Helena Wulff (born February 7, 1954) is Professor of social anthropology at Stockholm University. Her research is in the anthropology of communication and aesthetics based on a wide range of studies on the social worlds of literary production, dance, and the visual arts.
While her early research was on youth culture and ethnicity, Helena Wulff´s specialist skills now include expressive cultural form (dance, art, images, text) in a transnational perspective, visual culture, the emotions, and media, as well as anthropological methods. She has conducted field studies in Stockholm, London, New York City, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Ireland (mostly Dublin). Her current research is on writing and literature as cultural process and form focusing on contemporary Irish writers and their work. Drawing on her research, she teaches courses on Media anthropology, Visual Culture, Studies in Cultural Form, Communication and Aesthetics, Anthropological Writing Genres, and Anthropological Methods.
Helena Wulff has held visiting professorships at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National University of Singapore, University of Vienna, and University of Ulster, as well as a Leverhulme visiting professorship at University of East London. She was Editor-in-Chief (with Dorle Dracklé) of Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, the journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), and Vice President of EASA. She was Chair of the Anthropological Association of Sweden (SANT). Helena Wulff is a member of the board of the multidisciplinary research programme Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literatures, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond 2016-2021.
She is editor (with Deborah Reed-Danahay) of the book series “Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology” (Palgrave, New York), and editor (with Jonathan Skinner) of the book series “Dance and Performance Studies” with Berghahn Books, Oxford, and a member of the advisory boards of the journals Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Sociology, Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, Culture Unbound, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, and Slovenský Národopis/Slovak Ethnology.
- 2016: The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Berghahn Books. Editor.
- 2010: Ethnographic Practice in the Present. Oxford: Berghahn Books. Editor with Marit Melhuus and Jon Mitchell.
- 2007: Dancing at the Crossroads: Memory and Mobility in Ireland. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
- 2007: The Emotions: A Cultural Reader. London: Berg/Bloomsbury. Editor.
- 2003: New Technologies at Work: People, Screens and Social Virtuality. London: Berg/Bloomsbury. Editor with Christina Garsten.
- 1998, reprinted 2001: Ballet across Borders: Career and Culture in the World of Dancers. London: Berg/Bloomsbury.
- 1995: Youth Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. London: Routledge. Editor with Vered Amit-Talai.
- 1988: Twenty Girls: Growing Up, Ethnicity and Excitement in a South London Microculture. Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology, 21. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.
Journal articles, book chapters and encycylopedia entries
- 2016: “Introducing the Anthropologist as Writer Across and Within Genres,” in Helena Wulff (ed.), The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Berghahn.
- 2015: “Jazz i Ghana: Musik som kosmopolitism,” in Kulturella Perspektiv, 2(24): 34-38.
- 2015: “In Favour of Flexible Forms: Multi-Sited Fieldwork,” in Forum: Re-thinking Euro-Anthropology. Social Anthropology, 23(3): 355-357.
- 2015: “The Pains and Peaks of Being a Ballerina in London,” in Ilana Gershon (ed.), A World of Work: Imagined Manuals for Real Jobs. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- 2015: “Ireland in the World, the World in Ireland”, American Anthropologist, 117(1): 142-143.
- 2015: “Dance, Anthropology of,” in James D. Wright (ed-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol. 5. Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 666-670.
- 2014: “Anthropologist in the Irish Literary World: Reflexivity through Studying Sideways”, in Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Christina Garsten and Shalini Randeria (eds.). Anthropology Now and Next: Essays in Honor of Ulf Hannerz. New York: Berghahn.
- 2013: “Ethnografiction and Reality in Contemporary Irish Literature”, in Marilyn Cohen (ed.), Novel Approaches to Anthropology: Contributions to Literary Anthropology. New York City: Lexington Books.
- 2013: “Dance ethnography”, in Oxford Bibliographies Online. New York: Oxford University Press.
- 2013: “Ways of Seeing Ireland´s Green: From Ban to the Branding of a Nation”, The Senses and Society, vol. 9, no.2.
- 2012: “An Anthropological Perspective on Literary Arts in Ireland” in Ullrich Kockel, Máiréad Nic Craith and Jonas Frykman (eds), Blackwell Companion to the Anthropology of Europe. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
- 2012: “Instances of Inspiration: Interviewing Dancers and Writers”, in Jonathan Skinner (ed.), The Interview: An Ethnographic Approach. Oxford: Berg/Bloomsbury.
- 2012: “Ballet Culture and the Market: A Transnational Perspective”, in Hélène Neveu Kringelbach and Jonathan Skinner (eds.), Dancing Cultures: Globalisation, Tourism and Identity. Oxford: Berghahn.
- 2012: “Color and Cultural Identity in Ireland”, in Marilyn DeLong and Barbara Martinson (eds.), Color and Design. Oxford: Berg/Bloomsbury.
- 2012: “Commentary: Fixity and Forms of Dance Circulation”, (Online) Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement (JASHM), special issue on Performance in Circulation, vol. 17, no. 2.
- 2011: “Histoires de Terroir: Les Écrivains contemporains et l´Irlande Nouvelle”, Ethnologie française, Avril, 2: 301-308.
- 2010: ”Costume for Dance”, in Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, West Europe, : Volume 8: 498-502. Oxford: Berg/Bloomsbury.:
- 2010: “Colm Tóibín as Travel Writer”, Nordic Irish Studies, 9: 109-116.
- 2009: “Ethnografiction: Irish Relations in the Writing of Éilís Ní Dhuibhne”, in Rebecca Pelan (ed.), Éilís Ní Dhuibhne: Perspectives. Galway: Arlen House.
- 2008: “To Know the Dancer: Formations of Fieldwork in the Ballet World”, in Narmala Halstead, Eric Hirsch and Judith Okely (eds.), Knowing How to Know: Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
- 2008: “Literary Readings as Performance: On the Career of Contemporary Writers in the New Ireland”, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 17: 98-113.
- 2008: ”Ethereal Expression: Paradoxes of Ballet as a Global Physical Culture”, Ethnography, 9(4): 519-536.
- 2007: “Longing for the Land: Emotions, Memory and Nature in Irish Travel Advertisements”, Identities 14(4): 527-544.
- 2006: “Experiencing the Ballet Body: Pleasure, Pain, Power”, in Suzel Ana Reily (ed.), The Musical Human: Rethinking John Blacking's Ethnomusicology in the 21st Century. Aldershot: Ashgate Press.
- 2005: “´High Arts´and the Market: An Uneasy Partnership in the Transnational World of Ballet”, in David Inglis and John Hughson (eds.), The Sociology of Art: Ways of Seeing. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
- 2005: “Memories in Motion: The Irish Dancing Body”, Body & Society, issue on “the dancing body”, (ed.) Bryan S. Turner, vol. 11(4): 45-62.