Steffen Jensen

Steffen Jensen1.png  
Steffen Jensen
Research Associate
Contact: Email: sje (at)

Steffen Jensen is a Professor at Aalborg University, Copenhagen Campus in the Department of Culture and Global Studies as well as a Senior Researcher at DIGNITY-The Danish Institute Against Torture. He holds a degree in International Development Studies and is specialized in the interdisciplinary study of rural and urban development issues, including those relating to conflict and state and non-state violence, justice, local politics, human rights and issues of inequality. Of particular interest are issues around torture and ill-treatment as well as forms of displacement and stuckness.

Presently, he is engaged in a number of research efforts. One body of research evolves around understanding everyday state violence in poor urban neigbourhoods in the global South. With Toby Kelly from University of Edinburgh, he explores practices around human rights documentation of torture and ill-treatment in Nairobi, Dhaka and Kathmandu. A second research project explores the relationship between torture and police violence on the one hand and corruption on the other – what he calls Violent Exchange. Evidence suggests that torture and corruption are intimately related in social practice, especially in relation to the urban poor. A final research effort in this overarching focus on everyday state violence is a project with NGO partners in South Africa, Liberia, Denmark and the Philippines where we focus on how local moral orders legitimize violence and the use of force against certain risk groups (young men of color, Muslims, sexual minorities, victims of deadly disease (Ebola and HIV) and immigrants and refugees. All these three projects involve research as well as intervention and advocacy.

As part of his new job at Aalborg, he is focusing more on issues of displacement and refugees. Hence, he is developing research projects around refugees and the transformation of political orders in Europe and Denmark. A second focus is around urban development, displacement and governance, not least in relation to the millions of urban refugees around the world from Johannesburg to Beirut and Copenhagen.

Field(s) of Interest:
  • Conflict and violence
  • Torture and state violence
  • Displacement and refugees
  • Documentation and knowledge production in human rights
  • Urban and rural politics
  • Gangs, militias, vigilante groups and police
  • Corruption and violence as exchange relations
  • Development and human rights
  • Regional specialization in South Africa and the Philippines and secondary in Algeria and Denmark
Selected Publications:
  • (with Olaf Zenker, eds.) Homelands as Frontiers: apartheid’s loose ends in the postcolonial era, (London, Routledge, 2016).
  • (with Sigrid Bjerre Andersen) "Partnership as Interpellation", European Journal of Development Research (2015), 1-15.
  • "The Problem with Templates: Learning from Organic Gang-Related Violence Reduction", Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 4:1 (2015), 1-16.
  • "This house is not my own…! Temporalities in a South African homeland", Journal of Southern African Studies 41:4 (2015), 991-1004.
  • "Corporealities of Violence: Rape and the Shimmering of Embodied and Material Categoriesin South Africa", Critical African Studies, 7:2 (2015) 99-117.
  • "Between illegality and recognition: Exploring sacrificial violence in a Manila brotherhood", Critique of Anthropology, 35:1 (2015), 64-77.
  • (with Henrik Rønsbo, eds.) Histories of Victimhood, (Philadelphia: Penn University Press, 2014).