Annika Björnsdotter Teppo

Short presentation

Annika Teppo is a cultural/social anthropologist who has been working on Cape Town since 1997. She has examined whiteness, social engineering public spaces, religious practices, moral personhood, family&kinship, and neoliberal processes in the post-apartheid cities. Annika worked as a cluster leader on Urban Dynamics at the Nordic Africa Institute in 2012-2016. Her research areas and interests include urban anthropology, religion, kinship economy, and whiteness and race studies.


  • afrikaners
  • family and kinship studies
  • family economics
  • post-apartheid cities
  • public space
  • race
  • religion
  • sacred
  • south africa
  • urban studies
  • whiteness


PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University of Helsinki 2004

Docent and Principal Investigator at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki

Editor-in-chief, Nordic Journal of African studies (2018-2022).

Research focus

My research has a focus on African cities and urban South Africans in particular. I have researched and resided for several years in South Africa, where my interest was first focused on the ideas of race and ethnicity among white South Africans, especially Afrikaners. I have followed the social transformation during the post-apartheid era ever since I first started my fieldwork in Cape Town in 1997. I wrote my PhD on ‘poor whites’ in South Africa. After that I have written on religious change in post-apartheid South Africa, and also examined the ideas of mediation and moral communities in African cities. Since 2018 I have been working on the post-apartheid Afrikaner families in my research project, which was funded first by Engaging Vulnerablity writing grant, then by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ).

Research areas
African cities, post-apartheid cities, Cape Town, Urban inclusions and exclusions, categories and boundaries, Social engineering and the urban space, Crossroads of race, class and ethnicity, White South Africans, Whiteness, Afrikaners, Urban religious movements, Traditional religion and new religious movements, Healing, Mediation, Moral communities, ‘Poor white problem’, Public spaces, Sacred spaces, Local appropriations of neoliberalism, Urban art, families and family economy.

Ongoing project: ”Fragile environments, strong families - South African Afrikaners perseverance in an era of uncertainty”,

Background as lecturer

Presently, I am an associate professor/senior lecturer and teach undergraduate and graduate courses in cultural/social anthropology. I have previously worked as a research leader at the Nordic Africa Institute during the period 2012-2016, as lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology at University of Helsinki, and at the Open University of Helsinki, and as senior lecturer in Social Policy, Urban Studies and African studies at the University of Helsinki. I have also studied and lectured at the universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria in South Africa.

Additional information:



Selection of publications

Recent publications

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Annika Björnsdotter Teppo