Research Community News

The Swedish South Asian Network on Fermented Foods (SASNET-Fermented Foods) held an International Seminar and Workshop on “Fermented Foods: Nutrition, Health Status and Social well-being” at the National Research Centre in Cairo, Egypt on 13-15 November 2017. The seminar was organised in collaboration with the  the Society for Women in Science in Developing Countries (OWSD – Egypt) as a part of the First International conference of the Society for Women in Science in Developing Countries (OWSD – Egypt) on the theme “Sciences for Women: Development and Innovation”.
SASNET Fermented Foods is a forum for scientists of the South Asian countries, Sweden and other countries for exchanging information in the field of food fermentation and its practical application.  It was launched in 2003 by Professor Baboo Nair, Division of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Lund University, and has has helped to strengthen relation among academicians, researchers and food industry professionals. The network is coordinated by Professor J. B. Prajapati, Head of Department of Dairy Microbiology, SMC College of Dairy Science at Anand Agricultural University, India.
Prof. Prajapati participated in the conference as one of the keynote speakers, and has written a lengthy report on the Cairo workshop. Read his report (as a pdf-file).

Internationella Programkontoret

The Malmö University team: Annica Andersson, Lena Andersson and David Wagner.
The Samtse team: Johan Westman and Purna Subba.

On 4 December 2017, the Swedish International Programme Office for Education and Training decided to award a Linnaeus Palme Exchange Programme planning grant to the Department of Science, Environment and Society (NMS) at the University of Malmö for a collaboration programme with Samtse College of Education (SCE) at the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB). The aim is to develop and support a more culturally responsive teaching and learning in mathematics and mathematics teacher education in the Swedish and Bhutan school contexts. The new collaboration was facilitated by the NSAN editor Lars Eklund during a May 2017 visit to Samtse, when he discussed with Senior SCE  Lecturer Purna Badadur Subba and Dr. Johan Westman, Swedish ethnomusicologist working at SCE since 2016, the possibility to find collaborating partners in Sweden on the isue of Ethnomathematics.
At Malmö University, Associate professor Annica Andersson happens to be working on Etnomathematics with a strong international network with scholars at teacher education institutions and universities in different parts of the world. Her thesis and research has been based on critical mathematical and ethnomathematical research. Together with Lena Andersson, senior lecturer and the international coordinator at the department, and with a background from the ITP/Sida programme “Child Rights, Classroom and School Management”, they form the Swedish coordination team.  Besides, during the current academic year, Malmö University has a visiting guest professor, David Wagner from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Canada. From 2007-10 he was the director of UNB’s projects in Bhutan, which focused on education issues. David has worked in Bhutan on multiple occasions, including in Samtse. Read Lars Eklund’s report from Samtse College of Education.

Professor Heinz Werner Wessler from the Institute for Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University gave a keynote speach on ”Ecocritical readings in Urdu literature” (in Urdu) at a two-day International Conference on Literature & Ecological Challenges (Pakistani & International Perspective) organized by the Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU) in Khairpur, Pakistan on 13-14 November 2017.  The conerence was held in collaboration with the Pakistani Higher Education Commission (HEC). Prof. Wessler also read a paper on "The Garden, the Wilderness and the Self".
SALU, located in Sindh province, was established after the name of world renowned poet and Sufi saint Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Read more.

Linnaeus University with the two campuses at Växjö and Kalmar continues to be a strong hub for South Asian studies in Sweden. NSAN editor Lars Eklund therefore visited the Växjö campus on Tuesday 21 November 2017, and met Dr. Soniya Billore, Senior researcher at the Dept.of Marketing, School of Business and Economics. He was able to receive a copy of a book just being published, namely ”India: Research on Cultural Encounters and Representations at Linnaeus University”. It is an edited volume by Dr. Billore, and Dr. Kristina Myrvold at the Department of Cultural Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Humanities. In the book, ongoing research projects at the university are presented.

They include articles by Dr. Henrik Chetan Aspegren on ”Statistical Counter-representations of India 1860s-1880s”; by Prof. Margareta Petersson on ”A Danish Family in India: Gendered Colonial Upbringing, Everyday Life, and Cultural Encounters”; by Dr. Radhika Krishnan on ”The Dynamics of Railway Building; Through Joseph Stephens”; by Kristina Myrvold on ”Christian Missionaries and Book Printing in Nineteenth-Century India”; by Prof. Hans Hägerdal on ”South Asian Migrants and Early Modern Colonialism”; by Dr. Stefan Lagrosen on ”India’s Ayurveda Health System, Implications for Western Workplace Health”; and a few other contributions. The book is published by Makadam Förlag in Gothenburg. More information.
Sonia Billore and Kristina Myrvold have long experience of research and studies in India and in 2013 they initiated a working group at Linnaeus University to develop a strategy for academic cooperation with India. They submitted a project proposal to the Network for Internationalization with representatives from all departments at Linnaeus University, and on April 12, 2013, the Network and the Vice Rector, Professor Nils Nilsson, decided to approve the project. Read more...
Among other well-known South Asia researchers at the university should be mentioned Prof. Gunnel Cederlöf at the Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies; Prof. William Hogland at the  School of Pure and Applied Natural Sciences; and Prof. Katarina Swahnberg at the Department of Health and Caring Sciences

Vegard Iversen with IIMA's heritage Louis Kahn Plaza in the background.

In June 2017, Norwegian researcher Vegard Iversen joined the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad as a Professor in the Economics Area. To the best of our knowledge, Iversen is the first Scandinavian economist or social scientist to be appointed a Full Professor in one of India's topmost and publicly funded higher education institutions. Since 2008 he has been a Senior Research Fellow (Hon) at Global Development Institute (GDI), University of Manchester. Prof. Iversen is married to another well-known scholar, namely Dr. Shalini Grover, Associate professor at at the Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi.

After receiving his PhD in (development) economics from University of Cambridge in 2000, Prof. Iversen spent six years as Faculty at School of Development Studies (now International Development), University of East Anglia. He has been a Research Fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute's India office, a visiting Faculty at Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi Centre, and a Professor and Vice Dean at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy. From 2015 to 2017, he was an (India-based) Adjunct Professor at Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. His research is mainly applied microeconomics of development but includes the occasional ethnographic/sociological detour. Recent or ongoing research covers women in politics (using a novel, dynamic entry point); persistence and change in caste-based and other inequality in rural India; agricultural history and the long-term effects of colonial policies on contemporary development; business history; networks and labour markets; social mobility in the Global South.
He received the annual Dudley Seers Prize for the best paper published in Journal of Development Studies in 2008. He has been the Editor in-Chief for the Journal of South Asian Development since 2012 and is on the Editorial Board of Journal of Development Studies. More details about Prof. Iversen.

Huvadhu Atoll

Professor Emeritus Nils-Axel Mörner, heading an independent research institution on Palegeophysics and Geodynamics in Torekov, South Sweden, claims to have solved a 864-year old murder case in the Maldives. In the peer-reviewed magazine Archaeological Discovery, No 5/2017, he publishes an article entitled ”The Reef Woman of the Maldives”, in which he proves that the remains of a woman found on a Maldives beach, was a victim of a murder. She died, was killed or washed ashore at a former Maldives shore at about AD 1150. It has come to be known as “the Reef Woman” of the Maldives or of Lhosfushi. The skeleton lacks its feet, suggesting that the woman was killed on the beach and the feet cut-off. The age of the bones is ca AD 1135 ± 70. Therefore, it seems highly likely that the killing took place at the invasion and takeover of the Maldives by the Muslims in AD 1153. Read the article.
Prof. Mörner, with a background from the Palegeophysics and Geodynamics unit at Stockholm University, and 1999-2003 being president for the INQUA (The International Association of Quaternary Research) Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, has done extensive research on the Maldives coastlines, proving that the island republic far from being flooded today has a shore higher up than some hundred years ago and with no significant sea rise in recent years. The skeleton find shows that the shore was at the same elevation in the 1100s as today. Sea then rose to about +60 cm, covering the skeleton with coral rubble. Sea fell again to its present position, cementing the shore deposits into beachrock including the skeleton. In sub-recent time, the beachrock was trimmed into a rock-cut platform at sea level of about +20 cm. In the 1970s, sea level fell to its present position, starting to erode a new rock-cut platform at about present high-tide level, by that exposing the old skeleton. 

On Thursday 9 November 2017, Dr. Patrik Oskarsson from the Division of Rural Development at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala was awarded SEK 3.0 m as a three-year grant from the Formas’ Scientific Council in Stockholm. He is one of 53 Swedish researchers with successful applications for the Formas 2017 programme on ”Research and Development Projects to Future Research Leaders” (more information).  Formas funds research for an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development. The mission of Formas is to promote and support basic and needs-driven research in the areas of the Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning. The research funded should be of highest scientific quality and relevance for Formas’ areas of responsibility.
Patrik’s project is entitled ”Participatory Environmentalism: Mobilising Citizens for Air Pollution Mitigation and Improved Environmental Health in India” and will be carried out in collaboration with Dr Devanshi Chanchani, previously at East Anglia University, UK, but currently without institutional affiliation. Additionally, Professor T. Sundararaman at TISS in Mumbai is assisting the project on a concultancy basis.
Abstract: This proposal examines the conditions which enable citizens to become actively engaged in pollution control for improved environmental health. It does this by enabling research participants to monitor household air pollution levels for a better understanding of local sources of pollution and personal exposure. Low cost pollution monitors offer new possibilities for people to link personal health effects directly to pollution. The resulting improved knowledge of what pollution is and where it comes from is expected to support community mobilisation to mitigate pollution. This project draws on citizen science approaches to environmental governance to open up for participatory environmental management. Three empirical settings are selected as case studies across India with a combination of urban, industrial and rural forms of pollution and socio-political settings. Data collection methods are air pollution measurements, an environmental health survey and ethnographic methods. The project is expected to add to our understanding of the factors which support citizens becoming active in pollution control and management activities. Active citizens are expected to be able to press for wide-ranging public health improvements, and open up for participatory decision-making processes on environmental matters at the moment dealt with in closed, expert-controlled settings with significant political interventions.

It should also be noted that Patrik Oskarsson recently was involved in editing a special section of the peer-reviewed magazine South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies along with Dr. Siddharth Sareen from the University of Bergen, Norway. The specila section is entitled ”Discourse and Resource Conflict in Extractive Zones of India”, and includes interesting articles not only by the two editors themselves, but also other eminent researchers such as Kenneth Bo Nielsen, University of Oslo.


On 2 November 2017, the Swedish Research Council decided upon project grants within Humanities for the period 2018-2021. Two projects given a grant relates to South Asian studies - to Prof. Helle Rydström at the Dept. of Gender Studies, Lund University, and to Dr. Henrik Chetan Aspegren at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) in Stockholm.

Prof. Hellström’s Lund University project is entitled ”Precariousness at Work: Workplace Violence against Women Employees in Nordic Companies Outsourced to Asia”, and the research team also include Associate Professor Lisa Eklund at the Dept. of Sociology; Prof. Caratina Kinnvall at the Dept. of Political Science; and Assistant Professor Maria Tonini, Dept. of Gender Studies. The project will examine Nordic companies outsourced to China, India, and Vietnam to unfold the ways in which flows from the Global North interconnect with the Global South and facilitate the production of workplace ‘power-geometries’ in which some have more powers than others, some are more in charge than others, and some might be harmed. By carefully investigating the consequences on the ground of encounters between global economic movements and local lifeworlds, the project will, among other things, provide a sophisticated analytical prism for the study of gendered (in)security, precariousness, and violence, and fresh ethnographic data about gender specific experiences of abuse in the Nordic workplaces located in Asia. The project is granted SEK 4.5 m for three years.

Henrik Chetan Aspegren‘s project is entitled ”The Numbers on Our Side: Enumeration and Emancipation, India 1915-1947”. This project asks why enumerations became central to arguments for emancipation at the cusp of electoral politics and enlarged franchise in India. It analyses how spokespersons for three disadvantaged groups – Bhimrao R. Ambedkar (”untouchables”), Mohammad A. Jinnah (”Muslims”), and Mithan J. Lam (”women”) – embedded numerical data in to arguments to define their respective group as one to which political rights could be assigned; to describe the disadvantage of their respective group; and to prescribe how this disadvantage could be ended through political reform. By identifying, contextualising and linking instances when enumerations were referred to in respective spokespersons written argument between the years 1915 and 1947, the study will provide unique understanding to this overlooked yet central dimension of modern Indian politics. The project is granted SEK 2.85 m for three years.
Henrik is currently working at Linnaeus University in Växjö, but from 1 January 2018 he will be working full-time at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, where he will combine the research within this specific project with the building of a capacity - and hopefully in the long run - an environment - for analysis and research on South Asia at UI.

Associate Professor Shantanu Chakrabarti from the Dept. of History at Calcutta University in Kolkata is staying at Uppsala University, Sweden during the period 1-22 November 2017 . He is a Visiting Professor under the long-standing Linnaeus Palme Exchange Programme running between the Dept. of History at Uppsala University and its counterpart in Kolkata. Prof. Chakrabarti specialises in International Relations and will be delivering a few lectures on contemporary India - on Wednesday 15 November, 13.15-15.00, he will speak about ”Conceptualising the 'Civilisation State' Model in Asia: Between Historical Heritage and Contemporary Reality'. The seminar is organised by the Dept. of History. Venue: Engelska Parken, room 22-1009, Thunbergsvägen 3C. 
Three days later, on Saturday 18 November, 12-16, Dr. Chakrabarty participates in Uppsala University’s Thematic Forum Day, the theme being “Migration: The World in Motion”. During this day migration will be approached from various horizons and regions thanks to the mini-lectures of different Uppsala researchers. It is open to the public, and free entrance. Dr. Chakrabarty will speak about ”Games people play! Developing South Asia´s sport identity at home and within the diaspora”, and the time for his lecture is 14.15-15.30. More information..

Two Indian activists from the heavily militarised region of Kashmir on Thursday was awarded Norway's Rafto Prize for human rights for their long-term struggle against violence in the disputed territory, the award ceremony held in Bergen on 5 November 2017. The prize of 17,750 euros was formally presented to Parveena Ahanger and Imroz Parvez. Named after the late Norwegian human rights activist Thorolf Rafto, four past winners of the prize (Aung San Suu Kyi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae-Jung and Shirin Ebadi) went on to win to Nobel Peace Prize. Ahanger, nicknamed "The Iron Lady of Kashmir", founded and leads the Association of Parents of Missing Persons after her 17-year-old son was kidnapped by security forces in 1990. She hasn't heard anything from or of him since. Her co-laureate, lawyer Parvez, founded the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) which promotes human rights and non-violence. It has documented the authorities' use of torture in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Talat Bhat participated in the event. Read his report...


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