Lena Sawyer

Senior Lecturer

Department of Social
Visiting address
Sprängkullsgatan 23
41123 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 720
40530 Göteborg

About Lena Sawyer

Hello and welcome to my page! I received my Ph.D in cultural anthropology (2000) from University of California Santa Cruz in 2000 and since then I have lived and worked in Sweden where I have worked as a teacher and researcher in social work educational programs. My work has been focused primarily on understanding social work from understandings of power using different perspectives and methodologies. I am interdisciplinary inclined and their potential for social transformation, care and creativity have informed my teaching, knowledge production and research approach most recently.

Current research: During the last few years I have been interested in understanding academia from decolonial perspectives and methodologies, which has meant for me creating approaches to knowledge making grounded in other epistemologies than I previously have worked with. Together with Nana-Osei Kofi (Women's Studies Oregon State Univ) I have collaborated in the project “Listening”: Engaging the imperial archive through Black feminist methodologies and arts-based research (2018-current). In this project we have studied public space in relation to archiving and and coloniality. We have approached current debates and ongoing collective memory work around public space, memory and representation as a form of social care. For example, we have explored the statue The Iron Well, as well as other places/monuments in the city of Gothenburg as fragments of coloniality, which through our approach are woven together and offer a reinvisioned purpose and public. We are inspired by critical archiving approaches and methodologies, for example Sadiya Harman's "critical fabulation" and Tina Campt's methodology of "listening".

I have also, since 2021, been engaged in an exploratory project together with Kris Clarke (Institution for social work, Helsinki Univ) which engages walking methodologies such as city walking as a pedagogy with decolonial potential for social work.

Areas of competence: Public space, commemoration and memory, Art-Based Methods, Education and Institutional discrimination, Racism, Normativity and Child Protection, Anti-Blackness.

Since 2023 - 26 I am a part of The Colombia University Center for the Study of Social Difference Working Group on Afro-Nordic Feminisms led by Monica Miller och Nana Osei-Kofi: