Workshop Series: Anthropologies and Securities

Between COVID-19 and social mobilisations, the year 2020 has brought along unprecedented shifts in security discourses, practices and configurations on local, national and global levels.

How to make sense of these security shifts following the cumulation of sanitary, social, political, ecological and economic crises over the past year(s) ?

This question is at heart of this Workshop Series “Anthropologies and Securities”.

Our overall goal is to constructively formulate current problematics and work towards solutions that help us understand the changing dynamics in the social and political constructions of security, and how to go about these configurations in conceptual, practical and methodological terms. While this project offers a space that brings practitioners, civil society and academics closer together, the more overarching aim is to fill collaborative gaps and foster dialogue between different anthropological specialisations that all overlap with the topic of security.

The first intended outcome of this workshop will be the use of visual, audio and textual material on our interactive website, with the possibility of further activities to follow.

You can find recordings of the sessions and other related audio-visual materials here.

Workshop 1

Security and the Pandemic

Global Perspectives


Morning Session

and Turmoil

and Turmoil

Experiences from the field

Time: 09:30h-12:30h (CET)

Moderation: Lene Swetzer & Samira Marty (Co-Organisers)

Welcome Note by Dennis Rodgers (IHEID)


The morning session, ‘Covid-19 and turmoils: Experiences from the field’ brings four practitioners from Chile, Eastern Ukraine and Lebanon together to  together to discuss the implications, challenges and newly emerging opportunities that the Covid-19 pandemic has implicated in their respective field (civil society, journalism and activism).


In a second part, we invite the audience to engage with both the speakers’ contributions and contrast that with their own experiences.

Igor Mitchnik

“Drukarnia” Civil Society Center Eastern Ukraine

Preethi Nallu

Multimedia Journalist
Beirut, Lebanon

Macarena Maggi Muñoz& María Ignacia Henríquez Pinto

ex-Spokesperson for The Autonomous Intersectional Feminist Movement of the Universidad Católica of Chile
President of the Student Federation of the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Chile

Afternoon Session

Anthropologies of Security

Anthropologies of Security

Dealing with
Multiple Crises

Time: 14:30h – 17:30h (CET)

Moderation: Thomas Hylland Eriksen


In the afternoon session, ‘Anthropologies of Security in multiple crises’, five invited anthropologists reflect on their experiences with and on the pandemic from their respective contexts and specialisations, including an interrupted field work in a South African township, (im)possible  border crossing in North Ireland, gendered outrage and burdens, and the collection and archiving of Corona diaries.


The overall objective, to foster a more holistic anthropological understanding of the term “security”, is then discussed between the speakers and the audience.

Convenors of the Anthropology of Security Network

Ana Ivasiuc, Alexandra Schwell, Monika Weissensteiner

Ehler Voss & Helmar Kurz

University of Bremen
University of Münster

Fiona Murphy

Queens University Belfast

Steffen Bo Jensen

Aalborg University

Workshop 2

State (and) Power in the Pandemic


This second workshop “State (and) Power in the Pandemic” revolves around different policing practices and surveillance mechanisms – from (community) policing and prisons to digital surveillance –  during the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on first-hand ethnographic research during the first wave of the pandemic, speakers will discuss the (re)configurations of state power from Mexico and China to Tunisia and Nicaragua and the role therein of specific state actors.

Kevin G. Karpiak, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at Eastern Michigan University will act as a convener for this session.

and Turmoil


Time: 14:00h-17:00h (CET)

Chair: Lene Swetzer (CCDP/Graduate Institute Geneva)

Convener: Kevin G. Karpiak,  Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at Eastern Michigan University

Lene Swetzer & Samira Marty (Co-Organisers)
Welcome Note & Housekeeping

Jonathan Austin, (IHEID / CCDP)
Confinement, Before and Now: Visualizing Hidden Suffering

Maya Avis, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Security, Surveillance and Vaccination in Palestine/Israel during the Pandemic

Myriam Amri, Harvard University
A police state under pandemic times: the case of Tunisia

Catrina Schwendener, Goldsmiths, University of London
Feeling looked after during lockdown: The role of Chinese community bureau checkpoints in the pandemic

Break (10 mins)

Julienne Weegels, Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation, University of Amsterdam

Pandemic fears and state veils: Covid-19 in the ‘cemetery of the living’

Adina Radosh, University of Toronto
Mexican police departments amidst the pandemic: A ceaseless mediation

Q&A Session

Closing of the Session

Jonathan Austin


Adina Radosh

University of Toronto

Maya Avis

Max Planck Institute

Kevin Karpiak

Eastern Michigan University

Myriam Amri

Harvard University

Julienne Weegels

University of Amsterdam

Catrina Schwendener

Goldsmiths University of London

Workshop 3

Social Mobilisations, Mass Movements and Protest in Pandemic Times


The third workshop “Social Movements, Mass Mobilisations & Protest in the Pandemic” will focus on the various uprisings and popular mobilisations that emerged off- and online against repression and more broadly government measures during the pandemic.

From conspiracy movements in Germany and the digital space, to political uprisings in India, Indonesia and Colombia, speakers will address the complex implications of mass mobilisations during a public health crisis.

and Turmoil


Time: 14:00h-17:30h (CET)

Chair: Lene Swetzer (CCDP/Graduate Institute Geneva)

ConvenerClaudia Seymour,  Senior Researcher, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (IHEID) 

Lene Swetzer & Samira Marty (Co-Organisers)
Welcome Note & Housekeeping

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon
Pandemic not the Priority: Burma’s Struggle for Democracy

Julienne Weegels, Yatun Sastramidjaja, and Luisa F. González Valencia, University of Amsterdam
P(R)OTESTAS: Digital authoritarianism and protest in the Global South, amidst the Pandemic

Arnaud Kaba, Göttingen University 
The Indian farmer’s movement and the pandemic: endgame for the communal politics?

Ehler Voss, University of Bremen

Elena Krsmanovic & Anna Laskai, Utrecht University
Evolution of Conspiracy Theory – 5G Riding the Wave of COVID-19

Q&A Session 

Closing of the Session

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon

Burma Campaign UK

Arnaud Kaba

Göttingen University

Ehler Voss

University of Bremen

Workshop 4

Urban Livelihoods & Everyday Life in Pandemic Times


The fourth and last workshop of our series will look at “Urban Livelihoods and Everyday Life in Pandemic Times”. During this session speakers will present how the Covid-19 pandemic affected lives at the social and urban margins across the globe.

Specifically, they will illustrate how invisibilised sections of society, such as for instance wage and migrant workers and trans-people of colour, from India to Morocco, Italy, the US and Brazil grapple with access to welfare, security and other state provisions during the sanitary crisis

and Turmoil


Time: 14:00h-17:30h (CET)

Chair: Lene Swetzer (CCDP/Graduate Institute Geneva)

Convener: Dennis Rodgers,  Research Professor Department of Anthropology and Sociology; Faculty Associate CCDP (IHEID)
Welcome Note


Lene Swetzer & Samira Marty (Co-Organisers)

Laurens Bakker, University of Amsterdam
To market in times of Corona: a longue duree analysis of pandemic life at a weekly public market

Paolo Grassi, University of Milan
‘They don’t know anything. They cannot understand’. Some fieldnotes on the Milanese welfare reorganization during the first wave of the COVID 19 pandemic

Atreyee Sen, University of Copenhagen
Struggle and strive: Shadow network economies and the emerging housing crisis in pandemic Mumbai

Break (10 mins)

Cristiana Strava, Leiden University
At Home with Confinement: Historical Genealogies and Everyday Practices of Survival on the Militarized Urban Margins in Morocco (1945 – 2021)

Martijn Oosterbaan, Utrecht University
Religious urban governance: Covid as catalyst

Aimee Wodda, DeShaun Kato LaChance & Paige Matthews,  Pacific University; Illinois Department of Human Rights
‘That pissed me the fuck off!’: Race, Gender, and COVID-19

Q&A Session

Closing of the Session

Laurens Bakker

University of Amsterdam

Martijn Oosterbaan

Utrecht University

Paolo Grassi

University of Milan

Aimee Wodda, DeShaun Kato LaChance & Paige Matthews

Pacific University; Illinois Department of Human Rights

Atreyee Sen

University of Copenhagen

Cristiana Strava

Leiden University


Workshop Series

The idea to set up this workshop series emerged from countless discussions that we, Samira and Lene, had in trying to put current occurrences in our own lives and around the globe into words. Exchanging thoughts about our respective research projects, and past, present and future fieldworks, questions surged and spiraled out into something broader.

How have the recent events of the spread of Covid-19 and its subsequent government responses (or lack thereof) affected dynamics of violence and insecurity in urban deprived neighbourhoods, and their relations to the state and (violent) non-state actors?

How can anthropologists pursue ethically justifiable ethnographic fieldwork amidst travel restrictions that are disjunctive across time and space, and in a general climate of fear and insecurities?

And, after all, what does security mean in these diverging contexts and what meaning does it bear for whom? 

Not just we as researchers preoccupied with everyday life in the right now, also civil societies and practitioners grapple with the same fundamental issues and security challenges. We are convinced that this is a crucial and timely opportunity to foster a more comprehensive and systematic dialogue and collaboration between all the aforementioned parties. This particularly applies for anthropologists as experts of contemporary societal phenomena and invite them to look beyond specialisations, of both thematic and regional nature, in order to find common ground on the pressing concerns of our time – both within and across our discipline. 

In this endeavor, we also strive for more dialogue with all those who share our concerns, facilitated by the virtual connections. This is why the workshop series is complemented by an interactive online-platform. On the one hand, the platform facilitates communication about our workshop series (general information; schedules; speakers; abstracts; workshop presentation excerpts; etc.). On the other hand, the platform hosts a virtual space of connection of dialogue which we aim to emerge also in the workshops’ aftermaths, concluding our discussion with accompanying multimedia outputs, and providing a space where readers can present their own reflections in the media format of their choice.

The Organisers


University of Oslo

Samira Marty is a PhD candidate at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. Her PhD thesis focuses on the unfolding of the socio-political crisis in Nicaragua and the different forms of activism that have emerged since 2018. Tracing the re-emerging German-Nicaraguan solidarity-movements and Nicaraguan protesting in Berlin, Samira’s thesis contributes to wider reflections on political conflict, temporality and state violence in revolutionary societies.

Samira holds an MA in Anthropology and Sociology of Development (2015, Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales et du Développement, Geneva) and a BA in Social Anthropology and Social Studies from the University of Basel. Her monograph “The female face of resistance” (Promedia 2017) (Das weibliche Gesicht des Widerstands, original in German) has connected creative and ethnographic writing on indigenous activism in post-genocide Guatemala.

Previous to her PhD research, she has worked as a political consultant and researcher for several Swiss and international organizations.

Lene Swetzer is a research assistant at the CCDP and a PhD candidate at the Graduate Institute’s Anthropology and Sociology (ANSO) Department.

Her research focuses on the relations between mobility, space and the production of security in the strait of Gibraltar, Spain.

Lene has a background in Cultural Anthropology and holds a BSc and a MA from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Lene Swetzer


Lene Swetzer


Lene Swetzer is a research assistant at the CCDP and a PhD candidate at the Graduate Institute’s Anthropology and Sociology (ANSO) Department.

Her research focuses on the relations between mobility, space and the production of security in the strait of Gibraltar, Spain.

Lene has a background in Cultural Anthropology and holds a BSc and a MA from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Gangs Project

The GANGS project, led by Prof. Dr. Dennis Rodgers (IHEID), develops a systematic comparative investigation of global gang dynamics, to better understand why they emerge, how they evolve over time, whether they are associated with particular urban configurations, how and why individuals join gangs, and what impact this has on their potential futures.

The project draws on original ethnographic research carried out in multiple locations, adopting an explicitly tripartite focus on “Gangs”, “Gangsters”, and “Ganglands” in order to better explore the interplay between group, individual, and contextual factors. The first considers the organisational dynamics of gangs; the second focuses on individual gang members and their trajectories before, during, and after their involvement in a gang; while the third reflects on the contexts within which gangs emerge and evolve.

The project combines innovative collaborative ethnography in Nicaragua, South Africa, and France, a ground-breaking comparison of 35 individual gang member life histories from across Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South American, and unique joint ethnographic investigations into the political economy of three gang-affected cities in Nicaragua, South Africa, and France.

The five-year project, which started in January 2019, has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 787935).


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