Research and CEIFO seminars autumn 2019

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Welcome to our research and CEIFO seminars

Seminar series, spring 2019.

This autumn's seminar series is arranged by Beppe Karlsson, Gabriella Körling, Johan Lindquist and Erik Olsson. The list is constantly updated.


Monday October 7, 13.00–14.30, B600
Heather Anne Swanson, Associate Professor, Aarhus University
Caught in Comparisons: How political economy remakes the bodies of fish

How can anthropology and the humanities better contribute to conversations about environmental change? This talk offers comparison as one tool. Unfolding within histories of colonization and geopolitics, comparisons embed themselves in and shape material forms, pulling the tensions of modernity, nationhood, and empire into the stuff of the world. This talk explores the landscape-making force of comparisons, i.e. how they reach out to physically reshape more-than-human ecologies along with human lives. By focusing on salmon fisheries in Hokkaido, Japan, this talk explores how the transnational comparisons of fishermen, scientists, government officials, indigenous people, and environmental activists have reconfigured not only global salmon markets and rural fishing communities, but also the flow of rivers and the bodies of fish. How, it asks, have the comparisons of nation-building and landscape development come to shape the flesh and bones of salmon, an animal central to this island’s economy, ecology, and history? Attending to practices of comparison, this talk argues, is a key method for better understanding how relations of political economy become an evolutionary force.

Heather Anne Swanson is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at Aarhus University, as well as Co-Director of the AU Centre for Environmental Humanities (CEH). Swanson is a co-editor of two recent books, Domestication Gone Wild: Politics and Practice of Multispecies Relations (Duke UP, 2018) and Arts of Living on a Damaged Plant (Minnesota UP, 2017). She has written widely about environmental issues (especially fisheries management), interdisciplinary collaboration, and more-than-human methods in the humanities and social sciences. 


Thursday October 10, 10.00–11.30,
Högbomsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Plan 3 i E-huset
Brett Neilson, Professor at Institute of Culture and Society, Western Sydney University
From Piraeus to Kolkata: Logistics along the New Silk Road

Logistical Worlds was a project that investigated relations among infrastructure, software, and labor in three shipping ports with growing significance for China’s international economic activity. This talk considers questions of empirical research and method in two of these sites: the Greek port of Piraeus, often positioned as a “dragon’s head” of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and Kolkata, an unavoidable chokepoint in this same project. Issues for interrogation include the conceptualization of logistical power, the relation of logistical techniques and technologies to geopolitics, and the binds of civilizational perspectives in understanding the making of logistical worlds.

Brett Neilson is Professor at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, where he leads the Globalisation and Diversity research program. With Sandro Mezzadra, he is author of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Duke University Press 2013) and The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism (Duke University Press 2019). With Ned Rossiter, he has led the Australian Research Council funded research projects Transit Labour: Circuits, Regions, Borders; Logistical Worlds: Software, Infrastructure, Labour and Data Farms: Circuits, Territory, Labour.


Monday October 14, 13.00–14.30, B600
Jatin Dua, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan.
Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Western Indian Ocean

From 2009 to 2012, a dramatic upsurge in incidents of maritime piracy in the Western Indian Ocean led to renewed global attention to this fraught and sometimes over-determined region. It was time for another great unleashing: the deployment of multinational naval patrols, attempts to prosecute suspected pirates, the development of financial interdiction systems to track and stop the flow of piracy ransoms. Largely seen as the maritime ripple effect of anarchy on land, piracy has been slotted into narratives of state failure and problems of governance and criminality in this region. Through a focus on longer histories of trade, diaspora, and regulation, this talk reframes maritime piracy within worlds of protection that straddle boundaries of land and sea, law and economy, history and anthropology. 

Jatin Dua is an assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His research explores maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean, focusing on processes and projects of governance, law, and economy along the East African coast. His forthcoming book, Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean, will be published by the University of California Press in December 2019. In addition, he has published a number of articles on maritime anthropology, captivity, political economy, and sovereignty. He is currently studying port-making (and unmaking) and the daily forms of circulation and governance that occur across the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, a key maritime chokepoint connecting the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.


Monday October 21, 13.00–14.30, B600
Andrew Mitchell och Kate Marx, postdoctoral researcher & Kate Marx, postdoctoral researcher, University of Essex
The Rhino – Explorations in Anthrozoology

South Africa’s populations of near threatened Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) and critically endangered Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) have declined so dramatically as a result of poaching, that in 2012 the South African government declared a state of crisis. To date, the crisis shows no signs of abating, with several rhinos being poached across the country every day. Rhinos are being persecuted for their horn, which is a sought-after commodity across much of Asia and the Middle East. While rhino horn has long been associated with traditional Asian medicine, its reinvention as a status symbol and recreational drug means that young people now represent a growing market. Consequently, a project team made up of members of the Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) working group from the University of Exeter, along with an anthropologist and filmmaker from the University of Stockholm, set out to trial a novel approach to engagement filmmaking, based around the recently developed concept in the environmental humanities of ‘storied-mourning’ (van Dooren 2014: 284), an approach by which humans might be encouraged to face and respond to the loss of life characteristic of the global environmental crisis. Through detailed accounts of the lives and deaths of individual rhinos from the people who knew them, storied-mourning “offers us the possibility of mourning as a deliberate act of sustained remembrance” (2014: 285), moving beyond forms of storytelling based on negative imagery to communicate information about the deaths of ‘characters’. Storied-mourning has yet to be used in research aimed at initiating consumer behaviour change, nor has it been systematically integrated with visual imagery. It should be noted that what is not being attempted is the portrayal of a comprehensive view of the many factors which shape this crisis but, rather, a focus upon the key victims of the crisis. As such, the film focuses specifically on what it is like to be a rhino or a rhino carer living (and sometimes dying) during the crisis. In addition to the short film utilising storied mourning as its central concept, two further films were made, each based on more established approaches to engaging audiences in a conservation message. In its next stage the project will assess the responses of university students hailing from countries where rhino horn consumption has been documented in order to measure the efficacy of storied mourning as a means of eliciting feelings of care in people who will never encounter a rhino but may encounter a rhino ‘product’. This presentation will explore the Anthrozoological approach to a conservation problem, the process of translating emergent theoretical perspectives onto film, and plans for the future of the project.

Van Dooren, T. 2014. 'Mourning crows: Grief and extinction in a shared world'. In G. Marvin & S. McHugh (eds.) Handbook of Human-Animal Studies. Routledge.


Monday October 28, 13.00–14.30, B600
Mark Johnson och Deirdre McKay, Professor, Goldsmiths & Deirdre McKay, Reader, Keele University, (CEIFO)

Exploring the process of Curating Development at the Vargas Museum CEIFO-seminarium med Marc Johnson Professor, Goldsmiths och Deirdre McKay, Reader, Keele University.

'Curating Development' works with migrants from the Philippines, largely female, doing care work in London and Hong Kong ( This project used 'museum as method' to explore the lives of migrant care workers in a participatory exhibition-making process. Working with objects, artworks and images that are not normally collected by museums, the Curating Development project explores how curatorial strategies can sustain migrants, advance public understanding of migration issues, and support NGO advocacy. It culminated in an exhibition that reversed the typical museum practice of displaying artefacts and artworks from existing collections. Instead, project participants shared their own store of social media images, sentimental objects carried with them, and gifts to be sent home to family. They participants made these into art, accompanied by video installations and drawings from collaborating fine artists, intended for public display as a single collection and archive - their own museum of migration.  With this approach, we extended Andre Malraux' work on Museum without Walls/Musée Imaginaire (1965), taking the work beyond the museum's walls. Our exhibition enters migrants’ private spaces, their dreams, their contributions to family and country. Rather than using our archive as a store, their creating, curating and displaying from within it became a way to make hidden things public and foster debate.  

Our analysis evaluates the outcomes of this exhibition-making process for participants and collaborators. For them, and for the wider Filipino community, our curatorial methodology generated both new ways of understanding migration and potentials to bring their insights into the space of policymaking. In breaking the museum's walls, migrants were able to recognize and visualize their role in development in the Philippines, as well as their practices of investment and self-care.


Prof Mark Johnson is an anthropologist of global gender, with interests in gender/sexuality, landscape and material culture, migration and transnationalism. Author of Beauty and Power (Oxford, 1997), he is PI of the UK AHRC Curating Development project (2016-18), investigating Filipino migrants’ contributions to development. He also leads the British Academy project, Big Data, Live Methods and Surveillance Subjectivities (2016-18) exploring perceptions and experiences of surveillance among Filipino and British transnationals in Hong Kong, and the RCUK GCRF GlobalGRACE (Global Gender and Cultures of Equality, 2017 - 2021) project, investigating the production of cultures of equality in fragile contexts across the world.

Dr Deirdre McKay (Reader in Geography, Keele University) researches indigenous peoples, development and migration. She is the author of Global Filipinos (Indiana, 2012) and An Archipelago of Care (Indiana, 2016). She has worked with CIDA and AusAID-funded projects in the Philippines and with Filipino migrant communities in Canada, Hong Kong, London and online. She interested in personal stories of development, migration strategies, and people’s sense of self, and how these phenomena are being reshaped by social media. Her current projects explore upcycled plastic arts and crafts, ‘private aid’ after natural disasters, and the potential for migrants to document their development contributions through community arts. She is CI on the UK AHRC-funded Curating Development Project.


Monday November, 13.00–14.30, B600
Stefania Pandolfo , Professor, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkley

Dreaming at the Threshold of the Law: Ethnography, Aesthetics, and An Islamic Liturgy of Healing Forskarseminarium med Stefania Pandolfo, Professor, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkley.


Drawing on my ethnography in Morocco, the lecture will reflect on the medical-religious liturgy of ‘the lawful/divine cure’ (al-ruqya al-shar‘iyya), which will be addressed as a stage of imagination and a dramaturgy of the soul. In the mode of a dream at the threshold of the Law, and as the condition for reclaiming the spiritual capacity of the soul, the task of the Qurʾanic cure is to ‘encircle’ the desire of the jinn, which ‘possesses,’ but also ‘is’ the soul (nafs.) At once registering a historical reality of trauma and devastation, and unfolding in a temporality that that exceeds human life, the cure evokes the pathos of a prophetic genre where the time of calamity indexes the time of creation, and affliction points to the ordeals of repeated divine “testing” and “trial” (ibtilā’). I will suggest the terms of a possible conversation between Islam and psychoanalysis on the forms and reality of unconscious knowledge, and reflect on the dramaturgical capacities of ethnography itself.


Stefania Pandolfo was born in Napoli, Italy, and spent an important portion of her life in Morocco. She is professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, and member of the Programs in Critical Theory and Medical Anthropology. Her work centers on subjectivity, imagination, memory, and the experience of madness, with a focus on the Maghreb and Islam, and in conversation with psychoanalysis and Islamic thought. In recent years her research and writing have reflected on forms of the subject and ethics that straddle psychical, political, religious, and aesthetic processes and languages, in the confrontation with illness and social crisis (including the question of “Burning”, which is how migrancy is conceived of, from the other side of the Mediterranean,) in the context of psychiatric hospital care, and of the Islamic healing of the “maladies of the soul”.

She is the author of Impasse of the Angels: Scenes from a Moroccan Space of Memory (The University of Chicago Press, 1997), and Knot of the Soul: Madness, Psychoanalysis, Islam (The University of Chicago Press, 2018). With Ann Lovell, Veena Das, and Sandra Laugier, of Face aux désastres. Une conversation à quatre voix sur la folie, le care, et les grandes détresses collectives. Editions d’Ithaque, Paris, 2013. 

11 november - Maria Malmström, Associate Professor at the Center for Middle Eastern, Lund University and Associate Research Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, New York City

18 november - Richard Engblom, PhD candidate in Ethnology, Uppsala University (CEIFO)

25 november Heidi Moksnes, Senior Lecturer, Stockholm University - cancelled


Monday December 2, 13.00–14.30, B600

Andrew Alan Johnson, Visiting Fellow, Cornell University (CEIFO)

Deferral and Intimacy: Long-distance Romance and Thai Migrants Abroad. Andrew Alan Johnson Visiting Fellow, Cornell University

Aek’s fiancée, Fern, was already married to a European man. But each month, she sent remittances back to Aek so that he could build them a home and rubber orchard in their hometown in northeastern Thailand. In the meantime, Aek waited for Fern to return. But in the time spent waiting, plans, aspirations, and even bodies changed. As Aek and Fern charted a life together, this deferred life grew more and more spectral. This article is an ethnographic study of the Thai male romantic partners of Thai women working abroad as sex workers or marriage migrants, and their engagement with the problems of impermanence and deferral. Via the “work of waiting” (Kwon 2015) of those left behind, I argue here that waiting is in tension with the impermanence of hopes, selves, and bodies. I ask: what does it mean to “wait,” when what is promised, who promises, and the future date when promises are to be realized are each in flux? 


Monday December 9, 13.00–14.30, B600

Anette Nyqvist, Associate Professor, Stockholm University

The Shimmer and Shade of Gold: the project, the book, the collaboration 

What is it with gold? I was involved in a research project tracing responsible investments in extractive industries. I read up on mining, especially on gold mining. I began interviewing people more broadly about gold and I got intrigued. What on earth is it about gold that has fascinated people from all over the world and for so long? The attempt to trace gold from mine to vault – and in between - became a spin-off project. Then a long-time friend and photographer called and said she had been thinking about gold lately. She was preoccupied with doomsday news on the climate, the economy, the lack of trust in institutions. When things break down, what will remain? Is it gold? And if so, why? Together, we decided to embark on a quest to follow the path of gold from pit to pit: from deep down in mine shafts to deep down in vaults and through all thinkable uses in between. We set out to find people that, in one way or another, work with or own gold–and learn from them. We learned how the faith in and desire for gold is expressed across the world today and we also found out what, and who, are in the shadows of the precious metal.

In this presentation I first account for how the project of tracing gold from pit to pit emerged, I then move on to present the content of the book and finish with some reflections on collaborating with a professional photographer and on writing with the aim of reaching a broader audience.


Anette Nyqvist is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. She used to make her living as a journalist and author. Susanne Walström works as a free-lance photographer and is based in Stockholm. A selection of her photographs from the book will accompany the presentation.

Monday December 16, 13.00–14.30, B600

Hanna Husberg, Visual artist and Agata Marzecova, researcher in ecology, photography & new media

On Noticing Air: imaginaries, data, environmentality

Air surrounds and permeates our bodies, buildings, and cities. Because of its invisibility, and because we are always already immersed in it, the materiality of air is, however, evasive and easily neglected. Therefore, noticing air is intrinsically a question of perceptibility and of asking how things come to ‘exist’. It requires attention and care, and is dependent on historical circumstances and distinct practices of truth telling, that incorporate specific instruments, technologies, and methods of calculating. As a result, ‘knowing the atmosphere’ is contingent on techno-scientific apparatus, epistemologies, and infrastructures of the ‘military-industrial-business complex’ that cannot be thought of as separate from the histories and politics of capitalism and scientific thought. Further, situated in the nexus of media, science and technological mediation, air and the planetary atmosphere of the 21st century are entangled with existing patterns of social, class and gender inequalities, and hidden layers of power relations. In view of this, we hold that the speculative reimagining of air as a naturalcultural and technoecological phenomenon requires critical engagement with perception, representation and materiality, but also a reassessment of the disciplines that constitute our understanding of air. However, 'interdisciplinarity' is not something natural or automatic and requires experimentation between different practices, languages, and ways of knowing, including material forms of inquiry.

We will start the seminar with a lecture-performance by Hanna Husberg that will introduce one of our situated case studies. At the intersection of philosophy, politics, science and lived experience, ‘This new air, the one we talk about a lot’ uses audiovisual elements, sound recordings and excerpts of interviews to highlight some of the cultural and political aspects of Beijing’s urban air. Researcher Agata Marzecova will then present an excerpt from our research paper ‘And then came this number PM2.5’, in which the Beijing narratives are repurposed as a kind of situated evidence informative of changing environmental imaginaries and sensibilities. Highlighting how the sensing technologies and automated air data have become fundamental for surviving in the dense urban atmosphere, the Beijing accounts bear witness to the forming of new technoecologies of air, in which urban subjects are conceived as environmentally and behaviourally governable sensing nodes. Finally, asking what meaningful alliances can surface between art, science and technologies of air, we will together reflect upon some of the inherent troubles, but also the potentials of engaging with naturecultural concerns through interdisciplinary approaches.


Through artistic-scientific investigation of situated case studies, our long-term collaboration between visual artist Hanna Husberg and researcher in ecology, photography & new media Agata Marzecova inquires into the role science, technology and infrastructure play in the construction of environmental and atmospheric imaginaries. This far, we have developed a series of interrelated, transdisciplinary outcomes, such as art installations, exhibitions, lecture-performances, essays and analytical papers.





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