Knut Gunnar Nustad

Image of Knut Gunnar Nustad
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22858431
Room 616
Visiting address Moltke Moes vei 31 Eilert Sundts hus blokk A 0851 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1091 Blindern 0317 OSLO

Academic Interests

Knut G. Nustad is a Professor of Social Anthropology in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. His research interests cover two thematic fields, political anthropology and environmental anthropology. Nustad’s first fieldwork was conducted in Durban, South Africa, during the transition from apartheid to democracy, and examined one large planned urban development projects. Research focused on the complex and often contradictory relationship between local political processes and state attempts at reform. He described how the local political leadership was able to read the formal assumptions on which the developers based their interventions, and in turn transform these into informal political resources.

The relations between state actors and local political processes in Durban led to a more general interest in the state and how anthropology could be used in the study of state actors and state processes. This interest was strengthened when he after his PhD took up a position at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). The differences between academic and policy-oriented knowledge production led to a focus on the various frames of reference within which knowledge is produced, specifically how knowledge is produced in state institutions, and an interest in state formation more generally. This led to the publication of State Formation: Anthropological Perspectives (Pluto 2005), co-edited with Christian Krohn-Hansen.

Nustad’s interest in environmental anthropology arose from a study of property relations and land rights in South Africa, with a focus on the complex set of relations underlying South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Through ethnographic research as well as archival studies, the project documented how shifting land uses have created radically different, yet closely connected, assemblages of people, non-humans and things. It has led to amongst other the publication of Creating Africas: struggles over nature, conservation and land (Hurst 2015), and, together with Penny Harvey and Christian Krohn-Hansen, the edited collection Anthropos and the Material (Duke, to be published in 2019)

In 2019 he will start up a three-year research project with Heather Swanson at Aarhus University, that will seek to combine the interest in environmental anthropology with global politics and colonial state formation. Global trout – investigating environmental change with more than human world systems is an interdisciplinary project that investigates how the humanities and social sciences can contribute to new modes of conservation and environmental management that are responsive to the complex histories and politics of species introductions. It does so by asking a methodological question about how to study 'global' environmental problems that unfold in highly diverse ways in different places.

Higher education and employment history


  • Universitetet of Oslo 1989-1993
  • University of Cambridge 1993-1999


  • B.A. Universitetet i Oslo 1993 (Social Anthropology, Psychology, Development Studies)
  • M.Phil Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge 1994
  • Ph.D. Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge 1999
  • University Pedagogics, UMB, 2006


Tags: Ecological anthropology, Politics, Nation and state, Power, South Africa
Published Feb. 7, 2012 10:44 AM - Last modified Apr. 29, 2019 4:51 PM


Research groups