Contact information

Björn Beckman

Born in 1938, I was originally trained in the Stockholm Department but spent much of my professional life outside, first in University of Ghana, Legon (1967-1971), Department of Political Science, Uppsala University (1973-78), and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria (1978-87). I did a Fil.lic. degree at Stockholm on British colonial ideology of "indirect rule" (1966), defended my thesis on Ghana in Uppsala (1976), and was appointed Honorary Reader (Docent) at Stockholm in 1978. Returning to Stockholm in 1987 I became engaged in developing the Politics of Development profile in teaching and research jointly with colleagues and students at both undergraduate and post-graduate level. PODSU, the Politics of Development Group, was established in 1995.My position in the department was at first funded by Sida/SAREC. My main work in recent years has been on African trade unions.

Doctoral dissertation: Organising the Farmers: Cocoa Politics and National Development in Ghana. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1976.

Current research interests:

The politics of development: State and class formation, civil society and democratisation in Africa and the Third World, with special focus on the trade union involvement with state and politics.

Research projects:

a) Politics of Development: Citizens, Interests and Civil Society

This is the umbrella programme for the Politics of Development Group (PODSU), which I am co-ordinating. It began in 1995 under the rubric "Citizenship and organised interests: Individual and collective rights in Third World democratisation", with funding from SAREC (Swedish Agency for Research Co-operation with Developing Countries, which was later incorporated by Sida as the Department for Research Co-operation), under a special programme for research milieus concerned with Third World democratisation. PODSU was selected as one of five such Swedish milieus and funding was granted for two times three years with an extension for a seventh year (1995-2003). For the second period of the grant the focus was shifted towards civil society and the two themes, citizenship and civil society, were further integrated. The programme supports both joint activities and individual research, including doctoral projects primarily supervised by me. Three major international conferences and book projects have been organised, a first on "Gender, religion and democracy" (1997), a second on "Civil society and authoritarianism" (1998), and a third on "Group rights and differentiated citizenship" (2001). I have spent one to two months per annum on co-ordination and administration, including PODSU's joint programme with CRD (see b, below). For individual projects, see Ishtiaq Ahmed, Henrik Berglund, Eva Hansson, Magnus Lembke, Lasse Lindström, Merrick Tabor, Mats Wärn. Emmanuel Akwetey and Nelli Kopola, who both contributed actively to the PODSU programme, have left the department. My own individual projects in the programme have primarily concerned trade unions and the civil society debate (see below).

PODSU has received fresh institutional support from Sida/SAREC for 2003-2000.