Anna Johansson

Anna Johansson

Associate senior lecturer
Phone: +46 90 786 55 95



Anna has a PhD in ethnology. In 2010, she defended her dissertation entitled Självskada. En etnologisk studie av mening och identitet i berättelser om skärande (Umeå: Bokförlaget h:ström) [Self-harm. An ethnological study of meaning and identity in accounts of cutting].

Her general research interests include cultural perspectives on health and illness, issues regarding social media and identity production, and the implications of social media for power relations and acts of resistance. Methodological and theoretical influences stem from, for example, digital ethnography and political discourse theory.

Her work in HUMlab mainly includes research. Anna also supervises PhD students and occasionally teaches Cultural Analysis and Museology.

Current research projects

Anna currently works on two different research projects, Media Places (funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, 2011-2016) and Streaming Heritage (funded by Vetenskapsrådet, 2014-2018).

The overall purpose of Media Places is to investigate how digital and physical structures are intertwined in the contemporary media landscape and how this affects culture and society. More specifically, her part of the project focuses on how mental health issues and mental illness are performed and negotiated through the use of digital media. Anna is interested in the the implications of this for power relations between patients and psychiatry, and for how mental health and ill-health are conceptualized and managed in a broader perspective. The internet has to some extent transformed relations between lay people and experts, and it is clear that social media can be important for providing support and organizing marginalized groups and isolated individuals. But there is not yet much research on the significance of digital technologies in everyday life for people with mental health issues. By studying the use of different media types and media platforms - e.g. YouTube, blogs, and Instagram - she sets out to provide a better understanding of how health and illness are performed at the intersection of digital and physical structures.

The project Streaming Heritage studies streaming media - especially Spotify - with a focus on how digital technologies have transformed music distribution and the role of music. Through experimental methods, the project sets out to follow music files - metaphorically - during their distributive life within the streaming media system, in order to investigate the infrastructure and players that enable and constrain how music is rendered meaningful and valuable. Her own contribution to this project is twofold. First, she investigates the normative ideas about the user that are produced through streaming media services, and the way the user subject is, hence, constituted - or positioned - in specific ways through interaction with these services. Second, she conducts a project ethnography in which she records and analyzes the project's methods and joint work process, with a special interest in the experimental parts and interactions between us - the project members - and other players in the streaming industry. She is interested in how our "interventions" and "interactions" are affected by our preconceptions, both as individual researchers from different disciplines and as a team. What systems of meaning come into play during the research process? Hopefully, this will provide knowledge about potential opportunities and limitations as regards methods, ethics and interdisciplinarity in digital media research. Other project participants are Pelle Snickars (PI), Maria Eriksson, Rasmus Fleischer, and Patrick Vonderau, as well as Fredrik Palm and Roger Mähler of HUMlab.


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