Michael Barrett

Michael Barrett

Michael Barrett

PhD in Cultural Anthropology (Uppsala, 2004).
Curator, Africa


+46 (0)10 456 11 86

Visiting address: Djurgårdsbrunnsvägen 34, Stockholm
Postal address: Box 27140, 102 52 Stockholm

Research interests

My research has gradually moved from classical perspectives in Socio-Cultural Anthropology towards Cultural History and Museology. In Socio-Cultural Anthropology, based on fieldwork in South Central Africa (Zambia), I focused on the practice and ideology of adulthood and how the conditions for achieving adulthood change with political and economic temporalities. Another research interest has been the mobility and migration of African youth in both colonial and postcolonial periods, and in particular in the light of recent neoliberal economic policies.

An overarching focus of my current research is the representation of Africa and people of African descent in museums and other popular mediation practices. In particular I'm interested in developing decolonizing curatorial strategies for the archives, collections and exhibitions pertaining to Africa and its Diaspora at the Museums of World Culture in Sweden.

Another long-term project is exploring the cultural history of the leopard in Africa and Europe. Straddling the disciplinary boundaries between History, Art History, Anthropology and Media Studies, the project will examine the leopard as form, material, icon and supernatural being in religion, politics, art, fashion and popular culture.



2013 'Walking Home Majestically: Clothes, Consumption and the Enactment of Social Status among Labour Migrants from Barotseland, 1935-1965,' in Robert Ross, Marja Hinfelaar and Iva Peša (eds.), The Objects of Life in Central Africa . The History of Consumption and Social Change, 1840-1960. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.

2008 'The Social Significance of Crossing State Borders: Home, Mobility and Life Paths in the Angolan-Zambian Borderland,' in S. Jansen and S. Löfving (eds.) Struggles for Home: Violence, Hope, and the Movement of People. New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books.

2004 (with Staffan Löfving), 'Youth, Marginality and Citizenship: Perspectives from Southern Africa and Central America', (Thematic issue: Globalization and Youth: Marginalization and Mobilization in a Changing World) Den Ny Verden, (3) 2004.

2003 Social Landscapes and Moving People: The Mysterious Meaning of Migration in Western Zambia. New Issues in Refugee Research, Working Paper no. 78. Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Not peer-reviewed

2002 Once Upon a Time in the West. Living Beyond Conflict Newsletter, September 2002(3): 2-3.

1998a Tuvosena: 'Let's Go Everybody': Identity and Ambition among Angolan Refugees in Zambia. Working Papers in Cultural Anthropology, No. 8, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University.


2011 Review of 'Science, Magic and Religion: the ritual processes of museum magic,' edited by M. Bouquet and N. Porto, Africa, 81(4): 668-670

2007 Review of 'Makers and Breakers: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa', edited by A. Honwana and F. De Boeck – Journal of Modern African Studies, 45(4): 682-684.


2004 Paths to Adulthood: Freedom, Belonging, and Temporalities in Mbunda Biographies from Western Zambia. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology, 38.

Popular articles

2011 "In the Driving Seat: How Mongu's bus and taxi drivers reflect the aspirations – and frustrations – of a nation", The Bulletin and Record, Zambia, May, 2011.

Conference and seminar papers (recent)

2011, "Mobility and its durability in Zambia's Western Province," presented at European Conference on African Studies (ECAS 4), Panel 93: Exploring the Dialectics of Displacement and Emplacement, Uppsala, 15-18 June.

2010, "Walking Home Majestically: Consumption and the Enactment of Social Status among Labour Migrants from Barotseland, 1935-1965," presented at the conference CART IV: The History of Consumption and Social Change in Central Africa, 1840-1960, Chisamba, Zambia, 27-29 August.

2010, 'Mobility in the Margins: Self Making, Home Making and Urbanity among Small-Town Youth in Neoliberal Zambia¸' presented at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, 24 May.


2014-2015, 'The Other Camera - Photographers from South Africa, 1950-2013', Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 5 October 2014 - 15 April 2015. (Local curator for the traveling exhibition).

2014, 'African Masterpieces', (Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria), Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg, 12 April-30 November (Educational advisor for the traveling exhibition).

2013-2014, 'African Masterpieces', (Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria), Skeppsholmen Caverns, Stockholm, 7 September 2013 - 23 February 2014. (Local curator for the traveling exhibition).

2012-, 'The Storage - An Ethnographic Treasury', permanent gallery at the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. October 2012- (Member of the curatorial team).

2011, 'Vodou,' Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 12 February-21 August. (Local curator for the traveling exhibition).

2011, 'XISM,' Contemporary art exhibition, Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 16 April-21 August. (Part of organizing team).

2010, with Rose-Marie Westling, 'The River, the Road and the Journey's End.' Photographic exhibition shown in Stockholm, Uppsala and Lusaka 2010-2011. (Text and ethnographic concept).