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), and Vice President of 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” (Berghahn). She is a member of the advisory boards of the journals Anthropologica, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, AnthroVision, Cultural SociologyCulture Unbound, and Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale.

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.     

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&Society, Identities, Ethnography, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, and Ethnologie française. 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, visual culture, the emotions, and media, as well as anthropological methods. She has conducted field studies in Stockholm, London, New York, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Ireland (mostly Dublin).

Read more about Wulff's current research here: Helena Wulff's current research 2018 (185 Kb)

Helena Wulff is interviewed by Jenny Lindblad about anthropological writing for Cultural Anthropology's AnthroPod series focussing on writing routines, writer’s block, different writing genres, and differences between writing for an academic and a general audience. From 1 mars 2016. Listen here: http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/811-helena-wulff-on-writing-anthropology

Helena Wulff lectures on ”Telling the Truth through Irish Fiction: Anthropology and the Literary Imagination,” Tallinn University, 25 mars 2015. See more: https://vimeo.com/123831617

Book review of Rhythms of Writing: An Anthropology of Irish Literature published in The Irish Times (2018-04-07).

Interview with Helena Wulff about her book Rhythms of Writing. An Anthropology of Irish Literature published on the CaMP Anthropology blog (2018-04-09).

Interview with Helena Wulff about her book Rhythms of Writing. An Anthropology of Irish Literature published on Alma Gottlieb’s blog (2018-05-27).

Selected publications


  • “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: 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.
  • Rhythms of Writing: An Anthropology of Irish Literature. Bloomsbury Academic.
  • ”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.


  • “Anthropologist in the Irish Literary World: Reflexivity through Studying Sideways”, in Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Christina Garsten and Shalini Randeria (eds.). Anthropology Now and Next: Essays in Honor of Ulf Hannerz. New York: Berghahn, pp. 147-161.


  • “Ethnografiction and Reality in Contemporary Irish Literature,” in Marilyn Cohen (ed.), Novel Approaches to Anthropology: Contributions to Literary Anthropology. New York City: Lexington Books, pp. 205-225.
  • “Dance ethnography,” in Oxford Bibliographies Online. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • “Ways of Seeing Ireland´s Green: From Ban to the Branding of a Nation,” The Senses and Society, vol. 9, no.2: 233-240.


  • “An Anthropological Perspective on Literary Arts in Ireland,” in Ullrich Kockel, Máiréad Nic Craith och Jonas Frykman (eds.), Blackwell Companion to the Anthropology of Europe. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 537-550.
  • ”Instances of Inspiration: Interviewing Dancers and Writers,” in Jonathan Skinner (ed.), The Interview: An Ethnographic Approach. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 163-177.
  • ”Ballet Culture and the Market: A Transnational Perspective,” in Hélène Neveu Kringelbach and Jonathan Skinner (eds.), Dancing Cultures: Globalisation, Tourism and Identity. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 46-59.
  • ”Color and Cultural Identity in Ireland,” in Marilyn DeLong and barbara Martinson (eds.), Color and Design. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 101-109.


  • “Histoires de Terroir: Les Écrivains contemporains et l'Irlande Nouvelle,” Ethnologie française, Avril, 2: 301-308.


  • ”Costume for Dance,” in Berg Enyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, West Europe, Volume 8: 498-502. Oxford: Berg/Bloomsbury.
  • ”Colm Tóibín as Travel Writer,” Nordic Irish Studies, 9: 109-116.


  • “Ethnografiction: Irish Relations in the Writing of Éilís Ní Dhuibhne,” in Rebecca Pelan (ed.), Éilís Ní Dhuibhne: Perspectives. Galway: Arlen House, pp. 245-261.


  • “Literary Readings as Performance: On the Career of Contemporary Writers in the New Ireland,” Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 17: 98-113.
  • ”Ethereal Expression: Paradoxes of Ballet as a Global Physical Culture,” Ethnography, 9(4): 519-536.
  • “To Know the Dancer: Formations of Fieldwork in the Ballet World,” in Narmala Halstead, Eric Hirsch and Judith Okely (eds.), Knowing How to Know: Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 76-91.
  • “Literary Readings as Performance: On the Career of Contemporary Writers in the New Ireland,” Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 17: 98-113.
  • ”Ethereal Expression: Paradoxes of Ballet as a Global Physical Culture,” Ethnography, 9(4): 519-536.


  • “Longing for the Land: Emotions, Memory and Nature in Irish Travel Advertisements,” Identities 14(4): 527-544.


  • “Experiencing the Ballet Body: Pleasure, Pain, Power,” in Suzel Ana Reily (ed.), The Musical Human: Rethinking John Blacking's Ethnomusicology in the 21st Century. Aldershot: Ashgate Press, pp. 125-142.


  • “´High Arts´ and the Market: An Uneasy Partnership in the Transnational World of Ballet,” in David Inglis and John Hughson (eds.), The Sociology of Art: Ways of Seeing. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 171-182.
  • “Memories in Motion: The Irish Dancing Body”, Body & Society, issue on “the dancing body”, (ed.) Bryan S. Turner, vol. 11(4): 45-62.

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
  • Media anthropology  
  • Writing Anthropology Workshop
  • Master and PhD supervision

Research networks



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