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Conceptions of sexual harassment are challenged in the Nordic anthology Re-Imagining Sexual Harassment – Perspectives from the Nordic Region

Foto: Johnér

Researchers and writers from across the Nordic region write about sexual harassment, violence and justice in a new anthology. The book has been produced by NIKK and the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research at the University of Gothenburg.

Searing images and new theories are presented in the anthology Re-Imagining Sexual Harassment – Perspectives from the Nordic Region which is published on April 18 by Policy Press/Bristol University Press. In the book, 19 writers contribute to a more nuanced and deeper understanding of issues such as violence in the workplace, sexual harassment in academia and the challenges and opportunities of the legal system. Academic text is alternated with literary contributions. 

‘We invited researchers in the Nordic countries who could provide new perspectives and theoretical approaches. It was also important for us with contributions from people outside academia, in order to nuance the image of knowledge about vulnerability. There are experiences and embodied knowledge of vulnerability and resistance that fiction can better access’, says Maja Lundqvist, , one of the three editors of the book.

Bringing together a broad range of research 

In the book a research field in a broad sense is brought together into four different tracks. The first discusses sexism and sexual harassment in relation to other forms of violence in society. The second concerns justice, vulnerability within the legal system and state responsibility. The third covers different aspects of Nordic gender equality and the image of the equal, ‘women-friendly’ region as an obstacle to change. The fourth theme broadens the view of ‘doing something about the problem’ beyond checklists and policies. 

‘The book provides a structural understanding of what it means to live in the Nordic region. When sexual harassment is viewed through concepts developed in power-critical research, patterns emerge of how different types of vulnerability and violence reinforce each other’, says Editor Kajsa Widegren.

Responsibility for the wider problem is needed

An important theme in the book is that sexual harassment in society is seen as deviant but at the same time is normalized. Therefore, sexual harassment must not be treated as something that simply begins and ends with individual events, according to Editor Angelica Simonsson.  

‘Responsibility needs to be more spread out. If sexual harassment is understood as isolated incidents in various workplaces, we will only be able to deal with a small part of a wider problem’, she says

In recent years, NIKK, Nordic Information on Gender, has produced and compiled Nordic knowledge and policy reviews on sexual harassment, and administered a research initiative on sexual harassment in the labour market. The Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research has produced research and policy reviews, participated in expert groups and collaborated in research projects on sexual harassment and gender-based violence in Sweden and internationally. The long-term work has highlighted the extent and complexity of the problem, which led to the idea for an anthology.

 ‘We hope that the book can be important in the discussion about sexual harassment. The Nordic region is a complex region and the book shows that the idea that some countries have come so much further, or are even finished with the work for gender equality, can stand in the way of actual change’, says Maja Lundqvist.  

Cover Re-Imagining Sexual Harassment – Perspectives from the Nordic Region

Updated 18 April 2023