Thomas O'dell

Professor, Ph.D., Master of Arts

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Ethnology


  • Applied Cultural Analysis, Cultural Economy, Cultural Heritage, Museums, Mobility, Ethnography


My name is Tom O’Dell. I am a professor of ethnology. Currently I am working together with Lizette Gradén on a project funded by the Swedish Heritage Board that is entitled: Understanding the Conditions Facing Heritage in a Hybrid Market. The project studies how heritage institutions that feature historic houses and heritage environments are affected by the changing cultural and economic context in which they operate as market forces that include business models derived from the private sector are increasingly adapted to operations of public heritage institutions in Sweden. Focusing on four heritage institutions in Sweden, the study uses ethnographic methods to examine the opportunities and problems encountered by these institutions as they work in this mixed economy, and it asks how this context affects the framing of heritage, as well as the ethics involved in choosing whose heritage is deemed most relevant to showcase.

Prior to this project, I worked together with Robert Willim on a research project which studied the manner in which ethnography changes and is invoked in contexts beyond the academy (primarily in the worlds business and art).

My research has primarily focused upon three themes:

1) The Cultrual Economy and the manner in which economic and cultural processes can be understood to be entangled in one another. My main focus has been on tourism, heritage museums and the experience economy. 

2) Mobility and its significance in Modern Society. Here I have studied phenomenon ranging from tourism, and international migration to commuting as an aspect of everyday life.

3) Transnational Cultural Processes. Here I have primarily examined the impact American culture has had on everyday life in Sweden.

Recent research outputs

Thomas O'Dell (ed.) & Lizette Gradén (ed.), 2021, (Accepted/In press) In: Ethnologia Europaea Journal of European Ethnology.

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial Issue (editor)

Thomas O'dell, Lizette Gradén & Tok Thompson, 2021, (Accepted/In press) In: Ethnologia Europaea Journal of European Ethnology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lizette Gradén & Thomas O'dell, 2020 Oct 8, Studentlitteratur AB. 224 p.

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology (editor)

View All (138)