Knut Rio's picture
Skjalg Bøhmer Vold /DNVA
  • E-mailKnut.Rio@uib.no
  • Phone+47 55 58 31 12+4792056992
  • Visitor Address
    Villaveien 1A
    PB 7800
    5020 Bergen
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7800
    5020 Bergen

Read some recent publications here: 

The Fetish and its destruction: Spiritual Control in Africa and Melanesia. (researchgate.net)

An Introduction to Egalitarian Thought and Dynamics in: Social Analysis Volume 66 Issue 3 (2022) (berghahnjournals.com)

Commons, Associations, and Possibilities of Egalitarian Life in Paris, France in: Social Analysis Volume 66 Issue 3 (2022) (berghahnjournals.com)

(PDF) Micro-dystopia and the Question of Wilderness (researchgate.net)

Gater, torg og heterotopier i byen. En kommentar til de siste års hendelser i Paris | Norsk antropologisk tidsskrift (idunn.no)


After receiving my Ph.D. Degree in 2003 I have worked with a wide array of classical anthropological problems – mainly with the small Pacific nation Vanuatu as the arena for the analyses.

In the first years this concerned gift and reciprocity and the problem of taking for granted a western economic understanding of exchange. This led to a deeper interest in phenomenology and the material, and specifically the problem of subject-object relations as part of social ontology.

Since 2010 I have focused mostly on problems relating to witchcraft, sorcery and divination and its link to new forms of Christianity in Melanesia, largely influenced by the upscaling of witch-killings in the region. 

I have also worked on our ethnographic collections at the University Museum of Bergen and a wider interest in colonial history, leading me to write about Norwegian colonialists in Hawai’i and making two exhibitions related to the relation between European centres and colonial peripheries.

More recently I have taken up an interest in the concept of 'wealth', explored through my involvement in the ERC Advanced Grant project ‘Egalitarianism: Forms, Processes, Comparison’ since 2015. I have worked on a model that places wealth within a field of different forces. Wealth is in the analysis treated as that creation of human reproduction which is appropriated and submitted to pulls by the state, the market and communities.

A key interest for me these days has to do with cultural heritage and indigenous issues. In a development of a new research agenda I will be exploring how cultural heritage management in indigenous museums enables claims to sovereignty and thereby changes the role of the museum as institution. 

- The indigenous museum as a route to sovereignty

- Elitist appropriation of cultural heritage

- New ideas of the commons and 'commoning' of cultural heritage



Responsible for courses: 

2018: With Bjørn Enge Bertelsen - SANT 280-13 "The Frontier of Anthropological Research: Experiments in Egalitarianism", UiB

2003, 2005, 2006, 2009 : 'SANT 114 – The ethnography of Oceania'

2008: SANT 204 'Økonomisk liv i et globalt perspektiv: Symbolske og materielle aspekterved produksjon, fordeling og konsum'.

2007: 'SANT 250 – Bachelor essay course'

Organizer of PhD Courses 

2022 ‘New technologies and the future of the human’, international PHD course organized in Paris, atCentre Universitaire de Norvège, 28.-31. March 2022.

2020 ‘The global city and the nature of the urban: Anthropological perspectives’, international PHDcourse organized with Bjørn Enge Bertelsen in Bergen, 2-4. November 2020.

2018  ‘World Heritage, Cultural Heritage and Archaeology: a critical perspective’,Organizer of PHD course held for the The Nordic Graduate School in Archaeology – Dialogueswith the Past. Organised in Paris, May 2018.

2010-2016 ‘Recent Theory in Anthropology’: 

Responsible for UiB’s part in this national PHD course which was organized annually in collaboration with the Department of social anthropology at the University of Oslo.  Twelve to sixteen students each year, with new topic and reading list and one to two guest lecturers every year. The course titles have been:   

2011 ‘Cosmology, Ontology and Ritual Life’

2012 ‘Anthropology and the Study of Politics’

2013 ‘Anthropology and History’,

2014 ‘The Anthropology of Work and Labour’ 

2015 ‘The Anthropology of the Event’

2016 'Archaeologies of the Present'


2003 - present:  I have in total supervised 8 PhD students and 8 MA students. 


Rio, Knut n.d. ‘Mother of love, father of war – Disaster movies and mythologies of the future’ , in. ed. Bruce Kapferer  Imaginaries of the Present Future?. New York: Berghahn Books

Rio, Knut n.d. ‘Religion, Globalization and Universalism’, in The Oxford Handbook of Anthropology of Religion, edited by Simon Coleman and Joel Robbins. Oxford: Oxford Handbooks.

A. Zagato and K. Rio n.d. 'Cultural heritage, tourism and peace in times of total war', in eds. B. Bertelsen and A. Zagato Warfare, statehood, and egalitarianism. New York: Berghahn Books


Rio, Knut, Bruce Kapferer and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen 2022. 'An introduction to egalitarian thought and dynamics', Social Analysis Vol 66: 3. This is the Introduction to a Special Issue titled Egalitarian Life and Life Forms: Ethnographic Perspectives on Political Experimentation. Open Access 

Rio, Knut 2022. 'Commons, associations and possibilities of egalitarian life in Paris, France', Social Analysis Vol 66: 3. In Special Issue titled Egalitarian Life and Life Forms: Ethnographic Perspectives on Political Experimentation. Open Access.  

Rio, Knut 2022. 'Gater, torg og heterotopier i byen. En kommentar til de siste års hendelser i Paris'. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift  vol. 33: 3. 

Rio, Knut 2022.  'Micro-dystopia and the Question of Wilderness', in (eds.) A. Grønstad and L. Johannessen Microdystopias: Aesthetics and Ideologies in a Broken Moment, pp. 133-151. Lanham, MD.: Lexington Books/Rowman and Littlefield, ISBN 978-1-66692-943-0. 


Rio, Knut 2020. 'The fetish and its destruction: Spiritual control in Africa and Melanesia ', in eds. Ø. Fuglerud, K. Larsen, and M.L. Prusac-Lindhagen, Negotiating Memory from the Romans to the 21st Century: Damnatio Memoriae, pp212-230. London: Routledge.


M. Boekraad and K. Rio 2019. ‘Kolonitidens lange røtter og den samiske samlingens aktualitet i dag’, Årbok, Universitetsmuseet i Bergen, Open Access https://www.nordisktrykk.no/FLIP/2402-UMBflip/mobile/index.html

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen and Knut Rio 2019. 1968 and its other worlds: Global events and (anti-)state dynamics in France, Mozambique and Vanuatu, History and Anthropology, 30:5, 622-643. Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2018.1524759

Rio, Knut 2019. The Transformation of Hierarchy Following Christian Conversion in Vanuatu. Anthropological Forum: a journal of social anthropology and comparative sociology, Volum 29(3) s. 319-334

Rakopoulos, T. and K. Rio (eds.) 2019. Towards an Anthropology of Wealth. London: Routledge

Rio, Knut 2019. ‘‘Witchcraft’ and ‘Sorcery’ in Melanesia’. In The Melanesian World, edited by Eric Hirsch and Will Rollason, pp.333-344. London: Taylor& Francis

Rio, Knut 2019. ‘Wealth versus money in Pentecost:Why is money good? In Annelin Eriksen, Ruy Llera Blanes and Michelle MacCarthy (eds) Going to Pentecost: An Experimental Approach to Studies in Pentecostalism. New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 193-200.

OPEN ACCESS https://www.berghahnbooks.com/downloads/OpenAccess/EriksenGoing/EriksenGoing_10.pdf


Rio, K. 2018. 'The D'Entrecasteaux collection at the University Museum of Bergen', Chapter 6 in (eds.)B. Douglas, F.W. Veys and B. Lythberg, Collecting in the South Sea: The Voyage of Bruni D'Entrecasteaux 1791-1794. Leiden: Sidestone Press. ISBN: 9789088905742

Rakopoulos, Theodoros and Knut Rio (eds.) 2018.  Special Issue of History and Anthropology 29(3) – titled Reimagining Wealth: Anthropological Explorations – with Introduction by Knut Rio and Theodoros Rakopoulos: ‘Introduction to an anthropology of wealth’.

OPEN ACCESS: https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2018.1460600 

Knut M. Rio and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen 2018. Anthropology and 1968, Anthropology Today 34(2): 9-13. 

OPEN ACCESS: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8322.12419


Rio, K, M. MacCarthy and R. Blanes (eds.) 2017. Pentecostalism and Witchcraft: Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 

OPEN ACCESS: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56068-7

Eriksen, Annelin and Knut Rio 2017. ‘Demons, devils and witches in Pentecostal Port Vila: On changing cosmologies of evil in Melanesia’. In (eds.) Rio, K., M. MacCarthy and R. Blanes  Pentecostalism and Witchcraft: Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia; pp 189-211. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Rio, Knut 2017.  ‘Demand-sharing and fences: Aspects of the new Port Vila household’, In Journal de la Société des Océanistes vol. 144-145: 257-272.


Rio, Knut 2017. ‘Partage à la demande et clôtures : Quelques aspectsdes nouvelles maisonnées de Port-Vila’, Journal de la Société des Océanistes vol 144-145 : 257-272. Translated into French by Christine Jourdan.


Rio, Knut 2015. ‘Konsumentens dobbeltliv; Fremtidshorisont i vareverden’,  Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift 26(3-4): 240-254.

Rio, Knut 2015. ‘The barbariat and democratic tolerance’, in (ed.) Alessandro Zagato The Event of Charlie Hebdo, pp. 12-25 New York: Berghahn Books.

Rio, Knut 2015. ‘From adventure to industry and nation-making: The history of a Norwegian sugar plantation in Hawai‘i’, in B. Bertelsen and K. Kjerland Navigating Colonial Orders: Norwegian Entrepreneurship in Africa and Oceania, pp. 240-266. Oxford: Berghahn Books (ISBN 978-1-78238-539-4)


Rio, Knut 2014. ‘A shared intentional space of Witch-Hunt and Sacrifice’, Ethnos 79(3): 320–341.

Rio, Knut 2014. ‘Melanesian Egalitarianism: The containment of hierarchy’, in special issue titled ‘Dumont, Values, and Contemporary Cultural Change’ (eds.) Joel Robbins andJukka Siikala. Anthropological Theory 14(2):169-191.  

Rio, Knut and Annelin Eriksen 2014. ‘A New Man:  The Cosmological Horizons of Development, Curses and Personhood in Vanuatu’, in A. Abramson and M. Holbraad Framing Cosmologies: The Anthropology of Worlds, pp 55-76.Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Rio, Knut and Annelin Eriksen 2014. ‘Rivers and the study of kinship in Ambrym, Vanuatu: Mother right and father right revisited’, in E.Hviding and C.Berg (eds.) The Ethnographic Experiment: A.M. Hocart and W.H.R. Rivers in Island Melanesia, 1908, pp. 132-154.Oxford: Berghahn Books


Rio, Knut 2013. 'Death, witchcraft and the temporal aspects of divination', in R. Willerslev and D. Refslund (eds): Taming Time, Timing Death: Social Technologies and Ritual. First volume of book-series 'Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time'. London: Ashgate ISBN: 978-1-4094-5068-9

Rio, Knut and Annelin Eriksen 2013. 'Missionaries, healing and sorcery in Melanesia: A Scottish evangelist in Ambrym Island, Vanuatu.' History and Anthropology 24(3): 398-418.


Hviding, Edvard and Knut Rio (eds.) 2011. Made in Oceania: Social Movements, Cultural Heritage and the State in the Pacific. Oxford:  Sean Kingston Publishing.   

Rio, Knut and Edvard Hviding 2011.  ‘Pacific made: Social movements between cultural heritage and the state’, introduction to (eds.) Hviding, E. and K. M. Rio Social Movements, Cultural Heritage and the State in Oceania, pp. 1-31.  Oxford:  Sean Kinston Publishing.

Rio, Knut  2011. ‘High chief, waetman and the codification of ritual objects in Vanuatu’, in (eds.) Hviding, E. and K. M. Rio Social Movements, Cultural Heritage and the State in Oceania, pp. 223-253. Oxford: Sean Kinston Publishing.

Lattas, Andrew and Knut Rio (eds.) 2011. The Arts of Government: Crime, Christianity and Policing in Melanesia. Special issue of Oceania, vol. 81 (1). 

Lattas, Andrew and Knut Rio 2011: ‘Securing Modernity: Towards an Ethnography of Power in Contemporary Melanesia’, OCEANIA vol 81(1): 1-22.

Rio, Knut 2011. ‘ Policing the Holy Nation: The State and Righteous Violence in Vanuatu’, OCEANIA vol 81(1): 51-72.


Rio, Knut 2010. ‘Handling sorcery in a state system of law: Magic, violence and kastom in Vanuatu’, OCEANIA 80(2): 183-197.


Rio, Knut 2009. ”Subject and object in a Vanuatu social ontology. A local vision of dialectics”. Journal of Material Culture 14(3): 283-308.

Kjerland, Kirsten Alsaker og Knut Rio (eds.) 2009. Kolonitid. Nordmenn på Eventyr og Big Business i Stillehavet og Afrika. (’Colonialism: Norwegians in Adventures and Big Business in the Pacific and Africa’) Bergen: Scandinavian Academic Press. ISBN 978-82-304-0049-4

Kjerland, Kirsten A. og Knut Rio 2009. ”Introduksjon” til (eds.) Kjerland, K. A. og K. M. Rio Kolonitid. Nordmenn på Eventyr og Big Business i Stillehavet og Afrika, pp. 5- 11.

Rio, Knut 2009. ”Fra eventyr til industri. Historien om de norske sukkerplantasjene på Hawaii”, i (eds.) Kjerland, K. A. og K. M. Rio Kolonitid. Nordmenn på Eventyr og Big Business i Stillehavet og Afrika, pp. 187-221. Bergen: Scandinavian Academic Press / Spartacus Forlag.

Rio, Knut and Olaf H. Smedal (eds.) 2009. Hierarchy.  Persistence and transformation in social formations. Oxford: Berghahn Books.  ISBN 978-1-84545-493-7

Rio, Knut and Olaf H. Smedal 2009. “Hierarchy and Its Alternatives: An Introduction to Movements of Totalization and Detotalization”, in (eds.) Rio, K. M. and O. H. Smedal Hierarchy.  Persistence and transformation in social formations, pp. 1- 65. Oxford: Berghahn Books. 


Rio, Knut 2008 ”The scale of materiality. Objects between the social and the material”, in H. Glørstad and L. Hedeager (eds.) Six Essays on the Materiality of Society and Culture, pp. 155-173. Lindome: Bricoleur Press

Rio, Knut and Olaf H. Smedal 2008. ”Totalization and detotalization: Alternatives to hierarchy and individualism”. Anthropological Theory 8(3): 233–254.


Rio, Knut 2007. The Power of Perspective: Social Ontology and Agency on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu. Oxford: Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1-84545-293-3

Rio, Knut 2007. ”Exposer la vie après la mort: les effets sociaux des prestations mortuaires au Vanuatu”. Journal de la société des Océanistes 123-124.

Rio, Knut 2007. ”Denying the Gift: aspects of the gift and its counter-prestation in a Vanuatu society”. Anthropological Theory 7 (4): 449-470.


Rio, Knut 2005. ”Discussions around a sand-drawing: Creations of agency and society in Melanesia”. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S), 11:401-423.

Before 2005

Rio, Knut 2002. “The Sorcerer as an Absented Third Person: Formations of Fear and Anger in Vanuatu”. In (ed.) Kapferer, B. Beyond Rationalism. Rethinking Magic, Whitchcraft and Sorcery, pp.129-154. Oxford: Berghahn Books – also Social Analysis, 46:129-154.

Rio, Knut 2002. The Third Man. Manifestations of Agency on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu. Thesis submitted for the degree of dr. Polit.at the University of Bergen.

Rio, Knut 2002. ”Eksotiske gjenstander og deres museumshistorie”,  I (eds.) A. Johansen, K. Losnedahl, H. Ågotnes Tingenes tale. Innspill til Museologi, 56-73. Bergen: Bergen Museums skrifter nr.12.

Rio, Knut 2000. ”Former for produksjon og betaling i Vanuatu: Gamle og nye perspektiver på resiprositet i Melanesia”. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift 11:197-211

Rio, Knut 1999. Oceania Gjenoppdaget i Bergen. Reiser i Bergen Museums samlinger fra Stillehavet. (‘Oceania rediscovered in Bergen: Travelling through the Pacific Collections at the Bergen Museum’) Bergen: Bergen Museums Skrifter, Kultur 3

Rio, Knut 1998. ”Tingenes tilstand ved Bergen Museums etnografiske samlinger”. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift, 9 (2&3): 93-104

Rio, Knut 1998. ”Spiralen: Det materielle produksjonsapparat involvert i fremstillingen av menn og andre mannlige figurer i Vanuatu, Sentral-Melanesia”, Primitive Tider 1: 33-45.

Rio, Knut 1997. Standing Drums in Vanuatu. The Cultural Biography of a National Symbol. Thesis submitted for the degree of Cand. Polit. at the University of Bergen.





2019-2022: Initiator of 'Common Ends' research network on cultural heritage. COMMON ENDS | Avdeling for kulturhistorie | UiB

• Research coordinator of ERC Advanced Grant Project “Egalitarianism: Forms, Processes, Comparisons” May 2014 – May 2019. Project leader Bruce Kapferer, Dept. of Anthropology, UiB. 

• On Advisory Board of “Gender and Pentecostal Christianity. An analysis of gender in Pentecostal Christianity with a comparative focus on Africa and Melanesia “, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, 2012-2016. Project leader Annelin Eriksen, University of Bergen.

• Partner in ECOPAS project: European Consortium for Pacific Studies (http://www.pacificstudies.eu/), Co-ordinated by the Bergen Pacific Studies Group, project leader Edvard Hviding. Funding from EU 2013-2015.

• Partner in 'Anthropos and the Material: Challenges to Anthropology' at the dept of social anthropology, UiO, project leader Ingjerd Hoem, Funding by Norwegian Research Council 2013 -2015.

• “Pacific Alternatives: Cultural Heritage and Political Innovation in Oceania”, Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen. Project leaders Edvard Hviding and Knut M. Rio. 2008 – 2012.

• On Advisory Board of “Structure and History”, funded by the Norwegian research council, 2008-2012. Project leader Håkon Glørstad, University of Oslo.

• Researcher in the project “In the Wake of Colonialism. Norwegian Commercial Interests in Colonial Africa and Oceania“, Unifob Global, University of Bergen. Project leaders Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland and Anne K. Bang. 2004-2009



PhD in social anthropology From the University of Bergen 2003.

Professor at the University of Bergen since September 2009.

Chair of European Society for Oceanists, July 2010 – December 2012

Editor of Social Analysis since 2010

Editor of Norwegian Anthropological Journal (Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift), 2004 - 2008.