Alexander Sallstedt

Doktorand vid Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi, Kulturantropologi; Anställda

Thunbergsvägen 3 H
Box 631
751 26 UPPSALA

Kort presentation

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) commodification processes in Iceland. I am relatedly interested in questions pertaining to authenticity.

Mina kurser


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). Furthermore, I have a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Uppsala University (2017-2018). I am as of now a PhD Candidate at the department of Cultural Anthropology 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) phenomenon. With a background in Political Anthropology this interest evolved into a more specific focus on national objectification, and, in the context of Iceland, of commodification.

Iceland has in the last decade experienced an immense acceleration of tourism. This occurred after its economic collapse in 2008, after which the state sought to promote tourism and so transition into a service-based economic structure. Iceland is therefore, and as of recent, subject to notable social change which is centred on, and can be explored through, tourism. The ethnographic milieu for this PhD project concerns, but is not limited to, small-scale northern lights tourism enterprises in Iceland. Indeed, there has been, in the last decade, a discursive proliferation (on traditional and social media) with regards to the northern lights, which correlates to the increasing tourist numbers in Iceland, and which can be situated alongside an emergent fascination and exotification of the “imagined” North. With this in mind, this research intends to demonstrate that the northern lights, as an environmental phenomenon, infers but another cultural and national object (and, tradition) “in production” – and, in turn, how its most recent commodification is embedded in a particular politics of culture; i.e., of self-acclaimed, demarcated, and assumed-to-be immemorial, national authenticities.

As a result, my current PhD research, situated in tourist-prevalent Iceland, asks what it means - and the effects thereof - to commodify allegedly authentic cultural and environmental phenomenon into national artefacts and experiences. In particular, it focuses on how this commodification of (national) culture is meditated and conditioned, that is, how Iceland is made into an exotic and alluring tourist destination from the point of view of Icelanders who facilitate and sell these experiences.

In addition to my research in 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 liberating means through which artistic practice and expression is able to communicate "cultural" concepts.


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