Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology

Research in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology

Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology are disciplines with many similarities. With a focus on human beings in contemporary society, the department's research has great thematic diversity with research projects scattered all over the world. Ethnological research at the department tends to have a greater historical depth and a focus on our immediate environment in Sweden, while anthropological research is often contemporary with a more global focus. However, the geographical boundaries are not fixed. For example, ethnological research at the department can be about aid workers in East Africa and anthropological research on wildfires in Sweden. Below you can read what themes are currently being researched. 

The department also has two thematic research environments: Engaging Vulnerability and Uppsala University’s Forum for Africa Studies.

Environment, Climate and Disaster

Nature and environmental phenomena have many different meanings for people engaging with them. There is a broad spectra, ranging from indigenous ontologies and religious practices and engagements with nature, to nature-governing at the interface of the state and the market at the national and supranatural level. Read more about the research.

Keywords: hydrosociality, risk & preparedness, temporality, climate change, ontologies & cosmologies, mobility, indigenous people, environmental politics, nature conservation, human-animal relations, environmental knowledge 

Co-Existence and Belonging in Times of Unrest, Social Change and Existential Uncertainties

Global challenges have local consequences and affect how people manage to co-exist in times of polarization. The department's researchers work on social anxiety and conflict, as well as place-making and post-conflict challenges; with ethnographic focuses that unfold across borders and boundaries which are physical and political as well as imagined and socio-cultural. Read more about the research. 

Key words: Conflict; borders/boundaries; place-making & placement; belonging

Morality, Ethics and Cosmology

Socially constituted ideas of what is moral or ethical define a person’s social status and personhood. Researchers at the department are, among other things, interested in what is conceived as moral. Understandings of ethics and morality vary greatly in cultural contexts and are connected with cosmological ideas. Read more about the research. 

Key words: Moral personhood; ethical judgement; faith, religion and ethos; nihilism; moral boundaries; virtue and deviance; rituals.

Migration, Movement, Borders, States

Researchers at the department look into what migration and its associated topics tell us about states, laws, and how people find ways to overcome exclusion on the core-periphery continuum. Read more about the research.

Key words: inclusion & exclusion, governance, borders & time, transnationalism, networks, racism, minorities, citizenship, criminalization

Urbanism and Infrastructure

Cities constitute thick materiality of buildings, technology, means of transportation, spatialized culture, and subcultures. The ways urban life and livelihood are structured affect possible life trajectories, social hierarchies, and visions of personal and national futures and dreams. Technology and infrastructure also influence the way we perceive and interact with the surrounding environment, nature, and even outer space. Read more about the research.

Key words: Space, future & dreams, subjectivity, subcultures, inequalities, affect, nature & environment, connectivity, mediation, mobility, transmission, materiality, social change

Visualities, Media and Art

Visual representations of culture and communication, in the form of films and photos, have a preferred regime of social reproduction, meaning that they have claims about the realities they record. These claims are inscribed and bound by aesthetic norms, power relations and hierarchies, space, mindscapes, symbols and symbolism. Read more about the research.

Key words: Representations, Aesthetics, Narratives, Inclusion & exclusion,  Power relations, landscapes, Appropriation, Otherness, Agency of display, performance & performativity

Last modified: 2023-03-21