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Kenni Hede

PhD Student, Research Fellow, PHD

Kenni Hede
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In 2017 I started a most wonderful journey into the spectacular realm of anthropology. Only a few months earlier I was living in a worn-down barn on the lower east side of Austin Texas in the United States. My roommates were Simone, an independent and impetuous house cat, and her owner - my good friend and colleague – Danny, a pale Irish singer songwriter originally from Dallas. Back then I was working as a traveling musician and somehow, through a series of unconnected events, my travels had brought me to the magic barn in Jack’s backyard, as Danny used to say. Here you would find me (when the band wasn’t on tour) playing and writing music on my trusted old sunburst coloured Fender Jazz Bass from 1969. Today, those days seem to belong to a different life, to an alter me, someone who is still trying to figure out the right ending to Limbo by Danny Malone. Since then I have had the privilege of studying my bachelor’s degree in anthropology and philosophy, as well as my master’s degree in multimodal anthropology, at Aarhus University.

In 2020 a new and amazing adventure began, as I started in a position at Aarhus University as a PhD student at the department of anthropology. My ph.d.-project is titled: Altruism, Bildung and Mutable Perceptions of Democracy. It is an anthropological exploration of a Danish folk high school’ making on the periphery of Gellerupparken, a housing estate on the western outskirts of Aarhus that is undergoing one of the largest urban transformations in Danish history. I am interested in exploring how ideals and values related to Altruism narrated as charity or love (Zakat and Næstekærlighed), Bildung (Dannelse) and Democracy (Demokratiforståelse) are practiced, challenged, and experienced by the manifold of persons working together in an effort to establish a Danish folk high school on the western outskirts of Aarhus, called Gellerup Højskole.

In addition to this, my project also focusses on questions on methodology, research practice and research design. As an anthropologist I try to actively involve myself within my field and among the people I work with. Our discipline strives to make the anthropologist’ everyday merge with the everyday practices of those people, entities, or social agents with whom we work and learn from, through a meticulous method called participant-observation. This is in many ways a paradoxical research practice where we are to observe while also participating? By applying a multimodal methodology I aim to collaborate with the participants in the folk high school project by inviting them to co-create different audio-visual products, such as film and podcast. Thus, inviting them to be active co-creators and co-authors of the knowledge and insights this project will produce, namely by allowing them to express their own experiences through these different modalities. The aspiration is that a multimodal approach allows for specific situations, events, and descriptions that the participants relate to key concepts such as Altruism narrated as charity or love, Bildung and Democracy, can be articulated in new ways through video and podcasts and thereby become the subject of further reflection through subsequent elicitation and interviews. Ultimately, the old Fender Jazz Bass from 1969 has been replaced by a well-worn notebook crammed with handwritten sketches, a digital camera, and an anthropological inquiry into the one world we all live in. The adventure continues.

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