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Sally Anderson

PhD, Associate professor

Sally Dean Anderson
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I was trained in anthropology both in the US (BA, Middelbury College 1973) and Denmark (KU, Mag.scient. 1996, PhD 2003). I have been employed in the Department of Educational anthropology at The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University since 2006.

Throughout my carreer I have been interested in questions how children - through valued and less-valued forms of social interaction - come to know what they know. This is connected to how adults - often unwitting - organize the world in ways that children inadvertently learn what is not explicitly desired or taught.

This interest has led to studies of how children learn which differences are allowed to make a difference in the social ife of classes in Danish folkeskoler, (I en klasse for sig 2000). It has also led beyond schools to a study of the various forms of age-based civil sociality children engage in when 'going to something' - i.e. participating in recreational activities organized by voluntary associations. My struggle to understand how children learn 'what is real' and 'what really matters' has also led to studies of the place of religion (and deities) in Danish faith-based friskoler and in provincial folkeskoler that have taken on the job of educating refigee children with Muslim backgrounds.

Early fieldwork with the children of reindeer herders in Sápmi (Nat.Geo. Sept. 1977) turned into a lifelong interest in how children pick up on and respond to the 'nature at hand', i.e. to the natural environments in which their lives unfold. Following Sámi families over four generations has revealed great changes in children's lives and their relations to their natural surroundings. I am using insights from this ongoing work in my present study of how urban children differently engage with the local forms of 'nature' accessible to them (REGREEN H2020).

I am an avid teacher with a strong conviction that anthropology provides a useful framework for lifelong inquiry and learning and offers important tools for learning to learn about just about anything of pressing concern. In DPU's 2-year Masters programme: The Anthropology of Education and Globalization, I enjoy introducing first year students (Mod.1) to the field of educational anthropology, and helping second year students (Mod.6) make sense of their fieldwork and start thesis writing. Noting the growth of these student as scholars from first to second year is very satisfying. In that many of our students are professional teachers, pedagogues or social workers, I am presently working on how to forge a better synergy between anthropology and students' professional skills and knowledge. (TRANSCA).


My research intersts in clude: 

  • Anthropologies of children sports, religion, sociality and environment
  • Indigenity and struggles of decolonization in Scandinavia
  • Children and civil society
  • Body and movement culture 
  • Children and religion
  • Sociality, sociability
  • Commonality and community
  • Education and implicit knowledge 

Research areas


Member of the steering committe for the Danish Center of Children and Nature (KU Center for Børn og Natur)

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