Course Syllabus


Gender, Equality, and Sexuality in Scandinavia

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2021 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:


Major Disciplines:

Gender Studies, Sociology, Anthropology


Iwo Nord,

Program Director:

Tina Mangieri, 

Academic Support: 

Time & Place:

Mondays & Thursdays, 14:50-16:10 in Room 1E-509

Course Description

Sweden is known as one of the most gender equal countries in the world and is well-known for its progressive culture supported by forward-thinking laws and legislation. Legalized prostitution (but illegal to purchase sexual services), paid leave for all parents, very strong representation of women in leadership positions, progressive sex education, and almost equal rights for gay people are among the hallmarks of all Scandinavian societies. However, Sweden also has one of the most gender-divided workplaces in the Western world and gender equal policies do not automatically lead to gender equal behaviors.

This course explores how concepts of gender, bodies, sexuality, and race intersect in current debates about changing family structures, children’s rights, and new ethical dilemmas in Scandinavia. We explore recent initiatives discussed in Swedish media and worldwide, including a gender-neutral approach to raising children, recognition of the gender-neutral pronoun “hen” in the Swedish dictionary, Sweden’s first LGBTQ-certified pool, and implementation of a norm-critical approach to teaching and learning. We follow public debates on various burning issues and compare and reflect on the differences observed between the United States, Sweden, and Scandinavia, as well as question norms and "traditional" ways of thinking about gender, equality, and sexuality.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester, you will be able to:

  • Employ methodologies from critical gender and sexuality studies to analyze the assumptions about gender and sexuality, which inform studies about us as individuals, societies, and cultures.
  • Focusing on Scandinavia and the US, examine how societies’ construction of gender and sexuality intersects with ethnicity, race, class, age, dis/ability, among others.
  • Be familiar with the most “burning issues” in Scandinavian debates about gender, equality, and sexuality.


Iwo Nord is a trans researcher and educator interested in transgender and queer lives and culture, nuances of agency and power, intersections of the transnational and the local, and questions concerning mobility (travel and migration). The past years he has been committed to building and strengthening Transgender Studies in both the Nordic region and in the former Yugoslav space. Devoted to social change for trans people, he is involved in trans academic and activist alliances, resulting in the forthcoming collaborative volume In Transition: Trans Lives, Activisms, and Culture in the Post-Yugoslav Space, edited by Bojan Bilić, Iwo Nord and Aleksa Milanović. He was one of the founding members of Trans Fest Stockholm, an activist collective that strives to create inclusive and empowering cultural and community events in the Swedish capital. Iwo is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies at Södertörn University, and is affiliated with the Center for Baltic and East European Studies. His doctoral project ethnographically explores Belgrade as a transnational destination for gender-affirming surgery. He holds an MA from the University of Oslo, Norway, and has formerly taught at the Institute of Scandinavian and Finnish Studies at the University of Gdansk, Poland. Iwo’s publications include “Routes to Gender-Affirming Surgery: Navigation and Negotiation in Times of Biomedicalization” in Body, Migration, Re/constructive Surgeries: Making the Gendered Body in a Globalized World, edited by Gabriele Griffin and Malin Jordal (Routledge 2018).  

Guest Lecturers (to be confirmed)

  • Anne Bachmann, PhD, researcher and lecturer in film and media studies, will present on Sexual and Queer Content in Swedish Cinema.
  • Christine Bylund, disability rights activist and PhD student, will speak about the disability rights movement in Sweden.

Field Studies

  • Sex Education in Sweden (to be confirmed): A workshop with RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education), a non-profit organization that works for, and with, an open, positive view of sex and relationship issues. 
  • Fotografiska (photographic museum): We visit Fotografiska to to see Wang Chen's The Sin Park, an exhibition exploring issues like power structures and politics, imbalances of gender and sexuality, and the (im)possibility of a utopia. 

Selected Readings

Steven Seidman (2011) "Theoretical Perspectives," in Introducing the New Sexualities Studies, 2nd Edition

Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Emma A. Bäck & Anna Lindqvist (2015) Introducing a gender-neutral pronoun in a natural gender language: the influence of time on attitudes and behavior, Frontiers in Psychology 6, 893

Eva-Maria Svensson & Asa Gunnarsson (2012) Gender Equality in the Swedish Welfare State, Feminists@Law, Vol 2, No 1

Maja Sager & Diana Mulinari (2018) Safety for Whom? Exploring Femonationalism & Care-Racism in Sweden, Women's Studies International Forum 68, 149-156

Siim, Birte (2015) "Migration, Multiculturalism and Gender – a Nordic Perspective," in Peter Kivisto & Peter Kraus (Eds.) Challenging Power: Equality, Culture and Minorities

Jay Levy & Pye Jakobsson (2014) Sweden’s abolitionist discourse and law: Effects on the dynamics of Swedish sex work and on the lives of Sweden’s sex workers, Criminology and Criminal Justice 

Constance Penley, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Mireille Miller-Young and Tristan Taormino (2013) "Introduction: The Politics of Producing Pleasure," in The Feminist Porn Book: the politics of producing pleasure, the Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 9-22

Kristin Shutts, Ben Kenward, Helena Falk, Anna Ivegran, and Christine Fawcett (2017) Early preschool environments and gender: Effects of gender pedagogy in Sweden, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 162: 1-17

Anna Odrowąż-Coates (2015) Is gender neutrality a post-human phenomenon? The concept of 'gender neutral' in Swedish education, Journal of Gender and Power, Vol. 3 , No.1, 113-133

Janne Bromseth & Renita Sörensdotter (2013), "Norm-critical Pedagogy" in Gender Studies, Education and Pedagogy, Anna Lundberg & Ann Werner (Eds.), Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research: Gothenburg, 24-31

Assignments and Evaluation





Participation & Discussion Leading


Includes attendance & in-class, field/study tour participation: engaged listening, speaking up in productive ways, participating actively in the learning activities, small group discussions, &/or group work.

You will also lead two discussion sessions during the semester.

Throughout the course

Travel Journal & Study Tour Presentation


Keep an individual Travel Journal with notes, pictures, thoughts, & reflections during our tours.

You are welcome to use different styles of media for the Travel Journal, including photo collage, drawings, web page, or other creative platforms. Journals will be handed in for assessment & we will also have our Study Tour Reflection Presentations in class.

 29 April 



Identify & present a concept, problem, or issue you have come across during the course so far, in the format of a poster where the visual presentation as well as the written, theoretical outline carries equal weight. Further instructions will be provided.

 4 March 



Two 4-page personal reflections, where you respond to a class activity (reading, guest lecture, field trip) or issue. You can also use film, audio/visual montage, zine, or something else, but creative projects must be accompanied by a 2-page written reflection.

9 May  



Further information about assignments will be presented in class.



Course Spirit and Policies

Mutual learning atmosphere: The course is based on a student-centered approach with a strong emphasis on class discussions. My role as instructor is to facilitate the course and learning process, but all of us are responsible for creating the most beneficial atmosphere and environment for creation of knowledge. Different learning activities will occur during the course, such as group work, workshops, reflection tasks, field studies, film and text analysis and more. In addition to this, you will also be given the opportunity to add your own research and to get insights into the contemporary public debate.

Everyone’s opinion counts: Some of the topics covered in this course could be seen as controversial and sensitive. You should feel comfortable in expressing your personal opinions regarding issues discussed in class, and we are all responsible for creating the discussion climate where this is felt by all participants. In order to attain this, also be prepared to be open to other points of view than your own, and always express disagreement in a respectful and constructive way. See this as an opportunity to broaden your perspective by listening to other opinions. 

Laptop and phones: Attention in class is to be focused on the learning process, on class discussions and learning activities. Laptops can be used if allowed by instructor for course purposes, but please put your phones away. Consideration will of course be taken if you have special need for a computer for note taking. In this case, please provide an accommodation letter from DIS to give to the instructor.

Format and evaluation criteria: You will be evaluated in several ways. Each assignment will let you meet course objectives. All work has to be completed in order to pass the class.


We all have a collective responsibility to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at DIS. Throughout this semester, please monitor yourself carefully for symptoms of COVID-19 (dry cough, high temperature, breathing difficulties, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, loss of smell/taste). If you experience any of these symptoms, please stay home and contact the DIS emergency phone. The respondent will coordinate with Academics at DIS Stockholm, who will in turn contact your individual faculty. If you are otherwise well but isolating due to possible exposure or mild symptoms, it is your responsibility to keep up with your coursework - we will organize hybrid classes for you to join via Zoom. If you are unwell due to COVID-19 and unable to attend class or study, your absence will be excused. Your faculty will work with you to ensure you are able to make up missed course content due to illness. You are still responsible for completing any missed work.


Possible adjustments to the schedule and content 

Guest lectures and field trips might be adjusted (where, when, who)

Some changes might be made in the preparational material for some classes. 

In this "strange time", as your teacher I will strive to turn the low student number into an advantage. We will think together about how to make the most of out of the course, for example by making extra space for topics you might find especially interesting and by adapting assignments to this term's special circumstances. 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

 DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due