The seminar series is organised by Paula Uimonen, Ivana Maček, Johan Lindquist and Erik Olsson. The list is continuously being updated.


CEIFO seminar

Monday January 21, 13.00–14.30, B600
Mehek Muftee, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR), Uppsala University

Talking Swedish values – A study on Swedish Cultural Orientation Programs for young refugees in Kenya and Sudan

This study analyzes how delegations from the Swedish Migration Agency carries out cultural orientation programs (COPs) for quota refugees about to be resettled to Sweden. The aim of COPs is to, through information, prepare the refugees for their upcoming move. This thesis is based on video observations of COPs for children and youths in Kenya and Sudan. It examines what discourses of Swedishness and life in Sweden informed the delegations information given to the refugees. The thesis shows how the delegations’ work is carried out in paradoxical ways. Their work to bring forth an ideal future as a means to bring hope to the young participants simultaneously ends up categorizing them as different. They are assumed to lack certain “Swedish values”. The delegations draw on ideas that the children need to be socialized into a particular kind of Swedishness in order to become part of the new country. The study also analyzes how the children’s participation come about during the programs. It explores children’s agency by focusing on how they manage the meetings with the Swedish Migration Agency, sometimes resisting being positioned in certain ways by the delegations.

Mehek Muftee is a sociologist with a PhD from Linköping University. She is currently doing a Post doc at CEMFOR (Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism) at Uppsala University.


Research seminar

Monday January 28, 13.00–14.30, B600
Isabella Strömberg, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

”Orten”, skolan och fritiden: reflektioner kring 18 månaders fältarbete med elever i 9:e klass

Sedan 1990-talets stora skolreformer har barn och ungas socioekonomiska bakgrund kommit att få allt större betydelse för hur det går för dem i skolbänken. Skillnaderna i utbildningsresultat mellan grundskolor har ökat och segregationen mellan olika grupper i samhället, i relation till klass, utbildningsnivå och migrationsbakgrund, tycks ha förstärkts ytterligare. I denna utveckling har skolor och elever bosatta i socialt och ekonomiskt marginaliserade områden kommit att bli extra sårbara. Konsekvensen är att ett skollandskap har börjat träda fram där dessa bostadsområden ofta, om än inte alltid, också kommit att bli synonyma med lägre skolresultat.

I mitt avhandlingsarbete ligger huvudfokus på den kommunalt drivna grundskolan och det omgivande civila samhället i ett s.k. marginaliserat bostadsområde, här benämnt som Björnbacken. Under sammanlagt 18 månaders etnografiskt fältarbete har jag följt elever i årskurs 9 i deras vardagliga liv, både i skolan och på fritiden. Hur upplever de själva sin skolsituation, sina relationer till vuxenvärlden och de framtidsmöjligheter som står öppna för dem? Vad innebär den sociala kontexten för deras tillgång till socialt, kulturellt och ekonomiskt kapital när det kommer till att hjälpa eller stjälpa deras skolgång? Vilka resurser står till deras förfogande och vilka saknas? I sökandet efter denna förståelse har fältarbetet omfattat inte bara eleverna själva utan även nyckelpersoner i deras liv: skolpersonal, fritidsledare, fältassistenter, läxhjälpare, föräldrar, etc. Under seminariet den 28/1 kommer jag att presentera delar av mitt fältarbete, funderingar som uppstått under arbetets gång och möjliga vägar framåt i skrivandet.

Isabella Strömberg är doktorand vid Socialantropologiska institutionen sedan 2015. Hennes avhandlingsarbete är en del av forskningsprojektet ”The Impact of Civil Society Organisations on the Educational Achievements of Young People in Marginalised Urban Areas” (CSO). Projektet är finansierat av Vetenskapsrådet och leds av professor Alireza Behtoui. Under det akademiska året 2017-2018 har Strömberg arbetat som gästforskare vid The Graduate Center of City University of New York (CUNY). Där har hon varit ansluten till Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) och Public Space Research Group (PSRG).

NB the seminar will be held in Swedish.



Research seminar

Monday February 4, 13.00–14.30, B600
Eva-Maria Hardtmann, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Exploring Our Outer Boundaries of Anthropological Writing

Writing is a central part of social anthropology. During this seminar I hope we could have a more general discussion based on our own experiences. How do we as anthropologists relate to forms of writing other than the social scientific, outside of the academic world? To open the discussion I will take my own experiences of writing and editing as examples, to reveal how I have explored my own outer limits for social scientific writing. Having specialized in social movements I have had many reasons to reflect on my own role in relation to the field and activist writings, but also in relation to popular science, poetry, fiction and journalistic writings. Where does ethnography meet fiction and where does it merge with poetry to become ethnographic poetry?

Anthropological writing is a subject that has been thoroughly discussed throughout the years in the context of “collaborative ethnography”, “performative ethnography”, “para-ethnography” and “dialogical writings”, to list a few examples (Lassiter 2005, Holmes and Marcus 2005). Scholars have written auto-ethnography (Khosravi 2010), reflected on the borders between ethnography and fiction (Narayan 1999), and put the anthropologist as writer in the context of the 21st century (Wulff, ed. 2016). What about border crossings and the pros and cons of trying to maintain recognizable borders between social scientific writing and other genres of writing?

Eva-Maria Hardtmann is Associate Professor at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. Her current project focuses on the prison abolition movement in the U.S., which is partly run by formerly incarcerated women. She is the author of The Dalit Movement in India: Local Practices, Global Connections (2009) and South Asian Activists in the Global Justice Movement (2017). She has also co-edited Berättelsen på min rygg (2006), a volume with Dalit short-stories; co-edited a volume with Dalit poetry and art, Detta land som aldrig var vår moder (2006); and co-authored the fiction story Vårpall (2016).


Research seminar

Monday February 11, 13.00–14.30, B600
Igor Petričević, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Distance and Closeness: Construction and Negotiation of the New Diversity in Zagreb, Croatia

Amid the transformation of transit migration into temporary or potentially permanent settlement on the Balkan route as the Schengen borders strengthen, the presentation introduces ethnographic material gathered in Zagreb between 2017 and 2018. The research focuses on the ways the new diversity in Croatia is constructed and negotiated through practices and interactions among former migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, local residents, and activists in the interplay with the changes in border regimes, migratory routes and legislation.

General aim is to unpack this new diversity from the inside via an ethnography in the reception neighbourhood and other contact spaces where it is experienced through everyday face-to-face interactions, practices, attitudes and feelings, by both migrants and local residents who engage in spatial, temporal, and emotional negotiations of places, relations, and group boundaries. In relation to social class, the role of experiences and memories of the 1990s war in Croatia is examined as involved in facilitating both empathy and xenophobia. Given Croatia's, and the Balkans' in general, geopolitical and epistemological position at the ‘margins of Europe’, and as a ‘buffer zone’ between the West and the East, the arrival and settlement of new “diverse” subjects from the Middle East and Africa gives rise to ambiguous racialisations and boundary negotiations. Migrants’ experiences and strategies to “fit in”, as well as local reactions to the presence of these new “Blacks and Arabs” in public spaces, reveal the situational and shifting understandings of difference where ideas of race, religion, and language are both crucial and challenged in social interactions.

The interface between transit and settlement is explicated as a contested and negotiated space where, instead of being clear-cut oppositions, temporariness and durability, passage and arrival, mobility and sedentarism can fluctuate and coexist. Furthermore, with the chronicity of migrant arrivals, the research highlights the gradual transformation of the feeling of reluctance towards acceptance of staying in Croatia among the migrants, as well as the dynamic oscillations between perceptions of danger and spectacle, resistance and indifference, compassion and rejection among Croatian citizens.

Igor Petričević is a PhD student at the Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University.


CEIFO seminar

Monday February 18, 13.00–14.30, B600
Tekalign Ayalew, Assistant Professor, College of Social Sciences, Addis Ababa University and affiliated researcher, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Social embeddedness of human smuggling in East Africa: Brokering Ethiopian migrants to the Sudan

Clandestine migration and migrant smuggling from Ethiopia towards Europe, the Middle East and South Africa exponentially increased in the last two decades. Despite the increased criminalization of facilitators and the implementation of tougher border controls, this trend is likely to continue. At the backdrop of harsher environmental pressures and a deeper political and economic crisis in Ethiopia, these migrants still have limited opportunities for legal migration. This presentation will explore the migration processes and brokering practices that link Ethiopia and Sudan by taking into account the social, economic, political and cultural underpinnings of human smuggling in the region.

The reaction of receiving countries in Europe and the Middle East to the current migration pressure from the South, has been to securitize and criminalize irregular migrants and those who assist them by introducing international and bilateral mechanisms on border policing and deportations. However, faced with mounting hopelessness and desperation, the youth make dangerous and life defying migratory journeys towards places where they think there are safety and life opportunities. For this, they must rely on complex forms of migration facilitators and brokerage. Smugglers and their connectors facilitate Ethiopian migrants’ clandestine border crossings by mobilizing support and resources from local communities along the border, bribing border guards and capitalizing on their ethnic, religious and economic connections along Ethiopian-Sudanese borderlands.

In this presentation, I will highlight the practices of human smuggling and brokering migration by arguing that these partly thrives in the border areas, despite strict border and migration control policies. One of the reasons for this is that the actors extend the benefits of smuggling to the economically disadvantaged local community and this in return generates social support and community backup for smuggling activities.

Dr. Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste obtained his PhD in Social Anthropology from Stockholm University, Sweden in 2017. Currently he is senior researcher in the College of Social Sciences at Addis Ababa University and affiliated researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University.


CEIFO seminar

Tuesday February 19, 13.00–14.30, B600
Anastasiya Astapova, Research Fellow, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, Estonia

Conspiracy Theories about Nordic Countries in Eastern Europe: Migration and Gender-Related Plots

This seminar will discuss conspiracy theories and fake news about Nordic countries. Often nurtured by initial fake news in English, conspiracy theories about Nordic countries are especially popular in the neighboring Eastern European region. Their plots mostly concentrate on two topics: migration as well as gender and family-related values. The recurrent is, for instance, Eurabia conspiracy theory arguing that those Nordic countries which accept a lot of refugees ultimately aim to substitute Aryan European population with Muslims or Africans. Or, to give just a few examples on gender-related conspiracy theories on Norway alone, online articles in various Eastern European languages argue that Norwegian government has sanctioned pedophilia, that crying is illegal for Norwegian women, or that Norway has set the goal to become a 90% homosexual society by 2050. Similarly, fake news on Sweden claim that Swedish government has banned mandatory vaccination, that people in Sweden must sign a sexual consent form, or that Swedish police are not investigating rapes since migrants arrived.

I first noticed these stories when living in Sweden doing my postdoc and hearing back from my Eastern European friends and acquaintances on what they thought it should have been like to live in a Nordic country. Rarely the full-fledged narratives, these stories mostly manifest in online and verbal rumors—bits and pieces constituting the parts of more monolithic conspiracy theories. In the seminar, I will give several examples of how such conspiracy theories have formed and will reflect on why they are so resonating in the region neighboring the Nordic countries.

Anastasiya Astapova is Research Fellow, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, Estonia, where she 2016 defended her thesis Negotiating Belarusianness: Political Folklore betwixt and between. 2017–2018 she was a postdoctoral research fellow, Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University. She is a member of COMPACT, a European network for research on conspiracy theories.


Research seminar

Monday February 25, 13.00–14.30, B600
Victor Nygren, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Open Ramallah

As Palestine enters its seventh decade of contested existence alongside Israel, its administrative capital Ramallah has experienced a period of strong economic growth, rapid urbanization, internal migration, and centralization of Palestinian National Authority institutions in the city since the end of the second intifada in 2005. Based on fieldwork in the Ramallah region of the West Bank between 2017 and 2019, this presentation will focus on the role of the city in the constant struggle for mobility, both spatial and social, and on how urban and rural spaces take on meaning(s) in a strife for social possibilities at home and elsewhere.

Through my material, I aim to represent Palestine as a place of partial connectivity by examining Ramallah as one possible node for the negotiation of meaningful ‘insides’ and ‘outsides’. These imagined geographies are constructed using migratory pasts, presents, and futures, transnational networks, social media and gossip that combine in shaping the desired and aspired to spatial practices and life-styles among youth in Ramallah. Importantly, insides and outsides exist both within the West Bank, historical Palestine, and in the world beyond. The desire to ‘get out’ is of central concern to many young Ramallahns trying to navigate their way towards a better future. Economic, safety, and security concerns are mixed with a search for ‘openness’ or escape from ‘closedness’, concepts associated with places and peoples’ level of tolerance for unorthodox behavior and expressions of self. I argue that the experienced lack of openness in Palestinian society is part of a larger process of class distinction and depends on a capacity to aspire to a certain future self in a specific location.

Victor Nygren is a PhD student at the Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University.



Research seminar

Monday March 4, 13.00–14.30, B600
Christer Norström, PhD, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

An anthropologist doing crime fiction and documentary film: Can we make a difference?

This seminar will discuss the pros and cons of being an anthropologist writing crime fiction and producing documentary film. What kind of challenges are there and what kind of different demands are we facing in work of this kind outside our ordinary academic work? As examples I will read the first chapter of my newly published crime fiction “Att dansa efter andras pipa: en deckare om deckarbranschen” and show a section of our documentary film “The anarchist who walked to India and never came back: the art of recreating a rainforest”.

There are two major issues that have been in the centre of these works and which we may ponder over during the seminar: first, the idea of mixing popular science with crime fiction and second, the difference between documentary and ethnographic film.

As a retired anthropologist (although still doing some teaching at the department) I focus on crime fiction. However, I still do some work in my old fieldsite of south India, mainly trying to finalize two books, one about a grassroot organization among small farmers in the Tamil Nadu plains, and one about the history of the mountain region of the Palni Hills and 30 years of research in that area.


Research seminar

Monday March 11, 13.00–14.30, B600
Andrew Alan Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Princeton University

The River Grew Tired of Us: Spectral flows of potency along the Mekong River

Along the Mekong, where it creates the border between Thailand and Laos, hydropower projects have triggered a transformation. Strange floods and ebbs disrupt fish migrations, undercut riverbanks, and sweep away nets. Facing this new landscape, fishermen on the Mekong seek out new, hidden sources of potency that have revealed themselves at the same time as other powers fade in importance. Via an ethnographic study of Mekong ‘river beings,’ this article addresses a reconfiguration of sources of power on the river away from the proximate and material, and towards the inaccessible, distant and spectral.

Andrew Alan Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University. After receiving his PhD in 2010 in cultural anthropology from Cornell University, he has held positions at Yale-NUS College, the National University of Singapore, and Columbia University. His first book, Ghosts of the New City, was published in 2014 by University of Hawaii Press, and his second book, Shadows on the Mekong, is under review.

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.


CEIFO seminar

Monday March 18, 13.00–14.30, B600
Mahmoud Keshavarz, Postdoctoral Researcher, Engaging Vulnerability Research Program, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University

The Design Politics of the Passport

In this seminar, I will present my recently published book, The Design Politics of the Passport: Materiality, Immobility and Dissent. It is an interdisciplinary study of the passport and its associated social, political and material practices as a means of uncovering the workings of what I call ‘design politics’. It traces the histories, technologies, power relations and contestations around this small but powerful artefact to establish a framework for understanding how design is always enmeshed in the political, and how politics can be understood in terms of material objects.

Combining design studies with critical border studies, alongside ethnographic work among undocumented migrants, border transgressors and passport forgers, this book shows how a world made and designed as open and hospitable to some is strictly enclosed, confined and demarcated for many others - and how those affected by such injustices dissent from the immobilities imposed on them through the same capacity of design and artifice.

Mahmoud Keshavarz is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Engaging Vulnerability Research Program, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University. He is the author of The Design Politics of the Passport: Materiality, Immobility and Dissent (Bloomsbury), co-founder of Decolonizing Design group and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Design and Culture.


Research seminar

Monday March 25, 13.00–14.30, B600




Research seminar

Monday April 1, 13.00–14.30, B600
Gudrun Dahl, Professor emerita, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Title and abstract TBA


Research seminar

Monday April 8, 13.00–14.30, B600
Ulf Hannerz, Professor emeritus, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Title and abstract TBA


Research seminar

Monday April 15, 13.00–14.30, B600
Annemarie Samuels, Assistant Professor, Leiden Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University

Disaster Narratives: The Remaking of Everyday Life After the Indian Ocean Tsunami

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused immense destruction and over 170,000 deaths in the Indonesian province of Aceh. It was followed by the largest humanitarian operation the world had ever seen, and by a range of social and political transformations in this war-afflicted region. How did survivors remake their lives in the face of these losses and changes? What does post-disaster reconstruction look like for the people who have most at stake in the process? This talk explores these questions, by drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Aceh and by bringing together analytical perspectives from psychological anthropology and the anthropology of disaster. Focusing on survivors’ disaster narratives and silences, it shows how post-disaster recovery is not only a social and political, but also a profoundly subjective process. Individual histories, emotions, creativity and ways of being in the world inform the remaking of everyday life as much as social, political and cultural formations and transformations do. This process is full of ambiguities: Grief remains as life goes on, optimism is intertwined with disappointment, remembering with forgetting, and structural poverty with a political rhetoric of success. Disaster narratives, moreover, matter not only because they give insight into post-disaster recovery in all its paradoxical forms, but also because the embodied act of telling itself becomes part of the remaking of a world that has been dramatically unmade. Finally, they show us how everyday processes of recovery are indispensable for any large-scale reconstruction effort to succeed.

Annemarie Samuels is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University. She earned her PhD from Leiden University, and has been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam and a Marie Skłowdowska-Curie Fellow at Harvard University. Her work on disaster, narrative, care, ethics, Islam, and medicine in Indonesia has appeared in various journals, including American Anthropologist, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Ethos and Indonesia, and she is co-editor, with R. Michael Feener and David Kloos, of Islam and the Limits of the State: Reconfigurations of Practice, Community and Authority in Contemporary Aceh (2015). Her monograph After the Tsunami: Disaster Narratives and the Remaking of Everyday Life in Aceh is forthcoming (2019) with the University of Hawai’i press.

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.


CEIFO seminar

Monday April 29, 13.00–14.30, B600
Kerstin Andersson, Uppsala University

Title and abstract TBA



Research seminar

Monday May 6, 13.00–14.30, B600



Research seminar

Monday May 13, 13.00–14.30, B600



CEIFO seminar

Monday May 20, 13.00–14.30, B600
Xolani Tshabalala, Postdoc, Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University

‘Ghost passports’: the logics of illegibility in the negotiation of movement across South Africa s border with Zimbabwe

‘Ghost passports’ are passports whose holders enlist the services of third parties, such as individual cross-border transport operators and regular bus drivers, to take them to various ports of entry (or border posts) to get them ‘stamped’ on their behalf. Ghost passports are found in many contexts, but this paper focuses on their use by low- and semi-skilled Zimbabwean migrants seeking work in South Africa. Lacking adequate financial resources or time to extend the duration of their stay, many Zimbabweans turn to the services of brokers who cajole immigration officers for extension stamps on ‘ghost’ (or holder-less) passports for a fee. The phenomenon of ghost passports inverts the lens often associated with undocumented travel. In this case, documents get to travel without their holders. By focusing on the tactics and techniques of facilitation, this paper will explore the role of documents both as commodities that move around, as well as a currency of irregular movement in their own right. Using the broker as the unit of analysis, the paper will examine the links between the facilitation of undocumented movement and the social politics of illegibility as characteristic of the transformative friction (after Bhabha, 1994) that shapes borders in neo-colonial, neoliberal Southern Africa.

Xolani Tshabalala has a PhD in Ethnicity from Linköping University (2017) in which he studied transnational informal livelihood practices across the South Africa - Zimbabwe border. Currently he is a postdoc at REMESO, Linköping University. His research interests include experiences of economic migration, informal livelihood strategies and embodiments of marginal citizenship.


Research seminar

Monday May 27, 13.00–14.30, B600
Andrea Nightingale, Professor, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Division of Rural Development, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU

Title and abstract TBA



Research seminar

Monday June 3, 13.00–14.30, B600