Department of Social Anthropology

Celebrating 50 years of Bergen Anthropology

The Department's 50th anniversary was celebrated with a variety of distinguished guests, an engaging panel debate and the first Fredrik Barth Honorary Lecture.

Panel Debate
Panel debate on the Bergen School of Anthropology. Left: Ståle Knudsen, Anne Karen Bjelland, Margit Ystanes, Frode Storaas, Olaf Smedal
Nina B. Dahl

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This year marks 50 years since Fredrik Barth established the department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen. Throughout the spring semester a series of seminars were held examining different aspects of the department’s history over the years. The seminar series culminated in a full day program on the 15th of October.

Department head Professor Ståle Knudsen kicked off the program by presenting a quantitative overview of the department’s history from 1965-2015. The overview addressed trends throughout the years, by looking at the number of students at the department, employees and publications. The presentation was followed by a debate on whether there still is a Bergen School of Anthropology and if Barth’s legacy can be seen at the department today. The panel consisted of Anne-Karen Bjelland, Margit Ystanes, and Frode Storaas with Olaf Smedal as chair. Tone Bringa and Frode Storaas both screened the premiers of their new recruitment films for the department enticing students to explore the discipline of Anthropology.

The first Fredrik Barth honorary lecture was held in the afternoon with Professor Magnus Marsden from the University of Sussex giving a fascinating talk on Afghan trade networks. The influence from Fredrik Barth who conducted his research in the same region many years ago was significant. The last program for the day was a celebratory dinner where Magnus Marsden, Barth’s wife and Anthropologist Professor Unni Wikan, Department Heads from Oslo, Trondheim, and Tromsø, Rector of UiB, Dean of the Social Science faculty, Emeritus Professors at the department as well as the department employees all joined in this joyous event. 

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the events and look forward to another 50 years of Anthropology in Bergen.