Måndagar kl. 13.00-15.00, rum B600, Socialantropologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet.

Välkomna till terminens ordinarie Forskarseminarium. En komplett lista kommer inom kort. Förutom forskare från institutionen kommer även bland annat Jamie Peck, en av världens ledande forskare om nyliberalism, Amita Baviskar, en av Indiens mest spännande antropologer, och Gabriella Coleman, som snart kommer ut med en etnografi om ”hackers” och internet.

Varmt välkomna!
Johan Lindquist och Renita Thedvall

Johan Lindquist johan.lindquist@socant.su.se
Renita Thedvall renita.thedvall@socant.su.se

Program för vårens forskarseminarier


16/1 Jørgen Carling, The Peace Research institute Oslo, (PRIO)
Conceptualizing the transnational
Abstract: In this presentation, I explore how ‘the transnational’ has been, and can be, conceptualized in migration research. After accounting for the emergence of transnational perspectives and for the various notions of ‘transnationalism’, I explore how the adjective ‘transnational’ has been appended to nouns in titles of books and articles. Through this exercise I locate conceptualizations in a metaphorical theatre, which assists in seeing how the transnational can be approached in ontologically different ways. I proceed with an analysis of transnational relations between people on opposite sides of a migratory divide. The underlying theme in the presentation is the tensions between fixity and fluidity that characterize lived transnational experiences as well as our corresponding academic analyses.

Jørgen Carling is Research Director at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Research Professor in Migration and Transnationalism Studies. He has a background in human geography and extensive fieldwork experience from Cape Verde, the Netherlands and Italy. He has also conducted research on migration in other parts of the world, partly in large collaborative projects.


23/1 Juan Velasquez, Stockholm University
Gentrification and the /Coloniality of power/ in the urban era: Barrio women, the settler’s movement and the agenda for urban Decolonization in Chacao, Venezuela.
Abstract: In today’s urban era gentrification has been discussed as a form of colonization in which the capitalist class displaces the working class from the most attractive places in cities. Little has been done to show the gendered nature of this process, and its expression in societies with colonial experience. This article shows the settlers of poor neighborhoods, or barrios, as historical subjects of the new urban era, in a country with colonial experience and highlighting the role of women in the process of social struggles against gentrification. The place of events is Chacao municipality, the most gentrified in Venezuela, the most urbanized country in the Americas. In this context, the article discusses two developments.

On the one hand the dynamics of gentrification that have deepened in Venezuela despite the establishment of major reforms to radicalize democracy during the Bolivarian era. As an expression of the /coloniality of power/ installed with the Iberian invasion, gentrification is anticipated with the neoliberal reforms of the 1990’s to maintain the space dominance of the traditional elites.These reforms ‘naturalized’ a socio-spatial division between the valley to the capitalists and the hills to the urban poor.

Within this framework, on the other hand, the article discuss an agenda of decolonization from the settlers of barrios to achieve /life safety/ in Chacao municipality.The article emphasizes the ways in which the settlers organized in the Social Battle Room Victoria Popular, mostly /barrio/ women, came to adopt policies to protect the popular heritage, develop a mass market based on local trade in organic products, housing improvements in their neighborhoods, taking early development of land to build a socialist community for 600 families and struggling the revanchist nature of the new urbanism model adopted by the city administration. All this showed two things: how gentrification is expressed in countries with colonial experience like Venezuela, and the gendered characteristics of the settlers as new historical agent aiming to break the coloniality of power in the new urban era.

30/1 Jamie Peck, University of British Columbia

Fast policy in late neoliberal times
Abstract: The presentation will explore the emergent phenomenon of “fast policy,” a form of contemporary policy development characterized not only by rapid, transnational emulation, but also by continuous, multi-site mutation. The phenomenon of fast policymaking, it is argued, has become instrumental in the crisis-mediated reproduction of “late” neoliberalism as a political and governmental form, enabling as it does the restless “churn” of programming innovations, experiments, and fixes within the ideological matrix of market rule. The presentation will draw on a comparative analysis of two fast-moving and “silver bullet” policy innovations, both of which have traveled “up hill,” from the global South to the global North—participatory budgeting and conditional cash transfers—arguing that their travels speak to both the possibilities and the limits of policymaking at the cusp of neoliberal reconstruction.

Jamie Peck is Professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Political Economy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.


6/2 Gabriella Körling, Uppsala Universitet
In search of the state: the politics of visibility in peri-urban Niamey, Niger
Abstract: The informal sector in areas such as land use, land transactions, housing and economic activities makes up an important part of urban dynamics and city making in Africa. As formal urban planning is both lagging behind and failing to cater for people’s needs processes of urbanization are increasingly initiated by urban inhabitants themselves.This paper, based on fieldwork carried out in a peri-urban village and its extensions, focuses on the creation and development of neighbourhoods outside of formal structures on the urban periphery of Niamey, the capital of Niger. The paper analyses the different registers that inhabitants in the neighborhoods draw on in order to make their claims, not only to land but also to public services, infrastructure and investments, heard and recognized by the local authorities and by the state. Despite differences in strategies of mobilization residents in all of the three neighborhoods take part in a struggle for visibility whether through ‘insurgent urbanism’, in opposition to the authorities, or through formal demands.

13/2 Maple Razsa, Stockholm University
The Occupy Movement in Žižek’s Hometown: Ethnography and the Re-Imagining of Democracy
In an otherwise sympathetic speech to the Occupy Wall Street encampment, Slavoj Žižek dismissed protesters' belief in direct democracy as a “dream.” In no small part responding to a perceived crisis of representative politics, however, the popular movements that swept through Northern Africa, Europe, and North America during 2011 have been distinguished by their adoption of direct democratic forms. In this presentation I present the initial ethnography—collaboratively researched and written by a Slovene activist-theorist and me—of the Occupy Movement’s democratic practices in Žižek's own hometown. We trace the development of decidedly minoritarian forms of decision-making—the “democracy of direct action,” as it is known locally—to activists’ experiences of organizing for migrant and minority rights in the face of ethno-nationalism. We compare the democracy of direct action to Occupy Wall Street’s consensus-based model. In conclusion, we ask how ethnographic attention to the varieties of emergent political forms might extend recent theorizing of radical politics while also contributing to broader efforts to reimagine democracy.

20/2 Per Drougge, Stockholm University
Lost in Translation: On some Recent Critiques of Therapeutic Mindfulness
The remarkable popularity currently enjoyed by various forms of secular therapeutic “mindfulness”, and the concurrent rise of an international mindfulness industry, raises a number of questions. These phenomena also offers a window on issues like cultural appropriation; hybridization/creolization processes; the fuzzy border between soteriological and therapeutic practices; the commodification of contemplation in consumer capitalism, *et cetera*.

Taking some recent critiques of the mindfulness phenomenon as a starting point, this paper will explore some of these issues. Special attention will be given to the notoriously slippery word “mindfulness” itself, and how the technical pāli term *sati* became the floating signifier of “mindfulness”.

27/2 Ansökningsverkstad


5/3 Malin Åkerström
Den känsliga gåvan - om mutblickens sociala förvecklingar
Gåvor brukar ses som tecken på generositet och tacksamhet. Med dagens mutblick riskerar emellertid även utbyten av smågåvor och tjänster att uppfattas som brottsliga handlingar. I linje med detta renhetskrav uppmanar en svensk kommun sina anställda att tänka efter innan de lånar varandras sommarstugor. Statliga myndigheter och andra institutioner varnar oss för generositet och tacksamhet: sådana företeelser och känslor kan skapa riskabla sociala band.

Mutor i samtida svensk kontext handlar således inte nödvändigtvis om extraordinära händelser eller dramatiskt höga pengabelopp. Kollisionen mellan gåvor som socialt kitt och som kulturell dygd samt gåvor som ”mutifierats” genom dagens stränga reglering, undersöks i denna bok via intervjuer med skilda yrkesrepresentanter, rättsliga domar och mediematerial.

Boken bygger vidare på den sociala komplexitet i gåvan som fenomen, vilket avhandlats i klassiska antropologiska och sociologiska undersökningar.

12/3 Eva-Maria Hardtmann, Stockholm University
Transnational Networks in the Global Justice Movement
Protests against the neoliberal global economy have engaged activists all over the world for some time now, and most recently in the Occupy Wall Street-movement. Activists in the Global Justice Movement in different parts of the world regard themselves as part of a common movement, in spite of the large geographical distances that separate them. During the last decade they have met in the recurrent World Social Forums (WSFs) whose work is by no means limited to the duration of the forums themselves. One of the questions I address is what the everyday practices of these activists look like when they create and recreate transnational networks. My own geographical point of departure has been South Asia where, among other things, I am studying activists working on land rights, minority rights and feminists working on women’s rights. The fieldwork was carried out locally among activists in offices in Nepal, Bangladesh, in Sri Lanka and in Japan, but also during a number of World Social Forums. The aim of the seminar is to provide an overview of the structure of a manuscript in progress and to get the chance to discuss the content in some of the chapters.

19/3 Mattias Viktorin, Stockholm University - INSTÄLLT

GULAG: Historia, litteratur, antropologi
Under seminariet, som hålls på svenska, kommer jag att presentera idéer kring ett nytt projekt om Gulag – Sovjetunionens ökända fängelse- och arbetslägersystem. Det är inget traditionellt historievetenskapligt projekt. I stället närmar jag mig Gulag utifrån litteratur och konst: genom närläsningar av memoarer, fiktionaliserade narrativ och lyrik, samt genom granskningar av teckningar, fotoskildringar och andra samtida konstformer. Detta material analyseras med hjälp av antropologiska frågor om hur Gulag framträdde, fungerade och upplevdes i termer av social organisation, internkulturell logik och mänskligt samspel.

26/3 Anette Nyqvist, Stockholm University

On practices of fiduciaries
I will present my ongoing research project on institutional owners. I will also present a preliminary outline, and first drafts of a couple of chapters, of the book I have set out to write based on this research on institutional owners.

There has been a shift in ownership on the world’s financial markets, where institutions - such as mutual funds, insurance companies and, not least, pension funds - during the past three decades have emerged as major actors and now dominate corporate ownership worldwide. Due to their sheer size public and private pension funds are considered to be the most important and powerful institutional actors on financial markets.

The fiduciary duties of an institution – i.e. a responsibility to manage economic assets on behalf of others – sets it apart from individual investors both large and small. In their role as shareholders that manage money on behalf of others, institutional owners work to shape market actors, both corporations in which they invest and other shareholders, and consequently the financial market in a normative way. The active ownership of institutional investors opens up a space where financial actors must consider issues other than the strictly economic ones.

In this project I set out to describe and discuss some of the practices and notions that characterize institutions as actors on financial markets. By way of ethnographic fieldwork in, of and among institutions my aim is to begin to look critically at the boundaries and limitations of what institutional owners do, and can do, as powerful and global financial market actors.

I invite seminar participants to read and comment on the early texts for the book (I have already “forced” two persons to do so). You will find copies of the preliminary outline of the book and first drafts of chapters three and four in the drawer marked “Forskarseminariet” in the mailroom. Please e-mail me to get them electronically. The book is written in Swedish but the seminar will be held in English and all comments are, of course, greatly appreciated.

2/4 Ulrik Jennische, Stockholm University
Small-Scale Traders in a Large-Scale Development
Two major political processes have characterized the Ghanaian development
during the last decades. The first is a democratization process, which
began in the early 1990s and has lead to the fact that Ghana is now
considered one of the most democratic countries in Africa. The second is a
market liberalization and state privatization process. The progress has
given Ghana a special seat in the development discourse; as a politically
stable democratic example with high levels of economic growth.

This study is about small-scale traders and their networks in urban Ghana.
It aims to describe and understand their situation in a political and
economic environment that is continuously changing. The study is situated
in and around the central marketplace of Tamale, the capital of the
Northern Region. Through larger infrastructural projects, Tamale has
developed greatly in recent years. The city is now marked by a rapid
urbanization process; from being a conglomeration of villages it is now
becoming a real metropolis of about 500 000 inhabitants. Trading is in the
middle of this process, as the majority of the people moving into Tamale
are looking for business opportunities of various sorts and scales.
However, the marketplaces in Ghanaian towns are not only places for buying
and selling goods, they are also information hubs in which news, rumors
and ideas are exchanged.

In this presentation I will outline the plan and ideas for the upcoming
anthropological fieldwork in Tamele, northern Ghana. I’m looking forward
to thoughts and comments, literature suggestions and a discussion on the
various directions this study could take.


16/4 Naisargi Dave, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Witness: Humans, Animals, and the Politics of Visuality in India
A prominent animal rights activist in New Delhi, explaining her relentlessness on behalf of animals, said to me the following: “I only wish there were a slaughterhouse next door. To witness that violence, to hear those screams . . . I would work even harder. I would never be able to rest.” She was not alone among animal welfare activists in India in linking the witnessing of violence against an animal to the creation of a profound bond that demanded from them a life of responsibility.

In this paper, I rethink the concept of intimacy through this human witnessing of violence against a non-human life and the subsequent tethering of human to non-. As Elizabeth Povinelli has recently elaborated, the very meaning of “intimacy” within Enlightenment thought is the freely chosen bond between sovereign subjects. Might the case of the human and animal further complicate that crucial fiction? These activists show us that where proper intimacy is inconceivable (between human and animal), the witnessing of violence both explodes and exacerbates the species divide, leading the human to a sense of singular, intimate knowledge of a singular Other’s life, but an intimacy that requires the giving of “voice” for that other which cannot speak.

23/4 Caitlin Zaloom, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
God’s Money Managers
Since the 1970s, American evangelical churches have developed financial ministries to help church members and potential converts align their economic lives with Biblical prescription. Advising budgeting procedures for spending and saving, financial ministers assist church members in lifting themselves from debt and from the ungodly world’s economic values. In evangelical churches, submitting to God’s purpose provides a path toward financial solvency. This talk examines financial ministries as part of the growing sphere of experts that address failures of economic reason and seek to create rational action from the sources of human financial failure.

30/4 Francis Cody, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto
A Rural Modernity: Literacy Activism, Feminism, and the Social in Southern India
The Arivoli Iyakkam, or “Enlightenment Movement,” in rural Tamilnadu is considered to be one of the most successful mass literacy movements in recent times. Activists in this movement teach their fellow villagers written language skills and lessons in grassroots feminism with the aim of producing a modernist orientation to the state and to society. By invoking the ideals of scientific objectivism and stranger sociability, workers in the movement are making claims to forms of affiliation and agency that would transcend what they take to be the restrictive spheres of caste, village, and kin. However, in the process of inculcating what they call a “social perspective,” Arivoli activists face two interrelated problems: 1) There is a duality in their very idea of the social such that it can designate both that which binds in place, slowing the wheels of historical change, and that very collective form of agency that must be made aware of itself for any purposeful large scale change to happen. 2) The conceptual vocabulary available for this exercise in abstraction is tied precisely to those regimes of filiation and sociality, frequently rendered as “community,” that the broader concept of “society” (as a connection among strangers) was meant to overcome. This presentation accounts for how activists creatively struggle with these problems in the course of a pedagogy that would seek to remake the very people in aims to empower through the written word.


14/5 Ilana Gershon, Indiana University
Publish and Be Damned: Neoliberal Risk and Mediated Heartbreak
The public sphere is increasingly being depicted as a site of inadequately assessed risk as Americans post blogs, youtube videos, Facebook status updates and send emails that become viral, prompting others to mutter “don’t they know better than to press send?” In this talk, I offer an analytical frame for such behavior that does not re-inscribe U.S. tendencies to attribute ignorance or misguided selfishness to unwelcome behavior. I argue that people press send because understandings about what it means to participate in a public have changed. I discuss these transforming notions of how publics are constituted, which in turn complicates what counts as public speech, let alone risky public speech. Grounded in my ethnographic research on new media and romantic breakups, I also explore how cautionary stories about pressing send might reflect neoliberal concerns about allocating risk and responsibility among individual choice-makers.

21/5 Stefan Helgesson, Department of English, Stockholm University
Traversing Temporalities: Notes on Time, Cultural Difference and Literary Writing
The seminar will focus on a work in progress devoted to Brazilian and South African texts from around 1900, notably Os sertões (1902) by Euclides da Cunha, The Story of an African Farm (1883) by Olive Schreiner and Chaka (1910, published 1925) by Thomas Mofolo. The intention is to arrive at a theoretically more refined understanding of how literary writing is implicated in the experience of “disjunctive” or “entangled” temporalities in late colonial and early post-colonial settings. The draft chapter engages in particular with key notions from Johannes Fabian and Dipesh Chakrabarty.

28/5 Aslihan Sanal, Independant Scholar
New Organs Within Us: Transplants and the Moral Economy
This talk offers an ethnographic analysis of organ transplantation in Turkey. I examine how imported biotechnologies are made meaningful and acceptable not only to patients and doctors, but also to the patients’ families and Turkish society more broadly. The psychological theory of object relations and the Turkish concept of benimseme—the process of accepting something foreign by making it one’s own—helps explain both the rituals that physicians perform to make organ transplantation viable in Turkey and the psychic transformations experienced by patients who suffer renal failure and undergo dialysis and organ transplantation. Soon after beginning dialysis, patients are told that transplantable kidneys are in short supply; they should look for an organ donor. Poorer patients add their names to the state-run organ share lists. Wealthier patients pay for organs and surgeries, often in foreign countries such as India, Russia, or Iraq. I link Turkey’s expanding trade in illegal organs to patients’ desires to be free from dialysis machines, physicians’ qualms about declaring brain-death, and media-hyped rumors of a criminal organ mafia, as well as to the country’s political instability, the privatization of its hospitals, and its position as a hub in the global market for organs.

4/6 Gabriella Coleman, McGill University
Profiling Anonymous
Agents of activism and naughty mischief, Anonymous has been a constant
fixture in the news due to their blizzard of interventions from taking
down half a dozen websites in a single day to protest web censorship to
assisting the historic revolutions in the Middle East and Africa.
Drawing on three years of ethnographic research, this talk will examine
Anonymous' profile in the media and my role in mediating between an
anonymous collective and a media enterprise unable, so far, to fully
unveil the mystery behind the mask.

11/6 Amita Baviskar
Making the City Beautiful: Bourgeois Environmentalism and Urban Order in Delhi, India
As an embodied public sphere, city streets are sites for multiple exchanges between differently located people and things, shaped by multiple understandings about how they should be managed. This talk focuses on cows, cars and cycle-rickshaws as they navigate Delhi’s roads, and on the people who own, use and seek to control them. All three have been the subject of strenuous efforts at regulation by courts and citizens’ groups.

I interpret these conflicts as instances of bourgeois environmentalism: the middle-class pursuit of urban order, hygiene and safety, and ecological conservation. I argue that collective action in the ‘public interest’ by ‘citizens’ concerned about congestion and the collapse of civic infrastructure constitutes a selective public, one that excludes the city’s poorer sections. However, the pursuit of urban order is undermined by the very actors who seek to enforce it--the state and bourgeois citizens--whose contradictory practices ultimately enable ‘the republic of the street’ to survive.

Amita Baviskar is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Her research focuses on the cultural politics of environment and development. Her first book In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts over Development in the Narmada Valley (Oxford University Press) discussed the struggle for survival by adivasis in central India against a large dam. Her subsequent work further explores the themes of resource rights, subaltern resistance and cultural identity. More recently, she has focused on urban environmental politics, especially bourgeois environmentalism and spatial restructuring in the context of economic liberalization in Delhi. Her latest research examines changing food practices in western India in relation to the transformation of agrarian environments. She has edited Waterlines: The Penguin Book of River Writings (Penguin India); Waterscapes: The Cultural Politics of a Natural Resource (Permanent Black); Contested Grounds: Essays on Nature, Culture and Power (Oxford University Press); and Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes (with Raka Ray, Routledge). She has taught at the University of Delhi, and has been a visiting scholar at Stanford, Cornell, Yale and the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies, the 2008 VKRV Rao Prize for Social Science Research, and the 2010 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences.

The Stockholm University Environmental Social Science Seminar (SUES) (formerly Stockholm Seminar on Environmental Social Science (SSESS)) seeks to provide a platform for transdiciplinary discussions among social science scholars at Stockholm University interested in environmental issues broadly conceived. SUES features talks by invited speakers as well as presentations of ongoing social science environmental research carried out at Stockholm University. Thematically, the seminar addresses contemporary as well as emerging theoretical debates and methodological discussions within social science environmental studies. The seminar series is open to anyone with an interest in social science perspectives on environmental issues.