Lisa Åkesson

 “Things sometimes happen by chance and that was the case when I became a researcher. I was bored at my workplace and a friend suggested that I should apply to a PhD program. I did and that is how it all started. My first Africa-related job was in Angola 1988-91 where I worked as a gender officer for Sida (The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency). My task was to make sure that the cooperation should consider both male and female roles and activities. It was a very special and enriching experience, but also challenging because of the political environment, the ongoing civil war and the inherent weaknesses in the development cooperation programs.  After Angola, I worked for a while with migration issues in Sweden, but I wanted to return to Portuguese speaking Africa. Therefore, I started to do research in Cape Verde.  Most families in Cape Verde have relatives who have migrated and I wanted to know what it was like for those left behind, and how they perceived the life of their migrated relatives. Since then I have continued to carry out research on families dispersed across the globe, but also on remittances and on return migration. Right now, I am conducting a project on the recent Portuguese labor migration to Angola – so I am back where I started. My first encounter with the Nordic Africa Institute was at a conference. I had a chat with NAI staff at their stand and they mentioned that my research on remittances could be interesting for NAI. Then I met Fantu Cheru, at that time research director at NAI, and he suggested that I should start working for the institute. Which I have – since 2010. I have divided my time between NAI and the University of Gothenburg where I am associate professor at the Department of Global Studies. As an anthropologist, I am fundamentally interested in what it means to be a human being. We all have many things in common but then there are individual and cultural differences. That is what fascinates me and has been my driving force.”

Lisa Åkesson, senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute

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