Aarhus University Seal


Moesgård Anthropological Research Analysis

MANTRA is an abbreviation for the Moesgård Anthropological Research Analysis (in Danish: Moesgaards ANTRopologiske Analyseenhed).

MANTRA is a university-based analysis unit attached to Aarhus University, collaborating with private and public organisations providing tailored anthropological analyses. At MANTRA we are always on the look-out for possible research and education perspectives in project partnerships. As far as possible, we include researchers and students in the projects we carry out. 

For each project, MANTRA hand-picks the best professional anthropologists possessing the particular academic competences which are relevant for our particular collaboration project. 

Read more about our services below and see which projects MANTRA is a part of here

Forms of collaboration

Co-financed research

The research at the Department of Anthropology encompasses a wide range of themes which we want to develop in collaboration with external partners in order to add new themes and perspectives to our work on an ongoing basis. In other words, we can collaborate with many different types of public and private organisations in a wide range of different project types. Like commissioned projects, co-financed research involves close dialogue with our partners. A contract is always signed defining the content, timetable and rights. 

Commissioned collaboration projects

MANTRA provides feedback, consulting and assistance in relation to various forms of research and development tasks, including user studies (UX studies), evaluations and organisational analyses.

MANTRA is always happy to discuss task performance with its clients, and to sign a contract covering content, timetables and rights. Johanne Korsdal Sørensen is MANTRA’s project manager. Both researchers, scientific assistants and paid anthropology student workers are included to the necessary extent in our collaboration projects.

Commissioned activities comply with Aarhus University’s rules about income-generating activities, and the projects involved are financed by the company or organisation that commissions us to take part.

Scalability – anthropological analyses

The theoretical and methodical approach used by anthropologists enables us to carry out valuable long-term or short-term studies. An anthropological study can last from a few hours to days, weeks, months and even years. MANTRA can also scale projects by intensifying the efforts invested, taking on extra help for short periods of time when necessary. For example, MANTRA can assign ten anthropologists to a project for a period of two months in order to generate a strong body of data in a short space of time. In other words, anthropological studies are scalable. The duration of a study can be adapted to suit the needs of your organisation and the nature of the project in question. 

We draw on experts in e.g.

  • Health and sickness
  • Bureaucrazy and power
  • Social media, film and photo
  • Migration and tourism
  • Sustainability and environmental issues
  • Specific regions and religions


Why anthropologists?

Anthropologists are experts in examining human aspects, social structures, social spaces and describing human interaction, attitudes, viewpoints and behavior in a broad sense, including the interaction of people with things, technology etc.

Anthropological studies are the right solution when your organization seeks to understand and explain human behavior in depth across culture and social divides (gender, age and social groups, etc.). When your organization needs to understand human action and interaction based on people's concrete lived experiences. Anthropologists seek to depict reality as complex/variegated as reality is when we take human structures, action and people's attitudes as a starting point.

The motivation for your organization may be a desire to communicate more purposefully with a specific group of people. It may also be that your organization needs to uncover a problem from different groups of people's points of view in order to create a nuanced basis for decision-making. Another possible motivation may be to uncover motives for conflicts within the organization or between external parties. Finally, it may be that your organization wants to understand and predict, among other things, demand and preferences in order to contribute to targeted communication, among other things, in connection with market planning and product development.

Who uses anthropologists?

Novo, Intel, Microsoft, Lego, Ford and many other international companies have employed anthropologists in their development departments. For example, anthropologists investigate patients' needs in connection with the development of injection systems. Based on these user studies, anthropologists and engineers in Novo's development team collaborate on the development of optimal injection systems for patients.

Innovation succeeds - when it is based on deep knowledge of the target group for the development project. Anthropologists are experts in investigating, understanding and communicating the viewpoints of different target groups, so that your organization gains detailed knowledge of the behavior patterns and logics of certain groups of people. 

Read what companies say about the collaboration with anthropologists

Our methods

Participant observation - implies that the study takes place by the anthropologist participating in a social context in order to simultaneously observe and document people's culture and interaction. The focus can be expanded to also include the interaction between product and consumer, organization and individual, technology and individual or between doctor and patient.

Qualitative interviews – involves open questions about the informants' experiences and perspectives, etc.

Collectively, these methods are excellent for investigating human interaction, behavior, social structures, attitudes and viewpoints in different cultural contexts.

Anthropology is innovative because it is a reflective and critical discipline that is continuously engaged in dialogue to challenge and develop social life and social structures at all societal levels. Anthropologists are professionally aware of their own prejudices and to "pause" these prejudices, to be open in our approach to and understanding of other people's perspective, cultures and social structures. The anthropologist often works within fields of the statistically inexplicable. What is called, "the human/cultural aspects".

Anthropologists have the methodological and theoretical skills to carry out analyzes of the interaction of people in human-made structures and in interaction with technology, the environment, physical spaces etc. Anthropological analysis examines and explains people's motivations for acting as they do. Including: people's attitudes, behavior and cultures.

Often people do what they say they do. In many cases, people do more than what they say they do. This is due, among other things, to the fact that people also do something unspoken. For example, they have habits and perform actions in ways that they themselves take for granted and therefore do not think to explain to others. That information cannot be collected by surveys, but by anthropological methods.

Read more about anthropology here.

Read more about the master's program Human Security.


Johanne Korsdal Sørensen

External Relations Manager School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropology