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The Department of Global Studies at Aarhus University is an interdisciplinary and international department. Scholars from Global Studies participate in many different research projects some of which are described below.


Externally funded project

China’s Twitter Diplomacy: Content and Impact

Funded by Aarhus University Research Foundation (AUFF)

This research project aims to address these lacunae to contribute with knowledge and theories on China's global engagement to regain its geo-political position during the pandemic. The two research questions we want to address are: 

1. What was the nature of China's Twitter diplomacy as reflected in the content of the tweets published during the year of the outbreak of the pandemic (2020)?

2. How was China's Twitter diplomacy reflected in the recognition and amplification in mainstream media in selected European countries?

Period: Jan 2020 – Dec. 2022  

Principal Investigator:

  • Mette Thunø, Associate professor at China Studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University

Participating scholars:

  • Antonella Ceccagno, Professor, University of Bologna
  • Emilié Tran, Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
  • Yu-Chin Tseng, Junior Professor, Tübingen University
  • Kristoffer Laigaard Nielbo, Associate Professor, Center for Humanities Computing, Aarhus University


Plastics and the Anthropocene: The Bads Associated with the Goods We Consume

* | Carlsbergfondet

Plastic pollution is a pressing global concern, and there is an urgent need for research into the sociocultural dimensions of plastic use and disposal. This research project aims to address that need by exploring what people in urban and rural India, Indonesia, and the Philippines find to be the benefits and risks of using plastic food containers and bottles and what they find to be the advantages, risks, and constraints of different methods of disposing of the resulting plastic wastes, with particular focus on the open burning of wastes.

Period: September 2021-August 2024

Principal Investigator:

  • Gaura Pathak, Associate professor at India and South Asia Studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University

Associated scholars are:

  • Mark Nichter, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Public Health, and Family Medicine, University of Arizona
  • Anita Hardon, Professor of Anthropology of Health and Social Care, University of Amsterdam



PEPP (Port Efficiency and Public Private Capacity)


PEPP aims to map and improve approaches to Capacity Development for the maritime sector in Ghana in order to enhance the potential of the maritime sector to drive Ghana’s economic growth in a sustainable manner. Engaging with the community at Tema Port and relevant theoretical literature, the PEPP team poses critical questions, share different viewpoints, and conduct research to address the concerns of the people who work in the port. The concerns include digital transformation, national content, labor, corruption, and, most recently, the reactions to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

PEPP has received funding from the Danish Foreign Ministry (FFU).

Period: January 2019-January 2022

Principal Investigator:

Participating scholars:

  • George Acheampong (University of Ghana Business School)
  • Jonas Nii Ayi Aryee (Regional Maritime University, Ghana)
  • Torben Andersen (Business and Technology, AU)
  • Casper Andersen, Associate professor at History of Ideas, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University


Echoes (European Colonial Heritage Modalities in Entangled Cities)


Echoes investigates practices around colonial heritage in a number of cities in Europe and in countries formerly colonized by European powers. Around 30 scholars from six universities in Europe and from Universities in Brazil collaborate in the project. Collaboration also include six museums.

Echoes has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under agreed no 770248

Principal Investigator:

  • Jan Ifversen, Associate professor at European studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University


Understanding the Causes of Pro- and Anti-Social Behavior in a Pandemic

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly focusing on non-pharmaceutical interventions, and thus emphasize the ability to mobilize pro-social behavior as perhaps the key determinant of the ‘curve’ of the disease. This project will test psychological, social (including mediational) and institutional determinants of pro- and anti-social behavior in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, through an original cross-national survey. The team will publish a working paper on key public-interest findings within 1-2 weeks of data collection. Academic papers and the dataset will be published open-access in due course.

The project is funded by IKS, Aarhus University, Princeton University, Kings College London, University of North Carolina, Cornell University.

Involved scholars:

  • Dr. Samuel Greene (King’s College London)
  • Prof. Graeme Robertson (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
  • Dr. Jeremy Morris (Aarhus University)
  • Prof. Grigore Pop-Eleches (Princeton University)
  • Dr Bryn Rosenfeld (Cornell University)


Urban Activism and the Development of Civil Society in the Russian Federation https://rsw.indiana.edu/workshops-conferences/iu-europe-gateway-conferences-urban-activism.html]

Urban activism is a dynamic component of civil society in the Russian Federation.  Unlike in the West, scholars argue that some aspects of civil society under Russia’s managed democracy is closely aligned with state agendas even when actors mobilise against the policies of the regime. The goal of the project is an edited volume based on the contributions of a cross-national research community including many young scholars from Russia.

The project is funded by: Carnegie Corporation, US Russia Foundation and Indiana University.

Participating scholars:

  • Jeremy Morris, Associate professor at Russian and Balkan studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University
  • Andrei Semonov (Perm State University)
  • Professor Regina Smyth (Indiana University)



The politics of experiencing the state:  citizens and bureaucrats welfare encounters in Romania and Denmark


This comparative politics project uses micro-level study in the form of data collected from Romania and Denmark focussed on street-level bureaucrats in municipal welfare state organisations and their clients.

Laswell’s (1958) definition of politics – ‘who gets what, when and how?’ – takes on a very different meaning if one switches from macro-level concepts, such as (groups in) civil society, political elites and the rules of the (democratic) political game to the micro-level. Here the ‘who?’ becomes citizen, whose main claims on the state are public goods such as order, security, access to infrastructure, as well as welfare in various forms. The ‘whens’ and ‘hows’ of these claims are all channelled through (often municipal or arms-length) bureaucracies. In other words, from a micro-level perspective, politics is much more about interactions with and experiences of street-level bureaucracies and social entitlements than exercising civil and political rights

This begs the question of what the conceptualisation of a unitary, coherent, agentic ‘state’ rests upon; and whether it is a useful analytical construct for any level of analysis. Our study, by situating stateness within everyday encounters, approaches the question of state coherence from a new analytical dimension. The separation between state and society becomes much more complex and fuzzy than most theorists of the state would wish to have it. And the conflicts between ‘the state’ that bureaucrats represent and ‘society’ of claiming citizens are shown to be more diverse and complex than hitherto theorised.

Funded by AUFF

Involved scholars:


Russia’s Everyday Political Economy

This project intervenes in debates on contemporary Russia by reversing the usual perspective on political economy - that it is only about ‘big and important things’ (Hobson and Seabrooke 2009: 290). Instead of a top-down, elite-focussed analysis, I propose a bottom-up approach that looks at how Russia as a state and society functions. I do this by engaging with the everyday encounters of people with bureaucracy and the market economy, and the extreme challenges of social reproduction faced since 1991 The goal of the project is an monograph based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, for delivery by 2022.

The project is funded by AUFF

Participating scholars:

  • Jeremy Morris, Associate professor, Russian and Balkan studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University



Migrant Youth out of place? Cross-cultural Understandings of Night and Belonging in Aarhus and Lisbon (2019-2022)


The goal of this project is to understand how migrant communities use the city at night, to co-create venues of migrant visibility and to suggest future public policy for the development of more inclusive cities. In many cases, such as in the specific “Moving Walls” project in Aarhus, communities are perceived by the general populace as “migrant” and thus stigmatized as “other” even though they were born in the European country in question, i.e., Denmark.

The project is part of NITE, a collaborative research project funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area). Other cities in the NITE project include: Amsterdam, Berlin, Cork, Galway, London and Rotterdam.

Participating scholars:

  • Derek Pardue, Associate professor, Brazilian studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University
  • Sara Brandellero (leading PI),
  • Ben Campkin (University College London)
  • Ailbhe Kenney (Mary Immaculate College)
  • Manuela Bojadzijev (Leuphana University of Lüneburg)


Internationalisation and social practice in the Danish field of Higher Education

With inspiration from the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, this project explores how the internationalisation processes that took place in the Danish field of higher education in the first part of the 21st century have changed the Danish university landscape and the educational practices associated with it. Drawing on a rich empirical material collected over several years by a collective of scholars the project contributes with new knowledge about internationalisation of universities and with innovative ways to apply Bourdieusian thinking in empirical research.

The project has received funding from FKK, the Danish Free Research Council.

Principal Investigator:

  • Lisanne Wilken, Associate professor, European studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University

Associated scholars:

  • Hanne Tange (Aalborg University)
  • Tanja Kanne Wadsholt (Aarhus University)
  • Mette Ginnerskov-Dahlberg (Uppsala University)


Ongoing research projects


The Populist Challenge to Gender Equality

The point of departure for this research is a ‘gender gap’ in the literature on populism, since it lacks systematic studies of populism from a gender perspective. This research investigates the relations between populism and gender in EU member states and EU institutions. While mainstream literature on populism, with few exceptions, has neglected gender issues, there is a new body of work on gender and right-wing populism and neo-nationalism. The project discusses what populism means for democracy, gender equality and the future of the EU.

Involved scholars:

  • Christina Fiig, Associate professor, European studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University
  • Birte Siim (Aalborg University)


Representation of Female Politicians in Danish Parliamentarian Politics

Denmark is characterized as ‘a non-quota country’ and as the Nordic exception when it comes to women’s representation at the national parliamentary level. Women’s representation to the Danish parliament has stagnated at 37-39% since 1998.

The project focuses on internal, informal measures to promote gender equality in representation (or the lack thereof) and asks why some parties are the laggards while others have achieved high levels of women’s representation? The focus is ‘everyday democracy’ of political parties (the meso-level), exploring the diversity of practices and strategies for training, visibility and empowerment of women candidates as measures of gender equality/parity. The empirical analysis consists of five parties (both from left and right) in the Danish parliament.

Involved scholars:

  • Christina Fiig, Associate professor, European studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University
  • Lise Rolandsen-Agustin (Aalborg University)
  • Birte Siim (Aalborg University)


Danish Suffragettes’ Transnational Engagement

This research investigates Danish suffragettes’ transnational engagement in the beginning of the 20th century. Despite the Nordic countries’ early introduction of universal enfranchisement, we know very little about the Danish (and Nordic) engagement in a transnational context. The analysis is based on readings of organizational periodicals of the most influential Danish women’s organizations in the period of 1888-1909 tracing contours of this particular engagement. This project documents that the periodicals offer a window for better understanding the political engagement with the internationalization of feminism and the ways women were framed as empowered political subjects before the actual enfranchisement was introduced.

Involved scholar:

  • Christina Fiig, Associate professor, Euroepean studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus Universit


Powering large-scale reviews of energy security vs. social impact literatures with topic modelling to locate cross-referencing between them

The aim of this project is to spark debate – or have recognised – that energy security experts fail to take the large amount of generated knowledge on social impacts into account in their writing. This knowledge on social impact may indeed change the energy security experts’ understanding of the very concept of energy security.

Involved scholars:


Extractive sector politics in Latin America and their impact on poverty alleviation

This research investigates the changing policy making environment in three areas of socio-economic development in Latin America: a) greater transparency in national earnings from non-renewables, b) increased channelling of non-renewables into national developmental and poverty alleviation efforts and c) higher levels of popular participation in decisions about the exploitation of non-renewables.

Involved scholar:


Economic Benefit Agreements (EBAs) in the resources sector

This research looks at EBAs as readily available legal tools to assist communities capture some of the benefits derived from resource sector projects and thus ameliorate some of their negative impacts.

Involved scholars:

  • Vladimir Douglas Pacheco Cueva, Associate professor, International studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University
  • Fiona Martin (University of Sydney)


Lies That Take Place

This project juxtaposes urban theory with ethnographic fiction to demonstrate the politics of African (Senegalese, Malian, Congolese and Angolan) and Haitian migrant presence and urban infrastructure in the new Global South destination point of São Paulo, Brazil. The project emerged from 15 months of fieldwork and explores “black” subjectivities as they relate to residential, cultural, commercial and religious spaces in the city. Due to the precarity of the situation and the existential nature of many consultants’ experiences, I find it intellectually and ethically rewarding to push the boundaries of text, image and sound; fiction and non-fiction, as the politics and geographies of race and belonging converge.

Scholars involved:

  • Derek Pardue, Associate professor, Brazilian studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University (related to Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg)


European Watercooler Moments? Hanging out on Twitter during the Eurovision Song Contest

This project discusses how the Eurovision Song Contest provides a context for developing transnational conversations about Europe on social media. Drawing on computational and (n)ethnographic methods and focusing on the millions of Tweets that are exchanged between people across Europe, and in fact across the world during the grand final of the Eurovision song contest, the project examines how Twitter users engage with and talk about Europe and European affairs while watching the show.The project was developed as part of the Digital Humanities project at Aarhus University in 2018 https://digitalarts.au.dk/.

Scholars involved:

  • Lisanne Wilken, Associate professor, European studies, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University


Current PhD-projects


Ai Chung

Sounds and Memories: Tracing the Sounds of War in Post-War Taiwan

This project aims to discover Taiwan’s essential sound and memories in the early post-war period (1945 to 1955 and beyond) through a series of different resources and approaches. By analyzing documents and sounds as well as interviewing citizens of Taiwan who experienced the war period, this project tries to identify the most important post-WWII sounds as well as their acoustic echoes in people’s cultural memories and thereby focus on the auditory dimension of WWII history and experience. The project is part of the Sounds of Independence project
and funded by the Velux foundation.


Naja Morell Hjortshøj

Innovation and entrepreneurship education with Chinese characteristics

This PhD-project investigates how innovation and entrepreneurship education is perceived and practiced by teachers and students at higher education institutions in China. In 2015, the Chinese government launched a new education campaign which makes it mandatory that all higher education institutions in China teach innovation and entrepreneurship education. In order to find out how this campaign is implemented in practice, I conduct ethnographic fieldwork by observing innovation and entrepreneurship courses, and I furthermore interview university teachers as well as Chinese students on what meaning they attach to innovation and entrepreneurship.

This project is funded by Aarhus University.


Meina Jia

Daigou: A Study of Market, Trust, and Transnational Chinese Networks

“Daigou” (buying-on-behalf-of) is a business practice in China that emerged in the early 2000s and became prominent during the milk powder scandal in 2008. As a strategy for dealing with food-safety concerns, daigou has turned into a massive global business, a largely unregulated grey market that trades virtually all kinds of consumer goods to China. This business practice reflects the increasing financial power of the middle class in China during the reform period, as well as the vicissitudes of social relationships during the transformation.

Theoretically inspired by the concept of social stratification, commodification, and gender politics, my project examines the development of a particular reselling Chinese network of infant formula, seeking to understand the interaction of the market, relational obligation and women’s empowerment in China and its links to this business practice in Denmark. The project also deals with more subtle questions regarding the entanglements of private networks, global consumerism, social media, and business interests.

This project is connected with the project Moral Economies of Food in Contemporary China


Anne Sophie Grauslund Kristensen

Social thrust in the everyday workings of the Danish Welfare State

This PhD project proposes a novel, empirically-grounded approach to explore social trust and how it relates to the Danish welfare state. Even in established social democracies street-level workers’ discretion can result in unequal outcomes for the citizens, and the personal relation between citizen and street-level worker can thus be of big importance to the outcome of the interactions. By looking at how citizen-state interactions play out between visiting nurses and toddler parents in a medium-sized municipality in East Jutland, Denmark, this project seeks to understand how trust relates to the nature and outcomes of these interactions. The project primarily depends upon data generated over 10 months ethnographic fieldwork. The project is part of the Politics and experience of the State project


Jonathan Nilas Puntervold

This project aims to examine an overlooked chapter in the history of Japanese linguistics, ca. 1900-1950, in which a number of Japanese grammarians began to question the validity of European theories of language and grammar. Instead, they developed their own, original theories that challenged the Western paradigm on several accounts, from basic theoretical categories to fundamental epistemological assumptions. I examine this Japanese “counter-movement” to European linguistics as a type of reaction against Western-imposed modernity. Primary sources are a number of grammar books ranging from 1897 to 1948.


Sophie Schmalenberger

Populism beyond the ’Never again!’ - The AfD as alternative German-ness for Germany

This project looks at far-right populism in Germany with a focus on memory and affect. In particular, I am interested in how, in re-unified, post-Holocaust Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) utilizes memory elements (symbols, practices, performances etc.) to challenge the hegemonic German self-conception and articulate an alternative account of what it means and what it feels like to be German. In order to do so, I aim to develop a theoretical and analytical frame-work that allows for an affective reading of the AfD’s memory work and will be used to analyze selected texts and audiovisual contents distributed by AfD actors via Social Media.