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Research profile

The Anthropology Research Program seeks to develop insight into how the dialectic between empirical research and theoretical reflection can be retooled into new forms of fieldwork-based research that can provide new knowledge on topics which we thought we already understood, topics that range from climate change, cultural epidemiology, poverty, migrationhuman-nonhuman relationsmuseology, music,  post-disaster recovery, ethics, heritage studies, food and public health to creativity in business or the revival of religion in the 21st century. Researchers in the department tackle some of the key challenges we are facing as humans and societies in the contemporary world, including environmental crisis, pandemics, global inequality and mobility, fake news and democracy deficits, artificial intelligence and the boom of virtual technology, financial crises. We tackle these problems and challenges as anthropologists, that is to say contextually yet comparatively, empathetically yet non-normatively. We seek to provide imaginative analytical insights into what society takes for granted. We live in a world that is both tied together and broken apart by multiple forms of crisis. Such a world needs imagination as much as facts, compassion with other humans and nonhumans as much as critical distance.

Our anthropologists experiment with fieldwork (in-person and online) in innovative ways to rethink problems of the contemporary world. To do so, members of the Anthropology Research Program collaborate:

  • with colleagues at the University of Oslo and the University of Santa Cruz on climate change and the Anthropocene
  • with health services in Denmark to address challenges to public health
  • with members of the local Islamic community to challenge unfair portrayals of them in the media
  • with Moesgaard Museum to disseminate research to local audiences through provocative aesthetics and design
  • with International Non-Governmental Organizations through our Human Security Program in places as diverse at Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Uganda
  • with visual artists and filmmakers through our Eye and Mind Visual Anthropology Program
  • and partners from across Aarhus University on projects that intersect with Philosophy, Religion, Ecology, and Media Studies, to name a few....

The Anthropology Research Program supports these activities and serves to create common research-oriented ones. We disseminate opportunities for external funds and assist in application writing. We promote local conferences and workshops. We have an on-going Departmental Seminar which hosts famous anthropologists from around the world to present their research here. We provide small grants of seed money to members of our program. Together with the Institute for Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen, we organize a biennial conference humorously titled, the MEGASEMINAR. And we organize occasional internal research conferences for program members. The Anthropology Research Program is open to all researchers at Aarhus University who use a fieldwork-based and comparative approach in their research and who wish to further develop this approach in their efforts to understand contemporary cultural and social issues.

The overall aim of the program is:

  • To develop the theoretical and academic foundations for fieldwork-based studies of contemporary human lives and societal problems.
  • To experiment with new forms of qualitative methodology, innovative forms of cultural comparison, and interdisciplinary forms of knowledge production.
  • To revitalise traditional discussions about knowledge, validity and relevance of the humanities.
  • To develop a science of what it means to be human that also promotes equality and better conditions of life for all humans as well as for other living beings.
  • To cultivate forms of transdisciplinary collaboration without compromising on the scholarly traditions of anthropology.
  • To find solutions to real world problems in real time while insisting on critical distance to those who want to define the limits of the real.