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Morten Axel Pedersen

Morten Axel Pedersen

Professor

Primary research areas

Regionally: Mongolia, Siberia, Western China, the postsocialist world, and Denmark

Thematically: animism, shamanism, Christinaity; political cosmology; economic transition; social networks, hope; security; anthropological theory; collaboration and experimentation

Member of the researcher groups Religion and Subjectivity, and Technology and Political Economy.

Based on fieldwork in mostly rural and urban Mongolia but also other Inner Asian settingsm and most recently Denmark, my research has covered a wide spectrum of classical and more recent anthropological themes, ranging from shamanic and Buddhist cosmologies, nomadism, and the politics of culture, ethnicity and identity over forms and strategies of livelihood in transitional economies, most recently, the local and global ramifications of China’s growing economic and political clout in the Global South. Still, overall the bulk of my work has been within the anthropology of religion (the “new animism” debate), the anthropology of politics (the imbrication between politics and religion, and issues of security/insecurity), and anthropological theory (especially in conjunction with the so-called “ontological” turn within anthropology and cognate fields).

Current Research
I am currently completing two co-authored monographs based on my work in urban Mongolia and on Chinese resource extraction projects in Inner Asia and Africa respectively, namely “Urban Hunters: Dealing and Dreaming in Times of Transition” (with Lars Højer, under contract with Yale University Press) and “Collaborative Damage: an Experimental Ethnography of Chinese Globalization” (with Mikkel Bunkenborg and Morten Nielsen). In a slightly more distant future, I plan to continue my nascent research on Christian believers and converts in Denmark and Mongolia in conjunction with the DFF Sapere Aude funded research program Optimal Distortion: Ethnographic Explorations of Paradoxical Connections (2012-2014)), on which I am principal investigator, and to contribute to several new collaborative and cross-disciplinary projects that I am going to partake in, notably the UCCP 2016 Fund ”Social Fabric” research programme and a future research network/laboratory provisionally ” Centre of Experimental Ethnography and Theory (EXPEXT), which I hope to set up. 

Resume
I am Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen, where I have worked since doing my PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2002 and my Phil at Arhus University in 1997. In 2005, I was visiting researcher at the Mongolia and Inner Studies Unit at the University of Cambridge as part of a British Arts and Humanities Research Board funded research project called Technologies of the Imagination, and from 2004 to 2006, I co-ordinated a Danish Research Council of the Social Sciences funded research network called Nordic and East-Central European Network for Qualitative Social Scientists. From 2008 to 2013, I was research coordinator at the Centre of Advanced Security Theory at the University of Copenhagen, and from 2009 to 2012, I was principal investigator of a comparative research project funded by the Danish Research Council of the Social Sciences called Imperial Potentialities; Chinese Infrastructure Projects and Local Socio-economic Networks in Mozambique and Mongolia. I am the author of Not Quite Shamans: Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia (Cornell University Press, 2011), and co-editor of Inner Asian Perspectivism (special issue of the journal Inner Asia, 2007), Technologies of the Imagination (special issue of the journal Ethnos, 2009), Comparative Relativism (special issue of the journal Common Knowledge, 2011); and Times of Security: Ethnographies of Fear, Protest, and the Future (Routledge, 2013). I am also co-editing a new book series, Ethnography, Theory, Experiment, published by Berghahn Books. I have carried more than four years of anthropological fieldwork and ethnographic expeditions in Far East Russia (1992), Northern Mongolia (1995, 1996 1998-1999, 2009), Ulaanbaatar (2001, 2004-2005, 2009, 2011), Western China (2006), as well as Southern and Eastern Mongolia (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Selected publications

  1. Published

    Not Quite Shamans: Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia

    Pedersen, M. A. 2011 Cornell University Press. 272 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewBook

  2. Published

    Comparative Relativism: Symposium on an Impossibility: Temanummer: Common Knowledge vol. 17 no. 1 2011

    Jensen, C. B. (ed.), Pedersen, M. A. (ed.) & Winthereik, B. R. (ed.) 2011 Duke University Press. 204 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewAnthology

  3. Published

    Common Nonsense: A review of certain recent reviews of 'the'ontological turn'

    Pedersen, M. A. 2012 In : Anthropology of This Century. 5

    Publication: ResearchJournal article

  4. Published

    A Day in the Cadillac: The Work of Hope in Urban Mongolia

    Pedersen, M. A. 2012 In : Social Analysis: Journal of Cultural and Social Practice. 56, 2, p. 136-151 25 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  5. Published

    "The Task of Anthropology is to Invent Relations": 2010 Meeting of the Group for Debates in Anthropological Theory: Proposing the Motion

    Pedersen, M. A. 2012 In : Critique of Anthropology. 32, 1, p. 59-65 7 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  6. Published

    Roads that Separate: Sino-Mongolian Relations in the Inner Asian Desert

    Pedersen, M. A. & Bunkenborg, M. 14 Sep 2012 In : Mobilities. 7, 4, p. 555-569 15 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  7. Published

    Times of Security: Ethnographies of Fear, Protest, and the Future

    Holbraad, M. (ed.) & Pedersen, M. A. (ed.) 2013 London: Routledge. 239 p. (Routledge Studies in Anthropology; No. 12).

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewAnthology

  8. Published

    Trans-temporal Hinges: Reflections on an Ethnographic Study of Chinese Infrastructural Projects in Mozambique and Mongolia

    Pedersen, M. A. & Nielsen, M. 2013 In : Social Analysis. 57, 1, p. 122-142 21 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  9. Published

    The Politics of Ontology

    Holbraad, M. (ed.) & Pedersen, M. A. (ed.) 13 Jan 2014 .

    Publication: CommunicationInternet publication

  10. Published

    Complementary Social Science?: Quali-Quantitative Experiments in a Big Data World

    Blok, A. & Pedersen, M. A. 2014 In : Big Data & Society. 1, 2, p. 1-6 6 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

ID: 10165