The seminar series is organised by Mark Graham, Hege Høyer Leivestad, Johan Lindquist and Erik Olsson. The list is continuously being updated.


CEIFO seminar

January 30, 13.00–14.30, B600
David McCollum, Lecturer, Department of Geography & Sustainable Development, The University of St Andrews

Oiling the wheels? Flexible labour markets and the migration industry

The growing commercialisation of migration, often through a multiplicity of labour market intermediaries, is an issue of increasing academic interest. We seek to contribute to an emerging research agenda on the migration industries by exploring how one of the key actors that constitutes it, recruitment agencies, sits at the nexus between flexible labour market structures and migrant labour. Interviews with UK labour providers and low-wage employers form the evidence base for an analysis of the strategies developed by recruiters to derive commercial gain from connecting the so-called ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ sides of the flexible international labour market. We seek to contribute to understandings of the analytical categories within migration systems by illustrating how the migration industry interacts with other key stakeholders to structure international migration.



Research seminar

February 6, 13.00–14.30, B600
Camelia Dewan, PhD student, University of London

Climate Change Adaptation as Development Discourse and Practice

This paper contrasts the issues of sedimentation, dying rivers, eroding embankments and a clear demand for ‘maintenance’ with current ‘development discourses’ among various development professionals in Dhaka and Khulna to discuss the ideas, relations and practices that influence and shape the contradiction between ecological reality and development projects on ‘climate change adaptation’. I first introduce the frustrations of Bangladeshi civil society members in Khulna and how they feel that their concerns and priorities are not being addressed by those development professionals in Dhaka - the hub of politics and development aid in Bangladesh. I then discuss how this may relate to wider issues in the Anthropology of Development, from the shift from seeing such dynamics as a hegemonic discourse, to development as a ‘technical game’ (Rottenburg 2009) and as assemblages of heterogeneous development actors that through their networks create and sustain a variety of translations of ‘development’ (Mosse and Lewis 2006). I argue that those translations that lack brokerage embedded in local context and local needs, tend to fail the coastal populations of Bangladesh as they fail to provide the means to address these underlying issues tied to land-use and ecology, that are ignored when Bangladesh is merely seen as a ‘climate change victim’.


Research seminar

February 13, 13.00–14.30, B600
David Sausdal, PhD Fellow, Department of Criminology, Stockholm University

Pleasures of policing: An additional analysis of xenophobia

In police research, dominant explanations of why law enforcers harbour xenophobic attitudes are most often dressed in cultural or political rationalisations. As an additional explanation, this article demonstrates how resentments are spurred not only by prejudice or politics but also by the ways in which foreigners complicate quite ordinary yet, from a police perspective, appreciated work practices. Following this ethnographic discovery, the paper ultimately constitutes a call for a better grounding of our theories as well as critique in the wider context of the workday situations and sensibilities of law enforcement.

David Sausdal is a PhD Fellow in Criminology at Stockholm University. He is an anthropologist-cum-criminologist with a specific interest in ethnographic studies of cross-border crime and policing. Recently, he has been observing and examining the work of two Danish police task forces engaged in investigating property crimes committed by people coming from countries such as Romania, Poland, Morocco and Chile.  


Research seminar

February 20, 13.00–14.30, B600
James B. Hoesterey, Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, Emory University

Shaming the State: Piety, Pornography, and the Politics of Visual Culture in Indonesia

This paper examines the role of visual culture in the constitution – and contestation – of public piety during Indonesia’s controversial anti-pornography campaign. Building on Hirschkind’s concept of the “pious sensorium,” the paper describes how looking itself can be an ethical and political act. Inspired by al-Ghazzali’s notion of the “fornication of the eye,” celebrity televangelist Abdullah Gymnastiar preached that those who cannot control their sexual gaze eventually tarnish their hearts and lose their sense of shame. Turning his ethical gaze on the state, Gymnastiar leveraged his public pulpit to rally support to ban Playboy magazine by summoning state officials to take a moral stand. On the other hand, opponents of the anti-pornography bill deployed visual media to satirize what they viewed as inauthentic displays of piety by Islamist politicians and public icons. By attending to the diverse ways in which Indonesians mobilize media, this paper argues that an analysis of visual culture in post-authoritarian Indonesia provides unique insights into political Islam that enrich, nuance, and at times contradict the current scholarly focus on electoral politics and Islamist institutions.

Jim Hoesterey is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Emory University. A cultural anthropologist, his research focuses on Islam, media, and the cultural politics of public piety in contemporary Indonesia. Hoesterey’s first book, Rebranding Islam: Piety, Prosperity, and a Self-help Guru (Stanford University Press, 2016), chronicles the rise and fall of celebrity televangelist Aa Gym. His current research examines public diplomacy, soft power, and the making of “moderate Islam.” He currently serves as Secretary for the American Institute for Indonesian Studies (AIFIS) and board member for the Commission for Visual Anthropology (CVA).

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.



CEIFO seminar

March 6, 13.00–14.30, B600
Patrick Simon, Senior Researcher, Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques, Paris

Discrimination in a colour-blind society: racial divisions behind the French model of integration?

After being one of the most renowned “assimilationist countries” in the world, France has recently been engaged in quick changes in its framing of incorporation of “immigrants”. Indeed, not only have the concepts and theories used to portray the processes behind the “remaking of the French mainstream” dramatically changed, but the categories of those targeted by these processes have also been renewed. Access of “new second generations” (i.e. those born from the waves of immigration of the 1950s and 1960s) to the job market and their visibility in social, political and cultural life have challenged the “French model of integration”.

This presentation will first set up the background on which discrimination can be studied in the French context, and then it will confront the normative model of colour-blindness to the trajectories of potentially racialized immigrants and second generation. I will argue that the salience of race and ethnicity for minority members in contemporary France is challenging the expectations of equality beyond race and that discrimination has a devastating impact on the political model of colour-blindness. Data comes from a new survey Trajectories and Origins: a survey on population diversity in France, which is the largest survey ever done in France on immigrants and second generation. Promoted by INED and the French National Statistical Institute (INSEE), the survey gathered information via a long questionnaire administered in face-to-face interviews with 22 000 respondents from 5 specific sub-samples: Immigrants (8300), descendants of Immigrants (8200), Overseas French (700), descendants of Overseas French (700) and “mainstream population” (3900). Findings on employment, housing segregation, intermarriage and social networks, and discrimination will be presented to support the thesis of an ongoing process of racialization of the French society and the rise of ethnic and racial minorities.

Patrick Simon is Director of research at INED (Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques – National demographic institute) and is fellow researcher at the Center of European Studies (CEE) at Sciences Po. He was Visiting Scholar at CUNY in 2015-2016. Trained as socio-demographer at EHESS (Doctoral degree circa 1994), he has studied social and ethnic segregation in French cities, antidiscrimination policies and the integration of ethnic minorities in European countries. He has recently edited “Accounting for ethnic and racial diversity: the challenge of enumeration”, a special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies, 35:8, 2012 (with V.Piché); Beauchemin Cris, Hamel Christelle et Simon Patrick. (Dir) 2015. Trajectoires et Origines: enquête sur la diversité des populations en France, Paris, INED, Coll. Grandes enquêtes; Foner Nancy and Simon Patrick. (Ed.) 2015 Fear, Anxiety, and National Identity: Immigration and Belonging in North America and Western Europe, New York, Russel Sage Foundation.


Research seminar

March 13, 13.00–14.30, B600
Elizabeth Hallam, Research Associate, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford

Human anatomy in 3D: materials, models and design

As part of on-going research that develops an anthropology of 3D modelling, this paper explores the design and making of models in medical education and surgical training. Asking how knowledge of human anatomy is generated in medical schools, the paper focuses collaborative and imaginative modelling practices with materials such as plastics and wood. It also examines the ways in which bodies of the dead are used and transformed when the human body is modelled in order to produce and communicate anatomical knowledge and surgical skills. The paper draws on an exhibition, Designing Bodies: Models of Human Anatomy from 1945 to Now, which was guest curated by the author at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, in London, during 2015-16.

Elizabeth Hallam is a Research Associate in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen. Her research and publications focus on the anthropology of the body; death and dying; material and visual cultures; histories of collecting and museums; the anthropology of anatomy; three-dimensional modelling and mixed-media sculpture. Her recent books include Medical Museums: Past, Present, Future (co-edited with Sam Alberti, 2013), Making and Growing: Anthropological Studies of Organisms and Artefacts (co-edited with Tim Ingold, 2014), and her monograph Anatomy Museum: Death and the Body Displayed (Reaktion, 2016).


Research seminar

March 20, 13.00–14.30, B600
Erik Harms, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Yale University

Rights Gone Wrong on Saigon’s Edge

This paper discusses the story of Ho Chi Minh City residents who have been evicted from their homes in order to make way for a new master-planned urban development called the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Zone. Facing eviction, residents mobilized a strong and unambiguous language of “rights” to support their cause. On one level, their example clearly shows how an emerging “rights consciousness” can inspire new forms of agency and collective action. But on another level, I show how this emergent rights consciousness has also operated as a fetish that distracts many residents from achieving tangible goals. By focusing on property value, legal documents, petitions, and other artefacts central to the bureaucratic expression of rights, residents have participated in the proliferation of abstract rights that are not in fact realized in practice. In the Thủ Thiêm case, after the dust settled and the bulldozers finally retreated, these residents found themselves dispossessed from house and home. Their evictions were made final at precisely the moment that they had so forcefully managed to understand themselves as rights-bearing subjects.

Erik Harms is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University, specializing in Southeast Asia and Vietnam.  Since 2000, he has conducted urban anthropological research in repeated visits to Ho Chi Minh City, where he has focused on the social and cultural effects of rapid urbanization on the city's fringes. His first book, Saigon’s Edge: On the Margins of Ho Chi Minh City (University of Minnesota Press), is a study of periurban social life, and his published articles have explored the social and political transformation of Vietnamese urban life. Harms recently completed a book called Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in the New Saigon (University of California Press) about the demolition and reconstruction of the urban landscape in two of Ho Chi Minh City’s New Urban Zones.

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.


CEIFO seminar

March 27, 13.00–14.30, B600
Janine Dahinden, Professor of Transnational Studies, MAPS and NCCR on the move, University of Neuchâtel

A plea for the ‘de-migranticization' of research on migration and integration

An increasing number of voices has been calling for more reflexivity within migration studies, criticizing the nation-state- and ethnicity-centred epistemology that often informs this discipline. Consistently with this line of reasoning, I argue that migration and integration research originates in a historically institutionalized nation-state migration apparatus and is thus entangled with a particular normalization discourse. Therefore, this field of study contributes to reproducing the categories of this particular migration apparatus. This entanglement poses some serious dilemmas for this research tradition, dilemmas that ask for further consideration and possible solutions. I will suggest three ways out of this dilemma by putting forward a set of concrete possibilities which allow to  ‘de-migranticize’ migration and integration research.



Research seminar

April 3, 13.00–14.30, B600
Alex Nading, Lecturer, School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh

Global Health, Global Work, Global Heat: Rethinking Cause and Effect in Nicaraguan Sugarcane Fields

In northwest Nicaragua, a new form of renal failure is killing sugar plantation workers. Since 2000, roughly one-third of all deaths among men in the area have been attributed to “chronic kidney disease of nontraditional causes” (CKDnt). In 2005, alleging that CKDnt was linked to pesticide exposure, a group of Nicaraguan workers mobilized alongside transnational labor lawyers to convince the World Bank to fund a study of the problem. Tracing the emergence of a popular movement that turned CKDnt from a local crisis into a global health concern, this project will show how three distinct ideas of cause circulate through the domains of law and science as well as through collective social movements. Within global health, cause is most familiar as a synonym for disease etiology. In law, cause references reasonable grounds for a claim. In social movements, cause connotes a common goal or moral end. A more refined understanding of how these three ideas intersect can enhance anthropological understandings of how the meaning and operations of social justice develop.


CEIFO seminar

April 10, 13.00–14.30, B600
Nauja Kleist, Senior Researcher, Danish Institute for International Studies

Hope and uncertainty in African migration – life after deportation to Ghana

Contemporary migration is characterized by a mobility paradox. The increased reach and accessibility of communication, media and transport technologies mean that people in many parts of the world are exposed to visions of the good life and future elsewhere while restrictive mobility regimes makes access to the global circuits of legal mobility increasingly difficult. How do migrants respond to this situation and imagine their futures? In this lecture, I argue that hope constitutes a productive analytical framework for studies of migration in the light of this mobility paradox, highlighting potentiality as well as uncertainty. I explore this through a case study of life after deportation to Ghana. Based on fieldwork among Ghanaian deportees and other involuntary return migrants, I explore trajectories of social and spatial (im)mobility, how they relate to notions of the good life and future, and their temporal and spatial projections. Returning empty-handed is widely embedded in shame and a sense of individualized failure, despite widespread knowledge of the uncertainty related to high-risk migration. I suggest that this conundrum is an expression of the local persistence of international migration as a repository of hope for a better and livable future. By implication, deportation constitutes both a disruption of mobile livelihoods as well as the hopes underpinning them.

Nauja Kleist is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies where she works on African migration, with particular focus on Ghana. Her research concerns involuntary return migration, European and African mobility regimes and their social effects, diaspora mobilization, and the role of hope, uncertainty, belonging and gender relations. She has published widely on these topics in, e.g., African Affairs, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, African Diaspora, and has recently co-edited the volume Hope and Uncertainty in Contemporary African Migration (with Dorte Thorsen, Routledge, 2017) and guest-edited a special issue of History and Anthropology on ‘Hope over Time’ (with Stef Jansen, 2016).


CEIFO seminar

April 24, 13.00–14.30, B600
Johan Svanberg, PhD, Department of History, Stockholm University

Migrationens kontraster – Arbetsmarknadsrelationer och tyskor i svensk beklädnadsindustri under 1950-talet

Historikern Johan Svanberg berättar om tyska kvinnor som rekryterades till den svenska industrin under 1950-talet för att arbeta som sömmerskor. Många av dem hörde till de miljontals tyskar som tidigare flytt eller fördrivits från sina hem i Central- och Östeuropa i samband med krigsslutet. Migrationsprocessen rörde sig därmed i gränslandet mellan flyktingmottagning och arbetskraftsrekrytering. Särskilt diskuteras migrantarbetarnas villkor vid det rationaliserade klädföretaget Algots i Borås.

Svanberg analyserar hur efterkrigstidens migrationer formades i en ömsesidig påverkan mellan internationella, nationella och lokala arbetsmarknadsrelationer. Föredraget ger inblickar i agerandet hos såväl tyska och svenska myndigheter, som arbetsgivare och fackliga organisationer i Sverige. Vilken betydelse hade migrationerna för arbetsdelningen på den svenska arbetsmarknaden, ifråga om kön, etnicitet, ålder och klass? Hur påverkade migranternas ankomst de allmänna arbetsvillkoren och samvaron i arbetslivet?

Svanberg är docent i historia vid Stockholms universitet, med migrationshistoria och arbetarhistoria som specialområden. Han disputerade 2010 vid Linnéuniversitetet i Växjö på avhandlingen Arbetets relationer och etniska dimensioner. Verkstadsföreningen, Metall och esterna vid Svenska Stålpressnings AB i Olofström 1945–1952. År 2005 gav han ut boken Minnen av migrationen. Arbetskraftsinvandring från Jugoslavien till Svenska Fläktfabriken i Växjö kring 1970.

NB Seminar will be held in Swedish.



Research seminar

May 8, 13.00–14.30, B600
Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Gender Research, University of Oslo

Beyond marriage equality: Contracting marriage in contemporary queer China

This paper explores the phenomenon of contract marriages (xingshi hunyin) whereby a gay man and lesbian woman marry each other, in this way ‘faking’ heterosexual marriage by pretending to be straight in social and familial contexts, and living a queer life tacitly ‘on the side’, in private. Why and how is it that this practice gains traction at a time where same-sex marriage equality politics dominate LGBTQ rights discourse globally? Why do Chinese LGBTQ peoples find contract marriage desirable? On the basis of long-term anthropological research in Beijing since 2004, Engebretsen argues that in contemporary China, contract marriages serve as an ideal strategy against the omnipresent pressure to marry heterosexually and fulfill gendered norms for morally appropriate adult lives. In principle, these marriages seek to resolve the intense marriage pressure by faking it – indeed, for this reason it is often called ‘fake marriage’ or jiahun. In recent years, the growing desire for a way out of the hetero-marriage imperative has spurred a considerable online and offline matchmaking industry within China’s lesbian and gay, or queer, communities. But does it work? Engebretsen’s material seems to suggest that the contract marriage strategy actually reproduces difficult inequalities and creates new problems in people’s ‘married’ lives. Keeping up appearances, confronting sustained patriarchal gender norms in daily and family life, fending off the inevitable question of having a child, and still having energy to conduct ‘real’ same-sex romantic relationships, are found to pose considerable challenges to the long-term strategic success of contract marriage. Still, the new discursive space and practice of such marital strategies offer imaginative resources of hope and concrete bargaining power for many, and thus are found to challenge hetero-patriarchal ideals in contemporary Chinese society.

Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen is a senior lecturer in gender studies at the University of Oslo, Norway, and a researcher with the independent collective Forskerkollektivet. She is the author of Queer women in urban China: An ethnography (2014), and she edited the collection Queer/tongzhi China: New perspectives on research, activism, and media cultures with Will Schroeder and Hongwei Bao (2015). A special issue titled “Anthropology’s queer sensibilities” is forthcoming in the journal Sexualities (edited with Paul Boyce and Silvia Posocco). Engebretsen earned her PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2008.


CEIFO seminar

May 15, 13.00–14.30, B600
Maryann Bylander, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, Lewis & Clark

Borrowing Across Borders: Migration, Debt and Development in Southeast Asia

International migration has long been linked to forms of indebtedness. Migrants often need loans to finance costly cross-border moves, indebtedness can motivate the need for migration, and the remittances migrants send home are often used to repay household debts. Yet while migration scholars routinely point to debt and indebtedness as playing a central role in migrant experiences, there have been few efforts to bring migration into discussions of the “microcredit revolution” occurring across the Global South. This paper explores the connections between microcredit and migration in rural Cambodia, drawing on mixed-methods research to highlight the various ways that households are “borrowing across borders,” and the consequences of cross-border lending on the lives of migrant workers.

Maryann Bylander is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Lewis & Clark College. Her research focuses on questions of migration and development in the Global South, particularly Southeast Asia.  Since 2004 she has been traveling to Cambodia, where she has conducted mixed-methods research on questions of migration, rural livelihoods, microcredit, gender, and the environment. Recent work has been published in Development and Change, Migration Studies, Population Research and Policy Review, & Oxford Development Studies. Maryann is a founding board member of PEPY, an NGO working to promote education in Siem Reap.

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.


Research seminar

May 22, 13.00–14.30, B600
Ayona Datta, Reader in Urban Futures, Department of Geography, King’s College London

‘Smart’ urbanization: Digital citizenships in the making of India’s urban age

For some time now, the Indian state has sought to ‘leapfrog’ towards a smart urban age by deploying a popular futurology of ‘planetary urbanization’. Since 2014, citing apocalyptic predictions of urbanization, migration and climate change, it has legitimised a mega-scale regional urbanization programme through the construction of infrastructure corridors, new townships as well as the transformation of 100 small and medium towns into smart cities. The national urbanization programme has been critiqued on several grounds as the – expansion of state’s territorial ambitions, reinforcement of urban privilege and the valorization of technocratic and digital solutions to global challenges. Less scrutinised has been the simultaneous production of a figure of the ‘smart citizen’ – a young urban professional male, who reorganises the very terms and conditions of citizenship in India. This smart citizen normatively excludes vast swathes of population who have been socially and historically excluded from the state’s urban aspirations – Dalits, minority religions, women and LGBTQ groups. Drawing upon a range of city workshops conducted as part of an AHRC funded network, as well as publicly available documents and infographics on India’s smart cities programme, this paper seeks to locate the figure of the ‘smart citizen’ as a globally circulating imaginary of smart cities and its contested postcolonial translation as the Machiavellian ‘chatur citizen’ in India. It argues that smart urbanization in India is more than just territorial expansion – it is fundamentally about reducing citizenship to mere digital presence and establishing technology as a measure of democracy.

Ayona Datta is Reader and research Domain Chair in Urban Futures in King’s College London. Her broad research interests are in the critical geographies of smart urbanism, gender citizenships and urban futures in the global south. Her earlier research developed theoretical and empirical work on slums and informal settlements in exploring how subaltern citizens live through the violence of law and urban development in India. Her more recent research seeks to advance theoretical and empirical work on postcolonial urbanism through the examination of smart cities as experiments in digital citizenships. She is author of The Illegal City: Space, law and gender in a Delhi squatter settlement (2012), co-editor of Translocal geographies: Spaces, places, connections (2011) and Mega-urbanization in the global South: Fast cities and new urban utopias of the postcolonial state (2017). She is working on another co-edited book Ecological Citizenships in the global south under contract with Zed Books. She has authored over 30 articles in international refereed journals and maintains a personal blog titled ‘City Inside out’.


Research seminar

May 29, 13.00–14.30, B600
Chika Watanabe, Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester

On Becoming Good Models of Development

Anthropological studies of development knowledge often focus on the ways that development practices are bureaucratised and standardised according to a modernist or neoliberal arrangement of the world. Although some of these analyses might assume a linear progression of change from a centre of power (e.g. ‘the West’) to the periphery, others explore the contingent and multiple ways that change is envisioned and implemented in development projects. In this paper, I follow these latter analyses and propose that focusing on practices of modelling might offer a window into the situated negotiations of cultural difference that shape projects of social and personal ‘improvement’. Specifically, I take the case of a Japanese NGO and its agricultural training programmes for Burmese and other non-Japanese participants in Japan and Myanmar to investigate how the efforts to become ‘good’ models of change involved a scripting of national-culturalist ideals of ‘Japaneseness’ but in ways that were improvisational and contextual, rather than simply enforced. The Japanese as well as the Burmese NGO workers had to tinker with cultural differences to inspire transformative imitations, changing both the model and copy. Modelling proves to be a useful analytic to understand how imaginations and enactments of future change unfold through encounters where national-culturalist projects coexist with the improvisational shifting of cultural boundaries.

Chika Watanabe is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. Her research and teaching interests revolve around issues of development, humanitarianism, NGOs, expertise, religion and secularity, ethics and morality, and disaster preparedness. She has published articles in journals such as Cultural Anthropology and American Anthropologist, and contributed chapters in edited volumes. She has a book manuscript under contract and developing a new project on the translation of anticipatory expertise in Japanese disaster preparedness training programmes across Japan and Chile.

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.