Transnational Anthropology: Ruination

The global movement of people, objects, and ideas has been a huge interest for anthropologists since the early 1990s. Migration, globalization, global cities, logistics, travelling ideas and popular culture, just to mention some of the themes, have been studied and written about.  

The course (7.5 ECTS) will take place from 9 march until 8 june 2023 with a total of 6 joint conversations.

In order to apply for the course, please email professor Shahram Khosravi.


What then?


Recently scholarship on the global transformations has begun to look at the numerous crises as consequences of globalization. By using runiation, as a key concept, this course aims to capture multiple aspects of the construction of destruction in a few sites in the world. Ruination as a process is constructed by politics (borders), capital (debt), or developmental projects (plantation). The term ruination is related to other terms such as precarity, vulnerability, dispossession, and decay. In the course we will focus on how ruination is relate to gender, racial capitalism, labor, and environment.   

We are a small group so we should attend the meetings fully prepared. Everybody’s continuous participation is of significance for the course. This is a learning group meaning we learn together. This course is based on ideals of transformative pedagogy, meaning de-centering knowledge as a practice of the professional scholar and centering instead on excitement as the prerequisite of effective and lasting learning. Creating such a learning environment entails genuinely valuing everyone’s presence and participation, and insisting on the emancipatory potential of theory while working through story-telling and dialogue.   

We will discuss the books and focus on the theoretical and methodological strengths and weaknesses of the works as well as how each case can be related to other cases we read about during the course. The point here is to spark a conversation and to see what is useful about a particular reading and how it change our thinking. The course is organized in five discussion sittings. The sixth session is dedicated for presentation of the participants’ works. Each sitting will be organised around a specific theme: debt, body, labor, extraction, violence.  



Assignment 1.  

Performance or exhibition. Participants are encouraged to express their thoughts, emotions, ideas in form of a piece of artwork (e.g. visual art), performance (song, dance, play), a written fiction, to be presented for the whole group. The artwork should be related to the theme of ‘Ruination’.  Participants can work individually or in group.  

Assignment 2.  

As a complement to the artwork piece, each participant is asked to write a essay (ca 3000 words) in which the work is situated within a broader context with the help of the reading list



First Conversation.  9 March. 4pm-6pm and dinner (optional) 

Stoler, Ann Laura (2016) ”Imperial Debris and Ruination”, in Duress: imperial durabilities in our times. Durham: Duke University Press 

Second Conversation. 23 March. 4pm-6pm and dinner (optional) 

Ogden, Laura A. (2021) Loss and Wonder at the World’s End. Duke University Press 

Third Conversation 6 April. 4pm-6pm and dinner (optional) 

Matlon, Jordanna (2022). A Man Among Other Men: The Crisis Of Black Masculinity In Racial Capitalism. Cornell University Press. 

Fourth Conversation 11 May. 4pm-6pm and dinner (optional) 

Iskander, Natasha. (2021). Does Skill Make Us Human? Migrant Workers in 21st-Century Qatar and Beyond. Princeton University Press. 

Fifth Conversation 25 May. 4pm-6pm and dinner (optional) 

Harker, Christopher, Spacing Debt Obligations, Violence, and Endurance in Ramallah, Palestine. Duke University Press 

Sixth Conversation 8 June 

The art projects will be presented. Each participant will present or perform his or her work in the group and explain the concept behind their works. For example the work can focus on questions such as: ‘What is a ruin?’; “How a destruction is designed?”; “What is the temporality aspect of ruination?”; “What is the economy of ruination?”  

These questions can be put in the context of colonialism, racial capitalism, extraction, and labor.  



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