Stockholm university

Molly SundbergAssistant Professor, Director of Studies Global Development

About me

I am an assistant professor/senior associate lecturer in social anthropology at the Dept. of Social Anthropology.

I am also Director of Studies for the Bachelor’s Programme in Global Development.

Currently, I am pursuing a research project financed by the Swedish Research Council on for-profit aid and development contracting (2020-2024). 

My main research interests concern development, aid, governance, security and organization. I defended my PhD thesis in cultural anthropology at Uppsala University in 2014 on the topic of civic education and state-making in post-genocide Rwanda. After that I did a research project on  locally recruited development experts among foreign state agencies in Dar es Salaam Tanzania (2017-2020, funded by the Swedish Research Council). I have also undertaken resarch on student dropout and retention in higher education (2016-2017, together with Paul Agnidakis).

Before I began my PhD studies (2010-2014), I worked for Sida (Swedish International Development Agency) during four years, in Stockholm and Kigali (2007-2010).

During my time at Uppsala University, I was Coordinator of Forum for Africa Studies, a multidisciplinary center supporting Africa-oriented research, higher education, and inter-institutional collaborations within Uppsala University and between Uppsala University and universities in Sweden, Europe and Africa.

My teaching focuses on development studies, conflict studies, African studies and anthropological methods.

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Local Recruits in Development Finance Institutions: Relocating Global North-South Divides in the International Aid Industry

    2023. Molly Sundberg. Journal of Development Studies, 1


    This text explores locally recruited staff within a growing category of organisations in the international aid industry: Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). DFIs are banks that offer risk capital to development projects in the global South, increasingly using tax-funded aid money. Based on interviews with 13 DFI investment managers, I show how Kenyan DFI staff challenge three of the signature attributes commonly assigned to local development professionals: their 'local' expertise does not contrast with or preclude international expertise, but rather overlaps with it; their formal authority and career ladders are not restricted to technical or support positions - many field offices are headed by local employees; and they rarely face job insecurity given their competitive qualifications and permanent employment contracts. Meanwhile, decisions on investments are rarely taken by these field office staff but by their colleagues at headquarters, and unlike the latter, even those local recruits who head their field offices usually lack a secure place in the global organisation of their DFIs. This suggests that structural inequalities between donor and recipient country staff - integral to the development industry - have not disappeared in DFIs but rather relocated: from within the walls of field offices to the relationship between these offices and headquarters.

    Read more about Local Recruits in Development Finance Institutions

Show all publications by Molly Sundberg at Stockholm University