On a recent upsurge, the anthropology of literature goes a long way back and includes the role of literature and literary texts in anthropology. Since the 1970s, when Victor Turner identified African ritual and Western literature as “mutually elucidating”, a growing number of anthropologists have related to literature in their research. Fieldworkers often read fiction set in their fields, by local writers, in order to deepen their knowledge about people and places they research. Fiction also appears in teaching, on reading lists which suggests that the relationship between ethnography and fiction remains in productive tension. Increasingly, literary and reading communities are the objects of inquiry by anthropologists. The notion of world literature, which used to mean masterpieces from Western Europe, has now been expanded to refer to the circulation of literary works in a global or cosmopolitan context. From an anthropological point of view, this raises issues of migration, diaspora and postcoloniality, but also more generally of literacy, media, and social life. 

This seminar series features presentations that aim to discuss various literary engagements in anthropology. It welcomes presentations by doctorial candidates and researchers/staff on aspects they find especially interesting on or around world literature and its various genres such as fiction, crime novels, memoirs, travel writing, reportage. Does the pairing of anthropology and literature for instance contribute to anthropology´s relationship to a wider audience? The seminar series Anthropology and World Literature is a part of the initiative on World Literature by the English Department and the Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University.

For more information, please contact Helena Wulff or Mattias Viktorin at the Department of Social Anthropology.