Department of
Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology

Sten Hagberg

Professor of Cultural Anthropology


I have all of my university education and degrees from Uppsala University: Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology in 1987; Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Cultural Anthropology in 1998; Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology in 2003; and Professor in Cultural Anthropology in 2010. Since 2012 Head of Forum for Africa Studies.


Fieldwork in Burkina Faso since 1988 for a total of 6 years, focusing on a wide range of topics and fields:

  • Farmer-herder conflicts and local dispute settlement
  • Local perceptions of forest and land use
  • National political culture
  • Ethnicity and identity
  • Poverty and development
  • Decentralisation and democracy.

Current research activities

Political Practice in Emergent Democratic Cultures
This project aims to elicit key features of democratic culture – basically the ways in which democracy is practised, and attributed meaning by political actors – by analysing the everyday practice of local politicians in Burkina Faso. Three dimensions of political practice will be focused: first, the daily machinery of party politics; second, various forms of collective identification and belonging; and, third, the interventions of international development and public aid. More info, click here

Expanding Spheres of Opposition?: Democratic Culture and Local Development in West African municipalities
By the comparative study of political practice in municipalities in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, in this joint-project (together with Gabriella Körling) we study expressions and articulations of socio-political opposition. Despite two decades of democratisation formal political opposition remains weak in West Africa. Here ‘socio-political opposition’ includes different spheres of political practice: first, the sphere of party politics; second, the sphere of identity and belonging; third, the sphere of development and socio-economic change; fourth, the sphere of public debate and mass media; and, finally, the sphere of anger, frustration and resistance outside formal politics. More info, click here

The postcolonial state and local forms of knowledge in Burkina Faso
The research project aims at understanding interactions between the Burkinabe state – notably in terms of knowledge production, administration and rural extension – and various local and/or endogenous forms of knowledge, particularly expressed in social organization, rituals and voluntary associations. The research project is targeting two specific case studies in western Burkina Faso: 1) History and identity among Tiefo; and 2) Hunters’ brotherhoods/associations and state administration.

Political culture and mass media in Burkina Faso
This research aims at understanding political culture and mass media in Burkina Faso.  In a series of articles published in journals and as book chapters, I am exploring how public debate is shaped in the context of democracy.

Social Stakes and Local Practices in Forest, Pastoral and Tree Usage in Burkina Faso This collaborative project with the Institut des Sciences des Sociétés (INSS) at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST), Burkina Faso, focuses on social stakes and local practices in forest, pastoral and land usage. Within this research project I am the principal supervisor for Sita Zougouri’s PhD-project on Political and Socio-cultural Stakes in the Bougnounou Forest in Burkina Faso.

International Collaboration

Over the years I have increasingly come to work with internationalisation of education as to strengthen participation in international networks and fora with foreign departments, researchers and PhD-students. In particular, this work is currently carried out in four main activities:

Development of a European master collaboration as well as the École doctorale in the field of anthropology of social change and development with universities of Aix-en-Provence/Marseille, Leuven, Louvain-la-Neuve, Brussels, Mainz and Roskilde.

Collaboration and networking with African research institutions as to strenghten research and education exchange. Most importantly, collaboration is ongoing with Burkinabe, Nigerien and Malian institutions

Leading Training and Workshop for young researchers in the South, as to strenghten capacity under the auspices of International Foundation for Science. Recent workshops include Ouagadougou in September 2007, Los Baños in November 2007, and Antananarivo in May 2008.

As President of the Association euro-africaine Pour l'Anthropologie du changement social et du Développement (Euro-African Association for the Anthropology of Social Change and Development), APAD, I am currently involved in activities to strenghten this field of anthropological research and education.

APAD's web site:

Advisory and consultancy

I am regularly commissioned as advisor and consultant by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) within my fields of competence. Recent assignments include decentralisation, natural resource management, and poverty in the West African Sahel.

Selected publications

For new publications, click here

- 1998. Between Peace and Justice: Dispute Settlement between Karaboro agriculturalists and Fulbe agro-pastoralists in Burkina Faso. Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology 25. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

- 2001. A l’ombre du conflit violent: processus de règlement et de gestion des conflits entre agriculteurs karaboro et agro-pasteurs peul au Burkina Faso. Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines 161, XLI-1, 45-72.

- 2001. In search for nyo: Lyela farmers’ perceptions of the forest in Burkina Faso. Africa 71 (3), 481-501.

- 2001. Poverty in Burkina Faso: Representations and Realities. Uppsala-Leuven Research in Cultural Anthropology 1. Uppsala: Department for Cultural Anthropology & Ethnology, Uppsala University.

- 2002. ‘Enough is Enough’: An Ethnographic Account of the Struggle against Impunity in Burkina Faso. The Journal of Modern African Studies 40 (2), June 2002, 217-246.

- 2003. Amoro et Guimbé: histoire et religion dans la construction de l’identité tiefo. In Histoire du peuplement et relations inter-ethniques au Burkina Faso (eds) R. Kuba, C. Lentz & C.N. Somda. Paris: Karthala.

- 2003. Mobilisation of Rights through Organisational Structures. In Readings in African Politics (ed) T. Young. Republishing of chapter 10 in the book Between Peace and Justice: Dispute Settlement between Karaboro agriculturalists and Fulbe agro-pastoralists in Burkina Faso. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press; Oxford: James Currey.

- 2004. Ethnic Identification in Voluntary Associations: The Politics of Development and Culture in Burkina Faso. In Rights and the Politics of Recognition in Africa (eds) H. Englund & F.B. Nyamnjoh. London & New York: ZED Books.

- 2004. Political Decentralization and Traditional Leadership in the Benkadi Hunters’ Association of Western Burkina Faso. Africa Today 50 (4), 51-70.

- 2005. Dealing with Dilemmas: Violent Farmer-Pastoralist Conflicts in Burkina Faso. In No Peace, No War: An Anthropology of Contemporary Armed Conflicts (ed) P. Richards. London & New York: James Currey.

- 2006. “Bobo buveurs, Yarse colporteurs”: Parenté à plaisanterie dans le débat public burkinabè. Cahiers d’Etudes africaines 184, XLVI (4), 861-881.

- 2006. ‘It was Satan that Took the People’: The Making of Public Authority in Burkina Faso. Development and Change 37(4), 779-797.

- 2006. Money, ritual and the politics of belonging in land transaction sin Western Burkina Faso. In Land and the Politics of Belonging in West Africa (eds) R. Kuba & C. Lentz. Leiden & Boston: Brill.

- 2006. The Politics of Joking Relationships in Burkina Faso. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 131(2), 197-214.

- 2006. The Transformation of Ritual Boundaries in Resource-Use Practices in Burkina Faso. Africa Today 52 (4), 109-129.

- 2007. Comprendre sans légitimer : Corruption, impunité et une anthropologie engagée. In Une anthropologie entre rigueur et engagement : Essais autour de l’œuvre de Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan (eds) T. Bierschenk, G. Blundo, Y. Jaffré & M. Tidjani Alou. Paris : Karthala.

- 2007. “Each Bird is Sitting in its Own Tree”: The Authority and Violence of a Hunters’ Association in Western Burkina Faso. In Conflicts over Land and Water in Africa (eds) Bill Derman, Rie Odgaard & Espen Sjaastad. Oxford: James Currey; East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

- 2007. Traditional Chieftaincy, Party Politics, and Political Violence in Burkina Faso. In State Recognition and Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A new dawn for traditional authorities? (eds) L. Buur & H.M Kyed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

- (ed.) 2010. Inventing and Mobilising the Local. APAD-Bulletin 31-32. LIT Münster: Verlag.

- 2011. Trajectoires de l'anthropologie du développement à la suédoise. Ethnologie Francaise, XLI (3), 509-519.

- 2000. (with A.B. Tengan, eds). Bonds and Boundaries in Northern Ghana and Southern Burkina Faso. Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology 30. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. 

- 2009. (with C. Widmark, eds). Ethnographic Practice and Public Aid: Methods and Meanings in Development Cooperation. Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology 45. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

- 2010. (with S. Ouattara). Vigilantes in War: Boundary Crossing of Hunters in Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. In Domesticating Vigilantism in Africa (eds) T.G. Kirsch & T. Grätz. Suffolk & Rochester: James Currey & Boydell & Brewer Inc.

- 2012. (with G. Körling). Socio-political Turmoil in Mali: The Public Debate Following the Coup d'État on 22 March 2012. Africa Spectrum 2-3/2012, 111-125.

- 2012 (with F. Ouattara, eds). "Engaging Anthropology for Development and Social Change". APAD Bulletin 34-36. Münster: LIT Verlag.

Show my publications (link to DiVA)

Contact information
Sten Hagberg


Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology
Box 631
751 26 Uppsala

Visiting address

Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology
Engelska parken, Thunbergsv 3 H
751 26 Uppsala


+46 18 471 7030


+46 (0)18-471 7029


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