Photo of Johanna Dahlin

Johanna Dahlin

Associate Professor

My research currently focusses on secrecy, securitization and forced labour in relation to inventions in the Soviet Union. I am a social anthropologist with an interest in property relations, heritage, memory and the revitalization of tradition.

My research

My research currently focusses on secrecy and securitization in relation to inventions and scientific discoveries in the Soviet Union. I investigate the contradictions and tensions of Soviet Intellectual Property politics and its attempts to encourage, reward and control inventions, inventiveness and inventors. My background is in social anthropology, and I also have an interest in the more material manifestations of property, as well as in heritage, memory and the revitalization of tradition.

PASSIM - Patents as Scientific Information 1895-2020 

As part of the ERC-funded Passim-project I’m currently working on a study of secrecy and securitization in relation to inventions and research in the Soviet Union. Soviet intellectual property politics was full of tensions and contradictions, as intellectual property in general and patents in particular were seen as inherently capitalist, but at the same time indispensable. One solution was to issue Inventor’s Certificates instead of patents as a way to encourage, document and reward inventions. The Soviet Union also viewed inventors, scientists, and the intelligentsia in general with suspicion, but also saw such individuals as necessary for much-needed technical development. The attempts to control inventions, inventiveness and inventors at times involved forced labour and special prisons within the Gulag-system. 

Revitalization and Sustainability

Together with Martin Fredriksson I’m developing the research project Revitalization and Sustainability (RESUS). This research explores if and how environmental sustainability can benefit from cultural revitalization: processes and practices where knowledge and skills from the past are revived in a contemporary context. Revitalization is often associated with cultural traditions, but we argue that it can also address environmental challenges by promoting sustainable uses of natural resources and reimagining the relationship between humans and nature

How are common resources made into private property?

I have an interest in natural resources and property issues, and have researched how processes of enclosure (of common resources) are enacted and countered through legal decisions and public resistance. The research has aimed to provide new knowledge about how different kinds of common resources are enclosed and commodified as private property, and how this affects those who used to manage those commons. More specifically, I have investigated how natural resources, generally perceived as common land, are appropriated by corporations. The research has focused on local cases where mining projects on indigenous land in Scandinavia and Australia have provoked resistance.


Doctoral dissertation

List of publications


Jocelyn Bosse, Johanna Dahlin (2023) Spectres of Intellectual Property in the Soviet Union: The Development and Recognition of the Inventor's Certificate Pólemos, Vol. 17, p. 293-316 Continue to DOI


Johanna Dahlin (2021) Known and unknown soldiers: remembering Russia's fallen in the Great patriotic war The future of the Soviet past: the politics of history in Putin's Russia, p. 131-149
Johanna Dahlin (2021) Hur stor är en gruva?: Överlappandeproblemområden i en handläggningsprocess Nordisk Administrativt Tidsskrift, Vol. 98 Continue to DOI
Johanna Dahlin, Elin Svensson (2021) Revitalizing Traditional Agricultural Practices: Conscious Efforts to Create a More Satisfying Culture Sustainability, Vol. 13, Article 11424 Continue to DOI
Åsa Nilsson Dahlström, Johanna Dahlin, Håkan Tunón (2021) Pathfinders for the Future? Indigenous Rights and Traditional Knowledge in Sweden Sustainability, Vol. 13, Article 11195 Continue to DOI

About my doctoral dissertation

…Until the last soldier is buried

Until the Last Fallen Soldieris Buried: The Second World War, Remembrance and Community in St Petersburg and Leningrad oblast

 Photo credit: Johanna Dahlin


On the former Volkov and Leningrad fronts east of St Petersburg, a city which under the name of Leningrad was subjected to a more than two year siege, soldiers are still lying covered in dirt but unburied on the battlefields. Voluntary search brigades are working to find and bury the remains of these soldiers. However, burial is not the sole objective, the search activity is also focused on trying to identify the recovered human remains. Attempts are made to find the relatives of the identified soldiers, but the act of identification – to establish the name as the expression is in Russian – is a goal in it self.

A significant source of national pride

My research gives special attention to the Russian search movement; focusing on the activities of one St Petersburg based group, the search process, identification and burial. The memory of the war and the victory is a significant source of national pride in Russia, and Victory Day on May 9th is a public holiday that is celebrated widely. The horrendous death toll, the enormous suffering and the sacrifice all contribute to making the war sacred, then and now. War becomes a part of people’s lives even if they did not experience it themselves, and there is a strong sense of duty to remember. Dissemination efforts are directed at younger generations.

Between tragedy and triumph

Burials and other rituals are focused on bringing closure to events that to some extent still are open. The war was a great catastrophe bringing unimaginable levels of suffering. However, in much of the official rhetoric the suffering in downplayed in favour of patriotic triumph. There is tension between tragedy and triumph, suffering and glory, which to some degree corresponds to public and private memory of the war. There is a complex interplay between these entities, simultaneously enforcing and contrasting one another. 

Medallion makes identification possible


Researchers in the same field


I teach at the Bachelor´s Programme in Global Studies. I am the course director for the course Memory, Power, Resistance. I am also involved in the Bachelor´s Programme in Communication, Society, Media Production.