Höstens seminarieserie arrangeras av Paula Uimonen, Ivana Maček, Johan Lindquist och Erik Olsson. Listan uppdateras kontinuerligt.


Research seminar

Monday September 3, 13.00–14.30, B600
Christina Schwenkel, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside

The Intimacies of Infrastructure: A Poetic Encounter with Smokestacks in Vietnam

This talk examines postcolonial projects of electrification and the impulses embodied by the industrial smokestack, one of the most enduring signs of transnational energy infrastructure on the urban landscape in Vietnam. Around the world, smokestacks stand as once spectacular, now abject relics of the promise of industry and grand infrastructural projects. And yet smokestacks continue to hold persuasive power over populations, evoking a range of affective responses to technological objects and their embedded ideologies. In postcolonial Vinh City, north central Vietnam, the possibility of generating universal electricity for the masses underpinned the collective dream worlds of socialism that formed in the face of violent, recurring disruption. Drawing on archival and ethnographic materials, including poetry to commemorate the bombing of the Soviet-built power plant, I show how emotional investments in the resilient smokestack are constitutive of enduring social collectivities and infrastructural intimacies held together by breakdown and the labor of repair both during and after the air war.

Christina Schwenkel is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside and Director of the Program in Southeast Asian Studies (SEATRiP). Her book, The American War in Contemporary Vietnam: Transnational Remembrance and Representation (Indiana 2009), examines historical knowledge production and the geopolitics of commemoration. Schwenkel has conducted extensive ethnographic research in Vietnam and eastern Germany. Her publications have focused on visual technologies of Cold War memory, global architectural transfers, urban decay, and cultures of socialist planning expertise following the end of the US air war.

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.


Research seminar

Tuesday September 11, 13.00–14.30, B600
Christine Eber, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, New Mexico State University

Why would an anthropologist write a novel?

In her talk, Christine Eber, Professor Emerita of Anthropology at New Mexico State University, will explore her reasons for writing a novel based on her research in Chiapas, Mexico with Maya women and their families since the mid 1980s. Her previous publications include an ethnography, Women and Alcohol in a Highland Maya Town: Water of Hope, Water of Sorrow (1995); and a life story, The Journey of a Tzotzil-Maya Woman: Pass Well Over the Earth, co-authored with “Antonia” (2011). She lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico where she is a founding member of Weaving for Justice, a volunteer organization that helps Maya weavers in Chiapas stay on their ancestral lands through selling their hand-woven textiles. Since retiring from teaching she has been writing poetry and volunteering in refugee shelters on the US/Mexico border. Her debut novel, When a Woman Rises, was published in August 2018 by Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, Texas.  Her other projects are described at www.christineeber.com.

From the foreword by anthropologist Diane Rus to When a Woman Rises:

“Why would an anthropologist decide to write a novel? Because Christine Eber is always pushing herself to help the rest of us understand the modern Tsotsil Maya people, people she has been learning from for over 30 years. What she describes in When A Woman Rises is not a static world of traditional people untouched by outside forces, but a community of men and women actively struggling to make their way in the world we all share, to live decent lives not only according to their interpretation of the lessons passed down to them but in response to the new challenges they must face each day. How can they promote peace and justice where so much inequality and violence exist? How can they survive economically when they don’t have access to necessary land or education? How can they do things differently without provoking the envy or hatred of neighbors? How can a woman rise in a way that helps men rise with her?”


CEIFO seminar

Thursday September 13, 14.00–16.00, B600
Anja Kublitz, Associate Professor, Aalborg University

The Rhythm of Rupture: Attunement among Danish Jihadists

Among my interlocutors, the Arab Spring of 2011 was received as a miracle that cut through the existing political order and called upon them to radically change their lives. From one day to the next, they gave up on their criminal careers, turned towards God and decided to travel to the Middle East to take up arms. The majority of young Danish jihadists have grown up in the context of Danish housing projects and in the shadow of their parents’ failed revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. Based on long-term fieldwork among immigrants in Denmark, this paper explores how my interlocutors attune to the recursive ruptures that always are new again. I argue that sometimes people’s lives are so marked by ruptures that any continuity has collapsed; sometimes ruptures only come as rhythms: as continuous repetition of potential radical change.

Anja Kublitz is an associate professor at the Department of Culture and Globalization, University of Aalborg. For the last ten years, she has worked on how conflicts reconfigure space and time and forge political subjectivities. Empirically, she has explored these questions through studies of Middle Eastern refugees in Denmark. Currently she is heading a research project entitled “Affective Events. An Anthropological Study of the Social Formation of Danish Foreign Fighters” and are part of another research project entitled “Escalation: a Comparative Ethnographic Study of Accelerating Change.” Her publications include “From Revolutionaries to Muslims: Liminal Becoming across Palestinian Generations in Denmark.” International Journal Middle East Studies. 2016, 48:64-86; and (with Lars Højer, Stine Simonsen Puri and Andreas Bandak) “Escalations: Theorizing sudden accelerating change.” Anthropological Theory 2018, 18(1):36-58.


Research seminar

Monday September 17, 13.00–14.30, B600
Karin Barber, Emeritus Professor, Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham

Doing fieldwork in the archive: print culture, publics and popular genres in colonial Lagos

A faded, crumbling collection of colonial newspapers might not seem to be the most fertile ground for ethnographic fieldwork. But if anthropology is interested in how new cultural things come into the world, and if ethnography is the best method for tracing their emergence, then fieldwork in an archive is not only possible but rewarding. The print culture of 1920s Lagos, Nigeria, was innovative and effervescent. Numerous new weekly and daily newspapers were started in this decade, responding to a growing literate population and a hectic political situation. Five of these papers were in the Yoruba language and sought to convene a wider audience than had previously been included in the Lagos reading public. They made extensive use of epistolary styles, recurrent serial formats, and intense modes of address to the reader. I will suggest that these characteristics lent themselves to creative experimentation, resulting in the establishment of several new genres – including the famous confessions of a fictional Lagos “harlot”, Sẹgilọla - the formation of which can be traced from week to week in tandem with a rapidly-evolving social and political situation. 

Karin Barber is Emeritus Professor of African Cultural Anthropology at the University of Birmingham and Centennial Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on Yoruba oral literature, popular theatre and print culture, and she has also done comparative work on popular culture and textual production across Africa. Her most recent books are Print Culture and the First Yoruba Novel (2012) and A History of African Popular Culture (2018).


Research seminar

Monday September 24, 13.00–14.30, B600
Nimmo Elmi, PhD student, Department of Thematic Studies (TEMA), Linköping University

Digitalisation of tax compliance: The case of iTax in Kenya

Developing countries are, like the rest of the world, shifting towards digitalising service delivery, with the aim of making public administration more efficient and effective. Most of these initiatives are endorsed by global initiatives aimed at bridging the developmental gap between developed and developing countries. This gap is often connected to socio-economic and political disparities. The implementations of these digital tax reforms in developing countries vary depending on the context. This seminar is concerned with the translations of global digital policies, focusing on iTax, an e-taxation platform used in Kenya. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Kenya, I analyse how iTax travels and gets translated in practice. I attend to how iTax shapes taxation and taxpayers in Kenya. What happens when these models travel and get adopted in the global south? Do they remain the same?

Nimmo Elmi is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Thematic Studies (TEMA), Linköping University. Nimmo does research in Anthropology, specifically in relation to technology and taxation. Her current project is ‘Digitalisation of tax compliance in Kenya’. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork and is writing a monograph about the impact of digitalising taxes in Kenya.



Research seminar

Monday October 1, 13.00–14.30, B600
Vicensia Shule, Dr.Phil., Department of Creative Arts, University of Dar es Salaam

Shrinking freedom of creative expression and artists’ struggles for alternative spaces in Tanzania

The election of John Pombe Magufuli in November 2015 as the fifth president of Tanzania was received with enthusiasm and expectation of better life and more freedoms. Magufuli was presented as the ‘savior’ who would crack down on rampant corruption and embezzlement of public resources. The ‘euphoria’ did not last long. On 26 January 2016 his government banned the live streaming of bunge (parliament) sessions. This was followed by a number of media bans through presidential speeches and ‘draconian’ legislations. Abductions, arrests and even torture of artists escalated. Use of social media was restricted and several artists were arrested for questioning president’s statements under what has been referred to as ‘sedition’.

The nature of censored acts has raised concern, why now? Where is the ‘free space’ for artists to ‘indulge’ with their creativity? Looking at a sample of unfolding events it is important to research further on the nature and the consequences of the imposed restrictions on arts and artists. This presentation not only assesses cases related to state control of arts and artists in mainstream and social media but also analyses the implication of state control on arts and artists. The observations reveal that state restrictions on freedom of expression are politically motivated and have consequences for the creative profession. Fear of abduction and torture, dismissal of ‘political’ content in the mainstream media, reduced incomes amongst artists are some of them. In order to ‘survive,’ artists have created survival mechanisms including refraining from producing works which seem to challenge the existing regime, compliance with the state propagated ‘moral’ dress codes as well as (re)joining ruling party membership.

Vicensia Shule is a senior scholar at the Department of Creative Arts, University of Dar es Salaam. She has researched and written extensively on matters related to arts, media, cultures, and gender in Tanzania and Africa. She is one of the prominent activists involved in the transformative feminist movement building in Tanzania and Africa. Currently she is on her sabbatical working on her new research in film and tourism in Tanzania.


CEIFO seminar

Monday October 8, 13.00–14.30, B600
Laura Machat-From, PhD, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Linköping University

Identity, Old(er) Age and Migrancy: A Social Constructionist Lens

Identity research in relation to ethnicity and migration has tended to focus on younger people whilst identity research in relation to ageing and old(er) age has not focused on migrants. This inadvertent mutual neglect has led to a lack of identity research that examines the identity categories of old(er) age and migrancy together, a lacuna that this dissertation aims to redress. This dissertation departs from a social constructionist understanding of identity as situationally accomplished in the interplay between how one defines oneself (internally) and how others define one (externally). The questions raised by this perspective and addressed in this dissertation are: When (in what situations) and in relation to whom do old(er) age and migrancy (respectively) seem to become meaningful for identification? How do the identity categories of old(er) age and migrancy seem to be negotiated? The empirical material consists of in-depth interviews with 24 older migrants (13 men, 11 women) aged between 55 and 79 who have been living in Sweden for 18 to 61 years. Interviewees come from 12 different countries that vary in perceived cultural distance from Sweden. The findings suggest that identifications with old(er) age and migrancy seem to be dynamic and flexible rather than necessarily permanently meaningful, thus gaining meaning in specific situations and in relation to particular Others. External definitions furthermore do not always seem to match with internal ones. Regardless of how old(er) age and migrancy are constructed, they seem to be negotiable. This dissertation thus contributes to identity research by studying old(er) age and migrancy together and furthermore sheds light onto how the social constructionist lens allows us to see variability where stability otherwise would be presumed.

Laura Machat-From earned her PhD in 2017 with her dissertation Identity, Old(er) Age and Migrancy: A Social Constructionist Lens. Besides her PhD in Ageing and Later Life from Linköping University, Laura holds a Master’s degree in Migration and Ethnic Studies from the University of Amsterdam and a BA in European Social and Political Studies from University College London. Her research combines the thematic areas of ageing and later life and migration and ethnic studies and draws upon both sociology and social anthropology. Whilst pursuing her PhD, Laura was editorial assistant and book review editor for International Journal of Ageing and Later Life.


Research seminar

Monday October 15, 13.00–14.30, B600
David Kloos, PhD, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Female Islamic Authority and Cultures of Professionalism in Malaysia

In this seminar, David Kloos will discuss the roles of women in the Malaysian Islamic public sphere. He will focus on the intersections between, and mutual constitution of, religious authority and professional expertise. In the context of mass education, mass meditization, and a public sphere saturated with techno-political language, professional experts without Islamic (seminary) eduation – like doctors, lawyers, or psychologists – can successfully claim religious authority. Islamic preachers, meanwhile, are professionalizing their trade as they combine religious guidance and public performances with knowledge, skills and embodied practices associated with academic, medical and legal professions. David will use various examples to show how contemporary cultures of professionalism enable these women to engage with contentious religious debates. He will conclude by discussing some of the implications of this for the study of female Islamic authority as well as an emergent anthropology of expertise.

David Kloos is a researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden, The Netherlands. His main research interest lies in the history and anthropology of Islam in Southeast Asia. Recent publications include Becoming Better Muslims: Religious Authority and Ethical Improvement in Aceh, Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2018) and Straying from the Straight Path: How Senses of Failure Invigorate Lived Religion (co-edited with Daan Beekers, Berghahn Books, 2018). His new book project deals with female Islamic authority and public communication in Malaysia.

Organised together with Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.


CEIFO seminar

Monday October 22, 13.00–14.30, B600
Aurora Massa, Postdoctoral fellow, University of Trento

Going back to an unknown place. Homemaking practices and experiences of (im)mobility of Ethiopian returnees from Eritrea

Recently (summer 2018), Ethiopia and Eritrea put an end to the “no war-no peace” situation that had lasted since the 1998-2000 border conflict. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the northern Ethiopian town of Mekelle, at the border with Eritrea, this talk looks back at the border conflict and explores the forced repatriation of Ethiopian communities from Eritrea that has occurred over the last decades. By analysing the returnees’ attempts to make a home in Mekelle, my aim is to critically address sedentaristic perspectives on return and to show how different (im)mobilities interlock. Indeed, due to numerous factors, i.e. separation from their “everyday-home”, the diffidence of the Ethiopian society, lack of humanitarian support, and their marginality within the Ethiopian imagined community, repatriation often proved difficult and painful, fuelling a feeling of being in transit. Looking back, the elderly frequently experienced a condition of estrangement. Their desire to return to Eritrea took the form of a social imaginary that guided them in the present and future. Looking ahead, many young people saw Ethiopia as a step toward Western countries. By playing with symbolic boundaries and legal labels, they turned their experiences from Eritrea into a mobility capital in order to take advantage of the current refugee regime. From these insights, this talk questions static interpretations of mobility, shedding light on how different mobility regimes intersect with migrants’ life stories and cautions against the use of concepts such as forced, transit and return migration.

Aurora Massa is a postdoctoral fellow at University of Trento and is specialized in medical anthropology and migration studies. She holds a MA in cultural anthropology from Sapienza-University of Rome, and earned her PhD at Bergamo University. Recently, she has studied mobility within and from the Horn of Africa, conducting extensive ethnographic research in Ethiopia on Eritrean refugees and Ethiopian returnees, and on transit migration in Italy. Her main fields of inquiry include travelling experiences, conditions of im/mobility, transnational family networks, social boundaries and youth cultures. She is also interested in the relationships between scientific categories and legal labels, and in the methodologies of qualitative research. As a post-doc, she is conducting research on the home-migration nexus in Italy, UK and Sweden, under the ERC-HOMInG research project.


Research seminar

Monday October 29, 13.00–14.30, B600
Elisa M. Lopez, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University

Title and abstract TBA



Research seminar

Monday November 5, 13.00–14.30, B600
Lorenzo D'Orsi, Postdoctoral Visiting Researcher, Institute for Turkish Studies (SUITS), Stockholm University

When silence talks. The moral landscape of leftist painful memories in Turkey

Drawing on an ethnography carried out in Istanbul, this talk examines the experience of silence in Turkish former revolutionaries’ families, the main victims of the 1980-1983 military coup, and challenges the universal model of traumatic silence, which overshadows local conceptualizations of the self. In Turkey, the 1980 coup was a political, cultural and generational watershed that dismantled leftist organizations through incarcerations and tortures. For leftist movements and families, the 1980 coup is the biographical and political tragedy upon which a mnemonic community is built. They are still in a counter-hegemonic position compared to official historiography, but have built a “strong memory” codified through the figure of revolutionary martyrdom.

Within leftist families, silence and secrecy are common, even when past is told. On the one hand, silence is the consequence of the painful experiences lived by former militants; on the other hand, it cannot be reduced to the pre-cultural mechanism of unspeakable trauma. Domestic silence and secrecy should be understood in relation to the present and not to the past: they do not prevent emotional interactions but are a practical knowledge through which parents teach to second generations to perform a specific self in a still repressive public space. Moreover, silence over personal issues stands also in relation to a morality of “not saying”: it is part of a poetics of the self that is bound to the ethos of revolutionary fighter, whereby “telling is almost like crying”.

This talk also focuses on generational gap, and shows how second generations often re-read their parents’ silence according to global memory frames, interpreting it as a “traumatic” element. For new generations, the language of trauma is a familiar cultural idiom which also allows them to extend social solidarity and partly break their marginality in an over-politicized memory field.

Lorenzo D’Orsi received his PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of Milano Bicocca, and is currently postdoctoral visiting researcher at Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies. His research focuses on the intergenerational memory transmission of political violence, the social construction of trauma, and new social movements in Turkey. He is the winner of the Best Young Scholar Prize 2017 of SIEF (International Society for Ethnology and Folklore) for the article “Trauma and the politics of memory of the Uruguayan dictatorship”, published in the Latin American Perspectives (2015) and based on his graduate research in Uruguay. For his PhD research he has received the Prix International Fondation Auschwitz 2017.


Research seminar

Monday November 12, 13.00–14.30, B600
Alf Hornborg, Professor, Department of Human Geography, Lund University

Political ecology and posthumanism: are they compatible?

In anthropology the concept of political ecology is associated with Eric Wolf and his Marxist perspective on the political economy of human-environmental relations. The common denominator of studies in political ecology is the focus on how human-environmental relations are intertwined with relations of power and unequal distribution. Like Marxist approaches in general, the perspective of political ecology assumes a critical realist ontology and the existence of an objective reality that can be studied with the ambition of accomplishing increasingly valid and emancipatory representations. The so-called posthuman turn in anthropology – with Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, and Marisol de la Cadena as prominent proponents – also presents itself as critical and subversive of modernity but assumes a relativist ontology that in practice precludes rigorous critique of the worldview associated with neoliberal capitalism. Posthumanists are inclined to advocate premodern worldviews instead of subjecting the modern worldview itself to critical cultural analysis. They tend to endorse a universal human inclination toward fetishism and magic rather than reveal the forms of fetishism and magic that are prevalent in modern society. This seminar presentation invites discussion about how the anthropological propensity to deconstruct and defamiliarize our modern categories can be combined with the ambition of political ecology to offer an alternative and radically critical narrative.

Alf Hornborg is an anthropologist and Professor of Human Ecology at Lund University. He is author of The Power of the Machine (2001), Global Ecology and Unequal Exchange (2011), and Global Magic (2016) as well as editor of several volumes at the interface of anthropology, environmental history, and political ecology. He has recently completed a monograph to be published by Cambridge University Press called Nature, Society and Justice in the Anthropocene.


Research seminar

Monday November 19, 13.00–14.30, B600
Bengt G. Karlsson, Professor and Annika Rabo, Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Title and abstract TBA


Research seminar

Monday November 26, 13.00–14.30, B600
Astrid Bredholt Stensrud, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

Title and abstract TBA



CEIFO seminar

Monday December 3, 13.00–14.30, B600



Research seminar

Monday December 10, 13.00–14.30, B600
Sara Asu Schroer, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen

Title and abstract TBA


Research seminar

Monday December 17, 13.00–14.30, B600
Christina Fredengren, Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University

Title and abstract TBA