Course Syllabus


Gender, Equality, and Sexuality in Scandinavia

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2023 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Uppsala & Berlin

Major Disciplines:

Gender Studies, Sociology, Anthropology


Iwo Nord (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Program Director:

Helle Rytkønen, 

Academic Support: 

Time & Place:

Mondays & Thursdays, 08:30-09:50 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. Moreover, what does patterns of in/equality look like from an intersectional perspective?

This course explores how concepts of gender, bodies, sexuality, race and migration 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 Objectives 

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, migration, 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).


Contact info

Iwo Nord

Pronouns: he him his (or they them theirs)

In Swedish: han honom hans (or hen hen hens)

Cell: +46769170781


Guest Lecturers

Together with Emma Raask we will learn, talk about and explore different aspects of sex education. The seminar will include both historical and contemporary perspectives. Our focus will be Sweden, but you are welcome to have your own experiences (or absence) of sex ed as a reference frame. 
Emma Raask holds a M.A. in Cultural Studies from Goldsmith’s University of London, where she studied bodies, plasticity, plastic & queerness. She has previously worked as a sexual educator with sexual politics, education & sexual violence & is teaching the semester course Sex Education and Sexual Reform in Europe at DIS since 2020.

Christine Bylund disability rights activist and Gender Studies researcher, will speak about the disability rights movement in Sweden. 


Field Studies & Workshops

A travel along the red metro line to Fittja in Botkyrka municipality & a guided tour at Botkyrka Art Gallery: On our first day we explore how Botkyrka Art Gallery tackles the complexity of segregation, culture, ethnicity, race, and intercultural approaches in the municipality of Botkyrka. Botkyrka has one of the highest percentages of first and second generation immigrants in Sweden. This makes the municipality a multi-cultural community and a multi-ethnic suburban area. It is also one of the most segregated urban areas in the Stockholm metropolitan region. Botkyrka municipality is known for it's active work with interculturality (relations that exist between culturally diverse individuals or groups). 

Visit (along the blue metro line) to Yalla Rinkeby: Many non-EU immigrants in particular face challenges when it comes to entering the Swedish labour market. Women are often in an even a more precarious situation than men. Yalla Rinkeby is a work integration social enterprise and women’s cooperative that is run by a non-profit association. The aim of Yalla Rinkeby is to create jobs and increased financial independence for immigrant women who are far from the Swedish labor market.  


2-day Workshop with Photographer Lærke Posselt

Technologies of Gender in Photography: Gender is created in images that we see around us every day. How does gender shape photography and how does photography shape gender? Angle, body language, pose, gesture, posture, light, focus, environment, distance, whether the person is smiling or not, if it is several in the picture – what roles you give them, clothes, shoes, hair, makeup and props. What looks “right”? What happens if you do it “wrong”? How can we work with gender identity and expression in photography? What is written on the body? 

Together with photographer Lærke Posselt & the teacher of the course (Iwo Nord) you will learn about and explore how gender is constructed in photography through a range of different techniques. After an introductory workshop your assignment will be to create 5-10 photos where you work with gender and yourself as a canvas in a conscious way. We will have an exhibition at DIS where we display the photos you have made together with a short artist statement. 

Lærke Posselt (b. 1984) is a photographer based in Copenhagen, Denmark, working in documentary and art photography. She graduated from Fatamorgana, The Danish School of Art Photography in 2004 and from The Danish School of Media and Journalism, DMJX, in 2013. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International and the Danish Crown Prince Couple’s Rising Star Award. Her work has been exhibited widely and published in New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsweek, GEO, Stern, Der Spiegel, Le Monde among others.


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

Irina Schmitt (2022) Transgressing purity: Intersectional negotiations of gender identity in Swedish schools,  Journal of LGBT Youth, 1-18 

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


Approach to Teaching

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. 

Names and Pronouns: Students should be referred to by the name they prefer by the teacher of this course and other students. As a teacher, I will gladly honor your request to address you by the name you prefer and the gender pronouns that correspond to your gender identity. We will introduce ourselves to each other with names and pronouns when we meet the first day of class. 

Disability Access: If you need accommodations related to disability, please let me know as soon as possible so that your learning needs can be appropriately met.


Expectations of the Students  

Assigned readings must be done prior to class to encourage active engagement and informed participation. I want to see your participation, understanding, and engagement with the material during our discussions.

Computers can be used in class, but please keep phones in your bag. You are encouraged to take notes (because you won’t remember everything), but the how and where is up to you to decide. Please be aware that failure to comply with these expectations will negatively affect your participation grade.


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.

Areas for assessment

  • Handling of course material 
  • Scholarly argumentation and analytical abilities 
  • Command of relevant terminology 


A - Excellent. The assignment is notably elucidative, knowledgeable, inventive and critical. 

B - Well above average. The assignment is sound, well-reasoned and independent.

C - Average. The assignment is competently understood with good individual reasoning. 

D - Below average but passing. The assignment shows adequate understanding and treatment of course contents. 

F - Failure or failure to complete

I = Incomplete - to be completed (only issued in place of final course grade if an agreement exists for completion by a definite deadline which is approved by the instructor and the DIS registrar)






Please see course calendar

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.


Presentation / discussion leading


30 minute presentation / discussion leading, during one of the sessions marked with a rainbow: 🌈


Photography Workshop Assignment



5-10 photos where you work with gender in a conscious way. We will have an exhibition at DIS where we display the photos you have made together with a short artist statement. Additionally, you will write a one page reflection text.


Study Tour Group Reflection Presentation


Students will participate in a Group Reflection Presentation on an aspect of our Study Tour.




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.


Academic Reflection Paper


Academic reflection paper on a chosen topic.




Further information about assignments will be presented in class.



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 -


                                     Please note that the schedule and its content is subject to change

Course Summary:

Date Details Due