Organisation and staff

Alexander Sallstedt

doctoral/PhD student at Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology

+4618-471 2289
Visiting address:
Thunbergsvägen 3 H
Postal address:
Box 631
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

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I am a PhD Candidate at the department of Cultural Anthropology at Uppsala University. In general, my research regards cultural objectification – the making and becoming of (national) tradition and identity. These larger processes are examined through cultural and natural (environmental) commercialization and commoditization in Iceland. I am relatedly interested in questions pertaining to authenticity.

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My courses


This paragraph is not available in English, therefore the Swedish version is shown.

I have a joint-honours MA degree in Social Anthropology and Philosophy from University of Aberdeen, Scotland (2013-2017); during which I spent one year as a philosophy exchange student at Iceland University (2015-2016). Further, I have a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology obtained at Uppsala University (2017-2018). I am as of now a PhD Candidate at the department of Cultural Anthropology here at Uppsala University (2018-2022).

It was my yearlong stay in Iceland, and the experiences there acquired, which prompted me to do research about the reconfiguration – objectification – of cultural and natural (environmental) objects and phenomenon. With a background in Social (Political) Anthropology this naturally evolved into a more specific interest in the making and becoming of national ‘objects’. Two ethnographies that have inspired the formation of this project are Richard Handler's “Nationalism and the Political of Culture in Quebec” (1988) and Mark Liechty's “Far Out: Countercultural Seekers and the Tourist Encounter in Nepal” (2017).

With an interest in both anthropology and philosophy this project is not only fueled by anthropological aspirations and considerations but so too philosophical; indeed, I like to think that anthropology is but philosophy from the ground up.

My master’s thesis concerned the cultural becoming of the northern lights in Iceland. As part of my fieldwork I partook in commercial northern lights tours wherein I studied how they are being performed by and for tourists. The often disappointing experience of the northern lights – as their alleged performance most often failed to conform to tourists’ expectations – was then related to Baudrillard’s notion of the hyperreal; indeed, the idea of the northern lights had become more real and truer than the phenomena itself. In brief, the argued for changing role of the northern lights was situated alongside an intensification of tourism specialized in authentic experiences of the wild, and the simultaneous local worry that tourism is developing too fast, thus undermining the very cultural and natural authenticity that was being sold or offered. This worry that commercialization (most broadly) somehow destroys authenticity (notably only for a particular demographic) unfolded in a concluding discussion about the extent to which the Icelandic nation is (or is not) a theme park.

In addition to my research focused on Iceland, I have also partaken in one project in the Komi Republic of Russia about the formation, performance and experience of Northern landscapes. There I wrote about the ephemerality of landscapes – their definitional fleetingness, if you will – and the potential means with which art practice can communicate this ephemerality; that is, the productive and informative ways with which artistic practice and expression is able to 'avoid' objectifying cultural phenomenon.


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