Forschungsschwerpunkt: Anthropologie des Transnationalismus

Trapped in Paradise: Entangled mobilities and imaginaries of Freedom

Prof. Sabine Strasser, Paul Reade PhD, Danaé Leitenberg M.A.

This SNF project aims to understand the relation between the fields of migration and tourism and how these articulate around notions of im/mobility and freedom. It does so by looking at two sites on opposite sides of the security spectrum: Switzerland and Mexico. This research focuses on tourists who seek for adventure, migrants who joined the tourism industry and locals who witness the arrival of such groups and engage with them. More

Large-Scale Land Acquisitions and Gender in Africa: The Impact of Institutional Change and Land Investments on Gender Relations and Food Security

Prof. Tobias Haller, Sarah Ryser, Desirée Gmür

The SNSF funded qualitative comparative project on Large Scale Land Acquisition (LSLA) and Gender in Africa focuses on the impact of land investments on gendered access to land and related common pool resources in

Morocco (Solar Energy Project by state of Morocco and European Partners; PhD candidate Sarah Ryser),
Tanzania (Forestry Project, UK Investor; PhD candidate Desirée Gmür)
Ghana (Rice Plantation Project, European Investor; PhD candidate Kristina Lanz)
Malawi (Sugar Cane, South African/UK Investor; PhD candidate Timothy Adams).

The project uses a combined approach based on New Institutionalism in Social Anthropology, Political Ecology and Neo Marxism. We focus on how institutional change since colonial times has affected gendered access to land and land related resources. In addition, we reflect on state driven gender policies and discuss on how in this context LSLA or „Land Grabbing“ impacts access to resources, distribution of potential benefits and costs. As a final step we focus on how these changes impact  gender relations regarding care work and food security. (collaboration with Institute of Geography, University of Bern Prof. Dr. Jean-David Gerber; Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies, University of Bern and Swiss TPH Basel.

Law in Protest: Transnational Struggles for Corporate Liability

Prof. Julia Eckert, Angela Lindt M.A.

Negative impacts on the environment and on the livelihood of local populations caused by transnational corporations (TNCs) operating in the so-called Global South have become a politically contested issue. Holding the companies involved or their employees legally liable has often been difficult because of jurisdictional or governance obstacles. Regardless the difficult legal situation, there are worldwide growing attempts to bring TNCs to court for violations of human rights or for serious environmental damages. By referring to a transnational discourse of human rights and by using international narratives of law and justice, local protest groups make use of law as an instrument to legitimize their claims and to gain international support for their struggles. In most of the court cases social movements, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and transnational networks of human rights lawyers play a major role. These networks often include not only European cause lawyers and the concerned plaintiffs in the operation area of the defendant TNC, but also link plaintiff groups, local NGOs and lawyers of independent court cases in different countries.
A considerable gap in research exists concerning how advocacy organisations and local plaintiffs influence each other with respect to normative evaluation, political goals and litigation strategies. The project “Law in Protest: Transnational Struggles for Corporate Liability” enquires into these changes, examining the normative change born from these litigation processes both among local plaintiffs and in the legal norms adopted to litigate against TNCs. Our project assumes that lawsuits and the practices of “case-making” are social processes that, on the one hand, reflect existing power relations between actors involved, but, on the other hand, provide space for negotiations about norms, interpretations and goals.
By conducting empirical ethnographic research on the work of lawyers and human rights activists in different settings and places, the overarching aim of the project is to find out whether the strategic application of national law leads to normative - legal as well as social - change. We content that by a) enquiring into the evolving strategies of local plaintiffs using national laws against TNCs, b) the strategic litigation of cause lawyering by transnational legal NGOs, and c) the relationships between these different actors involved in the court cases we can gain insights into the normative changes occurring at these different levels. We will analyse the practice of strategic litigation applied by cause lawyers in Germany and the United Kingdom (subproject A) as well as by social movements and local NGOs in Peru (subproject B). We investigate how local protest movements and international law firms introduce transnational discourses of human rights and social justice into individual national court cases with the intent to enforce social and political change on the local level. By studying these transnational human rights networks in the field of corporate liability, the project deals with a key issue of contemporary social anthropology.

The emergence of global tax payers: the (re-)making of international business tax law

Prof. Julia Eckert, Dr. des. Johanna Mugler

This ethnographic research project explores the emergence of global tax norms and the negotiation and making of international tax law. By studying the actors and the processes through which international tax law develops, this project contributes to the understanding of the making and change of these international laws and global norms. More

Ethnography of „Land Deals“

Prof. Tobias Haller, Fabian Käser, Franziska Marfurt, Elisabeth Schubiger, Anna von Sury

In collaboration with CDE, Prof. Tobias Haller leads an MA research project called  Ethnography of Land Deals in which we focus on the emic perception of land deals from a local (horizontal level) and a company/state perspective (vertical level). Research is done in Sierra Leone, Kenya and India (Rajastan).

The following MA studies are completed:

Fabian Käser (PDF, 5.1 MB)
Franziska Marfurt
Samuel M. Lustenberger (PDF, 580KB)
Anna von Sury (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Leonie Pock
Romy Scheidegger
Elisabeth Schubiger (PDF, 2.2 MB)