Vårens seminarieserie arrangeras av Beppe Karlsson, Gabriella Körling, Johan Lindquist och Erik Olsson. Listan uppdateras kontinuerligt.


Seeding Plant/People Conspiracies to Grow Livable Worlds: Planthropology for a Planthroposcene

Datum: 07 september 2020 13:00 - 07 september 2020 14:30
Plats: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/69182719732



If the Anthroposcene names a time bound era marshalled by humans bent on earthly destruction, a Planthroposcene is an aspirational scene or episteme in which people learn how to conspire with plants to grow livable worlds. Decentering the singularity of human agency, Planthroposcenes take root wherever a Planthropos — a collective entity, part plant, part human — gets fully committed to collective earthly flourishing. As a speculative mode of inquiry that is rooted in the inseparability of plants and people, Planthropology is grounded in the analysis of ancient and novel ways that people are forming solidarity projects with the plants, thwarting the apocalyptic imaginaries of the Anthropocene and its attendant anthropocentrisms. 

Natasha Myers is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at York University, director of the Plant Studies Collaboratory, and co-founder of Toronto’s Technoscience Salon. Her current ethnographic projects speculate on the contours of a Planthroposcene, with investigations spanning the arts and sciences of vegetal sensing and sentience, the politics of gardens, and the enduring colonial violence of restoration ecology. Since 2015 she has been working with dancer and filmmaker Ayelen Liberona on Becoming Sensor, a research creation collaboration that aims to invent protocols for an ungrid-able ecology of the happenings ongoing in the ancient and urban lands around Toronto. Her first book Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015), an ethnography of the scientists who make living substance come to matter at the molecular scale, received the Robert Merton Prize from the Science, Knowledge, and Technology section of the American Sociological Association. 

Underwater Worlds - an ethnography of waste and marine life

Datum: 21 september 2020 13:00 - 21 september 2020 14:30
Plats: Zoom


This seminar will be about my one-year long fieldwork focusing on the relationship between humans, waste, and water with a main focus on the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren, taking departure from the Swedish capital Stockholm. My work has brought me into contact with marine scientists and trash scuba divers that engage similar issues, yet in different ways. Both groups work in a socio-political context of Swedish national and municipal jurisdiction, governmental work, waste management practices, as well as international regulations.


Suspected Cases of Female Genital Mutilation in Sweden: Media Reporting and Handling by Authorities

Datum: 05 oktober 2020 13:00 - 05 oktober 2020 14:30
Plats: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/meeting/register/u50ocOmsrjoqH90E_ekzK6r-Qv4uBtExX_M-

Registration: Mandatory registration through zoom link above. 

CEIFO-seminar at the department of Social Anthropology with Sara Johnsdotter, PhD in Social Antropology. Professor. Medical anthropology. Female circumcision (FGC, FGM) and other genital modifications. Sexuality. Somalis in Sweden.

The seminar introduction will focus on an ongoing analysis of police reports and criminal investigations regarding suspected ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM) in Sweden: the archive includes police documents and court material covering the period from 1982 (when the legislation prohibiting FGM was launched in Sweden) until today.

Two cases of illegal FGM of Swedish girls have reached court and ended in prison sentences. Both in 2006, and both said to have been performed in Somalia. Concurrently, up till 2017, at least 64 girls in Sweden have been subjected to genital examinations – often without consent from their legal guardians, who mostly were not even informed about the check-up or the fact that a criminal investigation had opened.

In an ongoing study funded by Forte, I and my co-worker Lotta Wendel (PhD, lawyer) analyze how the authorities have handled suspected cases of FGM. Theoretically the project has its starting point in a legal perspective focusing the principle of proportionality. The following questions guide the study: How much state invasion of privacy of individuals, according to the professionals, is proportionate to the interest of checking for an inadmissible practice? How do officials balance between conflicting laws when they handle cases of suspected FGM? How do public ideas about the scope of the problem in Sweden affect the choices made about actions in the specific cases?

There is a significant discrepancy between the prevalent public idea that there are many unrecorded cases of illegal FGM in Sweden and what can be known from an analysis of the police files on suspected cases. The media reporting is also not in line with international research demonstrating cultural change (general abandonment of circumcision of girls) among affected immigrants in Sweden and other European and North American countries.

The lack of confirmed illegal cases in Western countries results in harsh initiatives among the host countries in order to check for illegal FGM. This, in turn, increases the stigma and discrimination of these groups – including the girls that the societies intend to protect.

Sara Johnsdotter is professor of medical anthropology at Malmö University. In 2002, she defended her doctoral dissertation (Dep of Social Anthropology, Lund University) about how Swedish Somalis have reassessed the practice of circumcision of girls: Created by God.

Her research has included various aspects of genital modifications with a special focus on circumcision of girls. Much of the research has been done in collaboration with Prof Birgitta Essén, obstetrician and gynecologist, at Uppsala University. Johnsdotter has represented Sweden in five EU research projects. In 2014, she was the PI of a study about FGM court cases in Europe, at the request of the European Commission. Co-author of the report was the Spanish philosopher of law Prof Ruth Mestre i Mestre (Female Genital Mutilation in Europe: An Analysis of Court Cases. Brussels: European Commission, The Directorate-General for Justice, 2015).

Animal non grata: understanding necropolitics and biosecuritization in the ‘war on boars’

Datum: 12 oktober 2020 13:00 - 12 oktober 2020 14:30
Plats: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/65537946836


It is said that animals are good to ‘think with’. In this talk, we think with the wild boar. I use the wild boar and the current war on boars across Europe as a heuristic for understanding societal values and risk portfolios in relation to biosecurity. The war on boars showcases increasingly extreme forms of biosecuritization to purify space and keep out contagion of various sorts: from technological solutions like mass-sterilization of boars, heli-hunting and drone-used hunting, live-capture traps, infrared and spotlighting; spatial measures of border walls, restricting the mobility of users in contact with wild boar, the segregation of boar carcasses into containers and diversionary feeding, to temporal measures involving quarantines, isolation and moratoriums related to wild boar meat handling. It is hence a necropolitical regime that extends from hypothetical threats to post-mortem bodies.

This biopolitical and necropolitical regime in which these measures take place does more than change the lives of wild boars or whatever species they seek to control. Indeed, it is also catalyzing changes in society. First, waging a war on a species is forging unanticipated alliances between interest groups, like animal rights activists and hunters opposing inhumane trapping directives. Second, it is driving wedges between previous allies, like hunters and farmers, between whom the responsibility for management boar is contested. Third, new anxieties about biosecurity are changing the everyday practices and livelihoods of people affected by the species, who struggle to reconcile their traditions with new conservation and culling agendas—ostensibly killing to make life in Foucault’s biopolitics framework. In this talk, a bottom-up ethnographic approach is promoted for studying today’s biopolitics in the wildlife management context. This mean moving from the level of supranational and national directives on biodiversity to seeing how on-the-ground practices of adapting, implementing or resisting biosecurity measures are played out among hunters, cullers, and farmers.

Erica von Essen is a researcher with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in Oslo. She is a PhD (2016) and associate professor (2018) in Environmental Communication from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Von Essen is a ‘non-disciplined’ researcher who approaches the intersection of modernization and wildlife. She looks at how our relations to non-human animals change, take on new manifestations, new ethics and how new roles are carved out for animals in society. In particular, she has approached wild animal killing from multiple perspectives: poaching, hunting, culling animals that are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is interested in those processes, ideas and values in society that sanction such killing. She is widely published across rural sociology, environmental ethics and human-animal studies. Her research findings have taken her into high-impact policy environments including EU and Swedish parliaments.

A family affair? Creating and maintaining transnational bonds through phatic kinship

Datum: 19 oktober 2020 13:00 - 19 oktober 2020 14:30
Plats: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/63125246813



When generations of labour migrants create and uphold transnational connections, it is often understood to be a family affair. Pioneers send for their children, or pave the way for parents, siblings and more distant relatives, and transnational spaces are maintained through the similar aspirations and trajectories of new generations of migrants. What is less understood is how flexible notions of kinship may be in these contexts. On the basis of a long-standing ethnographic involvement with transnational mobilities between Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire, this article illustrates the ways in which idioms of kinship serve as a central currency for facilitating labour migration and other moves in this region. The analysis emphasises historical continuities in labour mobility between these two countries, vested in local ideals of hospitality and solidarity through the institution of the tutorat in Côte d'Ivoire, as well as the ruptures in these social contracts through the past two decades of political and armed conflict.

Conceptually, the paper suggests that the evocation and maintenance of kinship-like ties, while not established or maintained explicitly to that end, becomes a central currency in facilitating transnational mobility. The article thus adds to the emerging literature on migration brokers and infrastructures by ascribing these kinship-like ties a pivotal role in facilitating the continued mobility within a transnational space. The argument thereby challenges assumptions about the role of the family in transnational migration, and the nature of migrant aspirations, and suggests that Africanist migration research, drawing on a long tradition of highlighting the situatedness, flexibility, and contextuality of social relatedness, may contribute to theoretical refinement of research on migration infrastructures and brokerage.


Senior Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute since September 2013. He did an M.A. in Anthropology and one in African Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen, and completed a PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Uppsala University in 2013. Until 2018, he was a lecturer in the Network on Humanitarian Action International Association of Universities (NOHA). Bjarnesen has worked primarily on the grey zones between forced and voluntary migration in West Africa, in the context of the 2002-2011 civil war in Côte d’Ivoire. Within this context, his research has considered the generational variations of displacement; the dynamics of integration among urban youths; and the broader themes of urban resettlement and transnational families. His current research focuses, firstly, on the effects of migration governance in terms of the in/visibilities produced by specific legal statuses and, secondly, on labour mobilities across and between secondary cities in West Africa. With Franzisca Zanker, he is the co-founder of the African Migration, Mobility and Displacement (AMMODI) research network.

Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas.

Datum: 26 oktober 2020 13:00 - 26 oktober 2020 14:30
Plats: Zoom


This event will present the just released Preface to the paperback edition and discuss Nightmarch, a book shortlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize and the New India Book Foundation Prize. Nightmarch is the story of how people from very different backgrounds have come together to take up arms to change the world in a Marx- Lenin- and Mao inspired Naxalite guerrilla insurgency that has been waging in India for more than half a century, and also asks how and why they fall apart. It explores the lives of high-caste educated Marxist ideologues and lower-caste and tribal combatants who Shah got to know well over several years of deep immersive fieldwork in one of the guerrilla strongholds. The book unfolds across a seven-night trek with a platoon of guerrillas, undertaken by Shah in 2010, walking 250 kilometres through dense, hilly forests of eastern India. The Preface to the paperback edition shows how the insurgency has gained a new salience as more and more academics, students, activists and lawyers are jailed as ‘Urban Naxals’ with the rise of authoritarianism in contemporary India.


Alpa Shah is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the LSE and leads the research theme on the Global Economies of Care at the LSE International Inequalities Institute. Her most recent book, ‘Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas’, was a finalist for the 2019 Orwell Prize and the New India Foundation Book Prize, on the longlist for the Tata Literature Live Nonfiction Book Award and featured on several 2018 Book of the Year lists from the New Statesman to the Hindu. Alpa is also the author of ‘In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India’ (2010) and  co-author of ‘Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st Century India’ (2018). Alpa is committed to public engagement and has featured on many occasions on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service.


Natak: Political Theater and Political Deceit in Mumbai

Datum: 02 november 2020 13:00 - 02 november 2020 14:30
Plats: Zoom link to come

Research seminar with Lisa Björkman, University of Louisville/ Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology, Halle.

This lecture will discuss cash-compensated crowds that assemble for political gatherings—protest marches, road blocks, campaign rallies—in the Indian city of Mumbai. Popular and scholarly discourse tends to dismiss paid crowds as inauthentic, even fraudulent forms of political assembly. This research instead explores cash compensated crowds as instances of political utterance and representation, probing the dueling moral registers by means of which the theatrical character of political life in Mumbai is evaluated: as either political theater or political deceit. On some occasions, cash-compensated mass assembly are characterized as "meaningless" and as "only natak" (drama, theater)—suggesting a normative understanding of what a "meaningful" political rally should be. But in other contexts, we see that it is precisely its very theatrical quality that renders a rally compelling or convincing at all. This talk will outline when—in what contexts—natak is evaluated as a compelling idiom of political utterance, communication, and representation, and when political theater is described as "only natak"—a disdainful dismissal that suggests something is only theatrical when it ought not to be—or indeed is pretending not to be. Taking theatricality and performance seriously as an idiom of political speech and representation, the accounts suggest, may offer one way out of the impasses of post-truth political present where political communication tends to be either evaluated for its truth value or else dismissed as lies. Attending to explicitly theatrical dimensions of political life calls attention to a richer array of ideas and moral-evaluative frameworks.

Futures Literacy: Saving UNESCO while saving the world

Datum: 09 november 2020 13:00 - 09 november 2020 14:30
Plats: Online on Zoom (contact organisers-  gabriella.korling@socant.su.se - for zoom link)

Adrienne Sörbom, Professor in Sociology at Södertörn Högskola and Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research, SCORE Ulrik Jennische, PhD Social Anthropology, Stockholm University.


In 2012 UNESCO started the Futures Literacy (FL) project. The organization has since then engaged and mobilized a large group of futurists, researchers and consultants into working together pro bono to improve the capability of people across the world to “use the future”. It is argued, that by deconstructing images of the future as dependent on our anticipatory systems, actors will improve their ability to see alternatives and make decisions in the present. This paper intends to present FL as a model and program part of UNESCO's intentions to revitalize itself as “the laboratory of ideas” (Azoulay 2017) and fulfilling its mission “in the minds of men and women” (UNESCO charter). In line with this mission, the FL model is ultimately intended for changing the world. Riel Miller, the leading figure behind the model describes it as “changing the conditions of change by learning to use the future differently” (UNESCO xxx). Drawing on ethnographic data and documents, the paper presents key assumptions of the FL program, and the role the program is intended, and hoped for, at UNESCO. We aim for understanding the social forces that the program identifies as drivers of development, and what social ills it is meant to remedy both locally at UNESCO and in the world.  In so doing, we will also see some plausible ills that the program is not aiming for. 

Living with Toxic Development: Shipbreaking in the industrialising zone of Sitakunda, Bangladesh

Datum: 16 november 2020 13:00 - 16 november 2020 14:30
Plats:  Please contact gabriella.korling@socant.su.se for Zoom link


Based on ethnographic fieldwork among local communities and shipbreaking workers, I  focus on the lived experiences of toxicity in the rapidly industrialising zone of Sitakunda. A ship is filled with hazardous materials, ranging from asbestos and glass wool, to heavy-metal laden paints, gases, oils, and other toxicants. The shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh has faced criticism in mainstream media for labour conditions and environmental pollution, yet exporting ships and blaming Bangladesh for not properly managing hazardous materials can be seen as a form of waste colonialism. Despite a plethora of problems, there are unreported improvements such as the eradication of child labour, Bangladesh’s first internationally-certified Hong Kong Convention-compliant yard, and the government regularly inspecting (and fining) yards while pledging to create a facility for the safe disposal of hazardous materials by 2023. Yet, the current situation remains highly toxic. Workers complain over inhaling fumes as the steel they cut is covered with layers of paint containing toxic substances such as heavy metals. Working for 2-3 days, they end up bed-ridden and sick with high fevers, respiratory difficulties and aching muscle pains for days without pay. At home, living next to a heavily-trafficked highway, they are also subject to the visibly extensive air, soil and water pollution caused by Sitakunda’s many industrial factories. As one of my interlocutors remarked: “There are much longer queues to the pharmacies – there are so many now – than there are to food stores. What does this tell you?” The article discusses the difficulty of separating people’s livelihoods from the very practices that pollute both their work and home environments. It reflects on the reluctance to acknowledge the severity of toxic development and its everyday impact on health, and contributes to debates on toxic colonialism, slow violence and lived toxicity in South Asia. 


Camelia Dewan is an environmental anthropologist focusing on the anthropology of development. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow on the Norwegian Research Council-funded project (Dis)Assembling the Life Cycle of Containerships at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. From September 2020 to August 2021 she will be a Visiting Researcher at Socant. 

Prior to her postdoc, Dr Dewan completed her PhD in Social Anthropology and Environment at the University of London (Birkbeck and SOAS). Her previous project looked at development and climate change adaptation projects in coastal Bangladesh and she has an upcoming book entitled Misreading Climate Change: How development simplifications have failed rural ecology and society in southwest coastal Bangladesh (University of Washington Press). 

“We foreigners lived in our foreign bubble”: Colour-Blind Ideology in Expatriate Narratives 

Datum: 30 November 2020, 1.00 PM - 30 November 2020, 2.30 PM
Plats: Please contact gabriella.korling@socant.su.se for Zoom link



Colour-blindness – the desire to not ‘see colour’ – or avoiding using the term ‘race’ itself, has been an anti-racist imperative in post-WWII Sweden to leave behind the prior era of eugenics and race thinking. Through a linguistic ethnographic approach, this presentation examines how 46 returning Swedish expatriate women talk about race-related experiences through a colour-blind language. By analysing the implicit contextual associations and dissociations made between race, language and nation, a system of ideas and cognitive structures mapping perceptions and constructions of the world is exposed; of national belonging, bodies, racial hierarchies and of the West itself. However, categories used can be ascribed opposite meanings, depending on subjectivity and context. In this notion, language and nationality becomes ‘visible’ or ‘hidden’ depending on time and place, and ‘visible whiteness’ is associated with either an undesirable sense of difference or a set of unspoken privileges.


Catrin Lundström is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO) at Linköping University. Her research investigates the intersections of inequality and privilege in relation to migration, whiteness, trans/nationality and citizenship. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Uppsala University with the thesis Svenska latinas: ras, klass och kön i svenskhetens geografi (Makadam, 2007). She has also been a postdoc at UCGS, Umeå University and a visiting researcher at University of Arizona, Tucson and University of California, Santa Barbara. Her book White Migrations: Gender, Whiteness and Privilege in Transnational Migration (Palgrave, 2014, Swedish ed. Makadam 2017) covers Swedish migration in southwestern US, southern Spain and Singapore. In a later project, she investigated how returning migrant women negotiate national identity and gender equality in Sweden. Currently, she is finishing the book Vit melankoli: en analys av en nation i kris (co-authored with Tobias Hübinette) which will be published with Makadam fall/winter 2020.


Football Fantasies and Desert Dreams: On the allure of projects in contemporary Egypt

Datum: 07 december 2020 13:00 - 07 december 2020 14:30
Plats: https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/63224341404



In Egypt these days, projects (mashari‘) are omnipresent. While men from most social classes hunt for and execute small business projects to supplement diminishing wages, the militarised state invests enormous resources and prestige in mega projects: bridges, roads, land reclamations, a whole New Administrative Capital.

In this paper, I think through the allure of Egyptian projects across scales. Combing data from participant observation among men who construct small neighbourhood football pitches with public debates, planning and propaganda about mega projects, I suggest that projects evoke dreams of prosperity in a future which, on the one hand, is highly tangible, but which everyone accepts will never fully arrive. While conjured as platforms for the creation of values in a manageable the ‘near future’ (Guyer, 2007), most projects end up half-completed, abandoned and deferred

The paper’s ethnographic renderings of small-scale football projects cast new light on the state’s obsession with mega projects. While there are many reasons to speak about Egypt’s ‘desert dreams’ in terms of ‘failure’ (Sims, 2016), why do the authorities continue to project, despite all? Could it be that the repetitive pursuit itself is what makes the project form so attractive? If so, sober comparisons between plans and results might not capture what is at stake. Let us instead consider projects as a particular kind of masculinised statecraft: idealised avenues for provision, crisis management, future making, and bold action.


Carl Rommel is a social anthropologist, who earned his PhD from SOAS, University of London (2015). His doctoral research explored the emotional politics of Egyptian football before and after the January 2011 Revolution. Currently, Rommel holds a postdoctoral research position in the ERC-funded Crosslocations project at the University of Helsinki. His ongoing field research in Cairo interrogates intersections between precarity, masculinity, temporality and urban space in, around and through a variety of large and small ‘projects’ (mashari‘). Rommel’s research has been published in Critical African Studies, Middle East – Topics & Arguments, and Men and Masculinities. His first monograph, Egypt’s Football Revolution: Emotion, masculinity, and uneasy politics will be published with The University of Texas Press in summer 2021.

INSTÄLLT ”Stop Shooting” Focused deterrence and crime prevention strategies in Malmö, Sweden



Gun violence is an increased concern in Sweden. How are political authorities and the police dealing with violence prevention efforts in practice? What violence reduction strategies do they employ and what impacts do such interventions have on people and communities who are targets for such efforts? Building on theories on crime prevention and policing, this presentation will focus on the issue of gun violence in Malmö and the prevention methods employed. In Malmö, the police, social service and law enforcement agencies are currently implementing an American model (Group Violence Intervention) to reduce crime and gang related shootings. What kind of social and cultural challenges does Malmö face in terms of how to implement an effective program that can prevent gun violence? Based on ethnographic fieldwork among policy and decision makers in Malmö, interviews with key-persons who work with violence prevention in practice, as well as, individuals who partake in violence reduction programs, the aim with the project is to investigate the actual consequences of such strategies.

Anna Hedlund is a researcher at the Department of Sociology/Division of Social Anthropology, Lund University. Anna is currently conducting research on gun violence and crime prevention efforts in Malmö, Sweden. The research project is funded by Forte.