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Helena WulffProfessor emerita

About me

Helena Wulff is Professor Emerita of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. Her research interests include expressive cultural form (dance, art, images, text) in a transnational perspective. Key engagements are in the anthropologies of literature and writing. Her recent research was on writing as craft and career in Ireland. Current research evolves around migrant writing in Sweden. This emerges out of the major multidisciplinary research programme ”Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literatures” funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences. She has conducted field studies in Stockholm, London, New York, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Ireland (mostly Dublin).

Helena Wulff has held visiting professorships at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National University of Singapore, University of Vienna, and University of Ulster, as well as a Leverhulme visiting professorship at University of East London. She was Chair of the Swedish Anthropological Association (SANT), Editor-in-Chief (with Dorle Dracklé) of Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale: The Journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), and President of Society for Humanistic Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association.

Helena Wulff was a judge for the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, and Convenor for the 15th Biannual European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) conference at Stockholm University in 2018. She presented the Stockholm University Professorial Inaugural Lecture at the Stockholm City Hall, and the Phyllis Kaberry Commemorative Lecture, University of Oxford.  

Currently Helena Wulff is editor (with Deborah Reed-Danahay) of the book series “Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology” and editor (with Jonathan Skinner) of the book series “Dance and Performance Studies” published by Berghahn. She is a member of the editorial advisory boards of the journals AnthropologicaAnthropological Journal of European Cultures (AJEC)AnthroVision, Cultural Sociology, OtherwiseMag, and Social Anthropology.

Among Helena Wulff’s books are the three monographs Ballet across Borders: Career and Culture in the World of Dancers (1998), Dancing at the Crossroads: Memory and Mobility in Ireland (2007), and  Rhythms of Writing: An Anthropology of Irish Literature (2017). There are also the edited volumes Youth Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (with Vered Amit-Talai, 1995), New Technologies at Work: People, Screens and Social Virtuality (with Christina Garsten, 2003), The Emotions: A Cultural Reader (2007), Ethnographic Practice in the Present (with Marit Melhuus and Jon P. Mitchell, 2010), The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century (2016), World Literatures: Exploring the Cosmopolitan-Vernacular Exchange (with Stefan Helgesson, Annika Mörte Alling, and Yvonne Lindqvist, 2018), and Claiming Space: Locations and Orientations in World Literature (with Bo G. Ekelund and Adnan Mahmutović, 2022).

Journal articles have appeared in American Anthropologist, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, Anthropology & Humanism, Body & SocietyChoreographic Encounters, Ethnologie française, Ethnography, Identities, Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement (JASHM), Nordic Irish Studies, OtherwiseMag, Social Anthropology, and The Senses & Society. She has written book chapters in many edited volumes, and entries in a number of encyclopedias. Drawing on her research, she also occasionally writes anthropological journalism, as well as autofiction and creative nonfiction.


Selected and Recent Publications





  • Rhythms of Writing: An Anthropology of Irish Literature. London: Bloomsbury.


  • The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Berghahn. Editor.


Journal articles, Book chapters, Enyclopedia entries


  • ”Ambiguous Arrival: Emotions and Dislocations in the Migrant Encounter with Sweden, ” in Bo G. Ekelund, Adnan Mahmutović, and Helena Wulff (eds.), Claiming Space: Locations and Orientations in World Literature. London: Bloomsbury.



  • ”Why Irish? The Use of Irish in the Work of Éilís Ní Dhuibhne,” in Ullrich Kockel, Philip McDermott, and Liam Campbell (eds.), Per Scribendum, Sumus: Ethnopoesis, or: Writing Heritage. Berlin: LIT Verlag, pp. 82-86.
  • ”Abortion in Ireland – From the Swedish Point of View,” in Forum on Irish Referendum, Social Anthropology, Vol. 28(4): 14-15.
  • ”Foreword,” in Cicilie Fagerlid and Michelle A. Tisdel (eds.), A Literary Anthropology of Migration and Belonging: Roots, Routes, and Rhizomes. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. vii-xii.


  • ”Writing Truth to Power: Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Work in Stockholm and New York,” Anthropology &Humanism, Vol. 44(1): 7–19.


  • ”Disaporic Divides: Location and Orientations of ’Home’ in Pooneh Rohi’s Araben,” in Stefan Helgesson, Annika Mörte Alling, Yvonne Lindqvist, and Helena Wulff (eds.), World Literatures: Exploring the Cosmopolitan-Vernacular Exchange. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, pp. 119-128.
  • ”Diversifying from Within: Diaspora Writings in Sweden,” in Morten Nielsen and Nigel Rapport (eds.), The Composition of Anthropology: How Anthropological Texts are Written. London: Routledge, pp. 122-136.
  • ”Foreword,” in Lauren Miller Griffith and Jonathan S. Marion (eds.), Apprenticeship Pilgrimage: Developing Expertise through Travel and Training. New York: Lexington Books, pp. vii-xi.


  • ”Stories of the Soil: In the Irish Literary World,” in Diarmuid Ó Giolláin and Martine Segalen (eds.), Irish Ethnologies. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 141-157.
  • ”Greater than Its Size: Ireland in Literature and Life,” in Ulf Hannerz and Andre Gingrich (eds.), Small Countries: Structures and Sensibilities. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 301-316.    
  • ”Manhattan as a Magnet: Place and Circulation among Young Swedes,” in Virginia R. Dominguez and Jasmin Habib (eds.), America Observed: On an International Anthropology of the United States. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 31-50.



  • ”In Favour of Flexible Forms: Multi-Sited Fieldwork,” in Forum: Re-thinking Euro-Anthropology. Social Anthropology, 23(3): 355-357.
  • ”The Pains and Peaks of Being a Ballerina in London,” in Ilana Gershon (ed.), A World of Work: Imagined Manuals for Real Jobs. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 207-220.
  • ”Ireland in the World, the World in Ireland,” American Anthropologist, 117(1): 142-143.
  • ”Dance, Anthropology of,” in James D. Wright (ed-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol. 5. Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 666-670.


Media and Interviews