Sverker Finnström

senior lecturer at Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology; Employees

+4618-471 7371
Mobile phone:
+46 70 4250507
Visiting address:
Thunbergsvägen 3 H
Postal address:
Box 631
751 26 Uppsala

Short presentation

I am Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology. I have conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in wartime and postwar northern Uganda. In my research, I chart conjunctures of vulnerability, resourcefulness and war, in Africa and beyond. I am also interested in theoretical approaches to vulnerability that can help complement widespread yet one-dimensional and damaging stories of war, suffering and loss.

My courses


I am Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology (2009; tenured senior lecturer in 2012). I am also the Director of Studies, 3rd Cycle (PhD programs in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology). After studies and a PhD in cultural anthropology (2003, Uppsala University), and besides teaching at Uppsala University, I have worked at Gulu University (in periods, 2005-2007, teaching and research) and Stockholm University (2007-2009, mainly teaching and student supervision). From 2009 to 2012 I held a research position in political violence and genocide studies, the Hugo Valentin Centre, a multi-disciplinary centre of Uppsala University. I was the chair of the Swedish Anthropological Association from 2013 to 2015.

Starting from 1997, and with a focus on young adults coming of age in the shadows of civil war, I have conducted recurrent fieldwork in Acholiland, northern Uganda, where the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and other groups have been fighting the Ugandan government.

Yet my research is not restricted to this locality only. It is as global as the war it investigates. With support from the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, a recent project of mine investigated violent conflict in emerging global realities, with the aim to develop an analytical framework that can advance our understanding of the global travels of war, made manifest in life stories and lived experiences. An open access article from this project published in Current Anthopology can be accessed here.

As an advisory board member of the Engaging Vulnerability research program at Uppsala University, I will chart vulnerability and resourcefulness as qualities that are differentially distributed. I will document contexts and relations that make some beings (human and non-human) and some things more vulnerable than others, in times of both war and peace, and examine what this mean in terms of ethical engagement and practical response. I am also interested in theoretical approaches to vulnerability and resourcefulness that can help complement wide-spread yet one-dimensional and damaging stories of suffering and loss.

I am the author of Living with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda (Duke University Press, 2008), for which I received the distinguished Margaret Mead Award, offered jointly by the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology. Read/download here.

With Neil L. Whitehead I have edited Virtual War and Magical Death: Technologies and Imaginaries for Terror and Killing (Duke University Press, 2013). Read/download here.

For a complete list of my publications, go to the DiVA online database. You can also visit me at ResearchGate,, or Google Scholar. There you will find articles, and also interviews and talks, both print and recorded.

Research keyterms (themes that I teach/supervise as well):

Displacement; globalisation; media, representation, and propaganda; war and peace; vulnerability, suffering and loss; anthropology of violence; terror and counterinsurgency; international interventions; justice and injustice; cosmology and meaning.


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