West Africa, Scandinavia, political and legal anthropology, human rights, law and law enforcement, small arms, information practices, migration, urban studies
With an academic background in anthropology, law, and history, my research and teaching interests are truly interdisciplinary and I draw on all these fields (along with international relations and political science) in my work. Most of my research has been in West Africa (mainly The Gambia) but I also have active research interests in my native Sweden. My book, Domestic Gun Control and International Small Arms Control in Africa, examines small arms/gun control in The Gambia, looking specifically at the uptake and non-uptake of international small arms rhetoric in the country, the socio-culturally specific meanings of guns and gun control in that country, and how, comparatively and globally, gun control has shifted to a more individuated approach through legal devices such as extreme risk protection orders, good character requirements, and so on. I have also written about information practices in West Africa, human rights, Gambian elections, and so on. My research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Isaac Newton Trust at the University of Cambridge, and the American Scandinavian Foundation.
I am currently involved in two new research projects:
1) The intersection of migration and land in The Gambia, including the politics of land within a transitional justice context and the socio-cultural practices around land "ownership" (from security to aesthetics).
2) The social underpinnings of the Swedish "model" and the myth of Swedish exceptionalism (the idea of the folkhem, Sweden as a self-styled "humanitarian superpower," and so on). This research has two different strands: one is looking at the Swedish response to the Covid pandemic, and another is looking at how Sweden projects its image abroad in the military arena, such as through participation in joint exercises, arms trades, and so forth.
At Mason, I routinely teach GLOA 600 (Global Competencies—the introduction to the MA program) and GLOA 491/492 (the GLOA undergraduate honors sequence). I have also taught GLOA 720 (MA capstone), GLOA 620 (MA Human Systems), GLOA 101 (undergraduate), and GLOA 400 (Undergraduate capstone). My special topics teaching has focused on human security and international development. I have also led study abroad programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels to Sweden and The Gambia.
In addition to my research and teaching, I am one of the founding editors of the African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review and the Secretary-General of the Senegambian Studies Group (a coordinate organization of the African Studies Association). I have served as an expert witness on Gambian matters in legal cases in the US, Canada, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and been interviewed by media outlets from the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Congo, France, Belgium, and elsewhere.
2022. Domestic Gun Control and International Small Arms Control in Africa. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan
2020. “Anticipatory Tribalism: Accusatory Politics in the New Gambia.” Journal of Modern African Studies 58(2): 257-279. [co-authored with Tone Sommerfelt.]
2020. “Public, Private, and the Politics of Information in Late Colonial Gambia,” in Private Lives, Public Histories: An Ethnohistory of the Intimate Past. Rachel Corr and Jacqueline Fewkes, eds. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
2020. “Responding to the Backway: Migration in the Gambia.” In Deadly Waters: Migrant Journeys across the Mediterranean.Veronica Fynn Bruey and Steven Bender, eds. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books [co-authored with Francisca Zanker.]
2020. “Waiting and Political Transitions: Anticipating the New Gambia.” Critical African Studies. DOI: 10.1080/21681392.2019.1697310
2019. “Human Flourishing and Conflict in African Human Rights Law.” In Law, Religion, and Human Flourishing in Africa. M. Christian Green, ed. Stellenbosch, South Africa: SUN MeDIA.
2017. “Bulletproofing: Small Arms, International Law, and Spiritual Security in The Gambia.”. In Politics and Policies in Upper Guinea Coast Societies. Change and Continuity. C. Højbjerg, J. Knörr, and W. P. Murphy, eds. New York: Palgrave
2017. “Autocracy, Migration, and Gambia's 'Unprecedented' 2016 Election.” African Affairs 116(463):321-340 [co-authored with Baba Jallow, Benjamin N. Lawrance, and Assan Sarr.]
2015. “Leaky Humanitarianism: The Anthropology of Small Arms Control in The Gambia.” American Ethnologist 42(1):68-80.
2014. “Law, Opacity, and Information in Urban Gambia.” Social Analysis 57(3):42-57.
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
LLM, Queen's University Belfast
BA, University of the South (Sewanee)