My research interests include science studies, political ecology, economic anthropology, international development cooperation, and media studies. I have a regional focus on Southeast Asia (Vietnam) and sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe), but also a strong interest in global and Scandinavian connections.
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PhD 2011, Uppsala University; MA 1998, University of Cincinnati, USA; BA 1996, Kenyon College, USA
Since 2007 I have carried out research on different generations of Vietnamese scientists as they engage with local and international efforts to conserve nature, address climate change, and carry out scientific research. Drawing upon multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in universities, government offices, and foreign embassies, as well as the muddy intertidal zones of coastal Vietnam, this project studies scientists’ engagements in a politics of nature that is local and global, contemporary and historical, and natural and social. In the monograph Hot Science, High Water (NIAS Press, 2013) I describe how Vietnamese scientists strive to achieve their own ambitions through the production of scientific knowledge and their engagement in science economies that are suffused with material, moral and symbolic values. Simultaneously, I show how their engagements with international development agencies, Vietnamese government offices, colleagues, and kin are facilitated by the mutual misunderstandings that they, together with their partners, cultivate and maintain. The resulting networks and exchanges, in combination with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, are key factors that usher in the arrival of climate change to Vietnam.
Since 2011 I have begun to research the mediation of environmental crises in Vietnam through television and newspaper reporting. I am particularly interested in how efforts to form public understandings of environmental crises are coupled with backstage negotiations amongst state, international development, and media actors.
Since 2013 much of my time is spent on a comparative study of the practice of agricultural and medical science in Uganda, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. The purpose of this anthropological and comparative study is to better understand the actions, beliefs and aspirations of individual scientists during the years immediately following post-graduate training abroad and their return to their home countries. The study asks what are the cultural economies of scientific work that young scientists encounter upon their return to their home countries? How, why, with whom, and to what extent do they contribute to the production of new scientific knowledge for local or international audiences? Under what conditions do they contribute to innovation and commercial enterprise? And, to what degree is scientific work incorporated into other social, cultural or political projects? This research is funded by a research grant from Vetenskapsrådet’s U-forsk program.
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