I am Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen, where I have worked since doing my PhD at the University of Cambridge (2002) and my M.Phil. at Aarhus University (1997).
My research has taken place in two different places in the world on a wide range of themes and problems, some specific to these countries/regions and others of a more generic nature. From 1995 to 2010, I conducted more than four years of ethnographic fieldwork in especially rural and urban Mongolia but also Western China and Far East Russia, focusing on topics as different as shamanism, Buddhism, political imagination, hope, postsocialist transition, economic networks, security, infrastructure, globalization and neo-imperialism. Since 2010, I have done anthropological research in and on Denmark revolving around two very different problems and field sites, namely the small but influential Lutheran movement Tidehverv and the emerging field of social data science. In this context, I have worked and published on a number of new topics, including Christianity, national-conservatism, ethics, collaboration and experimentation, as well as critical data science. Throughout these two stages of my research I have maintained a long-lasting interest in more overarching problems of anthropological (and more generally social scientific) theory and methodology.
Over the years, I have been involved in several big research projects. I have been the PI of two comparative research projects funded by the Danish Research Council: Imperial Potentialities; Chinese Infrastructure Projects and Local Socio-economic Networks in Mozambique and Mongolia (2009-2012) and Optimal Distortion: Ethnographic Explorations of Paradoxical Connections (2012-2017), for which I received a DFF Sapere Aude Research Leader Grant. I have also been Co-PI in the two interdisciplinary UCPH centres of excellence: Centre for Advanced Security Theory (CAST) and the Social Fabric program, and is currently a Co-PI in SODAS (Copenhagen Centre for Social Data Science), all based the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.
I have published several books and edited volumes as well as a large number of articles and book chapter. I am the author of Not Quite Shamans: Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia (Cornell UP 2011), The Ontological Turn: An Anthropological Exposition (with M. Holbraad, CUP 2017), Urban Hunters: Dealing and Dreaming in Time of Transition (with L. Højer, in press with Yale UP) and co-editor of Inner Asian Perspectivism (Inner Asia 2007), Technologies of the Imagination (Ethnos 2009), Comparative Relativism (Common Knowledge 2011), Times of Security: Ethnographies of Fear, Protest, and the Future (Routledge 2013) and Infrastructures of Certainly and Doubt (Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 2017). I have recently completed (with Mikkel Bunkenborg and Morten Nielsen) a co-authored monograph about Chinese resource extraction and infrastructure projects in Inner Asia and Africa entitled “Collaborative Damage: an Experimental Ethnography of Chinese Globalization”. Finally, I am also co-editor of the book series Ethnography, Theory Experiment, published by Berghahn Books.