Supervisors
Elin Abrahamsson,
PhD Student in Gender Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden.
Keywords: popular romance, cultural studies, queer theory, masturbation

"Consuming Passions: a Queer Reading of the Romance Genre through the Concept of Masturbation"

Feminist scholars have long critiqued how popular culture genres associated with women, such as popular romance, are systematically regarded as a lower form of culture. The genre is often described with derogative terms that aggrandize the focus on the body of the consumer, with for example references to the material I work with – the popular book- and film series “Fifty Shades” and “Twilight” - as “mummy porn” and “abstinence porn”. Through textual analysis, I am exploring this view of popular romance as a “body genre”, by understanding the consumption of the texts as a sexual practice, that is, as masturbation.
I argue that this move changes the framing for understanding popular romance in its popular cultural context. Reading the archetypal figure of “the romance reader” in relation to the historical discourse on masturbation, frames the reading of romance as already inherently “queer”. I also argue that the shift in temporal focus in the study of the consumption of popular romance to the ‘here and now” of the exercise in many ways loosens its heteronormative straightjacket. Descriptions of beauty, pleasure and desire can be seen to hold further meanings when not solely understood in relation to the normative ending to which they are leading. Further, the repetitiveness of the genre, both in terms of the formulaic structure of the texts and the mass-consumption of them, can be argued to entail the same underlying threat of excess that masturbation poses to societal regulations of love and sexual relations.

Phase: Mid-phase

E-mail: elin.abrahamsson@gender.su.se

Anna Avdeeva,
Doctoral Programme for Gender, Culture and Society, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Arts, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki
Keywords: natural parenting, parenting, gender, gender order

PhD title: Natural parenting in contemporary Russia: Radical form of intensive mothering in the context of neo-traditionalism

Short description: My research explores how originally Western model of mothering – natural parenting – is re-conceptualized in the post-egalitarian neo-conservative Russian society. Despite the ample research on natural parenting in the context of neo-liberal states such as the US and Britain, it is unstudied what this model comes to mean in other contexts. I will focus on paternalist Russia, where the official ideological opposition to capitalism and orientation towards gender equality has been recently replaced by neo-traditionalist ideology.
My PhD study inquires why some Russian mothers choose to implement the set of such enormously intensified and morally loaded traditional childrearing practices as natural parenting in the post-modern society. Through the analysis of the interviews (N=45) with Russian natural mothers and textual analysis of websites and booklets promoting natural parenting in Russia, I will reveal whether (and how) non-conventional parenting model becomes a response to the parenting tensions and struggle for parental agency, control and expertise in childcare between the state, society and individualized preference.

Phase: First phase

E-mail: anna.avdeeva@helsinki.fi

Marco Bacio,
Lund University, Sweden
Keywords: male sex workers, homosexuality, Italy, Sweden.

Thesis title: Male Sex Workers. A comparative study of a fringe phenomenon in Italy and Sweden.

Thesis description: When talking about prostitution either in scientific literature or just colloquially we refer to a transaction in which a person, almost always a woman, provides sexual services to a client, virtually always a man, in exchange for money or other form of payment. What many fail to consider is that prostitution may assume various additional aspects. First of all, not all clients are men seeking female sex workers. Women also pay men for sexual services (even though this type of trade is quite limited). But above all, and this is the main aspect of this research, men provide sexual services to other men in return for payment. We thus introduce the notion of men sex workers and gay sex workers. This lack of awareness is also a feature of legislation: ‘In every legal prostitution system […] the state has focused almost exclusively on women who sell sex, […] male sex workers and their managers (are) usually left out of the monitoring system’ (Weitzer, 2012:206). Therefore, this research has the, almost unprecedented, aim of studying male homosexual sex workers in Italy and in Sweden. An attempt will be made to answer some intricate questions and understand, for example, why in the XXI century do so many men still pay for sex despite the ‘liberation of sexuality’ (Leonini, 1999)? Are we sure that the Swedish strategy of eliminating prostitution by cutting out demand (by criminalising the client) really works? Or should we follow the proposal by The Economist whose opening editorial from an issue in August 2014 ended by saying: “Governments should focus on deterring and punishing such crimes (trafficking in human beings for the aim of selling sex, child prostitution) – and leave consenting adults who wish to buy and sell sex to do so safely and privately online”? (The Economist, 2014).

Phase: first-phase

E-mail: marco.bacio@genus.lu.se

Maja Bodin,
Uppsala University
key words: Family Planning, Gender Inequality, Preconception Health and Care, Reproductive Life Plan

Working title of thesis: From pregnancy planning to parenthood - a gender issue

Short description:
In Sweden, sexual risk-takin is increasing, and abortion rates are high. Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and obesity is more and more common, at the same time as parenthood is postponed. These factors, among others, can all be threats to fertility for both women and men. The knowledge about fertility among young people is however rather low. There is also a great gender inequality in the reproductive health sphere, where most responsibility is put on women.
The thesis aims to explore the importance of sex/gender differences within family planning, responsibility taken for reproductive health, and experiences of pregnancy and parenthood. We will learn about men's knowledge about fertility and lifestyle in relation to pregnancy, and also evaluate whether knowledge, men's intention to plan for pregnancies and their responsibility taken for sexual and reproductive health can be increased by an intervention based on Reproductive Life Plan (RLP)-counselling. RLP is a tool developed by the American CDC, and is used within preconception health and care to increase women and men’s knowledge about fertility and reproductive health. It aims to prevent unwanted pregnancies, infertility and negative pregnancy outcomes, which hopefully leads to better public health and lower costs for society.
The findings of the thesis will be based on one pilot study with 136 couples in early pregnancy, one larger survey with 1500 parents and one randomized control trial with an intervention using RLP-counselling for men, which will be followed up by focus group interviews.

Phase: Mid-phase

E-mails: maja.bodin@gender.uu.se; maja.bodin@kbh.uu.se

Jennie Brandén,
Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS)
Umeå University, Sweden
Keywords: critical policy analysis, gender, fear, urban planning

Working title: Constructing gender and fear in promoting the safe city


Short description : Promoting safety has become an essential part in creating the attractive and inclusive city and is today a recognized element of urban planning. In a Swedish context, women’s fear and its consequences is often addressed as a gender equality issue and linked to men’s violence against women. Based on an understanding of policy problems as discursively shaped, my thesis is focused on how the problem of fear and unsafety is being produced and filled with meaning through the way it is defined and addressed by different actors in the work with promoting safety, particularly in relation to gender and gender equality. One aim is to draw attention to the limitations, possible clashes and effects that certain constructions of the problem entails (Bacchi 1999, 2009). Informed by a theoretical understanding of fear and unsafety as embodied and discursively shaped emotions that are closely linked to social power relations (cf. Pain 2001; Whitzman 2007; Ahmed 2004), I also want to draw attention to what is left out by those constructions and what solutions and strategies for change that are made possible through them. The empirical material consists of national and local policies for safe public spaces, a questionnaire survey that has been sent to Sweden’s 290 municipalities as well as interviews with local public officials, activists and NGO’s.

Phase: first year as a PhD-student.

E-mail: jennie.branden@umu.se

Hanna Bäckström,
PhD-student in gender studies, at Umeå centre for gender studies, Umeå University, Sweden
Keywords: feminist ethics; voluntary social work; welfare politics; gifts
Working title: Care-giving, power and the subject-other relationship of ethics

Description: My PhD-project is concerned with feminist ethics, with a specific focus on the power dynamics of the ethical relation. How can the relation between the ethical subject and the object of ethical concern be understood? Is “care-giving” necessarily always, to some extent, a means of empowering the self, by functioning as a confirmation of ones own proper borders? I start off in an ethnographic material based on two contemporary examples of voluntary social work or “charity”, now taking place in the Swedish political context – on the one hand the grass root initiatives and networks aiming to support poor EU-migrants, and on the other hand, individual charitable gift-giving to Swedish single parents, coordinated through social media.

I am specifically studying these initiatives as potential meeting spaces where, comparably, affluent “givers” and more vulnerable “receivers” interact and negotiate their positions vis-à-vis each other and in relation to the surrounding society and politics. I am interested in how the “givers” and “recipients” experience their actions (giving vs. asking for/receiving help), what type of ethical and political dilemmas they encounter, strategies to resolve them, and their emotions towards each other. My ambition is to develop a better ground for understanding the possible pitfalls of charitable acts of caring, and how a feminist version of ethics may encourage us to take responsibility not just for the well-being of the other, but also for the power position of the (moral) self.

Phase: First phase

E-mail: hanna.backstrom@ucgs.umu.se

Gisela Carrasco-Miró,
Utrecht University, Netherlands Research School on Gender Studies
Keywords: Postcolonial/Decolonial Feminism, Feminist Political Economy, Critical Development Studies and Transnational Feminism.

Working title: A feminist contribution to Postcolonial Politics of Development

Thesis description: My research is interdisciplinary focusing on postcolonial theory and politics, critical development studies, queer and feminist theory and feminist economics. This research is informed by my personal history, living in different countries in Central America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa and expertise working on gender and local development with several international organizations, people’s movements and civil society organizations. My research aims to meet postcolonial thought and development economics through feminist theory and ethics. By so doing, I interrogate orientalism and developmentalism of the economic/development discourses focusing on 4 main topics: the production of knowledge in development discourse, the Science question in development, critical transnational feminism praxis and feminist economics ethics. This research project is also intended to contribute to the creation of alternate/contemporary frameworks in order to produce social and political scholarship.

Phase: Mid phase

E-mail: g.carrascomiro@uu.nl

Gianmaria Colpani,
PhD candidate in co-supervision at University of Verona (Dep. Philosophy, Psychology and Education) and Utrecht University (Dep. Media and Culture Studies – Gender Studies)
Keywords: homonationalism, homonormativity, hegemony, queer theory

Working title: Queer Hegemonies: Rearticulations of Sexual Politics in the Twenty-First Century

My thesis concerns the rearticulations of Western sexual politics in the twenty-first century, with a focus on the phenomena of homonormativity and homonationalism. It also addresses the theoretical turns that queer theory has undergone in the attempt to respond to such transformations of the political field – such as the “Marxist Renaissance” variously articulated in contemporary queer theory or the adoption of a decisive transnational perspective. My own theoretical intervention into the debate consists of addressing the problematic from the perspective of the politics of hegemony, theorized by Antonio Gramsci in the 1930s and later reactivated within the New Left by such authors as Stuart Hall and Ernesto Laclau.

Phase: mid-phase

E-mail: G.Colpani@uu.nl

Åsa Eriksson,
Gender Studies, Stockholm University , Sweden.
Key words: gender/race, precarity, resistance, South-Africa

Working title: “Narratives on precarity, organizing and resistance amongst workers in insecure positions. An ethnographic study exploring intersecting power relations”

Short description: The PhD project draws on ethnographic fieldwork amongst workers on commercial farms in the Western Cape province of South Africa just after a major, unprotected strike in 2012-2013.
It explores accounts on work and life precarity, structural violence and forms of organizing and resistance, looking at how such phenomena are interlinked. It further investigates how power relations of gender, class, race/ethnicity and nationality/migration status may be understood as shaped by, and as contributing to shaping work and life precarity in the context of commercial agriculture. This is done through an analysis of how these power relations are articulated through the organization of work as well as through organizing and resistance. The research moreover pays attention to accounts on subject formation and identity, especially in relation to contestations around who is a farmworker, and renegotiations of what it means to be a farmworker in a rapidly changing context, where agricultural work itself in its present, (cheap) labor intensive form is rendered more precarious.
Importantly, the PhD project seeks to locate these processes within a context of neo-liberal globalization, where power and control (and retention of value) is largely placed outside of the profoundly unequal post-colonial “contact zone” (Pratt, 1991), which the commercial farming areas constitute. The intention is to make connections to Sweden, as an example of a destination country for deciduous fruit and wine exported from the Western Cape. The link to Sweden will be explored through secondary material, including advertisement for South African fruit and wine.

Phase: mid-phase

E-mail: asa.eriksson@gender.su.se

Klara Goedecke,
Centre for Gender research, Uppsala university and Tema genus, Linköping university
Keywords: Men's friendships, masculinity, intimacy, homosociality working

Working Title of PhD Thesis: Among bros, buddies and BFFs. Men’s friendships in contemporary Sweden

Short Description of Thesis: I am a PhD student in gender studies at the Centre for gender research at Uppsala university and at Tema genus at Linköping university. In my thesis, I investigate meaning makings around friendships between men. I am interested in which ideas about closeness, trust and love that are used to give meaning to friendships, but also in how power, privileges, vulnerabilities, homoeroticism and homophobia are negotiated. I use individual interviews and pair interviews with men who are friends.

Friendship may seem private but is in fact constructed in a cultural, historical and political context. Intimacy, with whom one can be intimate and how feelings for others are expressed and described are constantly negotiated. Men’s friendships have often been described as shallow and permeated by fear and homo-phobia. In gender research, this has been attributed to dominant ideas about what it is to be masculine, where hardness, autonomy and not showing feelings are central. However, there are signs that closeness between men is becoming less stigmatized in the Nordic countries. Men’s friendships are an important object of study for feminist researchers. They are ambivalent, and can on the one hand be seen as arenas where sexism, privilege and homophobia are re/produced. On the other hand, they can be seen as promising to the feminist project, as relations where new, caring and relationship-oriented masculine positions can be developed.

Phase: Middle (2016)

E-mail: klara.goedecke@gender.uu.se

Wei Gui,
ICON (Institute for Cultural Inquiry ), Utrecht University
Keywords: synchronicity, embodiment, multiplicity, choosability of gender

Thesis title: Synchronizing the Self: Online Gaming, Aavatars and Identity

Thesis description: The dissertation explores significant changes in the issues of identity and identification triggered by information technology, especially the flourish of online activities and communication. The research focuses on a specific domain, namely, the avatar in online game playing.
One of the most significant findings of this research which is also a unique perspective that I would like to depart from is the idea of synchronicity. It is borrowed from computer science, and, in this dissertation, is utilized in terms of a thinking perspective as well as an information technique, inherently embracing multiple spaces that share the same timeline. Through the prism of synchronicity, I rescritinize the categories that we use for identity and idenfitication, namely the body, sex, and gender.
By constructing an interdisciplinary exploration on the avatar in the media environments, the dissertation shows that a combination of media, cultural analysis, feminist theory and phenomenology of the body is capable of integrating an understanding of the avatar across several disciplines. It can be viewed as a research which employs the avatar as a specific research object; it upholds the embodiment perspective; it scrutinizes the changes of the concepts of the body, sex, and gender, in the digitalized environments of online games; and unifies its finding through the prism of synchronicity.

Phase: dissertation approved

E-mail: guiwei1994@hotmail.com, W.Gui@uu.nl

Johan Hallqvist,
PhD student in Ethnology. Umeå University: Department of Culture and Media Studies & Umeå Centre for Gender
key words: posthumanities, artificial intelligence, gender, STS

Working title of my thesis: Crossing borders of (human) friendship.

Description of my thesis: The working title for my thesis is ”Crossing borders of (human) friendship”. To study discourses of friendship is a way to study how humanity is discursively (re)produced in relation to non-humanity like animality and robotity/artificial inteligence. The overall aim of my study is to deconstuct/question the categories humanity, animality and robotity and the anthropocentrism which reproduces a binary system of human – animal – robot and the human superiority. I will be doing ethnographic fieldwork; including interviews and observations with researchers and older adults involved in a Swedish interdisciplinary project creating intelligent agent systems for elderly persons to improve their health and provide a(n artificial) friend, discourse analysis; of the Swedish media debate about ethics and ”robot care” in elderly care and movies and tv series concerning relationships between humans and non-humans. At the moment I am interested in topics such as: waste, ethics, bodies/entities, gender, agency and friendships/relationships.

Phase: First-phase

E-mail: johan.hallqvist@umu.se

Vanja Hermele,
PhD Candidate, Gender Studies Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies Stockholm University
key words: cultural politics, nationalism, gender and diversity

Working title: State of the Art.

The dissertation State of the Art (working title) examines the content and the consequences of cultural politics in fine art, especially state funded agencies. The study centers around three official requirements that are sometimes perceived as contradicting or conflicting: (1) the aim to preserve the national cultural heritage and artistic quality, (2) to achieve gender equality and (3) to achieve diversity.;
The research originates from critical questions of power and representation in respect to gender, diversity and nationality. Theoretical frameworks include feminist postcolonial theory, organizational theory, critical and cultural theory. By exploring the relationship between nationality, gender and postcoloniality the dissertation aims to develop theory and provide a better understanding of the connections and contradictions within these three aspects in cultural politics, policy and practices of today.

Phase: First-phase

E-mail: vanja.hermele@gender.su.se

Amund Rake Hoffart,
Center for Feminist Social Studies, Örebro University
Keywords: intersectionality, feminist theory, conceptual analysis, genealogy

Working title: Conceptualizing Intersectionality

Short description: The project explores feminist conceptualizations of intersectionality. It consists of two main parts: 1) a tracing of the genealogies of intersectional thinking in feminist theory, and 2) a critical analysis of the difficulties of concretizing and implementing the idea of intersectionality in methodological and political practice.

Phase: First-phase

E-mail: amund.hoffart@oru.se

Astrid Joutseno,
Phd student of university of Helsinki, SKY doctoral program
Keywords: creativity, motherhood, blogs, subjectivity

Thesis titleCybermoms in the grips of creativity: narratives of motherhood and artist-identity on blogs

Thesis description: My Phd studies representations of motherhood and creativity on internet blogs. I analyze the research material by focusing on the intersections of the concept of early motherhood and the historically masculine concept of creativity. I analyze seven widely read and commercialized blogs written by North American mother/artists aged 20 to 40. This inter-disciplinary Phd combines gender studies, literary studies and internet studies. With my research I aim to participate in the ongoing debate on the social impacts of blogs as gendered spaces of expression. I will show that blogs construct fluid, expressive, empowering, but also ambiguous and even alienating representations of mothers and of creativity. Even though feminist theory has helped to highlight the discriminating and masculine bias of the concept of creativity, there is much to be done in bettering the position of women artists and mothers who operate in the creative fields. It is still easy to come by representations of mothering as the negative opposite of artistic creativity. Motherhood has been widely discussed in feminist theory from the perspective of rights and legislation, equality and reproduction. It has also been analyzed from the perspective of sexual difference theories whereby motherhood and mothering are specific gendered and fundamental characteristics only possible to women. Yet, whether motherhood has been celebrated or conceptualized as the very difference that reproduces inequality, it appears that often the mothers themselves have gotten lost in the debate. This research project brings the blogging mothers to the fore.

Phase: early phase

E-mail: astrid.joutseno@helsinki.fi

Nina Järviö,
Gender Studies, University of Helsinki
Keywords: LGBT, neoliberalism, queer-theory, religion

Working title: LGBT policymaking in 21st Century Finland: Negotiations between religion and LGBT activists

Thesis description: My PhD thesis concentrates on debates on sexual minorities in Finland during the 21st Century. I focus on discussions on LGBT issues by Finnish LGBT organizations, LGBT activists and the largest religious body (the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland).
The research examines (1) the kind of sexual citizenship that is produced or constructed in these discussions, (2) how claims are validated, and (3) the kind of discourses those participating in LGBT policy-making are expected to internalize in a neoliberal Finland.

The main research material consists of discussions on same-sex marriage and the first ever successful citizen’s initiative in Finland. The citizen’s initiative and the campaign supporting the initiative lead to the passing of a gender neutral marriage law in the Finnish parliament in November 2014. The second part of the material focuses on (homo)nationalism and debates on LGBT asylum seekers.

Phase: Mid-phase

E-mail: nina.jarvio@helsinki.fi

Sanna Karhu,
Gender studies, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland
key words: Judith Butler, norms, violence, social transformation

Working title of my Phd thesis: “Norms and Violence in Judith Butler’s Work”

Short description (250 words):
The dissertation provides an original contribution to the theorization of the relationship between norms and violence in Butler’s work. The first part problematizes the claims that Butler theorizes norms in terms of ontological violence. By analyzing her criticism of Monique Wittig’s notion of discursive violence I argue that the key to understand Butler’s conception of norms is her Foucaultian account of social transformation, which resists the ontologization of violence. To highlight this, I show that Butler theorizes gender norms as modes of transformation also in her discussion of transgender.
The second part elucidates Butler’s conception of norms in light of her discussion of racism. Although Butler is best known for her gender theory, I contend that her criticism of racism is a crucial – but often overshadowed – dimension of her work. The second part investigates also Butler’s concept of “life” and argues that her theorization of “precarious lives” can be conceived as a critique of killing that can be extended to non-human animals as well.
The third part discusses Butler’s theorization of norms and non-violent ethics. I argue that for Butler the question of ethics incorporates two interrelated perspectives: the politics of senses and the critique of norms. By explicating Butler’s psychoanalytic account of melancholy I show that she theorizes grief and aggression as political emotions that can be harnessed for non-violent resistance. On the other hand I argue that Butler’s approach on ethics must be understood as a criticism of norms – as a theoretical and social practice of thinking and acting otherwise.

Phase: Mid-phase

E-mail: sanna.karhu@helsinki.fi

Mikael M Karlsson,
University of Lund
Keywords: disability, sexuality, masculinity, kinship, welfare state

Working Title of PhD Thesis: To take care of your child’s sexuality. Gender, disability and kinship in the light of the transformation of Swedish welfare state

Short Description of Thesis: My project is going to focus on sexuality, gender, disability and kinship. The aim of the study is to reach a deeper understanding of how male family members to people with intellectual disability contemplate and manage disability, sexuality and gender.

Since the 1960s, the big institutions for the disabled have been closing down. Instead the focus has been on the normalisation principle, meaning that the life of people with disability as fare as possible should resemble the life of everyone else. Therefore, the role of the family has become more important.

Most research about disability and sexuality has focused on how staff working with people with disability deal with their sexuality. Only a few studies focus on the role of the family members. Furthermore, most of the studies that exist focus on the mother of the disabled child. Very few studies have focused on the role of male relatives in relation to disability and sexuality.

Previous studies show how sexual norms in Sweden are more repressive for young men with intellectual disability than for intellectually disabled young women. The men are being de-sexualized because of a fear of uncontrolled male sexuality. In addition to this, most of the nursing staff is women. Most likely, most of the non-disabled men that disable young people meet will somehow be part of the kinship. How do male family members view disability, gender and sexuality? What influence do they have on the young person with disability? How does the idea of the able-bodied child relate to masculinity?

Phase: beginning (2016)

E-mail: mikael.karlsson@genus.lu.se

Nadine Lake,
Uppsala University
Keywords: Corrective rape, Discourse, Sexuality, Citizenship

Working Title: Corrective rape’ and the homophobic everyday in contemporary South African cultural texts

PhD thesis short description: Black lesbian visibility in post-apartheid South Africa has been met with a considerable backlash. Black lesbians have been identified as a particularly vulnerable minority and the practice of ‘corrective rapes’ with its aim to ‘correct’ or ‘cure’ lesbian sexuality has been reported on in South African newspapers since 2003. Although South Africa is regularly referenced for its progressive constitution with a focus on the protection of gay rights, there is also a discursive reproduction of the idea that homosexuality is unAfrican, unChristian and unnatural. This PhD study investigates the raced, classed and gendered reproduction of identity in three discursive spaces. The study analyses these discursive practices in South African newspapers, literature, and photography. The aim of the investigation is to deconstruct the discursive reproduction of negatively scripted identity markers and a limited notion of citizenship ascribed to black lesbian sexuality in contemporary South African cultural texts. 

Phase: Mid-phase of work

E-mail: nadine.lake@gender.uu.se

Laura Lapinskiene,
Södertörn University
Keywords: precarity, everyday, grassroots activism, post-socialist, Lithuania

Working Title of PhD Thesis: Resilient Bodies: Precarity, Displacement and feminist activism in Post-Socialist Lithuania

Short Description of Thesis: The intended research is focused on Lithuania, post-socialist country that seems to be stuck in permanent state “of transition”. Social processes of growing youth unemployment and precarization (Lorey, Standing, Berlant) taking place at the intersection of increased transnational mobility and the neoliberal transformations of social institutions (privatization, commodification of education, work, housing, leisure etc.). The articulation of these processes, production of decolonized knowledge, resilience and collective resistance are what interest me the most. My research aims at understanding what are everyday life strategies of incorporating/resisting hegemonic power regimes (patriarchy, capitalism, neoliberalism, precarization, etc.) in post-socialist Lithuania. And how are moments of hope created from below by political imagination, collective practices and feminist struggles? Empirical ethnographic fieldwork, with methods of visual anthropology and collaborative action research, shall help to explore these everyday struggles, precarious lives and fragile alliances between communities and groups of people, emerging from local sites and linking to transnational spaces.

Phase: beginning, 1st year (2016)

E-mail: laura.lapinskiene@sh.se

Maija Lähteenmäki,
Doctoral Program for Gender, Culture and Society, University of Helsinki, Finland
Keywords: Queer temporality, queer time, politics of time, same-sex marriage

Working title: Queering the time of the politics – The possibilities of queer temporalities for the political

Time is an always present dimension in politics – in other words, in everything political there is a sense of some sort of temporality. My PhD thesis revolves around the question of what happens if this dimension of time is understood with the notions of queer time and queer temporalities.

What kind of new horizons for political action or understanding the political will be provided by queering of the time of the politics? How does queering of time modify our understandings of the courses and dimensions of time?

Queer time has been a crucial concept in queer theory. It has been understood and used in many ways and there is no unequivocal definition for concept. While bringing the concept to the sphere of political science I am defining it. I combine the traditions of political science, namely politics of time, and queer theory.

The general and maybe even universal possibilites of queer time are anchored to this day and the Finnish society by queering the temporalities in the textual material provided by citizen’s initiative campaign ’Tahdon2013’ (’I Do2013’) for same-sex marriage law in Finland.

Phase: first phase

E-mail: maija.lahteenmaki@gmail.com

Verena Namberger,
PhD student at the Centre for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
key words: reproductive labour, feminist body studies, new feminist materialisms, life sciences/biotechnology

Working title of my PhD thesis:
Life Sciences and the Commodification of the Body –
Tracing (Re)Productive Bodies in the South African Economy of Egg Donation

Abstract
My thesis explores the South African economy of egg donation as an exemplary site and case study of the commodification of the (re)productive body in biocapitalism. It is embedded in science studies literature on the bioeconomy, biocapital(ism) and biovalue and draws especially on feminist work which analyses value-generating activities as e.g. egg donation as new unacknowledged forms of reproductive labour: “embodied labour” (Pande 2014) or “clinical labour” (Cooper/Waldby 2014). My hypothesis is that new alliances between neoliberalism, biotechnologies and the life sciences do not capitalize on the body as a given biological organism infused with vitality and reproductive potentiality but rather co-configure a continuum of contingent bodily assemblages – renegotiating what ‘the’ (re)productive body can do, which cultural and economic values it signifies and how it enacts and is enacted by the ‘crazy world of egg donation’. Based on ethnographic field research, semi-structured interviews and additional data material I ask:  Which (gendered, racialised, etc.) (re)productive bodies are enacted, constructed, materialised, experienced and normalised in the global fertility industry that South Africa is a hotspot of? My theoretical approach is to bring feminist body studies/feminist sciences studies and Marxist/materialist feminism in a constructive dialogue by mapping the relations between the (re)productive body and labour. The intention of my project is to open up new feminist lines of flight in the face of today’s ‘actually existing’ fertility industries and the normalization of artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) around the globe.

Phase:

E-mail: verena.namberger@hu-berlin.de

Krizia Nardini,
Open University of Catalonia, Utrecht University
key words: Profeminisms, Masculinities, Diffractive Reading, Ethonography, Social Movements

Thesis title Networking Masculinities: Men’s Activism for Gender Justice in Contemporary Italy and Spain

Thesis description Using qualitative ethnographic methods, this PhD project aims to study the activity of men’s networks for gender justice that are organizing in Italy and Spain in relation to current socio-economical challenges and in the context of information society. Men’s networks are approached as material-discursive locations from which critical approaches can be engendered and in which transformations in thinking and practicing masculinities might emerge. Main research question to be addressed is In which ways critical-creative approaches to men and masculinities are created by men’s network for gender justice in Italy and Spain? The focus of the project is set on how shifts in rethinking masculinities are reflected upon and mobilized and how these changing discourses interact with men’s practices. Men’s networks for gender justice could also be seen as interesting locations in which the activist and the academic levels merge when theorizing masculinities and social change. Through the study of the empirical cases under consideration, this research’s aim is to understand the peculiar state of antisexist masculinity politics: with its paradoxes, challenges and potentialities embedded in specific socio-cultural contexts and embodied within the experiences of its actors. Theoretically, this research will analyse different feminist conceptual frameworks in-action; and, reading them affirmatively and diffractively, this research will be exploring the potentialities of critique and creativity stemming from them. The attention is drawn also on observing how this type of antisexist masculinity politics can relate to, differ from and interact with other gender-sensitive collective formations like women’s, LGBTQ and postcolonial feminist engagements.

Phase: Krizia is in her post-fieldwork/writing phase.
Her research interests include feminist philosophy, onto-epistemologies, ethnographic theory, critical masculinities, social movements and anthropology of the body. Krizia is member of AtGender: European Network for Gender Research and Documentation and of the EU COST Action New Materialism. Recently she joined AMSA: American Men's Studies Association.

E-mail: knardini@uoc.edu

Soraja Nasser El-Dine,
PhD Student, University of Helsinki
key words: cosmetic surgery, the body, normalisation, Lebanon

Working title of PhD thesis: Negotiating the New Normal: Gender and the Normalisation of Cosmetic Surgery in Lebanon

Description
This thesis explores the normalisation of cosmetic surgery and its implications on current understandings of gender in Lebanon. The data is collected through approximately one year of ethnographic fieldwork in the capital Beirut. The population of roughly four million has been estimated to have around 1, 5 million cosmetic procedures per year, leaving the small Arab country with one of the highest rates of cosmetic surgeries procedures per capita. I suggest that the prevalence of cosmetic surgery in Lebanon needs to be understood through its significant role in shaping the cultural constructions of gender, which consequently intensifies the process of negotiating self-identity. Against this theorisation, my primary research questions are: 1) how is normalcy and need for cosmetic surgery negotiated? 2) what is the impact of cosmetic surgery in the current understandings of gender in Lebanon? My primary focus group consists of males and females with different social backgrounds who have undergone or are considering undergoing cosmetic surgery. Studying both female and male cosmetic surgery, this study seeks to find alternative explanations for traditional feminist accounts that frame cosmetic surgery primarily as a patriarchal subordination of the female body, as well as it aims to establish new theoretical perspectives for understanding the normalisation of cosmetic surgery in other contexts as well.

Phase: first phase

E-mail: Soraja.nasserel-dine@helsinki.fi

Desi Dwi Prianti,
Utrecht University - The Netherlands / Brawijaya University - Indonesia
Keywords: Masculinity, Men’s lifestyle magazine, Fatherhood, Body Image

Working Title: Deconstructing Masculinity

Description: In general my research focus on Masculinity in contemporary Indonesia. It explores different narratives offered by Men’s lifestyle magazine available in Indonesia. As patriarchal country, Indonesia’s society have a strict codes and rules for what it means of being a man. However for the last decades, Indonesia have undergone several historical events, which changes the whole concepts of a nation including gender binaries. Moreover by looking at postcolonialism issue, there are two types of men’s lifestyle magazines available in contemporary Indonesia; Indonesia based magazines and international based magazines. Therefore this research focuses to answer what kind of configuration of masculinity do contemporary men’s magazines available in Indonesia offer and how do Indonesian-based magazines differ from international-based magazines in that respect? It also explores how fatherhood, body image, class and status were portrayed within the narrative of masculinity offered by the magazines.

Phase: First phase

E-mails: D.D.Prianti@uu.nl, desidwip@ub.ac.id

Teija Rantala,
PhD Student in Gender Studies Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies Faculty of Arts Helsinki University
Keywords: women, desire, Deleuzian methodologies, motherhood

Working title:
Desiring maternal, producing differentiating becomings:
Experimental reading on religious women’s desires in Conservative Laestadianism

My thesis examines processes of female desire within the Conservative Laestadian religious revival movement in Finland. Drawing on an auto-, collective biographical and memorywork data of Laestadian women, this thesis problematizes the expectations of ‘right’ and normative female desires by employing an alternative understanding of desire in the analysis of the data. The emphasis is on feminist inquiry in order to challenge the idea of normative western female agency by giving space for differentiating desires.

Phase: I am in the middle of writing my monograph, aiming to finish by the end of February 2016

E-mails: rantala.teija@gmail.com, teija.rantala@helsinki.fi

Heta Rundgren,
Université Paris 8 Centre d'études féminines et d'études de genre & Helsinki University, doctoral program SKY (Gender, Culture and Society) (Cotutelle / double degree)
Key words: queerfeminist thought, post-normal(e) realism, contemporary European novel (white)

Thesis title: Du féminin à la queere. Le réalisme post-normâle dans
le roman contemporain européen".

Heta Rundgren focuses in her dissertation on the realist conventions of
writing and their relationship to a textual world centered on
male-defined normality. The idea is to discover male-defying connections
between the two concepts of queer and feminine while reading Hélène
Cixous, Marie-Hélène Bourcier or Judith Jack Halberstam through Doris
Lessing, Virginie Despentes, Märta Tikkanen and Stieg Larsson; and vice
versa.

Phase: Last-phase

E-mail: heta.rundgren@gmail.com

Ingrid Rusnes,
Department of Media, Culture and Social Sciences, University of Stavanger
Keywords: sociology, work life, gender, social class

Working Title of PhD Thesis: The meaning of work: influenced by gender and social class?

Short Description of Thesis: In my project, I aim to understand how gender and social class influence people’s experiences of the absolute and relative meaning of work.

How do social class and gender influence our experiences of work as meaningful? How do gender norms affect our expectations and experiences of work? How do norms connected to work life interact with norms connected to parenthood? Are these norms dependent on our positions or class-affiliations?

Different occupations and positions leads to heterogeneous work lives, depending on where in the labour market we are positioned. Factors such as working time arrangements, status, income or autonomy can be seen as framing our possibilities to experience work as meaningful. We know that these factors often interrelate with gender and social class. How do they contribute to shape our experiences of work as meaningful?

One of the main questions for my project will be how meaningful work life is perceived compared to other life spheres, such as family or leisure, and how gender and class influence these experiences.

In order to study these topics I will select three cases. It will be three different organisations (both private and public), representing different areas of work life, differing in their gender balance, and with a range of different occupations employed (representing different class positions). I plan to use both qualitative interviews and a mini-survey (conducted in the selected organisations).

Phase: first

E-mail: ingrid.rusnes@uis.no

Zara Saeidzadeh,
PhD student in Gender Studies- Center for Feminist Social Studies – Örebro University
Keywords: Law, Islamic Jurisprudence, Shari’a, Gender Relations, Power Structure, Misrecognition, Medicine, Contemporary Iran

Working Title of PhD Thesis: "Transsexuality; a Socio-Legal Study of Policies and Practices in Contemporary Iran"

Short Description of Thesis: Sex change surgery is practiced in Iran upon juristic legal opinion. However, this has not resulted in either codification of sex change surgery or recognition of transsexuality by the law. Furthermore, transsexual body has gained meaning within religious and medical discourses by others within a framework of power relations, and what has taken place in Iran is that transsexual individuals have reconstructed and redefined gender and gender relations that informs their understanding of gender and sexuality beyond the existing laws and social norms.
This research seeks to investigate the phenomenon of transsexuality within Iranian law and society in order to understand the complexity of power relations between social structures, discourses and practices that constitute transsexual gender identity yet again within unequal gender relations. Misrecognition of transsexuality within law as well as the state’s policies has created space for social discourses which lead to misrecognition, discrimination, and ultimately violence against gender non-conformists including homosexual and female transsexuals. Therefore, the role of different stakeholders in this study is thought to be important to examine the production of knowledge about sex change and transsexuality within Iranian context.

Phase: First-phase

E-mail: zara.saeidzadeh@oru.se

Aggeliki Sifaki,
Utrecht University-Graduate Gender Programme
Key words: Lesbian Teachers, Greece, Nomadic Subjects, Crisis

Working title: "I Am the Teacher Who Dares (Not) to Tell Her Name": Silent Sexualities in the Greek School Environment

Short Description: The proposed project aims to fill the lacuna between research and practice, examining the current situation of teachers who self-identify as lesbians in the context of the Greek educational system. As the most general backdrop to the study, we claim that the contemporary position of lesbian educators in Greece needs to be understood along two axes: Firstly, in the context of the conflicting discourses on sexuality issues, flourishing in the time of crisis. Secondly, by means of the phenomenon of “Helleno-Christianity” which reflects the traditional and diachronical presence of the triangular and dynamic relationship between nation, state and Church. The aim of this project is to find and describe creative alternatives for subject formations, providing imaginaries that lead to dis-identify the lesbian teacher with the victimized subject position, i.e. the “monster”, the “Other”, or the sexual deviant. This study draws on scholarship that allows for self-formations, in this plural sense, in order to fill the noticeable gap between how manifold lesbian teachers live their lives and how this lived, everyday existence is represented in theoretical terms and discourses. The here-pursued project addresses the self-forming, everyday practices of lesbian educators in the school context by investigating their self-narratives.

Phase: Mid (second year)

E-mail: A.S.Sifaki@uu.nl

Maria Tonini,
Lind University, department for Gender Studies
Keywords: queer studies, India, youth, recognition, sexuality

Working Title of PhD Thesis: Young People’s queer Sexualities in Contemporary India

Short Description of Thesis: Over the last years, the recognition of India’s queers has been the focus of numerous contestations as a result of the complex developments around Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes “carnal acts against the order of nature”. The section had been partially repealed in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, only to be reinstated in full by the Supreme Court at the end of 2013. In my thesis, I focus on the everyday lives of young queer people (18 to 25 year old) living in Delhi in the period between the two judgments. Focusing on a window of time where same-sex sexualities had been officially recognized for the first time, this thesis raises questions about how recognition and sexual identity are lived and experienced in practice in a period characterized simultaneously by high hopes and pervading insecurity.

The situated perspective I favour in my thesis sheds light on the ways in which young people negotiate between their desire to be recognized as queers and the concomitant desire to participate in relations of reciprocity in different contexts, such as the family, peer networks, and the law. Through an analysis of data collected during several fieldwork periods between 2009 and 2012 in Delhi, I show how recognition emerges as an unstable and negotiable element in a cluster of desires, attachments, and aspirations that young queers must balance in their everyday efforts to live a “liveable life”.

Phase: End. Will defend my dissertation in May 2016.

E-mail: maria.tonini@genus.lu.se

Milica Trakilovic,
Utrecht University (teacher/PhD student)
European University Institute (research assistant)
Keywords: art, Europe, postcolonial, postsoviet

Working title: Border-Crossing Practices from the European Periphery: Identity, Memory and Migration in Post-Yugoslav Art Production 

Thesis description:  The Balkans represent an ambiguous entity in Europe; geographically inside but ideologically outside, this region can be considered Europe’s constitutive other, or the “other within” (according to Maria Todorova’s concept of Balkanism).  Art from the former Yugoslavia frequently play with this indeterminate position to produce works that challenge the politics and ideology behind Fortress Europe in the creation of art as a “border crossing practice.” This research asks how counternarratives produced through art can be viewed as offering a problematization of the stagnant realities and discourses that characterize Europe today. The research puts forward, through an interdisciplinary approach comprised of memory-, gender- and postcolonial studies, among others, a consideration of art from the ex–Yugoslav region, which finds itself at the hear of various intersections, such as postcolonial and postsocialist, East and West, European and non–European (and therefore inside and outside), as a key site of resistance to a binary logic that serves to keep Europe’s ideological divide in place. Moreover, the research considers how different art (visual, performative) practices from the former Yugoslavia come together through their insistence on spaces of articulation of multiple and alternative views of nationality, memory, trauma and history.

Phase: first phase

E-mail: milicatrakilovic@gmail.com

Masoud Vaezghasemi,
Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS), Umeå University.
Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health unit, Umeå University.
Umeå Center for Global Health Research, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Keywords: Dual burden of malnutrition, gender, social capital, low- to middle-income countries

Thesis title: The emergence of dual burden of malnutrition in Indonesia: the effect of gender and social capital

As the gross national product (GNP) of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) increases, the overweight burden shifts to the populations with a low socio-economic status (SES), among whom the underweight burden still remains high [1]. The coexistence of both overweight and underweight individuals in the same household, referred to as the ‘‘dual burden of malnutrition’’, is a growing nutritional dilemma in LMICs. This dilemma is most prevalent in countries experiencing the chronic disease phase of the nutrition transition because of rapid social, economic, and technological changes.
In many parts of Indonesia, women play a critical role in their households, especially in the management of household finances. Although the common perception is that female-headed households are primarily poor and subordinated and encounter numerous social and political discriminations, many of the women generate income through formal employment or informal activities. Therefore, such a culturally, socially, and geographically diverse context provides a unique opportunity to investigate gender and possible inequalities and inequities involved in expanding or diminishing the dual burden of malnutrition in the same households.
The main objectives of this study are (i) to explore the extent of the dual burden of malnutrition in Indonesia across different provinces, (ii) to determine how gender, community social capital, place of residency and other socio-economic factors affect the dual burden of malnutrition, and (iii) how gender relations in male-headed households can influence malnutrition within households.

Phase: Mid-phase

E-mail: masoud.vaezghasemi@umu.se

Satu Venäläinen,
Doctoral program for Gender, Culture, and Society, University of Helsinki, Finland
Keywords: women, violence, affects, subjecthood, agency

Working Title of PhD Thesis: Women as perpetrators of violence – meanings of gender and violence in accounts of women in prison and in tabloids

Short Description of Thesis: My article-based PhD study focuses on ways in which violence committed by women is made sense of both in tabloids and in narratives by women serving a prison sentence. In my analyses of portrayals of women who have committed violence in tabloids, I have examined the discursive construction of relations between gender categories and violence in unison with the construction of a cultural-societal context that entails entanglements of apparent gender equality and neutrality with highly gendered sensationalism attached to women’s violence. In my analyses of narratives by women serving a prison sentence for violent crimes, I look at the ways in which these women make their violence meaningful and construct themselves in relation to it. I am particularly interested in ways in which the participants negotiate gendered identities and the potential trouble linked to them. I approach these questions with an analytical interest in agency, affects and gendered subject formation, drawing on poststructuralist gender theory, critical discursive psychology and social-psychological theoretizations of affects.

Phase: more than halfway, planning to finish in spring 2017

E-mail: satu.venalainen@helsinki.fi

Anna Young,
Centre for Gender Research, University of Oslo
Keywords: Literature, gender, violence, childhood

Working title: Bad Seeds: Children, Gender, and Violence in the British and American Novel, 1954-2003

Description: My PhD project will examine the role of gender in five post-war British and American novels featuring child protagonists who commit acts of violence: William Golding's Lord of the Flies (1954), William March's The Bad Seed (1954), Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962), Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory (1984) and Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003). The aim of the project is to analyse how gender affects the way in which the child protagonists view themselves and their actions, and how conforming to or subverting gender expectations is shown to affect the way both the reader and the society within the novels respond to their crimes. I will argue that these narratives are evidence of anxiety related to gender roles and sexuality in Britain and America in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Central questions will be how violence is portrayed as a gendered act, to what extent the protagonists confirm stereotypes of 'feminine' and 'masculine' violence, and how changes in family structures and gender roles are portrayed as triggering factors. In order to explore these topics, the project will employ a combination of narrative theory, gender theory, psychoanalytic theory, and theories about the ethics of literature.

Phase: Early stage (first year).

E-mail: anna.young@stk.uio.no

COMPLETED PH D

Inês Carvalho,
University of Aveiro (Portugal)
Keywords: women top managers, gendering processes, tourism, Portugal

Working title: Reaching the top under gendered conditions? The case of women in the Portuguese tourism sector

Thesis description: This research aims to analyse to what extent gendering processes explain women’s careers in the tourism sector in Portugal, and how women reach top positions in this context. The subsectors analysed were hotel establishments, travel agencies and tour operators.
It is a mixed methods research study which includes both the quantitative analysis of official personnel databases, and the qualitative analysis of interviews with women in leadership positions in the tourism sector (hotels and travel agencies). This study is influenced by a feminist perspective, since it aims to produce ‘situated knowledge’ about women and their experiences, which can both raise awareness about persisting gender inequalities and inspire political action. 

In the quantitative study it is concluded that despite there being more women working in the tourism sector,  men prevail in top positions and earn higher salaries. The gender pay gap seems to increase with education. There is evidence that the sector is far from being gender equal.
In the qualitative study the experience of women top managers is the focus of analysis. It was decided to achieve a sample of interviewees that reflects the heterogeneity of tourism businesses. Therefore, the sample included women managers in small-, medium- and large-sized businesses, as well as women who are employees and employers/ entrepreneurs. Some women are mothers while others are childless.
This investigation is not finished yet, but one of its conclusions is that the tourism sector has some characteristics that suggest that it may be more women-friendly than other more male-dominated sectors. However, there is also evidence that tourism still reinforces gendered patterns of employment.

Phase: Last phase

E-mail: inescarvalho@ua.pt

Magdalena Górska,
Unit of Gender Studies, Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping University
Keywords: feminist material-semiotics, corpomaterial agentiality, affect, posthumanities

Working title: Breathing Matters: Feminist Material-Semiotic Politics

Thesis description: The PhD. project engages with breathing as a divers, transformative and processual phenomenon that challenges anthropocentric understanding of human, politics and ethics while enabling asking anthropo-situated questions in a posthumanist manner. Project’s breathing aspirations are embedded in – and further developing - feminist material-semiotic onto-epistemologies (Karen Barad) and take as point of departure intra-active constitutiveness of nature & culture, materiality & discursivity, inside & outside, organic & inorganic, human & in/nonhuman. In its particular engagements with multiple materializations of breathing (such as coal miner’s “dusty lungs”, phone sex worker’s voice, anxiety and panic attacks), the project proposes further development of embodied understanding of knowledge, material-semiotic conceptualization of intersectional power relations and material politics of vulnerability, resistance and failure. 

Phase: Last phase

E-mails: magdalena.gorska@liu.se, m.gorska@email.cz

Line Henriksen,
PhD student at Tema Genus, Linköping University
key words: Hauntology, monster theory, spectrality, digital media

Working title of PhD project: A Science of Ghosts – Digital Monsters, Hauntology, Ethics

Project description:
In my PhD project, I engage with internet speculative lore, not least so-called ‘creepypasta’, as well as Derrida’s concept of ‘hauntology’. I argue that by reading the two together, it might be possible to magnify the ethical aspects of hauntology and monster theory alike, as well as ground hauntology within an everyday setting of digital communication.

Phase: Final year

E-mail: Line.henriksen@liu.se

Marie-Louise Holm,
Unit of Gender Studies, Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping University , Sweden.
Keywords: Somatechnics, intersex, trans, bioethics

Fleshing out the self - Medical and Experiential Perspectives Modifications of Gendersexed Bodies

My transdisciplinary PhD project deals with different accounts of intersexed and trans persons’ experiences in relation to having, rejecting, or being denied to have gendersexed body modifications by means of the technologies of surgery and sex hormone treatment within medical contexts. A historical analysis of an original Danish historical source material found at archives and libraries consisting of medical and legal case files including autobiographical material and medical research publications from the 1910s to the 1970s is used as the point of departure for an exploration and reimagining of historical and future life stories which break with conventional Western notions of subjectivity and dominant chronopolitics. In the thesis text, I experiment with enabling an articulation and communication of different subjectivities which in specific contexts have been considered to be queer or in-between – although the subjects themselves have not necessarily identified as this – and as crossing the boundaries of established gender/sex categories. This is done through the performance of a series of transversal dialogues in which a cacophony of voices articulate historically specific experiences and views of among others psychiatrists and doctors, and transgendered and/or intersexed individuals and their partners, relatives, friends, and colleagues. The dialogues aim at contributing to the development of a postmodern bioethics that could form the basis for making decisions about body modifications which would be sensitive to the diversity among persons positioned as patients and which would make room for a multitude of possible ways to become a bodyself through a human life span.
History of body modifications, intersex and trans, possible life courses, postmodern bioethics

Phase: last phase

E-mail: marie-louise.holm@liu.se

Desireé Ljungcrantz,
PhD student at Tema Genus, Linköping University
key words: HIV, queer phenomenology, emotions, health-normativity

Becoming HIV-positive: emotions, embodiments and spaces. Experiences of and cultural imaginaries on HIV in a contemporary Swedish context.  (work-in-progress-title)

The thesis explores the making of meaning, the nuances, dimensions and experiences in narratives on having HIV in contemporary Sweden. It centres around questions about the distinctiveness of HIV narratives and asks which narratives that are (made) possible, and which ones are (made) impossible? What types of relations are there between narratives and norms? What narratives of resistance are made visible? The found meaning making exposes a queer potential beyond health- and heteronormatives. Based on thre different types of materials, 1) interviews of people with HIV and 2) autobiographies on living with HIV, 3) media debates on HIV, the thesis is about traces of negated experiences of living with HIV and finds both positive and negative ones. This is made visible by utilizing two types of queer methodologies and close readings of the texts: one phenomenological and one intersectional. Using a queer-phenomenological close reading of the material, the thesis traces negated experiences and disorientation through emotions of shame and melancholia. Using a queer-intersectional close reading of the material reveals experiences and emotions with more positive connotations, such as pride.
The thesis also finds queer potential in the gaps between the negative and positive emotions. In these gaps, and by using the concepts of queer time, heteronormativity and healthnormativity, the article traces and finds queer potential, expressed as a critique of the nuclear family. The queer potential of the narratives points to the ways companionships and intimacies other than the heteronormative can be built.
The thesis concludes that living with HIV in Sweden today is a complex position consisting of negotiations with negative imaginaries on HIV, heteronormative and healthnormative ways of viewing a “liveable life”, and being an acceptable person.

Phase: Mid/last phase of my PhD

E-mail: desiree.ljungcrantz@liu.se

Tara Mehrabi,
Tema Genus, Linköping University
key words: Alzheimer's disease, feminist technoscience, laboratory life, killability

Imaging death: A feminist laboratory study of Alzheimer’s disease

In my project, I ask what is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?  How do scientists, within the realm of life sciences, approach, understand, perform and construct AD as multiple yet in relation to one another? What forms of AD embodiments, subject positionings and agential materialities emerge out of the everyday laboratory life? How do peculiar bodies of animal models displace and re-negotiate not only the permeable boundaries of what we regard as human, animal and technology but also what is enacted as (non)killable? The project is an interdisciplinary project that draws on new materialisms, feminist technoscience studies, human and animal studies, and STS. I explore my ideas within the context of AD biochemistry. In order to collect my material for the study I did six month of participatory observation in a biochemistry laboratory in Sweden. I also conducted several interviews with scientists in the lab.

Phase: last year PhD student

E-mail: tara.mehrabi@liu.se

Stina Powell,
Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University
key words: Gender equality, Academic institutions, gender & organizational theory, change processes

Title: Openings and closures: Introducing feminist perspectives in a natural science university

 My doctoral thesis takes its starting point in a gender equality project that SLU hosted 2010-2012. My aim is to grasp complexities change processes; of engagement and resistance and how it is situated in different practices coloured by history, organisational cultures and norms related to knowledge production and academic organising. It is a thesis about change efforts within an academic organisation, about how gendered relationships matter while we discuss and work with inequalities. Along this way of thinking, the gender equality project at SLU, regardless of the outcomes of the actual activities, changed gendered relations. The project could have had positive implications for the ones discriminated against, but it could also act as reproducing the discriminatory patterns by constructing (for example) women as systematically devalued. My publications focus on resistance and change, on the ethics of political correctness and on critical perspectives on gender equalities.

Phase: Last-phase

E-mails: Stina.Powell@slu.se; stina.powell@gender.uu.se

Marietta Radomska,
Department of Thematic Studies (unit: Gender Studies), Linköping University
Keywords: bioart, biophilosophy, life, feminist posthumanism

Thesis title: Uncontainable Life: A Biophilosophy of Bioart

Thesis description:
My PhD research project investigates the ways in which thinking with and through the contemporary hybrid artistico-scientific practices framed as bioart is a biophilosophical practice that contributes to our understanding of life. When examined from a feminist posthumanist perspective, bioartistic projects draw attention to the problematic and inadequate character of asking about life’s essence. Instead of examining the defining criteria of life, bioartistic practices and procedures explore, enact and point to life as relational and always already uncontainable, in this way surpassing the set material and conceptual boundaries.
This means that my dissertation primarily concentrates on the ontological aspects of the question of life as they are enacted through the discussed selection of bioartworks. As such, this ontological focus may enable further conceptualisations of ethico-political consequences as well as of human/nonhuman relationships, while breaking through an anthropocentric logic dominant within the field of the humanities and social sciences.

Phase: Last phase

E-mail: marietta.radomska@liu.se

Helga Sadowski,
PhD student at Tema Genus, Linköping University
key words: feminist cultural studies, new media, digital intimacies, internet everyday use

Helga Sadowski has a background in literary, cultural and media studies and holds a master degree in Comparative Women´s Studies in Culture and Politics. Today, she is a PhD Candidate atTema Genus, a unit for interdisciplinary gender research and education at Linköping University, Sweden.
Her dissertation project is located in the field of feminist cultural studies of new media and has the working title Digital Intimacies. Doing New Media Differently. Here, she is analyzing different fields of internet everyday use: political online activism and its bodypolitics, material-digital border crossings in a particular Youtube subculture ( called ASMR) and questions of embodiment in women´s programming courses - case studies which question strict divisions of online/offline, material/digital or nature/culture and foreground the intimacy of our engagements with the digital.

Phase: Last phase of my PhD

E-mail: helga.sadowski@liu.se

Marianna Szczygielska,
Department of Gender Studies, Central European University, Hungary
Keywords: animals, zoo, sexuality, queer ecologies

Working Title of PhD Thesis: Queer(ing) Naturecultures. The Study of Zoo Animals

Short Description of Thesis: My PhD project aims at exploring how the concept of "Nature" is constructed in relation to sexuality and gender expression. More specifically I analyse both popular and scientific discourses on same-sex sexual behaviour amongst nonhuman animals in zoological gardens. I am interested in the process by which the zoo becomes a site equipped with a set of "technologies," that through discourses on nature and animals, shape identities and politics. I go as far back as to the nineteenth century, when the zoo underwent transformation from a private menagerie to the modern enterprise of a public zoological garden, which involved scientific, economic and political goals. I look closely at evolutionary discourses emerging at that time. Following Foucault, I argue that sexuality plays a central role in scientific truth-making. With my research I show that nonhuman animals are crucial in negotiating the boundaries of humanness and that this process necessarily happens through the mapping of sexual, gendered, racial, and classed subjectivities. At the same time I investigate the practices of environmental protection at the zoo and the role of reproductive biotechnologies in nature conservation. Through my project I aim to reveal that we have always inhabited an interspecies world, where “nature” is never a politically innocent category, and to analyse the specific implications for current thinking about the sources of social inequalities.

Phase: final

E-mail: szczygielska_marianna@phd.ceu.edu

Ingrid Rusnes,
Department of Media, Culture and Social Sciences, University of Stavanger
Keywords: sociology, work life, gender, social class

Working Title of PhD Thesis: The meaning of work: influenced by gender and social class?

Short Description of Thesis: In my project, I aim to understand how gender and social class influence people’s experiences of the absolute and relative meaning of work.

How do social class and gender influence our experiences of work as meaningful? How do gender norms affect our expectations and experiences of work? How do norms connected to work life interact with norms connected to parenthood? Are these norms dependent on our positions or class-affiliations?

Different occupations and positions leads to heterogeneous work lives, depending on where in the labour market we are positioned. Factors such as working time arrangements, status, income or autonomy can be seen as framing our possibilities to experience work as meaningful. We know that these factors often interrelate with gender and social class. How do they contribute to shape our experiences of work as meaningful?

One of the main questions for my project will be how meaningful work life is perceived compared to other life spheres, such as family or leisure, and how gender and class influence these experiences.

In order to study these topics I will select three cases. It will be three different organisations (both private and public), representing different areas of work life, differing in their gender balance, and with a range of different occupations employed (representing different class positions). I plan to use both qualitative interviews and a mini-survey (conducted in the selected organisations).

Phase: first

E-mail: ingrid.rusnes@uis.no