Sten Hagberg

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Professor in Cultural Anthropology, who have conducted long-term ethnographic research in Burkina Faso (since 1988) and in Mali (since 2008). In 1998, I defended a PhD-thesis on dispute settlement between farmers and herders in Burkina Faso. Poverty has been another focus. Nowadays my research concerns ethnicity, local politics, democracy, development, popular struggle, and security, as well as methodological developments. I am the Director of Uppsala University's Forum for Africa Studies.


  • africa
  • anthropology
  • ethnography
  • everyday politics
  • human security
  • methodology
  • west africa


Since 1988 I have conducted anthropological research in Burkina Faso and since 2008 also in Mali. In September 1998, I defended a PhD-thesis on dispute settlement between farmers and herders in Burkina. Nowadays my research concerns political culture, municipal democracy, local development, and popular struggle. Theoretically and practically, I am interested in methodological developments including field research in insecure terrains and epistemological challenges of team research. Due to changing geopolitical contexts in West Africa, I am also working with security from below in Burkina Faso and Mali. I am the Director of Uppsala University's Forum for Africa Studies.

Nowadays I am particularly involved in PhD education, such as PhD-supervisor and research leader. In the period 2017-22, I lead research programs in Mozambique where five PhD students in Cultural Anthropology from the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo will be trained at Uppsala University. In 2018-22, I led the programme Burkina Faso seen from below in collaboration with the Institute of Sciences of Sociétés in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Currently, I lead Citizen Perspectives on Societal Challenges in Mali, a program conducting engaged research and developing partnerships between Malian and Swedish researchers. Another program is Decolonizing Research Methodologies that aims to build up a research school between Burkinabe, Malian, Swedish, and Tanzanian Universities.

Since 2016, I am Associate Senior Fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Since 2019, I am member of the Advisory Group of the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy.

Since its beginnings in 2012 I have led Uppsala University's Forum for Africa Studies: 2011-17 I was the chair-person and since 1 July 2017 I am the Director of this interdisciplinary research centre.

My work as editor has become a key part of my research commitment. I am one of the founders and Editors-in-Chief of kritisk etnografi: Swedish Journal of Anthropology, a peer-review journal owned and published by Svenska Sällskapet för Antropologi och Geografi. Since 2017, I am the Series Editor of Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology of the Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, and of Uppsala Papers in Africa Studies. I am a strong advocate for real open access: always, everywhere, and for everyone.

Since 2020, I am the Director of the Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Comparative, Engagée et Transnationale (LACET), a research initiative founded by Burkinabe, Malian and Swedish colleagues to create a common research environment around engaged anthropology. More information in English here.

I have taken up leadership positions in scientific associations and societies. Between 2007 and 2013, I was President of the Association for the Anthropology of Social Change and Development (APAD). For four years (1 Jan. 2013- 31 Dec. 2017), I was the President of Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography (SSAG). I was President-Elected (2017-20) and is President (2020-23) of the Mande Studies Association (MANSA).

I am regularly intervene in media, as I consider that it is of utmost importance to reach out with anthropological knowledge.

When it comes to undergraduate teaching nowadays I am particularly involved in African Studies, but I do also give occasional lectures in the basic education in anthropology. I like teaching and have also been on ERASMUS staff mobility in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, and Tunisia.


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Sten Hagberg