Ulf Hannerz

E-mail:  ulf.hannerz@socant.su.se

Ulf Hannerz was Professor of Social Anthropology 1981-2007 (acting professor 1976-80). He received his Ph.D. at Stockholm University in 1969 and has also taught at several American, European, Asian and Australian universities. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften,, an honorary fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, an honorary member and former Chair of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, a former director of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences (SCASSS), and a former editor of the journal Ethnos. Among his books are Soulside (1969), Exploring the City (1980), Cultural Complexity (1992), Transnational Connections (1996), Foreign News (2004), Anthropology’s World (2011), Writing Future Worlds (2016) and Small Countries (2017); several of them have also appeared in French, Spanish, Italian and Polish. He has also written or edited several books in Swedish. He was the Anthropology editor for the International Enyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2001). He was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1984-85, gave the Lewis Henry Morgan lectures at the University of Rochester in 2000, a Munro Lecture at the University of Edinburgh in 2002, the Daphne Berdahl Memorial Lecture at the University of Minnesota in 2011 and the Eric R. Wolf Memorial Lecture at Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna, in 2014. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Oslo, and in 2010 he received the Anders Retzius gold medal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography.


Ulf Hannerz’ research has been especially in urban anthropology, media anthropology and transnational cultural processes, with field studies in West Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. A study of the work of newsmedia foreign correspondents included multi-sited field research in four continents, and he has also directed an interdisciplinary research project on cosmopolitanism. One focus of his current research has been on those global scenarios which emerged as a genre since the end of the Cold War. These are treated here both as texts and as components in a transnational collective consciousness, involving their global spread and their reception and influence in local and regional debates. This study has resulted in the book Writing Future Worlds (2016), as well as a number of journal articles. Ulf Hannerz has also recently participated in an international comparative project of anthropological studies of small countries, resulting in the book Small Countries, co-edited with Andre Gingrich.

Ongoing research projects

Global scenarios
The central focus of the study is on those global future scenarios which have appeared in several waves since the end of the Cold War, with such authors (academics or journalists) as Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, Joseph Nye, Benjamin Barber, Robert Kaplan and Thomas Friedman. The scenarios – “the end of history”, “the clash of civilizations”, “the world is flat” and others – often include a cultural dimension, to which special attention is devoted in the project. The scenarios are scrutinized here not only as texts, but also as a source of collective understandings which are reaching an increasingly global distribution. The transnational social organization of this cultural complex is thus also analysed. While it is clear that the scenarios have in large part had Euro-American origins, a later wave of them, by authors with stronger links elsewhere in the world (particularly Asia), has also become more noticeable. The monograph Writing Future Worlds (2016) has been the main result of the project.

Small countries: comparative perspectives
This collaborative activity, with Ulf Hannerz and professor Andre Gingrich, Vienna, as main organizers, has included a workshop in Vienna in 2010 and a conference in Landskrona in 2012. The main publication of the project, Small Countries: Structures and Sensibilities, co-edited by Hannerz and Gingrich with 14 other contributors discussing different countries, appeared in 2017. The notion of “small countries” can be understood in both absolute and relative terms: it can refer to countries with small populations and/or limited territories, and it can refer to countries which perceive themselves, or are perceived, as small in relation to other, larger countries – often specific other countries such as dominant neighbors. Frequently countries are small in both senses. While small scale must always be seen in relation to other social and cultural characteristics, it can influence phenomena such as network form, trust, accessibility and national self-images. While anthropology has seldom focused on countries as units of study, there is a potential here for the comparative use of anthropological ideas.

Writing Nigeria: transnational motifs

This minor project, recently begun, is a scrutiny of writings on Nigeria from the mid-20th century onward, involving fiction and social commentary by Nigerian authors as well as certain texts by other writers. The emphasis is on recurrent but shifting transnational motifs, from the colonial period into the present, and the study has a point of departure in Hannerz’ field research experience in Nigeria, primarily in the 1970s and 1980s.

Selected publications



  • “World Watching: Streetcorners and Newsbeats on a Journey through Anthropology.” London: Routledge.


  • “Small Countries: Structures and Sensibilities.” (ed., with Andre Gingrich) Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.


  • “Writing Future Worlds: An Anthropologist Explores Global Scenarios.” New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Articles, book chapters


  • “World Order of Languages, Public Anthropology, Translations.” American Anthropologist, 121: 210-212. 
  • “Winners, Losers and Ethnic Flux.” In Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Marek Jakoubek (eds.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries Today: A Legacy of Fifty Years. London: Routledge.
  • “Afterword: A Rooted Cosmopolitan Remembered.” In Robert P. Weller and Keping Wu (eds.), It Happens Between People. Oxford: Berghahn.


  • “Swedish Anthropology: Past and Present.” Kritisk etnografi – Swedish Journal of Anthropology, 1(1): 55-68.
  • “Sweden, Anthropology in.” In Hilary Callan, ed., The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Oxford: Wiley.
  • “Cosmopolitanism: Three Faces.” Przeglad Kulturoznawczy, 1(35): 130-133.


  • “(with Andre Gingrich) Exploring Small Countries.” In Ulf Hannerz and Andre Gingrich, eds., Small Countries: Structures and Sensibilities. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • “Swedish Encounters: End Notes of a Native Son.” In Ulf Hannerz and Andre Gingrich, eds., Small Countries: Structures and Sensibilities. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • “American Theater State: Reflections on Political Culture.” In Virginia H. Dominguez and Jasmin Habib, eds., America Observed. Oxford: Berghahn.


  • “Writing Otherwise.” In Helena Wulff, ed., The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Berghahn.
  • “Obituary: Fredrik Barth (1928-2016).” American Anthropologist, 118: 704-706.



  • “Cultures, Open and in Process: An Interview with Ulf Hannerz.” By Kevin A. Yelvington and Rodrigo Martins Ramassote. American Anthropologist, 121: 149-159.


  • “Global Connectivity and Urban Isolation: A Conversation with Ulf Hannerz.” In Almantas Samalavicius (ed.), Rethinking Modernism and the Built Environment. Cambridge:Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Organizational positions

  • Chair of the International Advisory Board, Institute of Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 2014-2016; Member 2017-2019.
  • Member of International Advisory Board, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Vienna 2016-2018      

Lectures, conference presentations


  • Hong Kong Anthropological Society, 2019
  • Anthropology Postgraduate Student Forum, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2019
  • Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, 2019


  • Symposium on “The Future”, Human Sciences Society, Oxford University, 2018
  • Conference in honor of Professor Thomas Fillitz on his retirement, University of Vienna, 2018
  • European Association of Social Anthropologists, biennial conference, Stockholm 2018
  • American Anthropological Association, annual meeting, San José, CA, 2018


  • Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 2017
  • Summer Program in Social Science (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton/Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris/Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study), Uppsala, 2017
  • Polish Society for Cultural Studies, Quadrennial conference, Poznan, Poland, 2017
  • Conference in honor of Professor Andre Gingrich on his retirement, University of Vienna, 2017

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