The seminars are organised by CEIFO and the Migration cluster at the Department of Social Anthropology. The list is continuously being updated.


September 22, 13.00–15.00, B600
Anna Gavanas, PhD, Associate professor, Social anthropology and Gender Studies, Remeso/ Linköping University

Multiplex migration and axes of precarization: Swedish retirement migrants to Spain and their service providers

Swedish retirees are part of a growing stream of Northern Europeans who migrate to Southern Europe to retire in the sun. The conditions of international retirement migrants (IRMs) cannot be fully understood without including other actors with whom IRMs interact in their daily lives in Spain, and whose presence conditions their major decisions (and vice versa). In contrast to most previous IRM studies this paper approaches the issue from a dual perspective. In addition to the accounts of IRMs this presentation also considers the perspectives of entrepreneurs and workers who provide services for IRMs (some of whom are migrants from Northern Europe, South America or other regions). Social networks, intermediaries and subcontractors are crucial to the organization of migration as well as for the provision of work and services in the destinations of IRMs. Spaniards and third-country migrants that provide services for Swedish IRMs have little direct contact with Swedish IRMs, partly due to language issues, and partly due to not being hired directly by them. They occupy precarious, and sometimes informalized, low skilled jobs in an ethnically segmented and gendered labor market. Exploring the relations between streams of migrants who meet in Spain, and their intermediaries, this paper explores issues of mobility, the globalization of care and service work, and precarization of labor and livelihoods, of crucial importance to welfare states and the future of work and retirement conditions in Europe. Through this the paper aims to place international retirement migration in a wider context of mobility and individualization of life trajectories and to relate this to recent trends towards precarization and informalization of labor markets. A mélange of migratory processes are scrutinized along a Swedish-Spanish north-south axis. The paper analyzes a complex structuration of precarity reshaped through neoliberal de- and reregulation of work and welfare with a bearing on multiple dimensions of spatial and social inequalities across the European Union.

Anna Gavanas is a social anthropologist currently involved in research on Swedish retirement migrants in Spain as the principal investigator of the project “Swedish retirement migrants to Spain and their migrant workers: interlinked migration chains and their consequences to work and care in Ageing Europe.” Her research covers a wide range of areas, including migration, policy anthropology, welfare states, working life and labor market informalization. Additional areas of specialization are domestic services in the EU, privatization of elderly care as well as U.S. fatherhood politics. In addition she specializes in Popular Music Studies, with a focus on technological change and gender, and has published widely on issues of European DJ cultures.


October 6, 13.00–15.00, B600
Lisa Åkesson, Docent, Senior lecturer, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg

Moving beyond the colonial? The new Portuguese migrants in Angola

For the first time in African postcolonial history, citizens of a former European colonial power are seeking improved living conditions in the ex-colonies on a massive scale. Until recently, Angolans have moved to Portugal in search of personal and economic security, but since the mid-2000s migration has been reversed. For visitors to Lisbon, the long line of Portuguese women and men queuing outside the Angolan consulate is a telling sign of a new era. The background to this development is the economic crisis in Portugal with drastically decreased salaries and soaring unemployment rates in combination with strong oil-fuelled macro-economic growth in Angola.

The main motive for the new migrants is to work hard and earn enough money to start an independent adult life, or, in the case of the middle-aged migrants, to sustain family members. Thus, integration into the labour market is the goal for most of these migrants. The urgent need to secure a reliable income is a reality they share with labour migrants all over the world. What is unique in this case, however, is that this vulnerable position is combined with a position of symbolic power grounded in the Portuguese historical identity as a former colonial power.

My presentation focuses on everyday workplace relations between Angolans and Portuguese in the Angolan capital of Luanda, where the majority of the Portuguese live. It discusses the changing relationships between the ex-colonizers and the ex-colonized in the wake of ongoing global migration. In particular the presentation discusses the following questions: In what ways, if any, do colonial power relations still resonate between Angolans and Portuguese? Are their imaginaries of each other in any sense moving beyond the colonial past? These questions are pertinent to analyse in relation to the present context where the Portuguese perform as labour migrants and business people rather than settlers and rulers. This is a situation that produces new ruptures and continuities with the colonial past.

Lisa Åkesson is an Associate Professor in Anthropology at the Department of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg and a Senior Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. Her present research centers on North-South migration, specifically the new Portuguese migration to the former colony of Angola. Over the years she has focused on transnational migration, and principally explored how labour migration affects those left behind in sending societies. Through themes such as remittances, conjugal relationships, child care and return migration she has examined relationships between "stayers" and migrated family members in Europe and the US. Critical analysis of international policy on migration and development is also an area of her expertise. Much of her empirical research has revolved around Portuguese speaking Africa, but she has also explored the globalized everyday life of migrants living in Sweden.

A longer text is available on request. Please contact Lisa Åkesson


October 20, 13.00–15.00, B600
Peo Hansen, Professor of Political Science, REMESO, Linköping University & Stefan Jonsson, Professor of Ethnic studies, REMESO, Linköping University

Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism

Today’s European Union was founded in a 1950s marked by its member states’ involvement in numerous colonial conflicts and with the colonial question firmly entrenched on the European and international agenda. This notwithstanding, there is hardly any scholarly investigations to date that have examined colonialism’s bearing on the historical project and process of European integration. In tackling this puzzle, the presentation proceeds in two steps. First, it corroborates the claim that European integration not only is related to the history of colonialism but to no little extent determined by it. Second, it introduces a set of factors that explain why the relation between the EU and colonialism has been systematically neglected. Here the presentation seeks to identify the operations of a colonial epistemology that has facilitated a misrecognition of what postwar European integration was about. As will be argued, this epistemology has enabled colonialism’s historical relation to the European integration project to remain undetected and has thus also reproduced within the present EU precisely those colonial or neo-colonial preconceptions that the European partner states, in official discourse and policy, falsely claim that they have abandoned.

Peo Hansen and Stefan Jonsson are both Professors at the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University. Their book Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism was published with Bloomsbury last year.


November 3, 13.00–14.30, B600
Ivana Maček, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Shame, Guilt, and Restitution: How Children in Sweden Understand the War in Bosnia and Their Parents’ Experiences

This presentation is based on my ongoing project (RJ) on transmission of experiences of war between parents and children in Sweden, where one or both parents came to Sweden because of the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina in the 1990s, while children were born in Sweden and thus have no direct experiences of war. In the project I have interviewed extensively both parents and children, but here I shall focus on children’s ideas about the war and what they know about their parents’ experiences.

Earlier research – mostly about the Holocaust – shows that parents who had experienced some sort of massive political violence have a tendency to either completely avoid the subject, or the opposite, to constantly refer to it through memories, ceremonies, and by naming babies after killed family members. The research claims also different effects of parents’ experiences on children: either as effecting negatively children’s psychic health, or as making the children psychologically stronger. The analysis I will present is a preliminary attempt to point to some similarities and differences in the aftermath of a war that was very different from the Holocaust. In the long run, the aim is to see which phenomena are general, and which are more context bound.


November 10, 9.0013.00, Kungstenen, Aula Magna, Stockholm University
Indigenous Migrants in Asian Borderlands: A research workshop

Workshop organizers: Bengt G. Karlsson and Dolly Kikon

This research workshop will discuss the result of our ongoing research project The Indian Underbelly: Marginalization, Migration and State Intervention in the Periphery, funded by RJ.

The idea is to place the migrants’ experiences that we have recorded when young migrants from the hills of Northeast India move to work and study in metropolitan India with similar migrant trajectories in neighboring countries of Southeast Asia and South Asia; Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma and Bangladesh. The type of migration we have found cannot be captured by the existing literature on transnational migration that stresses border-crossings, that is, the often traumatic experience of crossing borders, neither that of the much discussed literature of seasonal or cyclical migration in larger countries like India and Indonesia. It is by bringing these various forms of Asian indigenous migrations in dialogue with our research findings that we hope to develop a more rigorous theoretical framework.

For this one-day workshop we have invited three well-known scholars:

  • Professor Willem van Schendel, Amsterdam University
  • Associate Professor Alpa Shah, London School of Economics
  • Professor Filippo Osella, Sussex University

The direct outcome of the workshop is the edited volume that we are working on entitled Leaving the Land: Indigenous Migration from the Resource Frontier to the Urban Sprawl in India. The Introduction and two chapters (case study by Dolly Kikon and Bengt G. Karlsson) will be circulated and discussed during the workshop.

Beside the mentioned invited scholars we will also invite colleagues at Stockholm University that are working with South Asia and Southeast Asian migrations.

The workshop is open to anyone interested to participate. For further information, please contact Bengt G. Karlsson or Dolly Kikon.


November 10, 15.00–17.00, B600 NB Different time
Maurice Crul, Professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Super-diversity vs Assimilation

International migration changed large West European cities dramatically. In only two generations’ time, their ethnic make-up is turned upside down. Cities like Amsterdam and Brussels now are majority–minority cities: the old majority group became a minority. This new reality asks for an up-to-date perspective on assimilation and integration. In this presentation Maurice Crul will show why grand theories like segmented and new assimilation theory no longer suffice in tackling that new reality of large cities, and he will question critically whether using the perspective of super-diversity is more pertinent for our analyses. Maurice Crul will argue that super-diversity theory can only partially show us the way. To further build an alternative theoretical perspective, we also need to borrow from the intersectional approach and the integration context theory.

Maurice Crul is a Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam and the VU University Amsterdam. Currently he is the coordinator of the ELITES: Pathways to Success research project. In the last fifteen years Professor Crul has mostly worked on the topic of education and children of immigrants, first within the Dutch context and later on in a comparative European and transatlantic context. The Pathways to Success project analyses the position of successful second generation youth of Turkish and Moroccan descent in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The international ELITES project studies the most successful group in society: those already holding an elite position. It compares members of this group in Sweden, Germany, France and The Netherlands.


November 24, 13.00–15.00, B600
Ninna Nyberg Sørensen, PhD, Senior researcher, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS)

Transnational Ties and Ruptures: Latin American Migration experiences

In this presentation, I reflect on the ways in which the conditions of transnational mobility have changed over the past 25 years. Drawing on research in various migration processes (primarily involving Dominicans, Peruvians, Colombians, Guatemalans and Hondurans), I trace how changing migration realities - in particular stricter migration policies and border enforcements - have altered the possibilities of living lives across borders. Particular attention is paid to the changing conditions on the right to move and settle as well as to the concomitant rise in high-risk migration. I argue that the by now well-established transnational research tradition of studying migration through a multi-local lens including both the sending, receiving and other ends of the migrant trajectory can be fruitfully extended by directing the analytical lens towards not only transnational belonging and identity, but also transnational governance and the growing economy and market-based governance structures arising in the enactment of state efforts to manage migration flows. A move I for a lack of other expressions call “from migrant identity to the migration industry”. By way of conclusion I discuss how high-risk migration and ever rising incidences of migrant casualties may have the power to animate politics and produce affect and humanitarian effects beyond state appropriated humanitarian discourse. When such effects materialize, new transnational social fields may be in the making.


December 8, 13.00–15.00, B600
Helena Pettersson, Associate Professor in Ethnology, Umeå University; Katarzyna Wolanik Boström, PhD in Ethnology, Umeå University; Magnus Öhlander, Professor of European Ethnology, Stockholm University

Transnational Mobile Highly Skilled Professionals

With focus on transnational mobility among professionals in the medical field, we will present three research projects.

The first paper is presented by Helena Pettersson, “Research Cooperation, Fictive Kinship, and International Knowledge Transfer among Scientists”. The focus of the paper is how scientists’ use their peer’s network when applying for positions abroad in order to develop their scientific training. The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork with in depth interviews and observations at a plant science institute. The informants are at different career stages from Europe. Academic mobility across domestic organizations and global networks is an important topic in today’s discussion of knowledge circulation and its economic consequences. An aim with the peer’s network is to establish junior scientists in to a new scientific community. The junior plant scientists must learn and gain new scientific skills and achievements. They also form strong relationships with the peer and the fellow lab members, especially at a similar career stage. Gained scientific skills and an extended scientific family are central resources for the junior scientist’s career development. The concept “fictive kinship” is used to catch power and loyalty relations between people and groups that are not by blood bound to each other. As a family in a traditional, biological sense with inheritance of both power relations and material goods, there are informal leadership, symbolic capital, lab resources and machines to be inherited. The data collection is based on ethnographic field work with in depth interviews and observations.

The second project, run by Katarzyna Wolanik Boström and Magnus Öhlander, is called “Polish and Swedish doctors in Swedish health care: A study of occupational cultures”. The project is empirically based on narrative interviews and focuses on physicians that move to work in another country for shorter or longer periods. Some of the interviewed Polish doctors have worked in several countries and most of them seem to look upon Sweden as their final destination. The main research question is about why well-educated, highly skilled professionals leave their country of origin to work abroad and what happens when they make use of their skills and competence in another organizational framework and cultural context. The project is formally ended. Wolanik Boström and Öhlander have written about cultural frictions and the skill of mobile everyday ethnography, that is a way of learning enough about a new workplace to be “culturally passable” and to perform the professional role. Further they have analyzed what happens when symbolic capital (exams, cultural and social capital etc.) moves between health care settings in different countries. This could be understood as the devaluation of capital resulting in the process of deskilling – reskilling and the negotiation of professionalism and status.

“Swedish Highly Skilled International ‘Returners’ in the Medical Field: A cultural analysis of transnational experiences, transfer of knowledge and skills” is the title of the third project. Researchers in the project are Pettersson, Wolanik Boström and Öhlander. It is based on interviews with three categories in the medical field: (i) medical biologists, who are depended on international mobility for successful research; (ii) specialist physicians, involved in research and/or clinical practice, for whom mobility is supposed to enhance both; and (iii) specialised physicians working as volunteers for international organisations, gaining skills on effective work under difficult circumstances and with limited resources. The aim is to describe and analyse incentives to move abroad, experiences of living and working in another country, and what happens when they return, e.g. the returners’ possibilities to apply and implement the newly gained professional knowledge and experiences at Swedish working places.

Helena Pettersson (; Associate Professor in Ethnology, Umeå University. Pettersson’s research has during the past years focused on academic mobility among physicists, medical professionals and life scientists and has conducted fieldwork in various laboratory environments.

Katarzyna Wolanik Boström (; PhD in Ethnology, Umeå University. She has done research on highly skilled professionals, occupational cultures, status, narrativity, intersectionality, and family stories.

Magnus Öhlander (; professor of European Ethnology, Stockholm University; has done research in different fields, for instance about elderly care, ideas about racism in Swedish public debate, and notions about immigrants as patients in health care. He has written about culture theory and ethnographic methods.