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  • National narratives

Anders Sybrandt Hansen

National narratives – sociohistorical continuity and political legitimacy in The People’s Republic of China

Key words: Political legitimacy, postsocialism, morality, China

This project takes the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China October 1st 2009 as its outset. In recent years China has performed thorough market reforms, which have resulted in the country becoming a global economic superpower but also in a new and growing divide between rich and poor. Former redistributionary policies have been dismantled and socialist ideology has been hollowed out to the extent than a crisis of legitimacy today threatens the Chinese Communist Party, which after 60 years of rule maintains its power monopoly in the single-party-state. The project analyses how the Party today tries to legitimise its continued rule through rethinking its cultural and ideological resources. Through ethnographic field studies among two politically situated groups of Beijing youths, university students and migrant workers, the project discusses how society’s burgeoning elite and a new class of underprivileged workers practically encounter the party, how they adapt to contemporary economic and political conditions as well as how they judge the party’s societal role and legitimacy.

Project period: 02/09 – 01/12

Funding: FKK (The Danish Research Council for Culture and Communication), Augustinus Fonden, Knud Højgaards Fond.


Birgitte Folmann

Becoming healthy again. Reproductive intentions among HIV positive women and men with increased access to anti-retrovirals in Uganda

Keywords: International health, Hiv/Aids, Reproduction, Moralities, Uganda

Reproductive decision-making is strongly influenced by cultural norms, such as the value of children in a particular society and the specific roles of men and women. In Africa, the desire of men and women to have children is strong: to achieve social status, to have offspring to support you when you get old and to continue the lineage. The study draws connection between how it is to be a ‘therapeutic citizen’ depending on medicine from global organizations, and how it is to live in a society, where producing children has great importance. The project will investigate how the social embeddedness of relationship and the constraints of culture curb the possible range of options concerning reproduction. It will bring knowledge on how ARV treatment and moralities in the public health discourse shape the reproductive intentions in a part of the world with almost universal reproductive desire and a generalized and complex Hiv/Aids pandemic.

Financed period: 01/08-05/11

Source: FKK (The Danish Council for Independent Research/humanities), FFU (Consultative Research Committee For Development Research), NAI (Nordic Africa Institute)

Christian Suhr Nielsen

Divine Healing among Muslims in Denmark

Keywords: Islam, recovery, ethnographic film

Christian Suhr's PhD-study concerns the interface between the visible and invisible dimensions of human reality with a particular focus on how Muslims in Denmark experience divine healing. Based on visual anthropological fieldwork, the aim is to find ways in which montage of words, images and sounds may enable us to approach the invisible aspects of such experiences and give them a space in anthropological research without reducing them to visibility.

Financed period: 08/08 - 05/12

Source: Industrial PhD financed by the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation and the Knud Højgaard’s Foundation

Martin Demant Frederiksen

The materiality of the future

Keywords: Youth, future, crime, brotherhoods, destruction

The project concerns marginalized youth and the ways in which these attempt to acquire or concretize the future in the present. It is based on a fieldwork conducted among brotherhoods of unemployed young men in the Autonomous Republic of Ajara in western Georgia. For these groups everyday life is often marked by crime and substance abuse, factors that make it difficult for the youth to establish themselves as “good men” in relation to societal ideals of honor, respect and masculinity. The project explores, on the one hand, how they attempt to create a future based on what they themselves describe as a society in ruins, and on the other hand how they try to avoid criminal influences and uphold a status as morally good men by doing “the right kinds of wrong”. In this relation the project works with concepts such as destruction, subjunctivity, ruination and the notion of being haunted by different times.  

Financed period: 02/08 - 04/11

Source: FKK

Regine Grytnes

Safety practice and perceptions of risk among carpenter apprentices in Denmark

Keywords: Work life, education, safety at work, risk, learning

The project investigates how different forms of safety perceptions are integrated and negotiated in the practice of carpenter apprentices. Further, it focus’ on how safety learning is related to the development of a professional identity during the education as carpenters. The project seeks to answer the following research questions: 1) how do apprentices’ understandings of risk and safety practice develop during their education in relation to their own experiences and to the practice and attitudes prevalent at the work place and to risk perceptions in the society in general? 2) How do apprentices ‘learn’ safety, and how are limits for (un)safe practice defined? 3) How does understandings of risk and safety practice correspond with the identity of the apprentice as an apprentice, as a young person, as a man (woman) and as an (un)experienced worker?

Financed period: 01/10 – 12/12.

Source: The Danish Working Environment Authority Research Fund.

Nina Holm Vohnsen

Ethnographic portraits of the implementations of a labour market policy

Keywords: implementation, democracy, bureaucracy, pragmatism, desicion making

The research project is an ethnographic exploration of the adaptations and mutations a piece of law or a project might undergo from the ideas are shaped in the governmental administration and until policy turns into practice. It follows the movement from idea to paper to concrete decision or action in the life of case worker or citizen. In my data collection I have focused on a few selected points in the Action Plan on Sickness Absence that was politically adopted November 2008. This primarily concerns an experiment with the reduction of long term sickness absence which the National Labour Market Authority launched in January 2009. Based on research at chosen places where the experiment was dealt with and caused actions I wish to address issues of public policy making, decision making and thereby implementation. My over-all interest is to examine the practice which our welfare state and democracy emanates from.

Financed period: 05/08 - 05/11

Source: AUFF (Aarhus University Research Fund), Danish Ministry of Employment, MindLab

Rogers Tabe Egbe Orock

The Culture of Politics and Elite Social Formations in Africa: a Study of the South-West Elite Association

Keywords: Africa, Cameroon, culture of politics, elites, SWELA

My project examines how cultural ideas about reciprocity, big-manship, and other similar idioms of hierarchical relationality, are crucial in the formation of the subjectivities of political elites in Cameroon. Focusing on political elites organized in a social movement called the South-West Elite Association (SWELA) in Cameroon, I am interested in mapping out how these prominent men and women come to see themselves as 'elites', and are contested or recognized as such by the ordinary people whose interests they profess to represent. Among others, I ask: how does one become a political elite of a community and what are the culturally embedded expectations of ordinary people towards the political elites in their communities, once these are recognized by most as such?

I will argue that such ongoing critique against the negative role of political elites on the continent fails to take sufficient account of the culturally mediated elements that are central to the construction of elite subjectivities in Sub-Saharan Africa, undermining the agency of local cultural idioms of relationality central to political life in Africa and beyond.

Financed period: 09/10 – 08/13

Source: FKK

Thomas Søgaard Jensen

Privatising security: Negotiating Security and Masculinity in the Danish Night-time Experience Economy

Keywords: Private security, politics of network security governance, masculinity and violence, night-time consumerism and citizenship, bodily crafting and gender identity.

Since the early 1970s large scale consumer-driven transformations in Danish cities have been coupled with the growing importance of a alcohol-based night-time economy. On the one hand the alcohol-based nightlife is often seen as an important economic dynamo fuelling inner city regeneration. On the other hand it is also often associated with problematic behavioural transgression, excessive alcohol consumption and violence, which is reason why the Danish government has made safety and security in the night-time experience economy a key area of priority. What is interesting is however that the urban night has a long history of plural policing in that discos and bars are often employing their own security personnel. In this project I study the workings and social implications of plural governance in the Danish nigh-time experience economy. Furthermore I study how public authority, masculinity and experiences of citizenship are affected when a core public good such as security is delivered by private actors at times working in cooperation with the state. Regional focus: Denmark

Financed period: 02/09 – 04/12

Source: Faculty of Humanities

[Institutionally my project fit into the overall departmental research of: A) Human Security and B) Democracy, Bureaucracy, and Global Welfare]