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History and cultural identity in Europe


Cultural Theory: Transnational Processes in Europe

7.5 credits




This course provides you with insights into cultural identities and historical processes in Europe, linking ethnological, folkloric and related perspectives to broader theoretical developments in the social sciences and the humanities. It introduces a theoretical depth to analytical categories such as culture, ethnicity, identity, ritual and narration.

Want to know why you should study at Södertörn University? Find out here.

Great demand for the knowledge found in this humanist subject As a trained ethnologist, you have a wide range of future employers – organisations, municipalities and authorities. For example, you could work as an evaluator, administrator or project manager in areas that deal with culture, tourism, issues for children and adolescents. There is a demand for ethnographic knowledge in many areas of work. The foundation of Ethnology – questions about gender, migration and integration – provide you with expertise on the labour market. The subject is closely linked to behavioural science and facilitates the understanding of a sometimes confusing world, providing tools that are useful in all areas of life. The historical perspective gives you the opportunity to discover and understand contemporary phenomena at a deeper level. Former students are now employed at embassies, museums, multicultural centres, the Swedish Migration Agency and in academia.
Linking local cultural phenomena with overarching processes  The course examines empirical work and theoretical discussions of culture, ethnicity, identity, ritual and narration, drawn from international research in ethnology and related disciplines, to provide an awareness of how culture and identity can be used for both emancipatory and oppressive purposes. You will gain solid knowledge and understanding of different types of transnational processes in Europe, as well as of the complex connections between social and cultural change. This results in the ability to problematise these connections between individuals, groups and institutions, and between the past and the present, on both the local and the global level. Your studies consists of lectures and discussions of primary texts in the seminars, as well as written reflections on your reading. Participation in the seminars is obligatory.
Investigate contemporary culture using an historical basis and modern perspectives Ethnology has been called “the science of nations and peoples” and used to have an historical focus. It was a way of broadening how history was written to include things that had not been written by “trusted men” and thus preserved in archives and printed texts. Nowadays, there is a greater focus on the contemporary world, but the issues are largely the same. When you study Ethnology, you investigate issues about why people in various areas of the world, from different cultures and backgrounds, think, live and behave as they do. One approach in Ethnology is to regard culture as something changeable, but which also comprises shared agreements about how to live and work. Ethnologists are also interested in how these shared concepts are expressed – in texts, images, clothes, objects and rituals. The material studied is broad and may be anything from archive documents and photographs, stories and storytelling, to popular culture, television and social media. Ethnology has an intercultural perspective, with postcolonialism as its starting point, and a gender perspective, which makes the subject relevant in contemporary society. The historical elements of Ethnology help us to see the world around us using a comparative perspective. Because the subject encapsulates people’s everyday lives, ethnologists will always have close contacts with pressing and relevant societal issues. At Södertörn University, the focus of Ethnology is on issues of diversity and migration in Sweden. There is a specific focus on issues relating to multicultural Sweden and modern Europe, and how living conditions for various groups are affected by migration.