Labour’s Burden of the Epidemic of COVID-19

Professor Ranabir Samaddar, Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group

Date: 25 January, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM  
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/63152162649 

The COVID-19 crisis in India produced severe disruptions in labour’s life and process, while it offered the rulers an opportunity to push further the neoliberal reforms. In this context, questions of economy became a matter of life for millions of petty producers, informal labour including migrant labour, peasants, and other sections of society. The metamorphosis of economic questions into those of life had been never as evident as it was in the time of the pandemic. In the all round atmosphere of neo-liberalism where the state had retreated from public education and public health, the priority for migrant workers was found to be absent. In this background the question of justice emerged as the backbone of rights. Indeed, one may ask: Will a rights-based approach to defend the existing entitlements of workers be enough? Or is there now an overwhelming need to centrally situate the issue of informal workers, of whom a significant section belongs to the migrant population? In the months of March to August in 2020 the country experienced politics around the relation of economy and life in an unforeseen manner. It was indeed the politics of life.


Future-making per default: Navigating fragilities in the Kenyan Rift Valley 

Anna Lisa Ramella, postdoctoral researcher in the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center "Future Rural Africa" at the University of Cologne.

Date: 1 February 2021, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/69376179995

This seminar will present and discuss various future-making practices of Western Kenyan migrants in the Rift Valley. Situated in the immense cut-flower and horticultural industry around Lake Naivasha, or in the fishing communities at Lake Baringo, migrants from the shores of Lake Victoria navigate their livelihoods through diverse temporalities, within overlapping socialities, and across different scales. Subject to economic as well as ecological fragilities, they engage in practices which seem to always already prepare to cover and bridge the changing environments they are presented with. The talk will focus on these „lateral“ arrangements and center them in a debate on future-making situated in somewhere between plan, action and opportunity. 

Anna Lisa Ramella is a postdoctoral researcher in the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center „Future Rural Africa“ at the University of Cologne, where she conducts audiovisual ethnographic research on future-making, ruination and para-sitical practices. She has focused on mobile communities such as musicians and railroaders in the U.S. and Mali before turning to the future-making of migrants in the Kenyan Rift Valley. Her research interests include im/mobilisations, place-making, digital/media ethnography, audiovisual methods and practice theory. She is co-convenor of the EASA networks Anthropology and Mobility (AnthroMob) and Collaboratory for Ethnographic Experimentation (#Colleex).

Public Anthropology for a Troubled World: Experiments in Writing Otherwise and ethnoGRAPHICS

Alisse Waterston, Presidential Scholar and Professor, City University of New York, with remarks by Charlotte Corden, illustrator and fine artist.

Date: 8 February, 2021, 3.00 PM - 4.40 PM
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/66588441324

In this talk, anthropologist Alisse Waterston situates two projects of public anthropology within a series of interconnected, decades-long discussions about the discipline’s engagement/ disengagement from the public sphere. One project is an experiment in writing otherwise (Hannerz 2016) with “intimate ethnography,” an approach that centers an intimate other as the subject of scholarly research and theoretical storytelling. In Waterston’s case, the experiment resulted in My Father’s Wars: Migration, Memory and the Violence of a Century, a dramatic personal story, part memoir and part social history, that suggests large questions about the dramatic forces of history, the experience of exile and immigration, the legacies of culture, and the enduring power of memory. The second project is an extraordinary collaboration between Waterston, the author, and Charlotte Corden, the artist, in the making of Light in Dark Times: The Human Search for Meaning, a graphic novel rooted in nonfiction comprised of fictionalized encounters with writers, philosophers, activists and anthropologists. The collaboration and its published book are unique in bringing together serious scholarship and contemporary aesthetics, elevating the graphic genre by presenting complex philosophical and political themes in a mixed media format. Waterston will consider both projects as intervention in the interest of a more just, ethical world, after which artist Charlotte Corden will join the author in describing and reflecting upon the process of their artistic creation and what it might suggest for the future of anthropology.


Alisse Waterston is Presidential Scholar and Professor, City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author or editor of seven books. A Fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies (SCAS) in the Programmes in Transnational Processes, Structural Violence, and Inequality (2020-2022), she served as President of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 2015-17. In addition, Waterston serves as Editor of the book series, Intimate Ethnography (Berghahn Books) and Advisor for Otherwise Magazine. Her most recent article is “Imagining World Solidarities for a Livable Future,’ kritisk etnografiSwedish Journal of Anthropology (2020).

Charlotte Corden is an illustrator and fine artist whose work often centers around what it is to be human. She has an MA in anthropology from University College London, and has studied at both the London Fine Art Studios and the Arts Student’s League in New York. Corden’s work frequently appears in Anthropology News, the member magazine of the American Anthropological Association.

Representing Islam: Hip-Hop of the September 11 Generation

Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir, Associate Professor of Sociology ,NTU, Singapore

Date: 15 February, 2021, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM 
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/65998005628

Author: Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir is an Associate Professor of Sociology and is the inaugural Western Sydney University International Alumni of the Year. He is the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies at Nanyang Technological University's School of Social Sciences. He has authored/co-authored six books including Globalized Muslim Youth in the Asia Pacific and Digital Culture and Religion in Asia (with Sam Han). His latest book, Representing Islam: Hip-Hop of the September 11 Generation, is published in Fall 2020 by Indiana University Press.

Discussant: Anders Ackfeldt defended his dissertation “Islamic Semiotic Resources in US Hip-Hop Culture” in History of Religions with a specialization in Islamic Studies in 2019. The dissertation discusses how Muslims as well as non- Muslims have used Islamic themes in their artistic productions throughout the history of African American music making. Anders academic interest areas are mainly current Muslim debates music, with a focus on popular culture and African American Islam. He currently works as a researcher at Lund University and as a Senior Lecture at Mid Sweden University. Anders is the Managing Editor of the Journal CyberOrient. His latest publication is “The Political Theology of Malcolm X” (with Emin Poljarevic). For a complete list of publications see Lund University Research Portal. 

Looking to Nations, Ship to Shore

Laleh Khalili, Queen Mary University of London

Date: 22 February, 2021, 1.00 PM -2.30 PM 
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/64078421513

Ports are the oft-invisible scaffoldings of the world economy, even as they and other maritime infrastructures facilitate the movement of 90 percent of all the goods in the world –as bulk cargos of ore or grain; finished products; or liquid and solid, crude and finished hydrocarbons. Because of its complexity and awesome vastness, because of the technical knowledge required to operate it, and because of the secrecy of the business, the mobility of cargo remains just outside the frame of everyday apprehensions of how the world works. This invisibility means that despite its concrete materiality the movement of cargo becomes as abstract and obscure as the movement of capital across the surface of the globe. But if we shift our vantage point from the metropolitan territories to the near or far seas, if we look from ship to shore, something of this abstraction dissolves, but what becomes clear is itself a complexity. Looking from ship to shore illuminates with startling clarity the con-constitutive tension between transnational connections and the socioeconomic, socio-political relations that make the nation-state. Maritime connections and infrastructures often bring into question the durability, stability and the very concreteness of the nation-state form. Maritime routes connect ports to ports and in the late capitalist era, harbours are created by the force of migrant workers, operated by a global (oft racialised) hierarchy of labour, and financed by international investors. The planetary movement of cargo, capital, and people, licit or illicit, seems to contradict the wholeness, hermetic nature of nation-states. In this talk, I will recount the story of the port of Aden with a special focus on three transformative periods in the last century.  The story of Aden, once an imperial fuelling station, later a beacon of anticolonial nationalism, and today a plaything of regional power and global capital, helps reveal the complex co-imbrication of the national and transnational, and the vexed roles and position of the nation-state today.

Laleh Khalili is a professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University of London and the author of Sinews of War and Trade (Verso 2020), Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford 2013), and Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration (Cambridge 2007), as well as the editor of Modern Arab Politics (Routledge 2008) and co-editor (with Jillian Schwedler) of Policing and Prisons in the Modern Middle East: Formations of Coercion (Hurst 2010).


Militarized Global Apartheid

Catherine Besteman, Colby College

Date: 1 March, 2021, 3.00 - 4.30 PM
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/62272910953

The global war on terror has precipitated an emergent world order of militarized apartheid - a loosely integrated effort by countries in the global north to protect themselves against the mobility of people from the global south while consolidating racialized labor hierarchies. Militarized security empires are emerging from and shoring up global apartheid, based in the identification and containment of “risky” bodies throughout the globe in concert with the expansion of securitized spaces produced through material, affective, and ontological expressions of militarism by the global north. These emergent imperial formations are spatial and technological rather than territorial, and they are taking shape through imperial projects that racialize and incarcerate people while securing cosmopolitan class privilege and capitalist extraction across borders.

Catherine Besteman teaches Anthropology at Colby College. Her recent books include Militarized Global Apartheid (2020), Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine (2016), and the co-edited Life by Algorithms (2019). She is currently coordinating a public humanities project on abolitionist visions called Freedom and Captivity, which will launch this fall.    

Planning contexts: interpretive practices and rule relations in French Bureaucracy

Jenny Lindblad, KTH

Date: 8 March, 2021, 3.00 PM -2.30 PM 
Plats: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/66341703103


Urban planning policy across Europe has the last decades focused on favoring strategic and cross-sectoral approaches and enhancing the flexibility of planning processes. In this talk, I inquire the implications of this shift in a city administration in France by following the preparation and uses of a land-use plan. When the city of Bordeaux initiated a revision of its land use plan, essentially an anticipatory activity drawing on pasts, contemporary concerns and aspirations for the future, the planning department and politicians assured that it was to become “contextualized.” Inspired by Asdal and Moser’s (2012) proposition to consider “contexting” as a move that recognizes the overlapping presence of multiple contexts shaped through practices, I carry out a contextualization of what a ‘contextualized plan’ came to mean in Bordeaux. I do this based on fieldwork among planners, permit reviewers, local politicians and planning documents. The plan revision unfolded to the background of two interrelated shifts in France: the scaling of land use planning from municipalities towards intermunicipal metropoles and reforms enhancing the flexibility of plans to ensure their adjustability towards unpredictable futures and unruly environments. By tracing the intentions that had been invested in the plan and how it operated in the realm of building permit reviewing, I show how the intersection of legal, technical and political temporalities was strategically made use of by different actors. Among these were local politicians’ uses of the increased flexibility to insure an authority over land use decisions in spite of the plan. The anticipatory activity of plan making, I argue, was as much about the future that it laid out, as it was a political struggle over capacity to act on planning decisions in an unfolding present.


Jenny Lindblad is a researcher at the Division of Urban and Regional Studies, KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Her work centers on practices, expertise and materialities that shape cities and urban life. She recently defended her doctoral thesis Planning Contexts: Bureaucracy and rule relations in French Urbanism, joined the research project Humus Economicus: Soil Blindness and the Value of 'Dirt' in Urbanized Landscapes and co-edited of the book Dilemmas of Sustainable Urban Development: A View from Practice.

Internal seminar at the Deparment of Social Anthropology

Date: 15 March, 2021

Off-Animals, and Other Late Industrial American Creatures

Alex Blanchette, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies, Tufts University

Date: 22 March, 2021, 3.00 PM - 4.30 PM 
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/65266095133

Abstract: “Off-animals,” as they are called by some managers of North American pork production, are the biological refuse of agribusiness’s efforts to realize standardized hog life and death. Ranging from aged boars to misshapen pigs, evolving attempts to industrially slaughter these creatures for meat has led to a shadow infrastructure of killing that, in turn, underpins some of the world’s largest factory farms. Arching through and beyond Alex Blanchette’s recent book, Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm (Duke University Press, 2020), this talk outlines an ethnography of these animals to offer new lines of sight onto the waning state of industrial labor and value in the United States today.

Bio: Alex Blanchette is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm (2020, Duke University Press), and he has recently co-edited the book How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet (2019, SAR Press) and a special journal issue titled An Anthropological Almanac of Rural Americas (2019, JANA).

Sanctuary City Governance and the Future of Immigration Control

Peter Mancina, Vanderbilt University

Datum: 29 mars, 2021, 13.00-14.30 
Plats: This seminar has been cancelled

This seminar has been cancelled.


Making Our Lives Matter: Existential Agency of Long-term Asylum-seekers in Hong Kong

Sealing Cheng, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Date: 12 April, 2021, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM 
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/64889888809 

In this talk, I examine the existential agency of asylum-seekers manifest in the formation and development of Our Lives Matter, a self-organized advocacy group by long-term asylum-seekers in Hong Kong that started in 2018. Margins and marginalization are not only processes of delegitimization, exclusion, and dehumanization, but also the hothouse where counter-desires for regularization, inclusion, and, most importantly, recognition of humanity germinate or erupt. The activism of Our Lives Matter has been shaped by the humanitarian condition that is entwined with the dramatic political upheavals in Hong Kong since the late 2010s. In defiance of the path that the border regime prescribes for them as passive, powerless and valueless Others, members of Our Lives Matter assert themselves as active political agents and, more fundamentally, as human beings. Simultaneously, Our Lives Matter is a “contact zone” of the divergent cultures and values that its members embody. In this talk, my focus will be on their relational ethics and practices, sense of humour, camaraderie, as well as a shared commitment to social justice. The conviviality of Our Lives Matter is, I argue, an expression of their existential agency to transcend the humanitarian order they have been contained in.


Sealing Cheng is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She locates her research at the intersection of gender, sexuality, human rights, and migration. Her works have appeared in journals such as JEMS, Feminist Theory, Feminist Studies, and Current Anthropology. Her first book, On the Move for Love: Migrant Entertainers and the U.S. Military in South Korea (University of Pennsylvania Press 2010) received the Distinguished Book Award of the Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association in 2012.  Based on field research in Hong Kong since 2012, she is working on a book on the meanings of intimate relations for asylum-seekers and refugees in Hong Kong. She also co-founded the Afro-fusion band Talents Displaced with a group of asylum-seekers in 2016.

The Im/Possibility of Decolonizing Anthropology

Research seminar with Girish Daswani, Associate Professor, UTSC

Date: 19 April, 2021, 3.00 PM - 4.30 PM 
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/67992447143


As a discipline that studies people – their social systems, cultures, and power dynamics – Anthropology’s powers of observation and scales of analysis allow it to speak with authority about social institutions and the unequal relationships that emerge from the practice of fieldwork and ethnographic writing. In this talk, I want to make the argument that Anthropology’s superpower is also its main weakness. In being trained to look at the Other, the Other in themselves/ themselves in Others, they often overlook their own intersectional positionalities. I argue that the categories that anthropologists take to be intrinsic to who they are and the work they do are part of value hierarchies that influence how knowledge is produced, shared and disseminated and that can influence the racial composition of departments. I ask why this is the case and why should we pay attention to the advice that “decolonization is not a metaphor” (Tuck and Yang 2014). When it comes to “decolonizing” Anthropology, diversity or decolonial initiatives most often change very little or nothing at all. I suggest that anthropology is currently facing the dilemma of situating itself as a discipline that allows for the possibility of decolonial approaches while being unable to truly decolonize. 


Girish Daswani’s research interests include religion, morality and ethics, transnationalism, corruption and activism. Girish’s most recent scholarly work has been exploring different activist, artistic and religious responses to political corruption. He is currently working on a book manuscript about the intersections of post/colonialism and activism in Ghana. His most recent public-facing work has been exploring the ways in which imperialism, colonialism, and Orientalism have impacted (and are still impacting) popular politics and the field of Anthropology.

Another Skin: Belonging and Climate Adaptation in Guyana

Sarah Vaughn, UC, Berkeley

Date: 26 april, 2021, 3.00 PM - 4.30 PM 
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/68272130437

Abstract: Life in the Anthropocene is structured by racial hierarchies, even as people recognize the obstacles racial thinking poses to their efforts to cope with a changing climate.  Climate adaptation in this sense, is properly eerie: the lessons of the past are only known indirectly, and the future is crudely associated with a world filled with risk instead of its aversion.  Approaching this conundrum, this talk addresses some of the tensions associated with the constitution of political communities in racialized forms.  It is inspired by ethnography and interviews I conducted between 2009 and 2019 as the coastal South American nation-state Guyana, embarked on the climate adaptation of its large earthen dam system.  Specifically, I consider how in climate adaptation, the operations of technoscience shape the possibilities for “antiracist” modes of governmentality.  By thinking through the material contingencies of technics, I argue that climate adaptation signals a loss of certainty in race as an organizing dimension and claim of belonging in Guyana.  Yet because climate adaptation intervenes across temporal scales, it also requires ethical resources that draw from histories of both racialized community and victimization.  

Bio: Sarah Elizabeth Vaughn is a sociocultural anthropologist whose focus is the critical study of climate change and its expertise in the present.  This concern informs my recent articles and book in progress entitled Engineering Vulnerability: In Pursuit of Climate Adaptation.  The manuscript explores the weight of history on the frameworks and assemblages of climate adaptation.  Each chapter tracks the responses of engineers, ordinary citizens, scientists, military personnel, disaster consultants, and humanitarian workers to climate-related flooding in Guyana, reflecting the surge in state and nongovernmental climate adaptation projects across the world.  Their stories dramatize the material and institutional challenges of climate adaptation.  They illustrate the historical continuities between the operations of the country’s flood infrastructures and people’s concerns about what they might gain or lose from flooding. At the same time, these stories demonstrate the historical discontinuities climate adaptation renders in Guyana, especially the failures of certain racial political formations to manage flooding in the present. More broadly, their efforts are a reminder that climate adaptation is marked by acts of care and vigilance even as people imagine futures not immune from climatic disaster. 

The second book project explores the emergence of multi-sector climate services across the Caribbean. Of particular concern are the ways climate data transforms into a medium for scientific diplomacy.  It highlights how Caribbean governments’ desires for climate services raise questions about the political frameworks for modeling practices, regional identity indebted to climatic forms (e.g. heat), and the creation of social indicators related to climate change.


The nearby: a scope of seeing

Biao Xiang, The Max Planck Society

Date: 3 May, 2021, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM  
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/63340982112


The nearby is a lived space where one encounters people with different experiences and opinions on a regular basis. In China and beyond, the nearby is displaced by top-down city planning that prefers grid-like gated communities, government’s tightening management of grassroots organizations, social media that focuses on either the very near (the self) or the very far (the planet), and, more recently, capital’s rapid encroachment into neighbourhoods in the form of on-demand services. This talk advocates to construct the nearby as a scope of seeing, which brings segregated social positionings into one view. Through this scope of seeing, one gains intimate understandings about how multiple social forces actually interact, how the social world is concretely constituted, and therefore bridges the self and the world.  By drawing on my personal life experiences and ethnographic research with migrants in Beijing, I offer two examples of what the nearby looks like, and how the nearby generates additional capacities for knowing and acting. Emphasising that the nearby has to be constructed by inhabitants from inside out, I call for a “First Mile Movement” and invite interventions from visual artists.


Biao Xiang 项飙is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford, and Director of Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany. Xiang’s research addresses various types of migration – internal and international, unskilled and highly skilled, emigration and return migration, and the places and people left behind – in China, India and other parts of Asia. Xiang is the winner of the 2008 Anthony Leeds Prize for his book Global Bodyshopping and the 2012 William L. Holland Prize for his article ‘Predatory Princes’. His 2000 Chinese book 跨越边界的社区 (published in English as Transcending Boundaries, 2005) was reprinted in 2018 as a contemporary classic, and 自己作为方法 (Self as Method, co-authored with Wu Qi) was ranked the Most Impactful Book 2020. His work has been translated into Japanese, French, Korean, Spanish, German and Italian.

Reanimating archives in the now: Frankensteinian logics, inheritances and fictive commensurabilities

Kharnita Mohamed, University of Cape Town

Date: 10 May, 2021, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM  
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/68296791136

Imaginaries of the human have shifted over time with, and made possible new epistemes, politics, methodologies and ethics. As each new ‘turn’ takes effect, the attempt to keep up with quests for recognition across inequalities, forms of life and worldings, can leave one feeling quite dizzy. The expansion of ontological imaginaries frequently animates the archive towards a politics for the present and / or future. The archive is frequently read towards a politics and new sets of relations: to insert new subjects (or worlds), recover them, dispute their rendering, or to delegitimise the scope of the archive. What remains, irrespective of the mode of human and the form of the political that is emergent, is a relation to the archive that appears to be paradigmatic. Given different imaginaries of the human across time and space, I want to present some questions about temporal (and ontological) equivalences and the ontological remainders that are carried across when we are mining the archive to animate our texts. In this paper, I will propose that Frankenstein as a metaphor is useful to explore the excisionary logics of knowledge production which sutures together ontological imaginaries and produces fictive historical contiguities. 


Kharnita Mohamed is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. She is finalising a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape focused on thinking about disability, debility and violence in South Africa towards exploring a decolonial feminist approach to disability. Her debut novel Called to Song was published by Kwela in 2018.

Faroese fatherhoods in transition: ‘New fathers’ in the North Atlantic?

Firouz Gaini, University of the Faroe Islands

Date: 17 May, 2021, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM  
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/62082010598

Bio and abstract to come. 

White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism

Andreas Malm, Lund University

Date: 24 May, 2021, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM   
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/69423994617

Bio and abstract to come. 

Internal seminar at the Department of Social Anthropology

Date: 31 May, 2021


Mobilities, moorings and inequalities

Laure Sandoz, the University of Neuchâtel

Date: 7 June, 2021, 1.00 PM - 2.30 PM  
Place: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/69595863825

Bio and abstract to come.