Stockholm university

Annika RaboProfessor emerita

About me

Annika Rabo is professor emeritus. In 2008 she became professor in Social Anthropology at Stockholm University after having worked as an associate professor at Linköping University, as a researcher at the Swedish Research Council, and at the Centre for Research in International Migration and Ethnic relations – CEIFO – at Stockholm University. Annika Rabo received her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology in 1986 after completing a thesis on the political and social effects of a gigantic irrigation scheme along the Euphrates in northeast Syria. After her first anthropological field work she has, since the late 1970s, worked on a number of research projects in Syria, but also in Lebanon, Jordan and Sweden. One individual project in the late 1980s focused on perceptions of development in Jordan and Syria, and – from the late 1990s – focused on traders in Aleppo, and between 2005 and 2009, one project focused on Syrian debates about family law reform, and another on family and family law among transnational Syrians. Between 2005 and 2009 she was in charge of a multidisciplinary project on teacher education in Sweden. Between 2011 and 2013 she led a project on future citizens in educational texts and in policies, with cases studies from Lebanon, Sweden and Turkey with researchers from these three countries. In the same years she collaborated with professor Erik Olsson in a project on service and welfare in transnational space focusing on Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden and on Swedes in southern Spain.

Together with physical geographer Ulrik Mårtensson and agronomist Lazhar Gammoudi, Annika Rabo has worked in the Formas-supported (2017-2018) project “Time and development in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.”  They investigated traces and memories of a development and land reclamation project in central Tunisia, where Swedish and Tunisian young researchers, and Tunisian agronomists and rural development agents were engaged in collaborative work between 1982 and 1993.he prolonged crisis in Syria has made Annika Rabo return to questions of agriculture and subsistence. Together with professor Bengt Karlsson at the Department of Social Anthropology she edited a book about the entanglement and interrelationship between humans and seeds. She is also following traces of Syrian seeds to Lebanon and Morocco.

Annika Rabo is also engaged in COMPACT, a multidisciplinary European network with more than a hundred members researching conspiracy theories. The network is financed by COST from spring 2016 to 2020 ( 

Analyses of categorizations and systems of classification, and analyses of the state, bureaucracies and policies as well as state-citizen relationships have been central in her work. She is also interested in analyses of language and power.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Seedways: The Circulation, Control and Care of Plants in a Warming World

    2021. .

    Book (ed)

    This book is about seeds and why and how seeds matter today, as in the past. Under the main headings Biopower, Agrobiodiversity, Circulation/mobility, and Seeds and their caretakers, the human-seed relationship is explored from different viewpoints. In a historical perspective the co-evolution of plants and humans can be traced through myths, rituals and cultural practices. In our present-day world of accelerating climate change, expansion of monocultural plantations and loss of biodiversity, collecting, saving and securing seeds has become a global concern. The ritual significance of seeds, seed control and agricultural development, and official policies versus cultural practices are among the themes discussed. Engaging with seeds also raises critical political questions about control over the material basis of our existence, that is, the main food crops.

    The volume is the result of a two-day international symposium held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities in Stockholm 2018.

    Authors: Guntra A. Aistara, Kaj Århem, Roy Ellen, L. Jamila Haider, Tracey Heatherington, Bengt G. Karlsson, Dolly Kikon, Matti W. Leino, Birgit Müller, Rebecca Öhnfeldt, Annika Rabo, Ola Tveitereid Westengen & Rami Zurayk

    Read more about Seedways
  • Syrians in Sweden: Constructing Difference Regarding Gender and Family

    2021. Annika Rabo, Paula Estrada Tun, Emma Jörum. The Journal of Refugee Studies 34 (2), 1291-1306


    In this article, we look at the discourse used by the Swedish state in describing non-European migrants, among them Syrians, and how this has constructed cultural divisions between ‘native’ Swedes and Syrian migrants. We reveal how non-European immigrants are depicted and treated by the state as coming from ‘patriarchal’ and ‘collectivist’ cultures and are therefore in need of development. We then connect this framing of migrant culture to how honour-related violence is constructed by the state and public institutions and explain how such a framing of violence is problematic. We also look at how some Syrian migrants have in turn employed stereotypical language in their depiction of Swedish culture and the Swedish state. Engaging with existing work on ethnic groups and boundaries, we find that this boundary-making process by both migrants and the state produces a perception of difference among groups.

    Read more about Syrians in Sweden

Show all publications by Annika Rabo at Stockholm University