Morten Nielsen

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research areas

I am a social anthropologist working in Mozambique, Scotland, USA and Denmark on socially sustainable urban development. And stand-up comedy. Since November 2018 I have been based at the National Museum of Denmark where I am a research professor and head of the Research Center for Social Urban Modelling (SUMO).

I head several interdisciplinary projects that focus on sustainable urban development and on participatory exhibition-making, such as ‘Fleksible Fællesskaber: Bæredygtige sociale bymodeller i almene boligområder’ (Flexible Communities: Socially sustainable urban models in social housing estates) funded by Landsbyggefonden and Realdania and ‘Modellens Kraft. En undersøgelse og styrkelse af fysiske modellers betydning for samskabende museumsformidling’ (The Power of Modelling. An Investigation of the Significance of Physical Models for Co-creative Exhibition-Making) funded by the Velux Foundations.

My first major fieldwork project was in Recife, Brazil (2000-2001) among community leaders in poor urban neighbourhoods. Since 2004 I have been working in Mozambique doing ethnographic research on house-building and urban planning in Maputo and on the socio-economic effects of Chinese infrastructure projects in various parts of the country, in Scotland on the impact of new legislation on land property rights among farmers in the Hebrides, in New York City on the art and craft of stand-up comedy and in Denmark on associational life in social housing estates.

Based on fieldwork in Brazil, Scotland, Mozambique and USA, I have published on issues such as socially sustainable urban planning, urban aesthetics, time and temporality, creativity, stand-up comedy, materiality, relational ontologies and political cosmologies. I recently published a book co-authored with Morten Axel Pedersen and Mikkel Bunkenborg, University of Copenhagen, on Chinese infrastructural interventions in Mozambique and Mongolia entitled ’Collaborative Damage’ (Cornell University Press) and I am currently working on a book manuscript based on my recent ethnographic research on stand-up comedy entitled 'Comic at the Core: Stand-up Comedy as Mythic Involution'.

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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