Mette Louise Berg

Mette Louise Berg

Senior Lecturer in the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education at University College London

Mette Louise Berg is a Senior Lecturer in the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education at University College London. She has a Masters degree from Copenhagen and a DPhil in Social Anthropology from St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Her research interests include migration, diasporas and transnationalism; urban diversity; questions of gender, belonging and generation; social memory; Cuba and its diaspora.

She is the author of Diasporic Generations: Memory, Politics and Nation among Cubans in Spain (Berghahn, 2011). Her more recent work focuses on the nexus between social and geographic mobility among graduates of one of socialist Cuba’s elite schools.

Another strand of research explores everyday experiences of 'diversity' in a London neighbourhood. She is the co-editor of Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space (Routledge, 2014). To read an interview with Mette about her views on 'diversity', click here.

Mette teaches mainly on the MSc Migration Studies programme. She was awarded a University of Oxford Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Award in 2013.

In the autumn of 2014, she will be on an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship working with the London Borough of Southwark and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service.

Mette is a member of the Flows and Dynamics cluster and the Urban Change and Settlement cluster at COMPAS.

Mette is a native Danish speaker, and also speaks Spanish and German.

Current Research

La Lenin Transnational: Schooling and the Reproduction of Elites in Socialist Cuba

Formal education and schooling were central tenets in the quest for modernity and nationhood across post-colonial societies in the twentieth century. Schools were harnessed to inculcate the skills needed to produce modern, national subjects. Yet education and schooling also foster aspirations for geographic mobility beyond national borders, further fuelled by globalization and new communication technologies. In this strand of research, I explore the role of one particular school (the VI Lenin Secondary School in Havana, known as ‘La Lenin’) in linking social mobility, in the form of an academically-elite education, with geographic mobility in the form of internal and international migration, in the context of socialist Cuba and its diaspora. An article based on the research has been published in Identities.

Field research was funded by the John Fell Fund (April 2011-June 2013).

Welfare, neighbourhood and new geographies of diversity

This pilot project examines everyday experiences of diversity. Specifically, it focuses on interfaces between the everyday lives of residents across the life course and local welfare state providers in the inner-city area of Elephant and Castle in London. It is a collaborative, interdisciplinary project, drawing on ethnographic, quantitative, and visual methods.

A central tenet in anti-diversity discourses has been that an excess of ‘difference’ is bad for a sense of community. In this context, ‘difference’ is often taken to mean ethnic difference, while class and economic inequality is not addressed. This project by contrast explores differences and affinities that cut across ethnic groups, and how ‘ethnicity’ intersects with age and generation, socio-economic status, class, gender, faith, and citizenship / legal status. The project explores when and where affinities emerge, whether in the form of fleeting gestures or in longer-lived alliances e.g. to improve local schools, and when and where ‘difference’ is seen to be problematic or incommensurable, and by whom.

During the pilot phase, the research team will work with local welfare providers to build relationships and ensure access. The anticipated follow-on project will focus on capturing the new urban realities of super-diverse neighbourhoods, and offering new methodological and conceptual ideas for social science research.

Researchers: Mette Louise Berg (PI), Ben Gidley, Caroline Oliver, Hiranthi Jayaweera, Rachel Humphris, Simon Rowe (photographer)

Pilot study funded by the John Fell OUP Research Fund, May 2013-December 2014.

DPhil Supervision

Areas of interest for DPhil supervision:

  • Diasporas
  • Transnationalism
  • Multiculturalism
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Social memory
  • Generation
  • Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean

Current students:

Selected Publications

Berg, M. L. and Eckstein, S. (eds) (2015) 'Re-imagining Diasporas and Generations', Diaspora: a journal of transnational studies (special issue) 18 (2/3).

Berg. M. L., Gidley, B. and Sigona, Nando N. (eds) (2015) Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space. London: Routledge.

Berg, M. L., Gidley, B. and Sigona, N. (eds) (2013) ‘Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space’, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power Special Issue, 20(4)

Berg. M. L. (2014) ‘La Lenin Transnational: Schooling, Elite Reproduction and Belonging in Socialist Cuba and its Diaspora’, Identities (Special issue on 'Mobility, Education and Life Trajectories: New and Old Pathways').

Berg. M. L. (2014) ‘Generations’, In B. Anderson and M. Keith (eds) Migration: The COMPAS Anthology, Oxford: COMPAS.

Berg. M. L. (2014) ‘Cubans in Spain: Transnational Connections and Memories’, In C. Krull (ed) Cuba in a Global Context: International Relations, Internationalism, and Transnationalism, Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 257-270.

Berg, M. L. and Sigona, N. (2013) 'Introduction: Ethnography, Diversity and Urban SpaceIdentities special issue, 20(4).

Berg, M. L. (2011) Diasporic Generations: Memory, Politics and Nation among Cubans in Spain, Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Berg, M. L. (2010) 'On the social ground beneath our feet: for a cosmopolitan anthropology', Social Anthropology / Anthropologie Sociale [Special issue on 'A Cosmpolitan Anthropology?', Wardle H. and Rapport, N. (eds)] 18(4): 433-440

Mills, D. and Berg, M. L. (2010) 'Gender, Disembodiment and Vocation: Exploring the Unmentionables of British Academic Life', Critique of Anthropology, 30(4): 331-353. doi: 10.1177/0308275X10372470 

Berg, M. L. (2009) 'Reply to Comments', Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 14(2): 297-99. DOI: 10.1111/j.1935-4940.2009.01049.x

Berg, M. L. (2009) 'Between Cosmopolitanism and the National Slot: Cuba’s Diasporic Children of the Revolution', Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 16(2): 129-56. DOI: 10.1080/10702890902739246

Full list of publications