Sverker Finnström

Sverker_Finnstrom

Photo by Torkel Finnström

I have been conducting ethnographic fieldwork in war-torn northern Uganda since 1997, most recently in 2013. I have also conducted fieldwork among Ugandans in Sweden and the UK, and I have interviewed Swedes and other Europeans with experience from some of Africa’s warzones.

My research in the ENGAGING VULNERABILITY program has grown organically out of my previous work. It focuses on how the crushing vulnerability of people who live in the shadow of war and displacement entails open-ended realities and stories enlivened by expectation and desire. In my previous writing, I have tended to edit out those realities and stories. Now I want to explore them.

This new direction has encouraged me to go back and systematically revisit my fieldwork notebooks in search of hidden, forgotten and silenced stories. My ambition to re-open the archives – both my own and also those of others who have written about war and peace in Uganda and beyond – is a feature of my more general interest in the possibilities and potential of ethnographic writing.

This spring semester (2017) I am teaching and supervising in Uppsala, and I have taken up the position as Director of Studies in Cultural Anthropology & Ethnology, 3rd Cycle (PhD/research level). I am running, for the fourth academic semester now, the regular Higher Research Seminar in Cultural Anthropology & Ethnology series. I also run a PhD course called Anthropology Classics and History of Ideas (15 credits). I will act as the discussant at the next to last defense of a PhD manuscript at Stockholm Un in January (slutseminarieopponent).

I will act as the discussant on a panel on masculinities at the conference “Gender Shifts and Resource Politics in the Arctic” (Uppsala, Feb). I am also invited to present a paper in Paris in March (“Social Dynamics of Civil Wars”: European Research Council Program, Panthéon-Sorbonne), and I will present a paper on the panel “Navigating emotions” at the annual meeting of the Swedish Anthropological Association (April, Stockholm). I will also present a paper at an international research workshop on “Research brokers in zones of conflict” (June, Uppsala). All these three papers deal with cognitive dissonance, vulnerability and resourcefulness, and the global orchestration of civil war. Together with other case studies that I am working on, versions of these texts form chapters of my forthcoming book, tentatively titled War Travels: in and out of northern Uganda.

Contact information: sverker.finnstrom@antro.uu.se

Selected publications:

Monograph:
2008monographLiving with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda. Durham: Duke University Press. Winner of the Distinguished Margaret Mead Award, 2009, of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology. Read the printed version of my speech from the Award Ceremony, Merida, Mexico, March 2010.
Anthology (with Neil L. Whitehead)
2013Virtual war and magical death: Technologies and imaginaries for terror and killing. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Articles
2016O Anthropology, Where Art Thou? An auto-ethnography of proposals. Pp. 46-59 in The anthropologist as writer: Genres and contexts in the 21st century, ed. Helena Wulff. Oxford & New York: Berghahn.
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2015War stories and troubled peace: Revisiting some secrets of northern Uganda. Current Anthropology. Vol 56, no S12, pp S222-S230. DOI: 10.1086/683270.
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2015Comment on Media Legacies of War (by Victor MF Igreja). Current Anthropology. Vol 56, no 5, pp 691-692. DOI: 10.1086/683107.
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2015War: Anthropological Aspects, Historical Development of [co-authored with Carolyn Nordstrom]. Pp. 377-38 in International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, vol 25, editor-in-chief James D. Wright. Oxford: Elsevier. DOI:10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.12235-4.
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2013Today He Is No More: Magic, Intervention, and Global War in Uganda. Pp. 111-131 in Virtual war and magical death: Technologies and imaginaries for terror and killing, eds Neil L. Whitehead and Sverker Finnström. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Read about the book
2012KONY 2012, Military Humanitarianism, and the Magic of Occult Economies. Africa Spectrum, vol 47, no 2-3, pp. 127-135.
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Listen to an interview with Sverker about the film KONY 2012. Link goes to an external site (Swedish Radio).
2012Humanitarian death and the magic of global war in Uganda. Pp 106-119 in War, Technology, Anthropology (Critical Interventions, vol 13), ed. Koen Stroeken. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
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2010An African hell of colonial imagination? The Lord’s Resistance Army/Movement in Uganda, another story (revision of the Politique African article). Pp 74-89 in The Lord’s Resistance Army: Myth and reality, ed. Tim Allen and Koen Vlassenroot. London: Zed Press (with Palgrave MacMillan and Fountain).
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2010Reconciliation grown bitter? War, retribution, and ritual action in northern Uganda. Pp 135-156 in Localizing Transitional Justice: Interventions and Priorities after Mass Violence, ed. Rosalind Shaw and Lars Waldorf, with Pierre Hazan. Stanford: Stanford University Press/Stanford Studies in Human Rights.
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Sverker

Watch Sverker Finnström (together with Rosalind Shaw and Roland Kostić) talk on transitional justice in post-war societies. Link goes to an external site.
2009Gendered war and rumors of Saddam Hussein in Uganda. Anthropology and Humanism, vol 34, no 1, pp 61-70, with cover illustration. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1409.2009.01024.x
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2009Fear of the midnight knock: State sovereignty and internal enemies in Uganda. Pp 124-142 in Crisis of the state: War and social upheaval, ed. Bruce Kapferer & Bjørn Enge Bertelsen. Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books.
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2006Wars of the past and war in the present: The Lord’s Resistance Movement/Army in Uganda. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, vol 76, no 2, pp 200-220. DOI: 10.3366/afr.2006.76.2.200.
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2006Survival in war-torn Uganda. Anthropology Today, vol 22, no 2, pp 12-15. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8322.2006.00423.x
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2006Meaningful rebels? Young adult perceptions on the Lord’s Resistance Movement/Army in Uganda. Pp 203-227 in Navigating youth, generating adulthood: Social becoming in an African context, ed. Catrine Christiansen, Mats Utas & Henrik Vigh. Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute.
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2005“For God and my life”: War and cosmology in northern Uganda. Pp 98-116 in No peace, no war: An anthropology of contemporary armed conflicts, ed. Paul Richards. Oxford & Ohio: James Currey and Ohio University Press.
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2001In and out of culture: Fieldwork in war-torn Uganda (revised version). Critique of Anthropology, vol 21, no 3, pp 247-258. DOI: 10.1177/0308275X0102100304.
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Recent book reviews
2016Review of Evelyn Amony, I am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming My Life from the Lord’s Resistance Army (Un of Wisconsin Press, 2015). In Warscapes Magazine.
Read the review
2014Disillusion, embodiment and violent reconciliations: Engaged anthropology on Rwanda, El Salvador, and Peru. Review essay on Jennie E. Burnet, Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory, and Silence in Rwanda (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), Irina Carlota Silber, Everyday Revolutionaries: Gender, Violence, and Disillusionment in Postwar El Salvador (New York: Rutgers UP, 2011) and Kimberly Theidon, Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru (Philadelphia: PENN Press, 2013). In Political and Legal Anthropology Review, vol 37, no 2, pp. 371-376. DOI: 10.1111/plar.12080.
Read the review
2013Review of Susan Thomson, An Ansoms and Jude Murison, eds., Emotional and Ethical Challenges for Field Research in Africa: The story behind the findings (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. In Journal of Modern African Studies, vol 51, no 3, pp 540-541.
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2013Review of Nicolas Argenti and Katharina Schramm, eds., Remembering Violence: Anthropological Perspectives on Intergenerational Transmission (Berghahn Books, 2010). In Social Analysis, vol 57, no 2, pp 131-133.
Read the review

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