Home » SWEDISH UNIVERSITIES ENGAGED IN SOUTH ASIA RESEARCH 2015 » Kristianstad University College » School of Education and Environment, Kristianstad University, 2015

School of Education and Environment, Kristianstad University, 2015

Postal Address: Sektionen för Lärande och Miljö, Högskolan i Kristianstad, SE-291 88 Kristianstad, Sweden
Visiting address: Elmetorpsvägen 15
Web page: http://www.hkr.se/

Contact person: Associate Professor Ann-Sofi Rehnstam Holm, phone: +46 (0)44 20 34 52. Personal web page.
Associate Professor Torvald Olsson, phone +46 (0)44 20 33 53. Personal web page.

Research on Microbiology related to South Asia

Dr. Ann-Sofi Rehnstam-Holm is a Microbiologist, who since the mid-1990s has been involved in a long-standing and fruitful collaboration with the Karnataka Animal Veterinary and Fisheries Science University in Mangalore on the Indian west coast, focusing on Toxic algae, their ecology, and about methods to develop identification and detection of these algae, along the south-west coast of India. She has visited India a dozen times during the 2000s.
Her research currently focuses on marine bacteria, especially Vibrio species that are pathogenic to humans (V. cholerae, V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus).
The India projects have been carried out in collaboration with Dr. Anna Godhe at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg. The main research partners on the Indian side have been Professor Iddya Karunasagar, and Associate Professor Indrani Karunasagar. More information about the projects, that have been funded by grants from Sida/SAREC, Swedish Research Links and Formas.

Some of the grants have been applied for by Dr. Rehnstam-Holm, e g in November 2006 when Ann-Sofi Rehnstam-Holm received SEK 1.2 M as a two-years grant (2007-08) from Sida’s Developing Country Research Council (U-landsforskningsrådet) for this project. More information about South Asia related Sida grants 2006.
A year earlier, in November 2005, she received SEK 450 000 as a three-years grant for the same project from the Swedish Research Links programme (administered by Sida and the Swedish Research Council). This grant funded the work of a then PhD candidate, Karolina Härnström, former student of Kristianstad University but who later moved to University of Gothenburg. More information about Swedish Research Links grants 2005.
More information about Dr. Karolina Härnström.

In November 2008, Dr. Holm again received a Swedish Research Links (Asian–Swedish research partnership programme) grant – SEK 600 000 for three years (2009-11) for collaboration the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University in Mangalore. The project was now entitled ”Characterization and survival of Pathogenic and non-pathogenic vibrios in the indian marine environment”. See the full list of South Asia related projects given Swedish Research Links gants 2008.

In 2009, the Mangalore project was granted funding for the period 2010–2012 from Swedish Research Links and SIDA-Formas.
The project was now entitled ”Climate induced changes in phytoplankton community structure: The role of harmful algal species in the Arabian Sea”. The project aims to understand how climate-induced changes in sea surface temperature (SST), salinity, pH, and sources of macronutrients may affect the phytoplankton community structure, and to identify environmental drivers of harmful algal bloom (HAB) species. Such knowledge will enable us to foresee effects in the marine food web affecting e.g. fisheries, and assess the risks HABs pose to human health under present and future environmental conditions.
The project is implemented in collaboration between several Swedish and Indian institutions. From the Swedish side. besides Dr Ann-Sofi Rehnstam-Holm from Kristianstad University, also Anna Godhe, and Betty Kronkvist, University of Gothenburg; as well as Dr Lars Edler (SMHI). From the Indian side. Dr Iddya Karunasagar, Dr Indrani Karunasagar, Dr Ashwin Rai, Dr HRV Reddy, Dr MN Venugopal and Chetan Reddy from the Karnataka Veterinary Animal and Fisheries Sciences University in India, as well as Dr R Ramesh, and Arvind Singh from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India. 

MoU with Karnataka Animal Veterinary and Fisheries Science University

The collaboration with Karnataka Animal Veterinary and Fisheries Science University in Mangalore does not only consist of joint research. Over the years 10-12 researchers from Mangalore have been able to visit Sweden and Kristianstad University, and a number of students from Kristianstad have went the other way, mainy on MFS scholarships. A formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two universities was signed in 2010.
Dr. Rehnstam-Holm, who is in charge of the Biomedical Laboratory Science programme at Kristianstad University, hopes to extend collaboration also to other Indian and South Asian institutions, and efforts are under way to esatblish such contacts.

India related research on Health, Gender and Demography

Dr. Torvald Olsson has been engaged in research on South Indian society, culture, and religion for more than 30 years. Before moving to Kristianstad University College he was connected to the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University. He defended his doctoral dissertation at Lund University in 1988 on a thesis entitled ”Folkökning, Fattigdom, Religion. Objektivitetsproblem i högstadiets läromedel 1960-1985 med särskild inriktning på Indien- och U-landsbilden”, a critical study of the problem of objectivity in teaching materials about developing nations, with special reference to India. Faculty Opponent was Dr. Karl Reinhold Haellquist, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), Copenhagen.

Currently, Torvald is involved in a research project entitled ”Health, Gender, and Demography: A Socio-cultural study of Mother and Child Healthcare in two Indian states”. It is a comparative, longitudinal, and phenomenological-ethnological life world analysis project, focusing on the relative and absolute deprivations in health accessibility in the states of Tamil Nadu and Bihar.
It has been funded by a grant from Sida’s Developing Country Research Council (U-landsforskningsrådet) in 2006 (more information about South Asia related Sida grants 2006), but due to a number of reasons it was launched only in July 2010. It will be competed during 2012.
The project is carried out in collaboration with Dr. Shahid Perwez (photo) from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. More information about Shahid Perwez and his research.
Torvald Olsson is mainly involved in the studies of Tamil Nadu, whereas Shahid Perwez carries out the Bihar studies.
Abstract: This research explores the cultural context of women’s reproductive practices in prenatal and postnatal care by looking at the issues of women’s autonomy and mobility, health provider’s approach, and the cultural and political constraints/barrier in accessing reproductive child healthcare in two Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. The concern mainly stems from the observations such as why there exists wide gap and variation in reproductive primary healthcare and its accessibility across Tamil Nadu – a society about which anthropological and demographic evidences so far suggest a better position for women, and Bihar – a society about which the same evidences suggest a relatively lower position for women.

In July 2004, Pervez participated in the 18th ECMSAS conference, organised by SASNET in Lund, in Panel No. 11 about ”Education, health and demographic changes in South Asia”. There, he presented a paper titled ”Post-Colonial Understanding of Female Infanticide in North and South India”, focusing on why female infanticide, which was claimed to be effectively controlled in colonial India, has appeared in post-colonial India in communities and regions where it was previously unknown.

Earlier research by Torvald Olsson

During the years 1991-–98 Dr. Torvald Olsson, with a background in History of Religion, made a comparative study in Tamil Nadu, India, of the Belief Systems among local Hindu religious leaders, villagers and members of a South Indian nomadic tribe called Vagris; a study financed by the Research council HSFR. The research was carried out in collaboration with Professor Dick Haglund, at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Gothenburg.

After that Torvald made similar studies in Italy (on the island of Sardinia, as well as on the mainland) to obtain a better perspective on how people from different places and backgrounds explain the phenomena of Good and Evil in their lives.

Since 1999 Torvald Olsson has also been engaged in an ethnological and historical, comparative study, funded by Sida/SAREC, of the Phenomena of Infanticide in South India. Because of the prevalence of infanticide there is a sharp difference in the number of men and women in certain dry and poor districts of South India (in Salem and Dharmapuri districts of Tamil Nadu), whereas in other parts of South India there is no difference at all. The research dealt with which factors –– demographic, economic, social and cultural –– that are determining this difference.

Out of the many years of research on the vagri community in Tamil Nadu, Torvald Olsson developed a commitment to work for the uplift of these people. Along with student group he led to India in 1989 he created the organisation the Association for the Liberation of Vagris and Other Minority groups, ALVOM. From 1991 Alvom worked together with the Indian Council for Child Welfare, ICCW, and got financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA, to fund for children both in Chennai and on the Tamil Nady countryside. It also supported a school project for Munda people in Orissa. Since 1995, Alvom has concentrated more on a health and village development project in the village Irupalli, close to Salem in Tamil Nadu, southern India. The organization was closed in 2008.

Later, Torvald Olsson has also been engaged in visualising and conscientization the infaniticide problem for an audience in Europe and India, through a cooperation with the South Indian Bharata Natyam artist Sarangarajan Vijayalakshmi from Chennai. A dance drama called ”Love’s Wisdom in the Last Era”, sponsored by Sida) was performed during a couple of years. The performances always included lectures on the issue by Torvald Olsson. In India it was shown out in villages where infanticide is prevalent, and was used a a form of mass mobilisation against the horrific practice.
In August-September 2003 another dance drama was performed, fully produced by Torvald Olsson. It was called ”Akkamahadevi”, and dealt with a legendary woman living in what is now the Indian state of Karnataka, in the 12th Century A.D. (Photo to the right).
The dance drama, supported by the Swedish Institute and Kristianstad University College, had its premiere in Bangalore, India, on 27 July 2003 with representatives from the Karnataka state government and the Akkamahadevi Samiti organisation. In Sweden it was performed on the island of Gotland and at the castle Bäckaskog north of Kristianstad.
In 2004 Olsson has developed his methods of using dance dramas and also film as pedagogic tools, and made a video production of ”Love’s Wisdom in the Last Era”. More information on this (in Swedish only).

SASNET visit

On Monday 23 April 2012, SASNET’s deputy director Lars Eklund visited Kristianstad University in order to meet some of the researchers and staff working on South Asia related collaboration projects. A meeting was kindly organised in the administration building of the university (that actually used to house a military garrison before being turned into an educational institution) by Kerstin Samarasinghe from the School of Health and Society, and Lise-Lotte Nilsson, Director of International Relations, Kristianstad University. Ann-Sofi Rehnstam Holm and Torvald Olsson both participated in the meeting. Read Lars report from the visit to Kristianstad University.