- Side: 1-5
- Publisert på Idunn: 2006-12-20
You are now holding the first issue of NORMA in your hand. Through a joint effort of the masculinity studies community in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden this new Nordic Journal for Masculinity Studies is finally launched after years of scholarly discussions, activism, and cooperation within the field of critical studies of men and masculinities and gender equality. Different venues in the Nordic countries as well as outside have hosted conferences and workshops in cooperation with NIKK – Nordic Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, ideas and people have travelled back and forth over national borders and slowly the thought of a journal has progressed as the field has grown. NIKK is the owner of the journal until the end of 2008. However, collectives are made up of individuals. In this case a number of prominent intellectuals have contributed, more than others, with their academic craft and insight. They are in alphabetical order; Susanne Andersson, Ingólfur V. Gísla-son, Johanna Lammi-Taskula, Marie Nordberg, NielsUlrik Sørensen, David Tjeder, Jan Wickman, Ann-Catrin Östman, and last but certainly not least, my fellow editorial colleague Knut Oftung who in his former position as coordinator at NIKK has been the driving force behind this project. Heartfelt thanks to all of you for making NORMA possible. The journal publishes articles primarily in the Scandinavian languages, as well as in English, and as such complements the other joint Nordic journal within gender research, NORA, which publishes exclusively in English.
The collective endeavour that have made this possible is something that, I believe, in many ways characterises Nordic cooperation and could in itself be seen as a specific product of a geopolitical location, welfare state societies, state feminisms, a history of a weak breadwinner models
in the Nordic countries, etcetera. A certain regional flavour will naturally follow from our location in the world and the specific history of the Nordic countries. In terms of gender research and equality, one might characterise that location as a centrally located periphery with continuing significance on strong welfare states and ideologies of equality. Without neglecting the sometimes huge differences between the Nordic countries, I do believe that this particularity is carrying important insights and lessons cutting across both the Nordic countries but hopefully also other places and locations. What this situatedness might imply and implies is an academic challenge to be faced in the future of this journal, but a few preliminary remarks will be made.
First, note that the articles of this first issue are in many ways carrying such a branded particularity of coming from a centrally located periphery. In the opening article, Claes Ekenstam shows how the concept of unmanliness (Sw. omanlighet) has been central to many researchers in the Nordic countries due to a history of masculinity less impregnated by sexual conquerism but rather cultural tenets like courage and physical strength. He develops the argument in full by drawing on the work of the historian Jonas Liliequist and others, with an explicit criticism of the universalistic tensions in a concept like hegemonic masculinity. In the following article by Charlotte Holgersson, she delves into the genealogy of homosociality and problematises the concept in regard to heteronormativity, ethnicity, and class. In doing so, she shows how this concept that has been widely used and discussed in a Nordic context around masculine homosociality, also can open up for new intersections. With a point of departure in empirical work from a Nordic situation she manages to convince the reader that the concept also can operate in wider contextual analyses of gendered power relations. In the next piece in this first issue, Bente Marianne Olsen and Helene Aarseth argue that new emerging family patterns in relation to food and cooking among middle class couples, opens up for change and a more gender equal organization of family life. Illustrated by interviews with couples in Norway and Denmark, Olsen and Aarseth show how the masculine identification with food promises profound changes in the gendered division of work in families. In the fourth article, Jeff Hearn and Hertta Niemi look at the politics of gender, men’s gender consciousness and organising in Finland. Working from a comparative perspective they conclude that there is no clearly identifiable men’s movement in Finland although there are collective attempts and collective actions but no social movement on a larger scale. Of special interest is also how they clearly show that: “A defining feature of ‘Nordic’ organising seems to be that many or most of the organisations have something to do with the state,
if not in any other sense than in terms of registration of organisations and the level of funding support” (77). In the last article of this first issue of NORMA, Ingólfur Ásgeir Jóhannesson, discusses from an Icelandic position, what he believes is a truly misleading discourse about the need for boys to have male teachers and male role models. Not least since it denigrates the contribution of female teachers in Icelandic schools. Jóhannesson forcefully argues for an engagement with the ideas behind masculinity and femininity and proposes a caring pedagogy for both men and women teachers. In sum, the five articles are characteristic for the wide span of research interests in the Nordic masculinity studies community, but also as, I claim, being characteristic for a centrally located periphery.
Being a centrally located periphery consequently implies a number of different things, but what I have uppermost in mind is a continuous Anglophone theoretical influence that is being transformed in the context of living and sharing experiences from the Nordic welfare societies and high degrees of institutionalised feminist projects. For instance, the state feminist project in Sweden is, as in many other Nordic countries, a project where 40 years of gender activism has moved into and been institutionalised in agencies ranging from equal opportunity commissions and councils to departments and ministries for women and gender related questions. Although the Equality Ombudsman (JÄMO) in Sweden might represent the state’s version of feminism rather than a truly feminist state as some writers claim (Elman 1995), I would still argue that this situatedness produces specific experiences with many consequences; one of these is how gender studies has been institutionalised. For example, Jeff Hearn has recently been appointed to the first (to my knowledge) chair in critical studies of men and masculinities at Linköping University. Jeff is a world leading scholar and moreover, a British man living in Finland and working in Sweden. Indeed a nomadic gender studies person, and this is something he shares with many others in this dynamic epistemic community characterised by mobility and transition. The double twist of being peripheral and central at the same time is mirrored in various ways. The mixed language policy of this journal being one such concrete aspect, but maybe what is more important in the long run is what comes in does not necessarily come out in the same way.
Knowledge production in a centrally located periphery implies an “in-between” position, not strictly dependent on the centre since the centre is also housed in the periphery as it is in the nomadic gender studies community, but a specific quality of knowing and being as the Serbian feminist Marina Blagojevic (2006, 1ff) would have it.
According to her, we live a multiplicity of intersectionalities, in the periphery and create certain ways of knowing, being in-between core and periphery in parallel. Here we might differentiate between “contextual knowledge, which is the knowledge created within a certain context, and contextualized knowledge which is a knowledge created about the context through a complex process of external and internal flows of ideas, theories, and concept” (Blagojevic 2006, 4). This sort of knowledge production comes about through acceptance and rejection but mainly through processes of translation and adaptation. In this journal we will promote both contextual and contextualised knowledge since we believe it is important to recognise the knowledge that is being produced within the Nordic context as well as initiating reflexive knowledge making processes about location, particularity, and specificities in regard to the Nordic context in an academic community of scientific nomadism. The nomadic subject is subsequently, as the feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti (1994) claims, a situated subject of gender and colour who speaks across. Not to say that we are ‘of colour’ but still.
The idea of cutting and speaking across from a situated location is consequently of great importance to this journal. Not least, intersecting with other branches of the gender studies family is crucial. To have a decent conversation among the three siblings of feminist, queer, and masculinity studies is not only stimulating but also intellectually required in order to further theoretical development and contribute to important policy making discussions in masculinity studies.
Speaking in terms of a family metaphor, we may not be a family in an ordinary nucleus sense but rather an extended one. Although some may find the metaphor of a family suffocating so to speak, I would anyway like to think of gender studies in terms of familism and affinity. Families can be both heaven and hell, an emotional prison of abuse and guilt or a haven of emotional comfort and trust. Families have a common origin and most often a common agenda, although maybe loosely coupled but still an agenda originating in a common past and in one way or another a common destiny. Family ties connect people for good or bad. The metaphorical mother or for that matter also quite literally the practically caring mother, would definitely be early women’s studies as Ekenstam also shows in his article, but where the father was or is, is a bit more diffuse. He has in allegorical terms, as has also been shown in studies of fatherhood over time (Kimmel 1996, Johansson 2004), often been in the indeterminate state between absence and presence. In this family, feminism is undoubtedly the big sister and masculinity studies a little brother looking up to the elder sister, and the transing sister or brother is the queer one.
A common agenda and history, that both engages and evoke feelings of unbounded and liberating gender policies as well as utterly conservative contempt, is something that belongs to a common past that also to a certain extent defines a common future. Our past and our future woven together is according to me defined in terms of an emancipatory undertaking and epistemological pilgrimage towards a social science and humanities where gender is an axiomatic category for understanding societal change and stability, and generally a Science where the emancipatory objective would be to empty the category of gender, as well as other seminal social categories such as race, of their normative power. Also belonging to such a common agenda is a belief in the possibility for change in the sense that we through high-lightning and focusing by means of our engagement in research communities, scholarly practises and not least through empirical and theoretical work can twist gazes and see that femininity and masculinity are multiple and changing social categories. Neither are the biological differences between men and women a legitimate ground for inequality between the sexes. Such are, the different emancipatory points of departure in an agenda that creates a sense of affinity and familism. This journal is part of that project.
Blagojevic, Marina (2006) “Nomadic Scientist in a Transnational Landscape: Social, Institutional, Epistemic and Personal Consequences”, Paper presented at the conference “Intersectionality, Identity and Power – Interdisciplinary Perspectivess on Intersectionality Studies, 11.10.2006–12.10.2006, Vadstena, Sweden.
Braidotti, Rosi (1994) Nomadic Subjects. Embodiment and sexual difference in contemporary feminist theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Elman, Amy R. (1995) “The State’s Equality for Women: Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman”, in McBride Stetson, D and Mazur Amy G. (eds.) (1995) Comparative State Feminism, London: Sage Publ. pp. 237–254.
Johansson, Thomas (2004) Faderskapets omvandlingar (The Transformation of Fatherhood), Göteborg: Daidalos.
Kimmel, Michael (1996) Manhood in America: a cultural history, New York: Free Press.