association (SANT), Editor-in-Chief (with Dorle Dracklé) of Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, the journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA). She is President of Society for Humanistic Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association.

Currently Helena Wulff is editor (with Deborah Reed-Danahay) of the book series “Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology” and editor (with Jonathan Skinner) of the book series “Dance and Performance Studies” published by Berghahn. She is a member of the advisory boards of the journals AnthropologicaSocial Anthropology
Cultural Sociology, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
AnthroVision and mentor for the magazine Otherwise.

Among Helena Wulff’s books are the three monographs Ballet across Borders: Career and Culture in the World of Dancers (1998), Dancing at the Crossroads: Memory and Mobility in Ireland (2007), and Rhythms of Writing: An Anthropology of Irish Literature (2017). There are also the edited volumes Youth Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (with Vered Amit-Talai, 1995), New Technologies at Work: People, Screens and Social Virtuality (with Christina Garsten, 2003), The Emotions: A Cultural Reader (2007), Ethnographic Practice in the Present (with Marit Melhuus and Jon P. Mitchell, 2010), The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century (2016) and World Literatures: Exploring the Cosmopolitan-Vernacular Exchange (with Stefan Helgesson, Annika Mörte Alling and Yvonne Lindqvist, 2018).

Journal articles have appeared in Body&SocietyEthnologie française, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, Ethnography and Identities. She has written book chapters in many edited volumes, and entries in a number of encyclopedias. Drawing on her research, she also occasionally writes anthropological journalism for newspapers and magazines in Sweden and the UK.


While Helena Wulff's early research was on youth culture and ethnicity, her specialist skills now include expressive cultural form (dance, art, images, text) in a transnational perspective. The anthropologies of literature and writing are key engagements. Recent research was on writing as craft and career in Ireland. Current research engages with migrant writing in Sweden. She has conducted field studies in Stockholm, London, New York, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Ireland (mostly Dublin).

Helena Wulff’s ongoing research project ”Cosmopolitanizing from Within: Migrant Writing in Sweden” is funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences 2016-2021, as a part of the multidisciplinary research programme ”Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literatures” http://worldlit.se/. She is a member of its steering committee.     

Selected publications



  • World Literatures: Exploring the Cosmopolitan-Vernacular Exchange. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. Editor with Stefan Helgesson, Annika Mörte Alling, and Yvonne Lindqvist.


  • Rhythms of Writing: An Anthropology of Irish Literature. London: Bloomsbury.


  • The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Berghahn. Editor.

Journal articles, Book chapters, Enyclopedia entries


  • ”Abortion in Ireland – From the Swedish Point of View,” in Forum on Irish Referendum, Social Anthropology, Vol. 28(4): 14-15.
  • ”Foreword,” in Cicilie Fagerlid and Michelle A. Tisdel (eds.), A Literary Anthropology of Migration and Belonging: Roots, Routes, and Rhizomes. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. vii-xii.


  • ”Writing Truth to Power: Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Work in Stockholm and New York,” Anthropology and Humanism, Vol. 44(1): 7–19.


  • ”Disaporic Divides: Location and Orientations of ’Home’ in Pooneh Rohi’s Araben,” in Stefan Helgesson, Annika Mörte Alling, Yvonne Lindqvist, and Helena Wulff (eds.), World Literatures: Exploring the Cosmopolitan-Vernacular Exchange. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, pp. 119-128.
  • ”Diversifying from Within: Diaspora Writings in Sweden,” in Morten Nielsen and Nigel Rapport (eds.), The Composition of Anthropology: How Anthropological Texts are Written. London: Routledge, pp. 122-136.
  • ”Foreword,” in Lauren Miller Griffith and Jonathan S. Marion (eds.), Apprenticeship Pilgrimage: Developing Expertise through Travel and Training. New York: Lexington Books, pp. vii-xi.


  • ”Stories of the Soil: In the Irish Literary World,” in Diarmuid Ó Giolláin and Martine Segalen (eds.), Irish Ethnologies. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 141-157.
  • ”Greater than Its Size: Ireland in Literature and Life,” in Ulf Hannerz and Andre Gingrich (eds.), Small Countries: Structures and Sensibilities. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 301-316.    
  • ”Manhattan as a Magnet: Place and Circulation among Young Swedes,” in Virginia R. Dominguez and Jasmin Habib (eds.), America Observed: On an International Anthropology of the United States. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 31-50.
  • ”Global spridning av lokala teman,” Review article of Crime Fiction as World Literature edited by Louise Nilsson, David Damrosh and Theo D´haen (Bloomsbury 2017). Respons, nr 6, pp 66-68.



  • ”Jazz i Ghana: Musik som kosmopolitism,” in Kulturella Perspektiv, 2(24): 34-38.
  • ”In Favour of Flexible Forms: Multi-Sited Fieldwork,” in Forum: Re-thinking Euro-Anthropology. Social Anthropology, 23(3): 355-357.
  • ”The Pains and Peaks of Being a Ballerina in London,” in Ilana Gershon (ed.), A World of Work: Imagined Manuals for Real Jobs. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 207-220.
  • ”Ireland in the World, the World in Ireland,” American Anthropologist, 117(1): 142-143.
  • ”Dance, Anthropology of,” in James D. Wright (ed-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol. 5. Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 666-670.

Research funding/grants

  • Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literatures, multidisciplinary research programme funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences 2016-2021. Member of the programme’s steering committee.


  • Communication & Aesthetics
  • Writing Anthropology Workshop
  • Master and PhD supervision

Research networks

Media and Interviews

Information about past activities can be found in the Department’s previous Annual Reports.