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Hege Høyer LeivestadAssistant Professor

About me


ON LEAVE 2022/2023

Hege Høyer Leivestad is Assistant Professor in Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. Leivestad also works as a Researcher in the ERC funded project PORTS at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo. She has previously been Visiting Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science and Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Anthropology, University of Oxford. She is the author of the monograph Caravans: Lives on Wheels in Contemporary Europe (Bloomsbury 2018), which was the first in-depth study of mobile dwellings and caravans in Europe. Her current book project The Port: Life and Labour at a Maritime Crossroads, is based on extensive fieldwork in a Spanish container port.



Hege Høyer Leivestad’s research has focused on mobile materials and infrastructures, and more recently on ethnographic perspectives on global capitalism. Leivestad has also been engaged in interdisciplinary research projects on migration and the environment. Høyer Leivestad has published on issues of mobility theory and methodology, homemaking and social class, logistics and shipping, based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Europe, particularly Spain. During her doctoral research she investigated mobile homes, campsite living and housing infrastructure among British and Swedish caravan dwellers. The monograph Caravans: Lives on Wheels in Contemporary Europe (Bloomsbury 2018) offers a novel take on the relationship between housing, mobility and class in a European context. Høyer Leivestad has communicated research results in more than sixty media interviews in Sweden, Norway and Spain including on national television, radio and in newspapers.

With the research project Frontier Freight: Maritime Logistics at the Strait of Gibraltar (funded by the Swedish Research Council’s International Postdoc Grant) she investigates port infrastructure, maritime labour and logistics in the Port of Algeciras Bay in southern Spain. The project explores logistics – both as a field of study and an analytical concept – by ethnographically engaging with a critical transport node in the global shipping industry. Based on fieldwork in a European container port at the borders of Europe, this project contributes to ongoing debates in anthropology concerning labour, logistics and the global economy.

Hege Høyer Leivestad is from April 2021 also be engaged in the ERC funded project PORTS, led by Dr. Elisabeth Schober at the University of Oslo. «Between Sea and City: Ethnographic explorations of infrastructure, work, and place around leading urban container ports» deals with the world's most central container ports and the cities they are embedded in (Ports - Department of Social Anthropology (



A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Inside container economies

    2021. Hege Høyer Leivestad, Johanna Markkula. Focaal (89), 1-11


    This introduction proposes an anthropology of global cargo circulation by placing the maritime shipping industry at the center of global capitalism. With container economies we refer to the maritime global circulation of cargo that is sustained by an undervalued labor force, dependent upon unstable logistics infrastructures and driven by speculative capital. Container economies, we argue, are produced by adding, moving, and destroying value through the maritime supply chain. In this introduction, we reflect upon the implications of containerization and its wider consequences for logistics labor. We argue that maritime logistics and labor is best understood by taking into account their wider networks of dependency expressed through kinship relations, ethnicity and coexisting regimes of value.

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  • Kinship on the waterfront

    2021. Hege Høyer Leivestad. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 27 (3), 518-533


    This article examines how kinship forms a contested element of labour under capitalist distribution. The focus of the article is on a thriving Spanish container port where the dockworker collective has been steadily growing since the multinational companies first arrived in the 1970s. In the wake of containerization – a standardized system of freight transport based on the intermodal shipping container – dock work has been revalued and become attractive in an area otherwise characterized by high unemployment rates and below-average salaries. Drawing on ethnographic research, the article analyses how unionized dockworkers are met with stigmatization from the general public and criticized for their intergenerational access to ‘container capital’. The article contributes to current anthropological debates around the role of labour under global capitalism by tracing the links between kinship and labour in the making of a global port.

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  • Politics of scale

    2021. Hege Høyer Leivestad, Elisabeth Schober. Anthropology Today 37 (3), 3-7


    This article addresses overcapacity and crisis in global shipping through the case of the HMM Algeciras, the world's largest containership inaugurated in 2020. When she left the South Korean shipyard where she was built, the HMM Algeciras (with a size of two soccer fields) could carry 24,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) across the world's oceans. By following the mega-containership's links to two South Korean shipping companies, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Hanjin Shipping, and her connections to a southern European port, the authors unpack some of the current flip sides of global maritime shipping. In this article, the authors argue that the promise of profit and endless growth, which has led to overcapacity in global maritime shipping, is spurred on by what they call ‘false economies of scale’. Claims of the future profitability of colossal containerships are, they argue, state-driven political performances of scale.

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  • Who cares about the cargo? Container economies in a European transshipment port

    2021. Hege Høyer Leivestad. Focaal (89), 52-63


    While the shipping container has been hyped as the most potent symbol of global trade, it is simultaneously a unit of measure, a medium of exchange, and a material abstraction of heterogeneous use value. This article places the container and its anonymized cargo as part of the everyday logistics of commodity circulation in the Spanish Port of Algeciras Bay-a transshipment hub at the Strait of Gibraltar. By disentangling the shipping container's multiple repertoires, this article focuses on how the shipping container transforms and converts the value of cargo and mediates logistics labor in the port.

    Read more about Who cares about the cargo? Container economies in a European transshipment port
  • A 20 dollar note

    2020. Hege Høyer Leivestad, Erik Olsson. Social Identities 26 (2), 219-232


    This article examines the career narratives of entrepreneurs with migrant background in the Swedish business sector. Statistics show that the proportion of individuals with a migrant background who reach so-called top-positions in Swedish society is in general low. Migrants with Iranian background is an exception as many of them have reached high positions as professionals in business corporations and themselves established high-profile businesses in Sweden. Based on in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and managers with Iranian origin, we will in this article look at how their background is made relevant when reflecting upon professional success and failure. The article is concerned with their exceptional professional achievements and, in particular, the individuals' positioning in relation to their 'society of migration', their society of origin, and the social networks are embedded in as migrants with an Iranian origin. The article shows how narratives of success tend to emphasize the struggles of a 'lonely fighter' while at the same time dismiss discrimination as an explanatory factor. The entrepreneurs' success stories nevertheless focus on how one's career path as innovators and 'agents of social change' is intimately linked with a migrant past and experience.

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  • The "stranger" among Swedish "homo academicus"

    2019. Alireza Behtoui, Hege Høyer Leivestad. Higher Education 77 (2), 213-228


    This article deals with individuals of immigrant background in Swedish higher education—i.e., those who have a PhD and work in Swedish universities. The aim of the study is to examine whether and how factors other than academic qualifications—such as gender and migrant background—may affect the individual’s ability to find employment and pursue a successful career in a Swedish institution of higher education. The data used in the first section are Swedish registry data (LISA database and population), administered by Statistics Sweden. The second part of the paper is based on semi-structured interviews with 19 academics of migrant background. The results show that, given the same work experience and compared to the reference group (born in Sweden with at least one Swedish-born parent), individuals born in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America are, firstly, more likely to be unemployed and, secondly, if they are employed, to have a lower income (lower position). The ways in which such gaps arises are also examined.

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  • Beyond Informality

    2017. Hege Høyer Leivestad. Ethnographies of Conferences and Trade Fairs, 129-145


    In the geographical peripheries of European cities, trade fairs gather thousands of caravan- and motorhome enthusiasts every year; chasing the latest news from the so-called “mobile living” industry. These trade fairs are also spectacular social events, sporting temporary trade fair campsites, as well as a wide range of entertainment and activities. This chapter asks how we can understand the caravanning trade fair as a market space that challenges the dichotomy between the formal and informal economy. By ethnographically approaching a specific Swedish trade fair, Elmia Caravan and Motorhome, Leivestad looks at how the fair becomes a sphere where the selling of dwellings take place through a continuous reproduction of “like-mindedness” in an environment characterized by close connections between retailers, manufacturers and customers.

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  • Campsite Migrants

    2017. Hege Leivestad Høyer. Nordic Journal of Migration Research 7 (3), 181-188


    Based on ethnographic fieldwork amongst British migrants on a Spanish Camping and caravan site, this article argues that the home is a productive entrance point for understanding the dynamics of this form of migration. Whilst campsites are planned and legally regulated as leisure spheres for mobile camping, touring caravans provide an affordable option for migrants otherwise excluded from the Spanish property market. In this article, I show how economic activities are centred on the caravan homemaking wherein mobile dwellings are transformed into - and used as - immobile living units. The making of the caravan home is furthermore central to the shaping and maintenance of social networks of support that are based on ‘handyman’ manual labour and a cash economy.

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  • Individuals and Industries

    2017. Hege Høyer Leivestad, Nyqvist Anette, Hans Tunestad. Ethnographies of Conferences and Trade Fairs, 1-21


    Conferences and trade fairs have during the past decades become a significant global industry in and of itself. Here the authors of this volume claim that such large-scale professional gatherings have become key sites for the making and negotiation of both industries and professions. The anthology is an attempt to make sense of conferences and trade fairs as phenomena in contemporary society. Large-scale professional gatherings are here understood as organized and particular events, bound by place and time, where a large number of professionals within defined industries assemble to network and to exchange information.

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Show all publications by Hege Høyer Leivestad at Stockholm University