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About MANTRA

MANTRA is an abbreviation for the Anthropological Analysis Unit at Moesgaard (in Danish: Moesgaards ANTRopologiske Analyseenhed).

MANTRA is a university-based analysis unit attached to Aarhus University, collaborating with private and public organisations. For instance, we are involved in development projects of all kinds. MANTRA provides tailored anthropological analyses of any issues that you want to know more about. 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. 

MANTRA provides guidance and feedback in all aspects of anthropology, collaboration and research. Clients can commission us for analysis and consulting services in all areas of our expertise. We can also take part in co-financed research and collaboration projects.

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

Read more about our services

You are very welcome to contact us with any questions about potential collaboration projects. We can then discuss the development of ideas and the design of the projects you need.
Just give us a call, or drop us a line

Johanne Korsdal Sørensen is responsible for MANTRA, as well as being the project manager for most of our collaboration projects. She is an anthropologist from Aarhus University and has a PhD in sociology from the University of Copenhagen. She has been involved in project management for public and private organisations for many years, including experience of health-IT development projects (across different sectors and in close collaboration between public and private players). Johanne also has a great deal of research experience. 

Why use anthropologists?

Anthropologists are experts in investigating human factors, social structures and social spaces, and in describing human interaction, attitudes, perspectives and behaviour in a broad sense, including how people interact with objects and technology, for instance.

Anthropological studies are what you need when your organisation wants to understand and explain human behaviour in depth across cultural and social barriers (gender, age, social groups, etc.), and when you need to understand human actions and interactions based on people’s real-life experiences. Anthropologists seek to portray reality in all its diversity and complexity, basing their investigations on human structures, human actions and people’s attitudes.

For instance, your organisation might want to communicate more directly with a particular target group. Or you may need to understand an issue from the point of view of various groups of people with a view to gaining a multifaceted basis for making decisions. You might want to identify the reasons for internal conflicts within an organisation or conflicts between external partners. And finally, your organisation might want to understand and predict the demands and preferences of its clients in order to communicate with them more directly – for instance in connection with market planning and product development.

Who employs anthropologists?

Novo Nordisk, Intel, Microsoft, Lego, Ford and many other international companies employ anthropologists in their development departments. For example, anthropologists examine the needs of patients in connection with the development of injection systems. Based on these user surveys, anthropologists and engineers in Novo’s development team collaborate to develop the best injection systems for patients.

Innovation is a wonderful thing – when it is based on in-depth knowledge of the intended target group. Anthropologists are experts in investigating, understanding and communicating the points of view of various target groups. They can help your organisation to gain detailed knowledge of patterns of action and logical thinking among specific groups of people. 

Our methods

Participant observation: This involves the anthropologist taking part in a social context and simultaneously observing and documenting human culture and interaction. The focus can also be extended to include the interaction between products and consumers, organisations and people, technology and human beings, or doctors and patients.

Qualitative interviews: These involve asking open questions about the respondents’ experiences, perspectives, etc.

Overall, these methods are an excellent way to explore human interaction, behaviour, social structures, attitudes and points of view in various cultural contexts.

Anthropology is an innovative discipline, because it reflectively, critically and continuously engages in dialogue with a view to challenging and developing social life and social structures at all levels of society. Anthropologists are professionally aware of their own prejudices. They also know how to put these prejudices on hold in order to retain an open mind in their approach to and understanding of other people’s perspectives, cultures and social structures. Anthropology often deals with aspects of life that are statistically inexplicable. With what is called “human/cultural aspects”.

Anthropologists have the methodical and theoretical competences to perform analyses of human interaction in man-made structures and in interaction with technology, the environment, physical spaces, etc. Anthropological analyses examine and explain people’s motives for acting as they do. This includes people’s attitudes, behaviour and cultures.

People often do what they say they are going to do. But in many cases people actually do more than they say they are going to do. This is because they also do things which are tacit. For instance, they have habits and perform actions in ways that they take for granted, which is why they do not bother to explain them to others. This type of information cannot be detected by surveys, but it can be detected by anthropological methods.

Read more about anthropology here.

Read more about the Master’s degree programme in human security

A qualification profile that matches your needs

MANTRA’s network makes it possible to hand-pick a professional anthropologist with a qualification profile which matches your needs.

Rune Kier Nielsen 


Kresten Kjær Sørensen 


Silje Marie Meltvedt


Pernille Hjortkjær


Maja Hjorth Just