Brian Palmer is a social anthropologist and scholar of religion at Uppsala University in Sweden. Previously he held the Torgny Segerstedt Guest Professorship at Gothenburg University, and before that he taught at Harvard. His courses there on civic courage and engagement attracted as many as 600 students per term, and in 2002 Brian was awarded the Levenson Prize as Harvard’s best lecturer.

Brian’s latest book, written together with Ola Larsmo, is 101 historiska hjältar (101 historical heroes). It was published in 2013 by Historiska media (Lund), followed by large softcover and paperback editions. English and Korean translations are being prepared.

The book Global Values 101 is based on Brian’s Harvard courses. His doctoral dissertation, also at Harvard, explored Swedish conceptions of solidarity. In 2006, he and Per-Anders Forstorp wrote a book about rhetoric and symbolism in Swedish political campaigns. Brian has also done a study of how time pressures are recasting Swedes’ inner lives.

Brian was the research director of the Raoul Wallenberg Calendar, a collection of 365 accounts of individuals who took great risks for human rights, peace and democracy. The work was published internationally, with more than 100,000 copies printed in three languages; it was also serialized on Radio Sweden on every day of 2013.

Brian interviewed Edward Snowden in 2014 and was a summer host of the radio program Sommar i P1 in 2004. He lectures in Sweden and internationally more than forty times per year, with a focus on civic courage and what Susan Sontag called ”the simultaneity of wildly contrasting human fates.” His website is


Short bio in Swedish

Socialantropologen Brian Palmer är universitetslektor vid Teologiska institutionen, Uppsala Universitet, och var tidigare innehavare av gästprofessuren till Torgny Segerstedts minne, Göteborgs universitet. 2002 fick han pris som Harvarduniversitetets bästa lärare. Han har skrivit doktorsavhandlingen Wolves at the Door: Existential Solidarity in a Globalizing Sweden, varit medförfattare till boken George W. Reinfeldt: konsten att göra en politisk extreme makeover, varit redaktör för Global Values 101, en bok baserad på hans Harvardkurser, varit forskningsledare till Raoul Wallenberg-kalendern, och varit författare tillsammans med Ola Larsmo till boken 101 historiska hjältar. Brian Palmer har intervjuat Edward Snowden och var sommarpratare i Sveriges Radio 2004.


Said about Brian

“Like a singer in a geek rock band, he was not charismatic, he was anti-charismatic.  Clearly, it was not the projected force of Palmer’s personality that made him a prominent figure at Harvard.  It was instead the power of his ideas, the depth of his convictions, and his willingness to speak his mind that turned the lecturer into a nerd hero for hundreds of Harvard students.”

— Richard Bradley, Harvard Rules: The Struggle for the Soul of the World’s Most Powerful University (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), p.306.

“If Harvard’s most popular course, Economics 10, prepares econ majors to become employee-axing, environment-wrecking CEOs, its second most popular course (and largest elective) … goes the other way, leading its students toward St. Francis-style sainthood…. [The course is] taught by the slim, wispy-voiced, and vaguely monkish Brian Palmer.”

Boston Magazine, 2003.


Board member of the Harald Edelstam Foundation.  Former board member of Ordfront, Suicide Zero, the Roothbert Fund, the Lisle Fellowship, the Swedish Fulbright Alumni Association, and the Society for the Anthropology of Europe.  Jury member for the Ordfront Democracy Prize; formerly engaged with the Per Anger Prize.  Advisory editor of Indigo magazine (South Korea).  Member of Svenska PEN.



Event organizers: click on an image for a high-resolution version, then right-click to download.


(Photo credit: Marcus Rosen)


(Photo credit: Martin Cejie)


(Photo credit: Lena Katarina Johansson)


(Photo credit: Indigo)


(Photo credit: Indigo)


(Photo credit: Sai-kit Cheung)