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Rydström is specialized in the anthropology of gender in Asia. Her research examines the ways in which gender informs violence, security, and vulnerability in social life and in sites of conflict and war, on the one hand, and how gendered power relations impact hierarchies, socialization, sexuality, and education, on the other. Rydström has conducted many periods of fieldwork two of which were long-term anthropological fieldwork in a rural northern Vietnamese commune (i.e. 1994-1995 and 2000-2001) while others have been shorter periods (i.e. 1-4 months) which have been carried out in Vietnam, India, and Nepal.

Over the years, Rydström has coordinated several externally funded research projects, for instance, an 8-year interdisciplinary research project on Rural Families in Transitional Vietnam which was part of a large long term research capacity building program in Vietnam funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The project was partner driven and included about 20 scholars from the Institutes of Sociology, Family and Gender Studies, and Anthropology all in Hanoi, Vietnam. In a recent research project, which was part of a project (coordinated by D. Mulinari) and the National Research Council’s (‘Vetenskapsrådet’) Civil Society Program, Rydström explored the gendering of civil society, insecurity, and precariousness, and women’s organization in Vietnam. In a research project funded by Sida, Rydström studied together with P. Horton and M. Tonini the ways in which gender and sexualities are (mis)recognized in urban India and Vietnam.


Helle Rydstrom is Professor at the Department of Gender Studies at Lund University in Sweden. She has a background in International Development Studies and Social Anthropology and is specialized in the anthropology of gender in Asia.

Rydstrom has carried out fieldwork in Nepal and India but above all in Vietnam where she has conducted long-term ethnographic fieldwork to study violence, war, sexuality, gender socialization, and education about which she has published extensively. Rydstrom was nominated, as author of Embodying Morality (University of Hawaii Press), for the Harry J. Benda Prize and won the research prize in memoriam of Professor Tamara K. Hareven for Embodying Morality. She was granted the Riksbankens Jubileumsfonds research award for talented younger scholars (i.e. granted by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences).

Rydstrom has been the scientific research leader (PI) of a large number of externally funded research projects. Currently she is coordinating a Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies Research Theme on CRISIS, which includes a group of colleagues (see https://www.pi.lu.se/en/what-we-do/theme-crisis). She is the scientific leader of an ongoing research project on Nordic companies outsourced to China, India, and Vietnam and gendered precariousness (w. L. Eklund, C. Kinnvall, M. Tonini) funded by the Swedish Research Council and another research projct on climate disasters and gendered ramifications in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam’ (w. C. Kinnvall and H. Nguyen) which also is funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Rydstrom has coordinated together with A. Datta, Delhi University, India a Linnaeus-Palme funded exchange program on gender and space in a globalized world. Other projects of which Rydstrom has been the scientific research leader include a studies of recognition and homosexuality in India and Vietnam (w. P. Horton and M. Tonini), funded by the Swedish Research Council; challenged feminism in Vietnam (under the program ‘Imagining Change' (coordinated by D. Mulinari) funded by the Swedish Research Council. A collaboration, which Rydstrom coordinated, explored with colleagues in Sweden, Vietnam and Cambodia the protection of women, children, and marginalized groups against violence and was funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam. The 8-year research capacity building program on rural families in transitional Vietnam (under a Swedish research capacity building program to Vietnam, funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida)) collected data in 1100 households in the north, center, and south of Vietnam.

Rydstrom has been a visiting scholar at institutes such as The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, New York University (NYU), USA; Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Leipzig/Halle, Germany; Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore; York Institute for Asian Research, York University, Canada; Asian American Studies, UCLA, USA; Department of Anthropology, Hanoi University, Vietnam; and Department of Geography, Delhi University, India. Close collaboration with various institutes and NGOs in Vietnam and India has involved engagement in the Nordic Southeast Asian Studies Network as well as the South Asian Studies Network (SASNET). Together with D. Mulinari, Rydstrom organizes the Global Gender Matters Workshops at Lund University. 

As for other commitments is the Vice-Chair of the Tenure and Promotion Committee ('Lärarförslagsnämnden') at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Lund University; Research Responsible at the Department of Gender Studies, Lund University; referee for high-tier international journals and presses (e.g. American Ethnologist; Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; Asian Studies; Gender, Place, and Culture); Ph.D. supervisor; examiner of doctoral dissertations (e.g. Australia, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, India, and Sweden); and referee for national and international research councils (e.g. National Science Foundation, USA; NOKUT Norway).


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