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 fall semester (2017) I am teaching and supervising in Uppsala, and I will pursue the administrative duties as Director of Studies in Cultural Anthropology & Ethnology, 3rd Cycle (PhD/research level). I have two PhD students in the final stages of writing up their very exciting projects, and I look forward to dig deep into one in-depth monograph on Uganda and one on Mozambique; focusing, respectively, on the urban capitals of Kampala and Maputo. I will also work on my own stuff. I am finalizing an article on vulnerability and fixers in zones of conflict, entitled “Brokers and breakers of war stories in northern Uganda,” and I will continue to work on a piece on war, vulnerability, and profane communion-building and drinking clubs, called “Constitutionalized drinking in Uganda.” 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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