My research interests traverse the fields of refugee studies, gender and sexuality (including queer theory), material culture and consumption, welfare bureaucracies, and most recently sustainable urban development and planning.
Research into gender and sexuality culminated in ‘Anthropological Explorations in Queer Theory’ (2014) in which I applied queer theory to a range of anthropological concerns including, materiality, the body and the senses, gifts and commodities, diversity discourses, intersectionality, biologisms, popular ‘mythology’, and methods. The book extends queer theory beyond obviously sexual phenomena to include areas that have hitherto been neglected in much queer theoretical writing. My previous work on refugee studies examined return migration, the Internet and diasporas, the labour market (with a particular focus on ethnic and racial discrimination), and discourses and practices surrounding diversity and integration policies within public-sector organisations. Several of these themes were addressed in the book ‘Bureaucracy, Suspicion and Integration in the Welfare State’ (2019), which examined the place of Muslims in Swedish society. In particular, it points to the sometimes problematic homologies between integration policy and theory, bureaucratic practices, and cultural representations of Muslims that work in tandem to construct Muslims as threatening others.
More recent research is informed by more-than-human ethnography, and a range of theories dealing with aspects of materiality. More specifically, it focuses on urban sustainability, and the material underpinnings of place, community and sexuality in urban settings.
I have conducted fieldwork in Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands and Australia.
I am Co-Editor in Chief of Ethnos (together with Nils Bubandt Aarhus University).
Concrete Desire: the materialisation of urban sexuality in Sydney Australia
What makes urban sexuality possible? There are many answers to the question but Concrete Desire searches for them in ethnography gathered in Sydney’s lgbtq community between 2001 and the present. With its roots in queer theory, the project also draws on a range of other theoretical and methodological sources, among them more-than-human ethnography, multi-species anthropology, ANT, post-pluralism, and object-oriented ontology. In adopting this approach to sexuality, it places less emphasis on identities, representations and discourses (the standard fare of much queer theory) and more on the material foundations that enable sociality and sexuality. Conceiving of sexuality in this way leads inevitably to a consideration of the different scales of urban material phenomena that exceed the boundaries of a given time and place to include not only multiple locations and material connections, but also their sometimes hidden histories. Its material focus includes things as diverse as the weather, infrastructures like sewage systems and street lighting, household pets, petrochemicals, drugs and alcohol.
Model Visions: Sustainability, Systems and Nature in Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm.
Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm is one of the world’s best-known examples of sustainable urban development. Like many other ‘green’ projects of its kind, its answer to the environmental challenges facing cities in western countries has been to invest in technical solutions, such as district heating, open- and closed-loop recycling, and biogas, but rather less in attempting radical social and cultural changes. The social and cultural dimensions of sustainability are often subordinated to technical and not least economic considerations even though the importance of the former is acknowledged in numerous accords, agreements, and recommendations. Model Visions explores these neglected socio-cultural dimensions through the prism of a much-expanded community concept that includes the more conventional forms of community – such as imagined, virtual, latent and affective – but also ‘material communities’ formed around infrastructures, chemicals, natural materials and animals. In adopting this perspective, Model Visions is able to interrogate the ontological premises of concepts central to urban sustainability in theory, policy and practice in Sweden today, among them ‘system’, ‘resilience’, and ‘nature’.
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
From the Real to the Virtual
2020. Mark Graham, Lissa Nordin. Life among Urban Planners, 216-234Chapter
Bureaucracy, Integration and Suspicion in the Welfare State
2019. Mark Graham.Book
This book explores how the often well-meaning routines and assumptions of a generous welfare state can reflect and even contribute to the stigmatisation of refugees and Muslims in Europe today. While the main cases are from Sweden, examples are included from the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. Mark Graham examines how suspicion is woven into the fabric of welfare bureaucracies with potential adverse consequences for the people they serve. He complicates our understanding of what Islamophobia means, and how it is expressed and created, by exploring contexts in which the logic of "othering" Muslims operates, but where explicit Islamophobia itself is absent. The book starts with Swedish public-sector bureaucracies and attempts by staff to make sense of Muslim refugee clients with categories and models that reappear in wider society. It goes on to explore the logic of integration policies, official concepts of culture, Swedish multiculturalism, educational strategies in schools, and debates surrounding "genuine" and "false" refugees. In all cases, the homologies between these different socio-cultural domains are explored.
Anthropologists Are Talking about Queer Anthropology
2016. Mark Graham. Ethnos 81 (2), 364-377Article
Official optimism in the face of an uncertain future Swedish reactions to climate change threats
2016. Mark Graham. Environmental Change and the World's Futures, 233-246Chapter
Anthropological Explorations in Queer Theory
2014. Mark Graham.Book
The book many of us have been waiting for somebody to write: anthropology meets contemporary theory, with summaries and overviews ranging from Lacan to process philosophy and more. Anthropological Explorations in Queer Theory is helpful for researchers wanting to update themselves, and also for classroom use. Ethnographic discussion of exciting themes such as perfume and species thinking weave in with contributions to current debate, including an excellent critique of intersectionality.
2010. Mark Graham. Queer Methods and MethodologiesChapter
Things in the Field
2010. Mark Graham. Lambda Nordica 15 (3-4), 65-89Article
LGBT Rights in the European Union
2009. Mark Graham. Out in Public, 295-316Chapter