Institutt for sosialantropologi

Fredrik Barth-forelesningen

Velkommen til den årlige Fredrik Barth-forelesningen! Årets forelesning vil bli holdt av førsteamanuensis Diane E. King, University of Kentucky.

Logo Fredrik Barth-forelesningen
Fredrik Barth-forelesningen arrangeres av Institutt for sosialantropologi hver høst.
Nina B. Dahl


Fredrik Barth-forelesningen vil holdes hver høst, fortrinnsvis i oktober. Forelesningsrekken ble etablert i 2015, i forbindelse med instituttets 50-årsjubileum.

Akademikeren som inviteres står på en eller annen måte i relasjon til Fredrik Barths antropologiske fundament: utviklingen av teori basert på solid etnografi og deltakende observasjon, i tillegg til vektleggingen av komparasjon. Foredragsholderen kan både være en ung og lovende forsker eller en etablert akademiker, som i sin forskning er opptatt av noen av de samme regioner og/eller tema som Fredrik Barth selv utforsket i sin karriere.

Instituttleder og instituttets forskningskomité finner frem til aktuelle kandidatene basert på forslag og anbefalinger fra instituttets vitenskapelige stab.

2022 - Førsteamanuensis Diane E. King

Årets Fredrik Barth-forelesning vil holdes av førsteamanuensis Diane E. King, University of Kentucky. Tittelen på forelesningen er: "Ethnic Groups and Quandaries: Thoughts on Modern States and Hereditary Belonging".

  • Tid: 1. desember, 2022, kl. 14.00-15.00
  • Sted: Egget på Studentsenteret, Parkveien 1

Fredrik Barth-forelesningen 2022 er åpen for alle. 


2021 - Professor Marianne Lien

Fredrik Barth-forelesningen 2021 ble av professor Marianne Lien, Sosialantropologisk institutt, Universitetet i Oslo.

Fredrik Barth-forelesningen 2021 ble arrangert i forbindelse med NAF-konferansen 25.-26. november.

Beyond the Ethnographic Presence; Landscapes as relational archives

Among the cherished legacies of Fredrik Barth is his emphasis on ethnographic fieldwork and on the ethnographic presence as a superb empirical entry point for understanding asymmetrical relations, ethnicity and social change. His approach shaped generations of scholars, as well as the anthropological understanding of ethnic identities in Norway, including in Finnmark.

In this lecture, I draw the attention to sites in Finnmark where traces of colonization and atrocities can still be noticed in the landscape, and where ethnic identity, for some, is still a ‘social stigma’.  Mobilising material, archival, human and botanical remains, I ask what such artefacts can tell us about the making and un-making of subjectivites and ethnic identities, both past and present. Tracing the landscape as a relational archive, and the archive as a material site where relations are ordered and negotiated, I explore shifting conditions of possibility and hope in a landscape that holds the legacies of multiple life-forms and multiple losses.

Mindful of how silence is often the companion of shame, I search for ways to articulate the aftermath of colonizing policies. Towards this aim, I propose a multi-temporal ethnography that seeks not only to elicit the past as historical background, but to grasp material traces for what they reveal gaps and absences in the present.

2020 - avlyst

Fredrik Barth-forelesningen 2020 er avlyst på grunn av koronapandemien.

2019 - Dr. Mandana Limbert

On Homelands and History in Southern Arabia

Always thinking against the grain and from fieldsites considered on the margins of the Middle East, Fredrik Barth forced anthropologists of the region and beyond to question presumptions about the force of structuring principles as well as the dynamics of social and political relationships and arrangements. Inspired by Barth’s urging of a more robust “analytic description,” and from the shared margin of Southern Arabia, I will in this talk explore fundamental notions of political home and identity, “nation” and “Arabness,” as they transformed over the course of the 20th century.

Drawing on ethnographic and archival work in a town in interior Oman (a town about which Barth also wrote a fascinating article), I will in this lecture explore how ideas of and practices shaping such categories have shifted, connected to particular political, economic, and religious processes and debates that extend across the Indian Ocean. I argue that examining itineraries of and debates about travel and marriage across the ocean can challenge received understandings of identity and belonging in the Middle East.

2018 - Dr. Michael W. Scott

The Future of Prophecy: Transforming Temporalities in Melanesia and Anthropology

In Cosmologies in the Making, Fredrik Barth staged a playful yet illuminating comparison between the way anthropologists write about cultural others and the way they write about themselves.  Anthropologists, he observed, write about others as though they were always repeating received cultural forms, but portray themselves as always composing ‘an emerging...tradition of knowledge with no pre-set and over-arching order’ (1987: 18-19).  This comparison, he said, was about getting ontology right.

In a similar spirit, this lecture aims to get temporality right by staging a comparison between the thing the Arosi people of Solomon Islands call kastom profesi(traditional prophecy) and contemporary discourses about prophecy in anthropology.  The latter, I suggest, announce a temporality of pure duration in which prophecy proliferates a limitless variety of new and unpredictable futures.  In contrast, Arosi kastom profesi indexes a spatialized temporality in which prophecy reveals the coming realization of a hidden but intrinsically complete whole.  In light of this comparison, and in keeping with an agenda I have developed for the comparative study of ontology, I argue that Arosi kastom profesi warrants theorization of what I call ‘totemic prophecy’.

Were the theoretical implications of Barth’s playful comparison at odds with those of my own, or did he prophesy the different trajectories the anthropology of ontology would take in the twenty-first century – or both?

2017 - Dr. Madeleine Reeves

Scaling sovereignty: intimate militarism and the anthropology of exception

What is at stake in contemporary calls to ‘take back control’ of state borders? What is being hoped for in demands to ‘regain sovereignty’ in places where it is felt to have been lost or compromised?  In this essay I seek to situate state desire as a properly anthropological object of enquiry through an engagement with Barth’s work on scale. My starting point is a critical engagement, through the lens of scale, with recent ethnographic literature that has taken the production of legal exceptions as the starting point for an anthropology of contemporary sovereignty. Such literature has productively illuminated the legal, political and institutional mechanisms through which some human lives are systematically rendered ‘bare’.

Yet anthropology’s concern with sovereignty-as-exception has, I suggest, left us with fewer tools for exploring sovereignty-as-aspiration: with recognizing the bordered, territorially-integral, notionally-sovereign state as locus of material and affective investment. The concept of scale can be productive here, precisely by illuminating how ‘sovereignty’ might appear differently at different ethnographic and analytical scales. Drawing on research along Kyrgyzstan’s borders with neighbouring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, I seek to develop this argument ethnographically by exploring what I call ‘intimate militarism’: the normalization of, and desire for, military presence as an index of social and geographical legibility in a context otherwise marked by consistent state withdrawal.

2016 - Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Flows and boundaries in the Creole world

The boundary is a key concept in Fredrik Barth's work, not only in Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, but also in his earlier writings about ecology in Pakistan and Iran and his later writings about pluralism in Oman and Bali. He showed, famously, how ideas and concepts, practices and even people could cross boundaries without threatening their integrity.

In recent decades, however, the boundary itself has become a privileged site for anthropologial theorising and research. In symbolic or cultural anthropology, an influential tendency interrogates the nature/culture boundary (interestingly enough in ways sometimes reminiscent of Barth's study of Baktaman symbolism). In this lecture, I explore a different kind of boundary, or perhaps non-boundary, by looking at a social identity formation which eschews boundaries, embraces impurities and celebrates openness. Can the post-slavery peoples commonly known as Creoles be considered ethnic groups at all, or do they represent a social form unbeknownst to and incompatible with a social anthropology assuming that groups need boundaries in order to perpetuate themselves? Examples will be drawn from the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, and I shall ask what Creoles could learn from Barth and vice versa.

2015 - Professor Magnus Marsden

Revisiting Entrepreneurs: Afghan trans-regional trading networks across Eurasia and beyond

Professor Magnus Marsden, University of Sussex, ga den første Fredrik Barth Honorary Lecture, 15. oktober 2015. Marsdens forskning fokuserer på islam i sentral- og sør-Asia, som er regionen Barth selv gjorde sitt første betydningsfulle feltarbeid. Marsdens tidligere arbeid har tatt for seg grenseområdet Afghanistan-Pakistan-Tajikistan som et kjernepunkt for møter mellom muslimer på tvers av Den kalde krigens grenser. I hans bok "Trading Worlds: Afghan Merchants Across Modern Frontiers" (2015) videreutvikler Marsden sin interesse for mobile individer og familier i regionen ved å se på afghanske handelsnettverk og de ferdigheter og verdier menneskene her knytter til handel og arbeidsliv.