Niklas Hultin

Niklas Hultin

Niklas Hultin

Assistant Professor

West Africa, Scandinavia, political and legal anthropology, human rights, law and law enforcement, small arms, information practices, migration, urban studies

Niklas Hultin is an Assistant Professor of Global Affairs. He has advanced degrees in anthropology (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) and law (LLM, Queen's University Belfast). Prior to joining Mason, he held positions at the University of Virginia, University of Cambridge, American University's School of International Service, and Swarthmore College. At these institutions, he taught the anthropology of international development, legal and political anthropology, research methods, human rights, and African studies. At Mason, he is teaching in both the BA and MA programs in Global Affairs. Currently he is the faculty coordinator/instructor for the Honors in the Major program and he is also teaching GLOA 600 (the introductory course to the MA). In the past he has taught GLOA 101, GLOA 400 (the undergraduate capstone), GLOA 620, and GLOA 720. He has also led study abroad trips to Sweden and The Gambia. 

With a principal regional focus on West Africa, in particular The Gambia, Hultin's research interests addresses two overarching (and often overlapping) themes: the politics of human rights and humanitarianism, on one hand, and understandings of bureaucracy, law, and information practices, on the other hand. Specific topics that he has researched include freedom of expression, civic education, policing, banking, and transnational human rights organizations. His most recently concluded major research project  was a large study of small arms control and crime prevention in The Gambia, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust at the University of Cambridge. This research projected has yielded multiple journal articles and book chapters, and a monograph titled Global Gun Control and Legitimate Violence is currently in preparation.

Currently, Hultin is researching the intersection of migration and urban land policy 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). Hultin also has research interests in Scandinavia (including his native Sweden).

In addition to his research and teaching, Hultin is actively involved with several Gambian civil society organisations. He is also 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). Hultin has 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.

Selected Publications

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.

Courses Taught

  • GLOA 491/492 (GLOA Honors sequence)
  • GLOA 600


PhD, University of Pennsylvania

LLM, Queen's University Belfast

BA, University of the South (Sewanee)