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Lotten Gustafsson Reinius

About me


I am a professor of ethnology and responsible for courses in folklore and for certain teaching within the bachelor's program for museums and cultural heritage. Since 2016 I hold a part-time position as a Hallwyl guest professor at the Nordic Museum. During the current year, I conduct and initiate research there that concerns the forest's cultural and cultural-historical significance. Basic research interests concern expressive cultural and media forms (with emphasis on the interplay between ritual, material and narrative) and questions about cultural heritage and memory processes in contexts characterized by colonial history and climate change.

In addition to research and teaching, I have led and participated in several international and long-standing collaborations that involved collective research, teaching, artistic and curatorial activities, including a focus on ethnographic museums' colonial heritage in Europe (RIME and SWICH). I was scientifically responsible for multidisciplinary collaboration between the Nordic Museum and Stockholm University on the theme of the Arctic in the light of climate change (2016-19). In addition to the latest exhibition The Arctic while the ice is melting (Nordic Museum), I have contributed in various roles to just over ten exhibitions. At the Museum of Ethnography (Stockholm), where I was appointed museum director 2014-16, for example the permanent exhibition The Storage and the traveling exhibitions Fetish Modernity and Kongosspår (Traces of Congo).

Collaboration: With Isof. Member of expert group that prepares national contributions to the UNESCO list for the protection of intangible cultural heritage and good methodological examples. Editorial committees for the journals RIG: Kulturhistorisk tidskrift, Nordic museology.

Previously also for Respons, Ethnologia Europaea and Culture Unbound. Board assignments as a representative of Stockholm University and later for research at the ABM departments of the Advanced Cultural Studies Institute in Sweden (ACSIS) and as a humanities representative on the board of Tarfala research station, Stockholm university.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Arktiska spår

    2020. Lotten Gustafsson Reinius.

    Book (ed)

    Arktiska spår: Natur och kultur är en mångvetenskaplig antologi om förändringsprocesser i världens mest nordliga delar. Samtidigt är det en rikt illustrerad, närmast bilddriven, publikation som ger fördjupning kring en utställning: Arktis - medan isen smälter (Nordiska museet 2019-20). I boken medverkar över fyrtio skribenter från olika fakulteter och även konstnärer och andra experter. De längre artiklarna har genomgått granskning av extern läsare, i samverkan med Journal of Northern Studies. 

    Huvudteman som blir belysta ur olika ämnens perspektiv är Arktis som tid och rum, Isens dynamik (ur maringeologiskt djuptidsperspektiv) och historisk antropologi samt Arktis som resurslandskap. Nordiska museets och andra museers samlingar dras in i den mångvetenskapliga undersökningen av spår och rörelser, i ett antal korta essäer om föremål och arkivalier. 

    Read more about Arktiska spår
  • Special Section: Ritual Repatriation

    2017. Laura Peers, Lotten Gustafsson Reinius, Jennifer Shannon.

    Book (ed)

    This special section of Museum Worlds explores the entire process of repatriation as a set of rituals enacted by claimants and museum staff: a set of highlighted performances enacting multiple sets of cosmological beliefs, symbolic systems, and political structures. Some of the rituals of repatriation occur within the space of Indigenous ceremonies; others happen within the museum spaces of collections storage and the boardroom; others, such as handover ceremonies, are coproduced and culturally hybrid. From the often obsessive bureaucracy associated with repatriation claims to the affective moment of handover, repatriation articulates a moral landscape where memory, responsibility, guilt, identity, sanctity, place, and ownership are given a ritual form. Theory about ritual is used here to situate the articles in this section, which together form a cross-cultural examination of ritual meaning and form across repatriation

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  • The Ritual Labor of Reconciliation

    2017. Lotten Gustafsson Reinius. Museum Worlds 5 (1), 74-87


    Having a dual perspective as researcher of expressive culture and museum curator, I engage in the ceremonial aspects of repatriation through a practice-based "museology from within." Focusing on a handover of human remains by the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm to indigenous claimants from Australia (2004), I combine material from my own participant observation with sources such as interviews and written and photographic documentation. The aim is to bring an autoethno-graphic-perspective to a discussion on the ritual dynamics of repatriation. The transfer of custody and right of interpretation was accomplished with a ceremonial process, co-created by museum staff and indigenous claimants. Drawing on differing cultural scripts as well as on improvised interplay, participants engaged in turn taking and intercultural translation of symbolic communication. Certain themes were ritualized redundantly, such as mutual exchange and reconciliation, but there also existed the more paradoxical copresence of seclusion and openness, closure and continuation.

    Read more about The Ritual Labor of Reconciliation
  • Ordna

    2010. Lotten Gustafsson Reinius. Allt som tänkas kan, 116-131


    Populärvetenskaplig essä om samlande, med etnografiska samlingar som utgångspunkt. En röd tråd rör kopplingen mellan sätten att ordna föremål och folk och en diskussion om betydelsen av återföranden i ljuset av det.

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  • Sensing through white gloves. On Congolese objects in Swedish Collections

    2009. Lotten Gustafsson Reinius. The Senses & Society 04 (01), 75-97


    The article discusses collectibles acquired by Swedish missionaries and military officers active within the ill-reputed Congo Free State (1885-1908). Objects are approached here not primarily as tokens of Congolese material culture but as traces of a transnational cultural history and as points of entry to a cricial museology. drawing on case studies of collections I discuss the ways in which artifacts have been selected, joined and charged with new functions and meaning on their voyage between hands narratives and genres. In focus are five examples of objects that, analytically, have worked as what Roland Barthes (1980) calls punctum: the detail that distrubs and fascinates by force of seeming ungrammatical in relation to the larger context of which it forms part. By adding material to the Barthian concept I want to stress that such analytical imuplses may be evoked by all senses. During an inventory of Swedish Congolese collections, when the historical state of stored museum items as untouchables could temporarily bwe broken, their multisensory material presences proved able to challenge textual discourses, serve as alternative witnesses and demonstrate hidden significances of ethnographical museums and collections.  

    Read more about Sensing through white gloves. On Congolese objects in Swedish Collections
  • Innanför branddörren

    2008. Lotten Gustafsson Reinius. Mediernas kulturhistoria, 73-95


    Artikeln diskuterar den individuella etnografiska museisamlingen som materiell genre, medieform och materialitet. Tre konkreta objekt - donerade av samlare verksamma i Kongostaten kring sekelskiftet 1900, och forskarens pendlande mellan dessa tings arkivaliska och tingsliga former på museet, står i fokus för resonemanget. Den etnografiska samlingen framstår som en sammansatt medieform med varierande grad av materialitet. De fysiska tingens egenskaper, som förgänglighet, taktilitet (och i detta fall) oberörbarhet ges stort utrymme i analysen. De assymetriska maktförhållandena i det koloniala förvärvssammanhanget och dessas kvardröjande i samlingarna lyfts också fram.

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