University of Gothenburg

Social Anthropology research

Anthropological research at the School of Global Studies builds on a tradition of detailed empirical fieldwork. At the core of our research are lived life, everyday praxis, and the workings of power.


We practice an anthropology built on comparative and reflexive analyses that adds new understandings of the familiar as well as the unfamiliar. Our empirical fieldwork includes methods such as long-term participant-observation; textual, visual and archival research; interviews; elicitation techniques; and collaborative methods such as digital mapping and photo-narration.

We carry out both basic and applied research. Our work addresses classical theoretical problems within anthropology such as the boundaries between persons and things, waste and value, the sacred and the secular, social organisation and the formation of subjectivities, as well as contemporary social issues related to migration, integration, climate change, precarity and collective action.

Anthropologists at the School of Global Studies conduct research in urban and rural settings in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North, Central and South America. 

A sample of current research questions are:

  • How does global neoliberal capitalism affect economic opportunities, social relations and cultural imaginaries among groups ranging from subsistence farmers in the Venezuelan Andes to urban factory workers in south China, to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs?
  • How are climate change and other environmental challenges understood and managed by squatters in Jakarta, indigenous people in Peru and Bolivia, and urban Swedes?
  • How do global religious movements create new sensibilities, practices, and transnational networks in settings from Kuala Lumpur to rural Java to Luanda? Specific projects spanning topics from witchcraft and legal pluralism to religious wars and the social life of spirits.

A growing research field within anthropology is the migration industry, trafficking and new patterns of migration from Europe to Africa.