Vårens seminarieserie arrangeras av Mark Graham och Hege Høyer Leivestad. Listan uppdateras kontinuerligt.


January 18, 13.00–14.30, B600
Final discussion (Slutseminarium)
Johanna Gullberg, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

The Republic of Difference. Feminism and Anti-racism in the Parisian Banlieue

This study is an ethnographic comparison of three activist groups: AFRICA, Ni putes ni soumises (NPNS), and Mouvement des indigènes de la République (MIR). The three groups cross each other’s political paths through their engagement with the question of the rights of women with an immigrant background in the banlieues populaires or the quartiers populaires,[1] which designates the socially and economically marginalized suburban areas of major cities in France. The immigrant woman stands at the centre of the groups’ political projects as a figure simultaneously marginalized and silenced – often veiled and Muslim – and talked about and made visible in a particular form, as someone in need of care or even rescue due to the oppressive cultural background she is subjected to (Brah and Phoenix 2004: 83).

Even if AFRICA, NPNS and MIR all agree that gender, race, class and sexuality play a part in this particular woman’s subject formation, the ways they relate to these differences vary significantly and generate alternative worldviews and politics, thus placing them in conflict with one another. The conflict concerns the possibility of an antiracist feminism bringing about tensions between feminist/antisexist and antiracist perspectives. It is these different political trajectories emanating from the same object of concern that my work tries to understand, by attempting to “do justice to the way they experience the world, and whatever is at stake for them” (Jackson 2005: 153). The study thus takes these tensions as a starting point for understanding a broader social and political field that extends far beyond the localities and individuals with which these politics explicitly engage as France and Europe are transformed by migration. The comparison of these three groups and the inquiry into the specific tensions between feminist and antiracist politics thus speaks to how social space transforms, opens up, or forecloses political intervention and changes of meaning in dominant discourses (de Certeau 1984; Aretxaga 1997). More concretely the analytical focus of this study is on the concerns, anxieties and struggles over notions of difference, namely, how and what differences matter in the figure of the immigrant woman, the banlieue, and French society: more generally, that is, how difference is produced and maintained (Gupta and Ferguson 1997). This is done through an ethnographic inquiry into the groups’ continuous and ongoing political formation in relation to social space, or, more specifically, through a focus on the groups’ political practices, ideological formations and intentionalities, and networking.

[1] The literal translation of banlieues populaires and quartiers populaires are popular suburbs and popular neighbourhoods, and designates working class suburbs.

Examiner: Renita Thedvall, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

NB seminar will be held in Swedish.


January 25, 13.00–14.30, B600
Kajsa Rudberg, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Vad är det som påverkar hur elever med lägre socioekonomisk bakgrund presterar i skolan? Sociala relationer och processer i och utanför skolan (arbetstitel)

Under detta seminarium presenterar jag mitt avhandlingsprojekt och mitt fältarbete på två skolor i Stockholmstrakten år 2014-2015. Jag gör mitt avhandlingsarbete inom ramen för ett EU-projekt om skolavhopp i ett antal europeiska länder. Inom detta övergripande projekt har jag riktat in mig på frågan om vilka processer, mekanismer och sociala relationer som kan tänkas påverka hur elever med lägre socioekonomisk bakgrund i Sverige presterar i skolan. Här har jag framför allt fokuserat på processer som pågår inom själva skolan som institution och då i synnerhet de relationer som uppstår mellan elever, mellan elever och lärare samt mellan lärare. Men jag har också till viss del riktat in mig på faktorer utanför skolan som kan ha en påverkan på elevers studieprestationer, närmare bestämt deras socioekonomiska bakgrund samt deras sociala nätverk och eventuella deltagande i sociala fritidsaktiviteter. För att undersöka dessa frågor har jag gjort fältarbete på en högstadieskola och en gymnasieskola. På högstadieskolan deltog jag i årskurs 9 och på gymnasieskolan deltog jag på introduktionsprogrammet Individuellt alternativ, ett program som är till för elever som inte blivit godkända i tillräckligt många grundskolämnen för att vara behöriga att söka till ett nationellt gymnasieprogram. Båda skolorna är belägna i bostadsområden där majoriteten av invånarna har en lägre socioekonomisk status. Under seminariet belyser och diskuterar jag med utgångspunkt i etnografiska exempel ett antal teman och frågeställningar som jag kommit att intressera mig för under arbetets gång.

NB seminar will be held in Swedish.


February 1, 13.00–14.30, B600
Bård Kårtveit, Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo and guest researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Being a Coptic Man. Masculinity, gender and minority vulnerability among Egyptian Copts

Numerous studies have explored gender relations in the Middle East with a focus on women’s experiences, subjectivities and social strategies. By contrast, men’s understanding of themselves as men, and their relations with women has been the subject of few studies. One exception is Marcia Inhorn’s work on fertility problems in the Middle East, and on the rise of a ‘new Arab man’ (Inhorn 2013). Leaning on Connells notion of hegemonic masculinity (1987, 1995), she describes the emergence of a new generation of men who are driven by other life-goals, other ideals and other notions of ‘how to be a man’ than those held by men of earlier generations. 

Inspired by Inhorns assertions, this project explores what it means to be a man, and a member of the Coptic community in todays Egypt. Based on fieldwork among Coptic men in Alexandria in 2014 and 2015, this study looks at what kind of challenges they face, what ideals they relate to, and what kind of responsibilities they ascribe to themselves as fathers, as husbands, as Copts, and as members of a wider Egyptian community. It will be argued that young Coptic men face a set of social concerns and expectation that differ from those facing earlier generation, in particular within the family sphere. Based on findings from Alexandria, this presentation will explore how these processes are reinforced by broader developments in Egyptian society, but also by their distinct experiences of vulnerability as members of a non-muslim community in a society ridden with sectarian tensions.

Bård Kårtveit completed a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen, Norway in 2010, with a thesis on identity, belonging and emigration among Christian Palestinians in the West Bank. In recent years he has thought Middle Eastern studies at the University of Oslo, and coordinated a research project on civil-military relations in the Middle East and Latin America, based at Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen. In 2014 his monograph Dilemmas of Attachment. Identity and Belonging among Palestinian Christians was published at Brill. Based at the Dept. of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, Kårtveit is currently working on three-year post.doc project entitled 'Being a Coptic Man', on masculinity, family relations and political engagement among Egyptian Copts.


February 8, 13.00–14.30, B600
Simon Johansson, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Remaking Detroit

In this seminar I will share some of my experiences of fieldwork in Detroit and discuss what those experiences have taught me. The presentation draws upon work conducted in 2014/2015 but it also looks ahead, towards my planned return to Detroit in 2016. Condensed to a sentence, my first round of fieldwork came to explore the conditions of urbanism in a declining city faced with large-scale restructuring.

The story of Detroit’s 20th century is by now iconic; that of the great rise, followed by the great fall; of prosperity turned to poverty. Since the post-war era, industry and demographics have been declining in Detroit and its once 2 million residents are now less than 700 000. In 2013, the city made headlines as the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S history, with 18 billion dollars in unresolved debts. The fiscal crisis, which has been decades in the making, ushered in changes to the city’s political, economic and social landscape. Municipal sovereignty was supplanted with state control, where the political power over the city’s future passed from elected representatives to an appointed emergency manager. Far from paralyzing the city, the crisis widened the horizons of imagining Detroit, opened up new fields of spatial struggle, as well as giving momentum to the idea of reorganizing the city in its entirety.

These transformations are occurring at multiple levels of the city. On the policy level, the current master plan of the city is arguably one the most ambitious urban makeover strategies in the world and provides an instructive discourse on the management and planning of urban restructuring in the 21st century. Over a 50 year period, Detroit is supposed to emerge as a smaller, smarter and more sustainable city, a place where people bike and walk, a space of innovation, technology and culture, full of green infrastructure. On the neighborhood and street level, people are engaged in what could be called insurgent placemaking, an act whereby residents appropriate urban spaces – legally or illegally – in attempts to remake them more to their hearts desire. This takes a multitude of forms, from urban farms to improvised bike lanes, from whole blocks turned into art galleries to homemade solar powered streetlights. Joining these various levels is the labor of imagination, of projecting images and narratives of the future in the creation of a present. Intimately linked to the act of placemaking, its labor of imagination, is the process of peoplemaking, of emerging subjectivities, ways of being in the city and spaces that can manifest and articulate people’s ideas about urban life. Given the history of Detroit, the emergence of “new Detroiter’s” and their spatial practices are informed by class and race relations, where current transformations both evokes a concern for what the future of the city will be, but also of who will be its future people.


February 15, 13.00–14.30, B600
Naomi Leite, Lecturer in Anthropology, SOAS

Substance, Spirit, and “the Jewish Family”: Marrano Logics of Person and Kin

This paper centers on a classic anthropological question: the relationship between kinship and personhood, in particular how webs of relations create certain kinds of persons and how those persons are in turn defined and recognized as kin by others. Rather than the context of the family or lineage, however, I transpose this question to the broad scale of peoplehood. I proceed through an exploration of identity construction among Portugal’s urban Marranos, who trace their ancestry to 15th-century Jews forcibly to convert to Catholicism, and their interactions with international Jewish heritage tourists and outreach workers, who view them as “lost brethren.” I tease apart different logics of kinship as they are brought to bear at this broad scale of relatedness, with particular attention to emic tensions between knowledge and belief, discourse and experience, mysticism and “the real,” and, above all, substance and spirit. When viewed in the context of direct encounter, I argue, the reasoning and interactions involved present a significant challenge to received anthropological wisdom about “Western” models of kinship, personhood, and causality.


February 22, 13.00–14.30, B600
Atsuro Morita, Associate Professor, Osaka University

From Gravitational Machine to Universal Habitat: The Chao Phraya Drainage Basin between Infrastructure and Science

In recent years, water has gained a certain prominence in anthropology. This is partly because of the growing concern over climate change whose impact is often mediated by water related disasters such as flood and see level rise. As Stefen Helmreich argues, in discourses and practices concerning these water disasters water often operates as a theory machine that stimulates various reflections on the world. This paper elucidates the development of the drainage basin model as a theory machine. The drainage basin model is one particular material-semiotic frame for capturing the relative motion between water and land. Facilitating a continuous movement back and forth between science and infrastructure, the drainage basin allows for the revelation of unexpected forms of relatedness and has played an important role in the emergence of a form of relational morality. To make this argument, this paper focuses on the Chao Phraya Delta in Thailand. While located in the periphery of modern science, the delta holds significance as a place where colonial technoscience and indigenous development intersected.

Atsuro Morita is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Human Sciences School, Osaka University. His interest include travel of technology and knowledge, lateral ethnography, ontologies and the relation between Western and non-Western anthropologies. Since the early 2000s, he has been working on the intersection between indigenous technology development and technology transfer in Thailand. Since 2012 he has been co-convening a Japan-Denmark collaboration project Environmental Infrastructures, in which he explores the development of water management infrastructure in the Chao Phraya Delta including its multispecies and cosmological aspects. His recent publication includes ‘Anthropology as critique of reality: A Japanese turn’, Hau 2(2); ‘The Ethnographic Machine’, Science, Technology and Human Values 39(2); ‘Multispecies Infrastructure’, Ethnos, forthcoming; ‘Anthropology and STS: Generative Interface, Multiple Locations’ (with Marisol de la Cadena et al.) in Hau 5(1).


March 7, 13.00–14.30, B600
Cathrine Moe Thorleifsson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

Imagined enemies: Nationalist responses to forced migration in Europe

Across European contexts the unfolding ‘migration crisis’ is fueling re-nationalization processes. Radical right wing parties and anti-Muslim movements have gained strength on a platform protesting European and global integration. Based on multi-sided anthropological fieldwork in the postindustrial towns of Doncaster and Ózd in 2015, this paper compares nationalist responses to forced displacement in England and Hungary. Through participant observation and personal interviews with Ukip (United Kingdom Independence Party) and Jobbik (Movement for a Better Future) politicians and supporters, the paper examines how transnational imaginaries of migration are produced, circulated and contested. It argues that the radical right exploits the issue of refugees negatively to ignite fears, strengthening populist securitization and everyday conspiratorial thinking. In a discourse that conflates displacement with terrorism, migrants from Muslim lands are marked as posing threats to national security, culture and welfare. The unknown migrant serves to re-imagine the boundaries of the nation and European civilization, informing practices of inclusion and exclusion. Opposing the supposition that the economy does not matter for the rise of the radical right, the paper argues that local resistance to cross-border mobility must be analysed in the context of long term existential insecurity. Residents of towns that have been hard hit by economic transition turn to ethno-nationalism both as a protective strategy and a source of identity and future.


March 14, 13.00–14.30, B600
Shahram Khosravi, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Forced Cosmopolitans: Tales from Afghan Deportspora

The main focus of my talk is about  post-deportation outcomes. It focuses on what happens to Afghan asylum seekers after deportation from Sweden. Although there is a growing literature on detention and deportation, academic research on post-deportation is scarce. My previous research on irregular migration and undocumentedness in Sweden has started to bring out the significance of analyzing what happens after deportation. Based on the experiences of Afghan deportees, I argue that deportation, rather than being the end of migratory adventure, becomes just another phase of what Peter Nyers (2003) terms a deportspora, in which they are exposed to a continuum of expulsion.


March 21, 13.00–14.30, B600
Carlo Cubero, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Tallinn University

The Musicians' Craft & the Craft of Cinema: Thoughts on the Creative Process

This illustrated presentation will reflect on issues that have arisen in my production of an ethnographic documentary that portrays the daily life of Burkinabé musicians based in the Benelux region. I would like to share the peculiar insights that were afforded to me through the film-making process. I will argue for “the fetish” as an emic connection that offers ethnographic insight into the social and material relations that constitute mutually informing heritage practises in a transnational context. I also value fetishism for its cinematic potential and propose fetishism as a means to put to words methodological affects that I have encountered in the process. The paper will draw a parallel between my film-making process and the process by which material objects, specifically the West African/European kolondjo takes on different material shape, constitutes a sonic reference, and acquires semantic meaning.

I am a full-time Associate Professor of Social & Cultural Anthropology at Tallinn University where I lecture and serve as head of department. I hold a PhD in Social Anthropology using Visual Media from the University of Manchester, where I specialized in the contemporary Caribbean and Visual Anthropology. Some of the core themes of my research are island identities, transnationalism, tourism development, Atlantic studies, Caribbean music and the application of the audiovisual medium in social science research. 


April 4, 13.00–14.30, B600
Claudio Sopranzetti, Postdoctoral Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford University and Research Associate, Oxford Future of Cities Centre

The fragility of power: motorcycle taxis and urban protest in contemporary Bangkok

This talk develops a tactical analysis of state power in contemporary Thailand by focusing on the relations between the lines of force and the fault lines that traverse it and the mechanisms through which their relations are managed, challenged and, at times, subverted. I do so in three acts. In Act 1, I investigate motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok and show how, during the 2010 Red Shirts protest, they revealed cracks in the state apparatus and its inability to control its own territory and subjects. In Act 2, I zoom out from the drivers and explore how, in the following year, these cracks expanded into larger fault lines in state’s royalist hegemony. Finally, in Act 3, I explore the army’s intervention since the 2014 coup as an attempt to fill in the fault lines that had emerged in 2010 by retaking control over the drivers’ mobility, persecuting any challenge to royalist hegemony, and dispelling new mobilization through repression. Through this analysis, I recognize the maintenance work needed to keep up state power, the fragilities it creates, and the political possibilities that emerge in its cracks and fault lines. Through this lens, power is revealed as constantly bounded by its own actions and tactics, as well as by those of its subjects.

Claudio Sopranzetti is a Posdoctoral Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University. He received his PhD in anthropology from Harvard University in 2013 with a dissertation titled "The Owners of the Map: mobility and politics among motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok." He is also the author of "Red Journeys: inside the Thai Red Shirts movement," an ethnographic account of the 2010 protest in the Thai capital.


Cancelled! April 11, 13.00–14.30, B600

The seminar is cancelled due to medical reasons.

Seth Holmes, Associate Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Migrant Farmworker Injury: Pseudo-events and the Statistics of Suffering

Human suffering in the contemporary world is known increasingly through statistical aggregation. The suffering of individuals is collected into categories in order to harness capital and compel intervention. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork with indigenous Mexican migrant workers in Washington State, California, and Oaxaca, Mexico, this paper considers the chronic injuries of farmworkers and the effects that statistical aggregation has on perceptions of and responses to them. Many forms of farmworker suffering are experienced as gerundive and ongoing, as normal, uneventful everyday life. When these forms of suffering are statistically amassed, however, the results are transformed into certain kinds of events, potentiating particular responses while erasing aspects of experience, temporality, and context.

Seth M. Holmes is Martin Sisters Endowed Chair Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and Public Health at UC Berkeley. Trained as a cultural and medical anthropologist and a physician, he has written on ethnicity and citizenship hierarchies in transnational labor, food systems, socially structured suffering, structural vulnerability, symbolic violence, and the production of the clinical gaze in medical training. His book, entitled Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States received the New Millennium Book Award from the Society for Medical Anthropology, the Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Award, and the Association for Humanist Sociology Book Award. Holmes received the 2014 Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology and the 2015 James M. Blaut Award from the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. 


April 18, 13.00–14.30, B600
Asta Vonderau, PhD, Researcher, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Cold, Clouds, and Post-Extractive Technologies of Imagination in Sweden’s North

When in 2011 a world-leading IT company expressed its intention to build a mega data center in Luleå, this announcement immediately triggered various future scenarios, ranging from an anticipated new industrial era of digital mining to visions of Luleå being symbolically relocated from the national periphery to the center of the global cloud. Such anticipations or visions were shaped and supported by municipal planning and business management activities soon materializing in the form of building sites, official agreements, new markets and regional development strategies. Since the data center industry was an unknown to regional actors, and since the actual name and operations of the IT company involved were kept entirely secret, the planning and implementation of Project Gold – as the data center project was called locally – was as much driven by collective imaginaries as by hard facts or former experiences. My talk shows how imaginaries became influential for bringing the cloud industry to Luleå, and for shaping the anticipated time and space of a ‘post-extractive modernity’. More specifically, the paper will focus on socio-technical preconditions as well as concrete practices and styles – technologies of imagination – enabling those imaginaries.


May 2

No seminar. Please note this seminar instead: CEIFO seminar on Transnational Migration with Fataneh Farahani, Tuesday May 3, 13.00-15.00.


May 9, 13.00–14.30, B600
Carl Rommel, Associated Researcher at Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin

Conflating Realms: Football, politics and unpredictable affect in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution

In the wake of the 2011 Revolution, Egyptian football was plunged into a deep popularity crisis. The emotional hype around the game that had permeated the last years of the Mubarak era was gradually replaced by indifference, repulsion and affective discharge. Among football journalists and fans in Cairo, this development was generally understood through two linked, but in part contradictory, tales: on the one hand, football was seen as too banal and non-political to care for in the midst of a burning revolution; on the other, the sport was perceived as losing its lure because of it being too overtly political. In the light of this conundrum, this paper sets out to interrogate how and why emotions for football waned and withered in the revolutionary years. Based on twenty months of fieldwork in Cairo between 2011 and 2013, its ethnography takes off from the assumption that emotions are at the core of all political projects (cf. Stoler, 2004; Mazzarella, 2010). More specifically, the paper suggests that the blatant contrast that Egyptian football representatives typically presupposed between playful game and serious politics collapses if due attention is given to the inherently unpredictable occasions and rhythms that the affect of football and politics thrive on. Thus, the paper concludes, my ethnography allows us to anthropologise not only the emotions of football but also the ever-present notion of ‘politics’. Through its exploration of a series of conflating realms that effectively cancelled out the sport’s emotional specificity, the paper nuances our understanding of the affectivity of Egyptian ‘politics’, in the revolutionary years as well as in the present period of counterrevolutionary backlash.

Carl Rommel earned his PhD in Social Anthropology from SOAS, University of London in September 2015. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among football supporters, players, club officials and journals in Cairo between 2011 and 2013, his doctorate explores transformations of the emotional politics of Egyptian football from the late Mubarak era into the post-revolutionary years. Based at Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, Rommel is currently working on a series of journal articles that draws on material from his doctorate. In parallel, he is also in the process of turning his dissertation into an ethnographic monograph. In a new research project, he examines the Egyptian state bureaucracy’s mobilisation of sports to shape the ‘youth’ ethically, emotionally and bodily. The project will be based on fieldwork at a handful of Cairo’s ‘youth centres’: a nationwide network of state-run cultural, educational and sporting institutions.


May 16, 13.00–14.30, B600
Nils Bubandt, Professor, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University

Stone Crazy in the Anthropocene. Indonesian Dreams of Wealth and the Magic of Geology

In the last couple of years, people in Indonesia have become obsessed with stones. Across the country, certain stones - ordinary and extraordinary, worthless and priceless at the same time - fuel dreams of magical protection, political power, and economic wealth. The presentation seeks to locate this phenomenon within, and allow it to off-set, another perhaps larger phenomenon, namely the notion that humans have become a force of nature on a geological scale in the time of historically unprecedented environmental disturbance sometimes referred to as the Anthropocene. In a time where humans are becoming a geological force, anthropology - so the presentation suggests - can learn a great deal by paying attention to stones.

Nils Bubandt is Professor of Anthropology at Aarhus University and co-editor-in-chief - with Mark Graham - of Ethnos. His publications include: Democracy, Corruption and the Politics of Spirits in Contemporary Indonesia (Routledge 2014) and The Empty Seashell: Witchcraft and Doubt on an Indonesian Island (Cornell University Press, 2014). The anthology Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Stories from the More-than-Human Anthropocene (co-edited with Heather Swanson, Anna Tsing, and Elaine Gan) is forthcoming with Island Press.


May 23, 10.00–12.00, B600
Final discussion (Slutseminarium)
Darcy Pan, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Laboring through uncertainty: an ethnography of the Chinese state, labor NGOs, and international development (working title)

This study sets out to understand how international development projects of labor activism work in contemporary China. It focuses on the lived experiences and relationships among a group of grassroots⁠ labor NGOs in Guangdong province, South China, intermediary NGOs in Hong Kong, and Western funding agencies that try to bring about social change in post-socialist China where the political climate is still highly restrictive and the limits of state tolerance of activism are ambiguous and uncertain. Foregrounding the notion of uncertainty, this study investigates how state control is exercised by examining a specific logic of practices, discourses, and a mode of existence that constantly mask and unmask the state. More specifically, this study explores how the uncertainty about the boundaries of permissible activism is generative of a sociopolitical realm in which variously positioned subjects mobilize around the idea of the state, which in turn leads to articulations and practices conducive to both self-censorship and contingent space of activism. Viewed as such, the idea of uncertainty becomes an enabler through which certain kinds of practices, relationships, and networks are made possible and enacted, and through which a sociopolitical realm of intimacy (cf. Herzfeld 2005) is constituted by and constitutive of these relationships, networks, and practices. Situating in the domain of uncertainty, this study examines the ways in which uncertainty, both as an analytical idea and an ontological existence, produces an intimate space where labor activists not only effectively self-censor themselves but also skillfully map the grey zone between the relatively safe and unacceptably risky choices. Methodologically, this study aims to create an ethnographic space by focusing on the junctures and disjunctures between the local and global in which the dynamics among state power, local empowerment, and international development is played out.

Examiner: Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University


May 23, 13.00–14.30, B600
Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

Crypto-Colonialism and the Challenge of Comparison: Reflections on a Penumbra

The Western colonial project has a far more extensive range than a map of its worldwide dominions would suggest. Among its further effects is what the speaker calls “crypto-colonialism”: a form of indirect cultural management, achieved through subtle economic and political pressures, cartography, and the selective management of cultural forms and histories. Starting from an unexpectedly suggestive comparison between Greece and Thailand, countries in which he has done extensive research, the speaker will explore ethnographic and historical sources to suggest how this extension of colonial control works to influence daily life in places as ostensibly different as Iran, Afghanistan, Iceland, and Turkey, and will also raise the question of whether post-Soviet states can be considered within the same framework.

Michael Herzfeld is Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, where has taught since 1991. He is also IIAS Visiting Professor of Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Leiden (and Senior Advisor to the Critical Heritage Studies Initiative of the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden); Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne; and Visiting Professor and Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) Scholar at Shanghai International Studies University (2015-17). The author of eleven books -- including Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State (1997; 3rd edition, 2016), The Body Impolitic: Artisans and Artifice in the Global Hierarchy of Value (2004), Evicted from Eternity: The Restructuring of Modern Rome (2009), and Siege of the Spirits: Community and Polity in Bangkok (2016) -- and numerous articles and reviews, he has also produced two ethnographic films (Monti Moments [2007] and Roman Restaurant Rhythms [2011]). He has served as editor of American Ethnologist (1995-98) and is currently editor-at-large (responsible for “Polyglot Perspectives”) at Anthropological Quarterly. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several other journals, including International Journal of Heritage Studies, Anthropology Today, and South East Asia Research. An advocate for “engaged anthropology,” he has conducted research in Greece, Italy, and Thailand on, inter alia, the social and political impact of historic conservation and gentrification, the discourses and practices of crypto-colonialism, social poetics, the dynamics of nationalism and bureaucracy, and the ethnography of knowledge among artisans and intellectuals. 


May 30, 13.00–15.00, B5 (different venue)
Maple J. Razsa, Associate Professor of Global Studies, Colby College

The Uprisings: An Interactive Visual Ethnography of Revolt

One of the crucial political questions of our time is how we understand—and respond to—the repeated and unruly expressions of popular outrage from Tunis and Cairo to Ferguson and Baltimore. In this presentation the director combines lecture with scenes from a forthcoming interactive documentary to explore the recent wave of uprisings that began in the once-thriving industrial city of Maribor and spread to bring down the government of Slovenia. What sparks these dramatic confrontations? How are they experienced by participants? This presentation will not just ask these questions, it will attempt to place viewers in the streets, amongst protesters so that they can experience the uprisings vicariously. What are the possibilities and limits of visual ethnography in creating such experiences of “being there?"

Maple Razsa, trained as a filmmaker and anthropologist at Harvard University, is Associate Professor of Global Studies at Colby College. In his research Maple is committed to using text, images, and sound to embody the experience and political imagination of radical social movements. His films, including Occupation: A Film About the Harvard Living Wage Sit-In and Bastards of Utopia and have shown in festivals around the world. Bastards of Utopia: Living Radical Politics After Socialism, the written companion to the film of the same title, was published by Indiana University Press in 2015. He has held fellowships from Stockholm and Harvard Universities, Amherst College, and the Wenner-Gren, Fulbright and Truman Foundations.

The seminar is organised by the Media cluster and "Visual Media in Anthropology".


June 3, 10.00–12.00, B600
Final discussion (Slutseminarium)
Siri Schwabe, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Promised Lands: Memory, Politics, and Palestinianness in Santiago de Chile

This study is a comprehensive attempt to grapple with diasporic Palestinianness in Santiago de Chile. Based on long-term fieldwork within Palestinian-Chilean networks, organizations, and places it explores how an inherently political, collective Palestinianness is constituted, expressed and explored via memory on the one hand and processes related to space and place on the other. Palestinianness is employed here as a catch-all concept meant to capture all that which goes into maintaining a Palestinian presence in Santiago. More than a fixed and easily translatable category, Palestinianness is approached as something that works and is worked upon in ways that are inseparable from, in this case, the context of lived life in the Chilean capital. It is a host of experiences and practices that cannot be neatly separated, but that are constantly weaved together in steadily recurrent, but sometimes disruptive and surprising patterns.

Consequently, the thesis interrogates Palestinianness in Santiago in relation to politics, places, and memories that are in turn experienced, practiced, and narrated within the realm of the quotidian as much as during periods of intensified engagement with Palestine. It seeks to show how, whether overt or subtle, politics underpins practices as diverse as maintaining cultural heritage, commemorating past struggle, securing an exclusive Palestinian place, supporting a football team, and taking part in protest marches. Ultimately, from these ethnographic entry-points, it aims to show how Palestinianness in Santiago is a dynamic social phenomenon marked by the mutual imbrication of the near and the far, the past and the present.

Examiner: Nina Gren, Assistant Professor, Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University