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Cecilia Åse

About me

I'am a political scientist and professor in gender studies at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies at Stockholm University. My publications include several books on gender and nationalism and on feminist theory and methodology.  I have also done extensive work on the gendered institution of the Swedish constitutional monarchy. My work on gendered protection, war-making, and crisis narratives appears in International Feminist Journal of Politics, Cooperation and Conflict, and Journal of Cold War Studies. I have recently publiched the volume Gendering Military Sacrifice. A Feminist Comparative Analysis (Routledge 2019, with Maria Wendt)

My research intresests include gender, sexualities, and war/security; in particular topics concerned with the politics of gendered protection. Other interests are gender and hertigization processes, and gendered cultural memories and the Cold War. 

My ongoing reseach in the project "Making a Military Heritage. Gender and Nation in Sweden's Cold War History" is presented here:

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Gender, memories and national security

    2021. Cecilia Åse, Maria Wendt. International feminist journal of politics


    Cold War military remnants and experiences have recently been turned into museums and tourist attractions in many European countries. Recognizing such memory making as essentially political, we examine the role of gender and sexuality in the making of a Cold War military heritage. Combining critical feminist and intersectional Cold War research with gender perspectives on military memory, this article contributes to feminist conceptualizations of the relationship between gendered security and the production of memory. By highlighting narratives and spatial, visual, and acoustic arrangements, we investigate state-sponsored museum displays of two national security crises in the Swedish context: the 1952 Soviet downing of a DC-3 airplane and the submarine hunts in the Baltic Sea in the early 1980s. The analysis reveals how gender works to construct a geopolitical outlook, enable emotional identifications, and restore national order. Heterosexuality and hierarchical gender norms emerge as prerequisites for national security. We argue that when visitors are encouraged to feel gendered national security, opportunities to critically reflect upon Cold War histories decrease, promoting the depoliticization of security politics and militarism.

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  • Gendering the military past

    2021. Maria Wendt, Cecilia Åse. Cooperation and Conflict


    This article showcases how a feminist perspective provides novel insights into the relations between military heritage/history and national security politics. We argue that analysing how gender and sexualities operate at military heritage sites reveals how these operations dis/encourage particular understandings of security and limit the range of acceptable national protection policies. Two recent initiatives to preserve the military heritage of the Cold War period in Sweden are examined: the Cold War exhibits at Air Force Museum in Linköping and the redevelopment of a formerly sealed off military compound at Bungenäs, where bunkers have been remade into exclusive summer homes. By combining feminist international relations and critical heritage studies, we unpack the material, affective and embodied underpinnings of security produced at military heritage sites. A key conclusion is that the way heritagization incorporates the ‘naturalness’ of the gender binary and heterosexuality makes conceptualizing security without territory, or territory without military protection, inaccessible. The gendering of emotions and architectural and spatial arrangements supports historical narratives that privilege masculine protection and reinforce a taken-for-granted nativist community. A feminist analysis of military heritage highlights how gender and sexualities restrict security imaginaries; that is, understandings of what is conceivable as security.

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  • Rationalizing military death

    2020. Cecilia Åse. Critical Military Studies


    How do state monuments secure public consent to war efforts? This article examines the official military monuments constructed in Berlin in 2009 and Stockholm in 2013 in reaction to Germany’s and Sweden’s participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (2001–2014). Monuments express powerful truth claims and participate in the reproduction and transformation of war-justificatory narratives. By comparing the Berlin and Stockholm monuments, the article demonstrates their engagement with national identities and historical experience and their management of gendered military ideals. The Swedish monument Restare by sculptor Monica Dennis Larsen is white and human-sized, has an organic shape and sits in a pastoral setting, while architect Andreas Meck’s massive and austere German Ehrenmal der Bundeswehr is strictly rectangular and placed near military buildings. The article’s comparative analysis foregrounds the planning, names and dedications, locations, and designs of the monuments and the specific ways that they address individual death. A central conclusion is that these monuments repress gendered war histories and the masculinization of the armed forces. Restare disallows Sweden’s historical experience of gendered militarization and bolsters the country’s peace identity so that contemporary military violence appears publicly acceptable. The Bundeswehr monument forestalls linkages between Germany’s contemporary military identity and the country’s history of authoritarian regimes. By invoking neither military masculinity nor the feminized homeland, the monument orchestrates the separation of contemporary military activity from that in the German past.

    Read more about Rationalizing military death

Show all publications by Cecilia Åse at Stockholm University