Stockholm university

Anna NäslundProfessor

About me

Anna Näslund is professor of Art History with a PhD in Art History from Stockholm University.

I am interested in photography, pictorial culture, image archives, art historiography, and digitization. A core interest is how images and other visual expressions are produced, circulated and used and migrate between different display contexts. I have studied Swedish advertising- and fashion photography, press photography and contemporary photo based art as well as Nineteenth century photo albums, museum and archival practices with a focus on photography. Moreover, I have been working with the effects of the digital turn, with the implications of digital image alterations as well as current issues of digital archiving and access.

Photo: Patrick Miller



I have developed the A-level course Art history. Visual Studies (30 hp, KV1420) which has run since the fall 2013 and I have developed the PhD course Visual Sources for the Faculty of Humanities at Stockholm University which ran in 2017 and the spring term 2022. Between 2020 and 2021 I was one of three coordinators for the PhD theme in Digital Humanities. Since 2022 I am involved in the generic PhD Programme in the humanities (Forskarskoleprogrammet).

I have a strong interest in the development of learning communities and research environments and have published on such matters, primarily targeting students at PhD level. 

Editor: Fotografihistorier. Fotografi och bildbruk i Sverige från 1839 till idag (Stockholm: Natur och Kultur, 2022). 

Guest editor: ”The Politics of Metadata”, temanummer för Journal of Digital Culture and Society(2:2020). 



My latest publications include the edited volume Fashioned in the North. Nordic histories, agents and images of fashion photography (Nordic Academic Press, 2020) and the monograph Travelling Images. Looking Across the Borderlands of Art, Media and Visual Culture, in the series Rethinking Art’s Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018).


Research projects


Metadata Culture (2019-2022) Metadata Culture is the overarching title for two research projects funded by The Swedish Research Council (VR) and performed in collaboraton with Karin Hansson, docent in Computer and System Science.

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Fashioned in the North. Nordic histories, agents and images of fashion photography  (2018-2020) Anthology project with contributors from all Nordic countries. The book presents agents, cases, and images new to the field of fashion photography writing with historical and contemporary examples. Simultaneously it seeks to challenge and problematize a number of related issues and open out onto broader critical concerns. Publisher is Nordic Academic Press.


Collecting Social Photo (2018-2019)
Ongoing project with the overall aim of developing new thinking and  work practices for collecting and disseminating the ephemeral everyday photographs in heritage institutions. Funded by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

Art, Borders and Boundaries (2015-2016)
This project seeks to explore the mechanisms by which borders and boundaries between art and other visual expressions have been upheld and transgressed in different periods and image systems. It cross-fertilizes art history and image studies with media theory, and fashion studies. By this inclusive approach I focus on the overlaps and the osmotic nature that characterizes the bounds of art and explore the mechanisms by which images and imagery have migrated over it. This includes the agents, individuals and institutions, acting in these processes and their rhetoric as well as the visual and textual contexts in which these processes of exclusion and inclusion take place. The project consists of four case studies that investigate different visual techniques (collage, photography, drawing, performance), display contexts (illustrated press, cityscapes, albums) and periods (from the 1860s through 2000s) that highlight the nature and further implications of such transgressions. The theories and working concepts are multi-disciplinary including ‘social biography’ of images and imagery (visual anthropology) and image ecology and image systems (media theory, visual studies) among others. Funded by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond/Sabbatical 2014. 

A medium for visual education. Cultural historical perspectives on photo albums 1850-1950 (2007-2013)
The project considers the photo album as a medium in the nineteenth century. The material aspects of the photo album are in focus as a means for understanding its use, function and meaning. Furthermore the social, cultural historical and ideological contexts of the photo album are analysed synchronically and diachronically. By using a broad visual studies perspective I relate the photo album to other media for displaying and consuming photographic images in the period. Funded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities and Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

Representational machines (2009-2013)
A Collaborative Research Network and publication funded by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. Photography, much like any other form of representation, poses pressing questions about sense, habitus, modalities of representation and perhaps most insistently these days, about the productive capacity of its representations. Photography does not merely represent the phenomenal world in some neutral and objective manner—we know that—but neither does it suffice to show that it represents the world in a manner saturated with conventions and choices, manipulating techniques and interests. What seems important today is to face the question of how these conventions, interests and technologies have enabled photography to be productive and how that productivity involves space. The project included 13 European scholars.ätverk/representational-machines-photography-and-the-production-of-space-1.214855

Networks and commissions

Steering the national Seminar for photo research, funded in the beginning of 2008. Funded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. See:

Scientific Board, National Library of Sweden

Editorial Board, Mediehistorisk Arkiv, Lund University

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Travelling Images

    2018. Anna Dahlgren.


    This book critically examines images in the borderlands of the art world, investigating relations between visual art and vernacular visual culture within different images communities from the 1870s to the present day. It concentrates on the mechanisms of such processes and their implications for the understanding of art and art-historical narratives. Merging perspectives from art history and visual culture studies with media studies, it fills a gap in the field of visual studies through its use of a diversity of images as prime sources. Where textual statements are scarce the book maps visual statements instead, demonstrating the potential of image studies. Consequently, it will be of great relevance to those interested in art and visual culture in modernity, as well as discourses of the notion of art and art history writing.

    Read more about Travelling Images
  • Representational Machines

    2013. Anna Dahlgren, Nina Lager Vestberg, Dag Petersson.

    Book (ed)

    Photography does not only represents space. Space is produced photographically.Since its inception in the 19thcentury, photography has brought to light a vast array of  represented subjects. Always situated in some spatial order, photographic representations have been operatively underpinned by social, technical, and institutional mechanisms. Geographically, bodily, and geometrically, the camera has positioned its subjects in social structures and hierarchies, in recognizable localities, and in iconic depth constructions which, although they show remarkable variation, nevertheless belong specifically to the enterprises of the medium.This is the subject of Representational Machines: How photography enlists the workings of institutional technologies in search of establishing new iconic and social spaces. Together, the contributions to this edited volume span historical epochs, social environments, technological possibilities, and genre distinctions. Presenting several distinct ways of producing space photographically, this book opens a new and important field of inquiry for photography research

    Read more about Representational Machines
  • Tacts and tactics.

    2011. Anna Dahlgren. Images in time. Flashing forward, backward, in front and behind photography in fashion, advertising and the press

    Read more about Tacts and tactics.
  • Photography Reframed

    2016. Anna Dahlgren. Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research 8 (1), 3-19


    This article discusses the benefits of analysing photography as mediated, reproduced and entangled in media systems, and consequently as part of a larger media culture. Moreover it combines technological considerations drawn from media archaeology with art historical analysis focusing on visual aesthetics. It considers two mediating devices for photography in the nineteenth century, the photo album and the illustrated press. As displayed, a media historical perspective airs new interpretations and understandings of processes and practices in relation to photography in the period. Thus what from a photo historical point of view might appear as an important, paradigmatic invention or a critical technical delimitation might from a media historical perspective seem to have been merely a small adjustment in a chain of gradual improvements and experiments in the dissemination and consumption of images. Thus photographic media specificity delimited by technical procedures and certain materials outputs, which was so strongly emphasized in the twentieth century, was evidently not fixed to materiality and rather opened and negotiated in the nineteenth century. Accordingly, responsiveness to the literal and figurative framing of photography as mediated, discloses other photo histories.

    Read more about Photography Reframed
  • Dated photographs

    2010. Anna Dahlgren. Photography and Culture 3 (2), 175-194


    This article concerns the practice of making inscriptions in personal albums from the second half of the nineteenth century. The overall aim is to discuss the implications of this practice for interpretation and to investigate the cultural ideas and concepts embedded in it. The results are based on a close study of the heterogeneous collection of photo albums held at the Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum), a museum of cultural history, in Sweden. Unlike personal photo albums produced after 1900, it is rare to find dates in personal carte-de-visite albums. Rather than a mere lack of data, this may indicate a different relationship between photography, time, and identity; pointing to a significant change in the vernacular uses and functions of photographs. The personal photo albums were conversation pieces that functioned better without text, as the images could prompt social contact in the form of inquiries and discussion. Later on, albums took on a character more reminiscent of a personal diary. The fact that so few privately circulated nineteenth-century portraits are dated indicates the relations between photographic portraits and painted portraits and furthermore it displays the similarities and differences between instrumental uses of portrait photography and private games of reading faces.

    Read more about Dated photographs

Show all publications by Anna Näslund at Stockholm University