Thomas Hylland Eriksen (born February 6, 1962) is a Norwegian anthropologist. He is currently a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, as well as the 2015-2016 president of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
Born in Oslo, Eriksen has done field work on Trinidad and Mauritius. His fields of research include identity, nationalism, globalisation and identity politics. Eriksen finished his dr. polit. degree in 1991, and was made a professor in 1995, at the age of 33. From 1993 to 2001 he was editor of the journal Samtiden.
A considerable portion of Eriksen's work has focused on popularizing social anthropology and conveying basic cultural relativism as well as criticism of Norwegian nationalism in the Norwegian public debate. He has written the basic textbook used in the introductory courses in social anthropology at most Scandinavian universities. The book, "Small Places -- Large Issues" in English, is also used in introductory courses in many other countries, and has been widely translated, as has his other major textbook, "Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives". Eriksen is a frequent contributor of newspaper pieces in Scandinavia.
Eriksen has been a minor political candidate for the Norwegian Liberal Party. In the local election of 2011, he was a minor candidate for the Norwegian Green Party in Oslo. He was also a minor candidate for the Norwegian Green Party in the 2013 general election.
Between 2004 and 2010, Eriksen directed an interdisciplinary research programme, Cultural Complexity in the New Norway (CULCOM), at the University of Oslo. In a programmatic statement, he said that a main goal was to "redraw the map of Norway" to make it fit the new transnational, complex and globalised realities. A book which sums up the empirical results and theoretical perspectives resulting from CULCOM is "Samfunn" ("Society", 2010).
One quote from Eriksen made in the context of his CULCOM involvement has become a focal point in the 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, as well as in Breivik's defence speech during his 2012 trial.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen has also been a frequently interviewed commentator of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, where he has also been called as a defence witness.
In 2011, Eriksen was awarded an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. Under the heading "OVERHEATING", he now directs research on three major crises of globalisation—economy/finance, environment/climate and identity/culture. This project is both comparative and interdisciplinary. Starting in late 2012, it will be completed in 2017.
Selected works in English
- Us and Them in Modern Societies (1992)
- Ethnicity And Nationalism (1993/2010) Widely translated.
- Small Places -- Large Issues (1995/2010) Widely translated, in Greek as Μικροί τόποι, μεγάλα ζητήματα
- Common Denominators: Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Politics of Compromise in Mauritius (1998)
- A History Of Anthropology (2001, with F. S. Nielsen, 2nd edition 2013) Translated into Portuguese, Arabic, Norwegian, Swedish
- Tyranny of the Moment: Fast and Slow Time in the Information Age (2001)
- Globalisation: Studies in Anthropology (2003, ed.)
- What Is Anthropology? (2004) Widely translated
- Engaging Anthropology: The Case For A Public Presence (2006)
- Globalization: The Key Concepts (2007, 2nd edition 2014)
- Flag, Nation and Identity in Europe and America (2007, ed. w/Richard Jenkins)
- Paradoxes of Cultural Recognition (2009, ed. w/Halleh Ghorashi and Sharam Alghasi)
- A World of Insecurity (2010, ed. w/Ellen Bal and Oscar Salemink)
- Fredrik Barth: An Intellectual Biography (2015)