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Gender research journals explore contemporary trends

The Nordic countries boast several research journals that together help push the field of gender research forward. One example is NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. The current issue of the journal looks for example at how masculinity research can help us understand Donald Trump’s success in the political arena.

Ulf Mellström, editor-in-chief and professor of gender studies at Karlstad University, leads off the current issue of NORMA with an editorial titled In the Time of Masculinist Political Revival. According to Mellström, present-day politics is characterised by a revival of traditional masculinity ideals in many parts of the world. And this trend is combined with the advancement of openly sexist and male chauvinistic agendas, with a prime example being Donald Trump in the US. Media portrays the primary supporters of the next US president as white working-class men – a group that has seen its status dwindle over the years and that is full of nostalgic dreams of a return to how things used to be back when the world supposedly was a better place. Ulf Mellström draws parallels to aggressive homophobia, anti-feminism and a reinvigorated masculinism in Russia, Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. One example is Turkey’s President Erdogan, who last summer talked about the importance of re-establishing the ‘gender order’ in his country, without any influence from ‘Western’ feminism. Ulf Mellström concludes that masculinity research plays a central role in these disturbing times. It is needed not least in order to understand, explain and resist reactionary political trends around the world.

Important with contributions from the global south

Lucas Gottzén. Photo: Niklas Björling
 Lucas Gottzén. Photo: Niklas Björling

NORMA was founded in 2006 with financial support from Nordic Information on Gender, which at that time was a Nordic research institute located at the University of Oslo. The research field called masculinity studies was relatively new and the idea with the journal was to contribute to dialogue and sharing concerning research practices in the Nordic region. Today, NORMA has a more international profile. The intention is to bring masculinity researchers around the words together in one place. According to the journal’s other editor-in-chief Lucas Gottzén, associate professor and senior lecturer in child and youth studies at Stockholm University, it is particularly important to start a dialogue with the global south.

‘If we want to understand central issues related to men and masculinities, we can’t rely solely on knowledge in a Western context,’ he says.

Lucas Gottzén believes that countries such as USA, Great Britain and Australia hold a dominant position with respect to masculinity research. Widening the perspective is not least a matter of working against colonialist views. The editors-in-chief are actively searching for other contributions to the journal. For example, the current issue features an article by Ceylonese researcher Andi Schubert, which deals with representations of political leaders in the first general election after Sri Lanka’s civil war.

‘Andi Schubert’s research shows that the candidates were portrayed as either father figures or war heroes. Although these types differ in many ways, both are based on patriarchal values characteristic of the post-war situation in the country,’ he says.

Next theme: transmasculinity

As editor-in-chief, Lucas Gottzén feels it is important to keep masculinity research from becoming an enclave disconnected from the broader field of gender research. He talks about the importance of intersectional perspectives and of creating dialogue between different fields. The theme of the upcoming issue of NORMA is transmasculinity, which is an attempt to bring trans research and masculinity research together under one roof.

‘What can trans research contribute to masculinity research and vice versa? People, including those with trans experience, “make” masculinity in many different ways, and this needs to be explored and understood,’ says Lucas Gottzén.

At present, most research journals are published in the US. According to Lucas Gottzén, the fact that NORMA is based in the Nordic region makes a difference.

‘We are acting in the semi-periphery, which gives us a special perspective. It gives us a sensitivity to cultural differences in how masculinity is made,’ he says.

Research journals with a focus on gender research in the Nordic region

NORMA (International Journal for Masculinity Studies)

NORA (Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research). A multi-disciplinary scholarly journal focusing on Nordic gender research. The journal, which is published in English, emphasises the Nordic perspective on feminist research, with respect to both content and theoretical and methodological approaches.

LAMBDA NORDICAA scholarly journal that presents research in the humanities and social sciences in relation to LGBT and queer studies. The journal, which features research from the entire Nordic region, strives to support the dialogue between established and younger scholars and to encourage new research.

Tidskrift för genusvetenskap (TGV). A Swedish journal focusing on current interdisciplinary gender research. A central ambition is to reflect the multitude of voices in the field of gender studies. It was founded in Lund in 1980 and was originally titled Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift (Journal of Women’s Studies). The journal is written in Swedish but includes English summaries.

Kvinder, Køn & Forskning (Denmark). An interdisciplinary journal with articles reflecting the diversity in Danish gender research. The journal targets a wide range of readers and not just scholars. Most articles are written by Danish researchers, yet material from other countries is published as well.

Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning (Norway). Founded in 1977 as “Nytt om kvinneforskning” and changed to its current title in 2005. The interdisciplinary journal aims to reflect the diversity in Norwegian gender research and present new knowledge from the field. The articles are mainly written by Norwegian researchers, but contributions in Swedish, Danish and English are also accepted.

Sukupuolentutkimus – Genusforskning (Finland). Published by the Association for Gender Studies in Finland. The journal is bilingual (Finnish and Swedish) and publishes primarily articles about research in Finland. It was founded in 1988 as Naistutkimus – Kvinnoforskning and changed to its current title in 2005. The editorial office rotates between different higher education institutions.

FOOTNOTE: All mentioned journals are peer reviewed.

Updated 23 October 2023