Fanny Ambjörnsson. Foto: Eva Dalin.

Fanny Ambjörnsson


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Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E7
Room E 711
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I have been working as a researcher and teacher at the Section for Gender Studies since 2001. As of 2012 I also work as director of studies for first- and second-cycle education.


Research interests: constructions of gender and sexuality among adolescent girls, LGBT youth, intersectionality and queer theory, resistance studies and cultural studies.

I completed my PhD at the Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University in 2004. My thesis, “I en klass för sig. Genus, klass och sexualitet bland gymnasietjejer” [In a class of their own: Gender, class and sexuality among high school girls] (Ordfront 2004), was about gender formation among two groups of girls in their late teens.

Since then, my research interests have centred on gender constructions, particularly in relation to youth and femininity, but I have also focused on how gender is created in relation to other power structures in society, such as sexuality, class and age. For example, based on queer and post-structuralist theory, I have studied how notions of the normal girl must be understood in relation to constructions of class and sexuality. My interest in queer theory has also resulted in an introductory book on queer theory and activism, “Vad är queer?” [What is queer?] (Natur & Kultur 2006).

While the thesis dealt with normalisation processes among high school girls, another focus has been to investigate how gender is created at a younger age. The project “Genusskapande och normaliseringsprocesser” [Gender formation and normalisation processes] (funded by Fas/Forte) focused mainly on how parents of young children discuss and act around their children with regard to gender. The project resulted in the book “Rosa – den farliga färgen” [Pink – the dangerous colour] (Ordfront 2011), in which I discuss contemporary conceptions of femininity, class, sexuality and age, based on attitudes of preschool children, queer youth and parents of young children towards the loaded colour pink.

The relationship between age, aging and normative life scripts on the one hand – and sexuality, family formation and gender on the other – has been the focus of another project of mine, where I studied how young LGBTQ people (20-30 years old) challenge, renegotiate and relate to the majority society. The project is part of a larger study called “Queerkids, baby-butchar och lesbianer. Livsvillkor och motståndsstratregier bland två generationer hbt-kvinnor” [Queer kids, baby butches and lesbians: Living conditions and resistance strategies among two generations of LBT women] (funded by Fas/Forte), which is conducted in collaboration with gender studies scholar Janne Bromseth.  The intention has been to compare young queer activists with older lesbian women and transgender people in order to see how constructions of gender and sexuality change with time, age and generation. The study has resulted in, for example, the anthology ”Livslinjer. Berättelser om ålder, genus och sexualitet” [Lifelines: Stories about age, gender and sexuality] (Makadam 2010).

Currently, I am conducting a study called “Städa, städa, varje fredag? Städning som symbol och praktik i det samtida Sverige” [Clean, clean every Friday? Cleaning as symbol and practice in contemporary Sweden]. Based on observations of and interviews with people about their everyday experiences of cleaning, and inspired both by feminist research on care work and classical anthropological theories of purity and impurity, I am interested in questions regarding the essence of cleaning: what kind of chore is cleaning, what does it mean to people’s lives, how is it organised in practice, and what is perceived as a clean or dirty home, respectively? Ultimately, I want to explore why cleaning – the caring of material objects – is so poorly valued and what this tells us about how society is organised.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Book Rosa
    2011. Fanny Ambjörnsson.
  • 2018. Fanny Ambjörnsson.
  • 2016. Fanny Ambjörnsson.
  • 2020. Fanny Ambjörnsson, Ingeborg Svensson. Vulnerability in Scandinavian art and culture, 195-219

    Ambjörnsson and Svensson analyse a group of queer feminist activists watching the reality show Paradise Hotel. Inspired by the feminist research tradition’s interest in consumers, the reality TV format is understood as a genre centred on intervention, participation and emotionality, rather than merely representation. Following Sara Ahmed’s thoughts on orientation, the viewers’ emotional reactions of approaching and distancing themselves from the programme are used to investigate various ways of handling and managing vulnerability. This is achieved through localizing a specific queer feminist viewing position, where the viewers’ feminist identification with female subordination is combined with a camp attitude towards the despised and failed. Thus, through embracing and exposing themselves to the hyperbolic, exaggerated, shameless and sometimes sexist and homophobic representations in the programme, they simultaneously negotiate marginalization, subordination, a longing for inclusion in mainstream society and their own potential middle-class advantage.

  • Article Time to clean
    2019. Fanny Ambjörnsson. Sociologisk forskning 56 (3-4), 275-288

    Cleaning is a practice with low status. Most people single out cleaning as the least attractive of household chores and the people who clean as a profession are usually badly payed. This article is an attempt to discuss why these practices have such a bad reputation - in everyday life, in work, in popular culture and, not the least, in the feminist movement. Through ethnographic data primarily based on interviews, I investigate the historically imbedded meanings tied to practices of tidying up. Drawing on theories of queer temporality, I highlight what I want to call the temporality of cleaning - the repetitiveness and direction backwards and sideways instead of forward - as a possible answer. The circular practice of taking care of our physical remains remind us of our approaching death, rather than of progress, and thus generates feelings of anger and despair. But instead of ignoring or avoiding this reminder of another time, I argue for a feminist appraisal of the temporality of cleaning. In line with scholars within resistance studies who urge for a sensibility for the temporal aspects of everyday resistance, I propose that a feminist politics that puts cleaning at the center rather than in the margins would acknowledge our mutual dependency and co-living with the material world around us.

Show all publications by Fanny Ambjörnsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 22, 2021

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