Cecilia Åse


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Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Telephone 08-674 73 32
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E7
Room E 702
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm

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:


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Cecilia Åse, Maria Wendt.

    What does military sacrifice mean in today’s globalised world? For what ethical principles and beliefs are citizens prepared to die and to sacrifice their loved ones? In present-day security discourses emphasising human rights and an international responsibility to protect, traditional masculinised obligations to die for the homeland and its women and children are challenged and renegotiated. Working from a critical feminist perspective, the authors examine the political and societal justifications for sacrifice in wars motivated by post-national and humanitarian values. This volume provides original empirical research from six European countries, demonstrating how gendered and nationalistic representations saturate contemporary notions of sacrifice and legitimate military violence. A key argument is that a gender perspective is necessary in order to understand, and to oppose, the idea of the honourable military death.

    Bringing together a wide range of materials – including public debates, rituals, monuments and artwork – to analyse the justifications for soldiers’ deaths in the Afghanistan war (2001–2014), the analysis challenges methodological nationalism. The authors develop a feminist comparative methodology and engage in cross-country and transdisciplinary analysis. This innovative approach generates new understandings of the ways in which both the idealisation and political contestation of military violence depend on gendered national narratives.

  • 2018. Cecilia Åse, Maria Wendt. Cooperation and Conflict 53 (1), 23-41

    During the 20th century, wars were fought primarily in the name of protecting the homeland.Making the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ was a national masculine duty and a key feature of military heroism.Today, human rights and international values justify war-making and legitimise military action.In one of these post-national wars, the International Security Assistance Force operation inAfghanistan, more than 700 European soldiers have lost their lives. How have these deaths beenlegitimised, and how has the new security discourse affected notions of masculinised heroism andsacrifice? This article investigates how the dimensions of national/international and masculinity/femininity are negotiated in media narratives of heroism and sacrifice in Denmark and Sweden.Regarding scholarly discussions on the professionalisation, individualisation and domesticationof military heroism, the empirical analysis demonstrates that the Danish/Swedish nationremains posited as the core context for military heroism and sacrifice. In the media narratives,professionalism is represented as an expression of specific national qualities. The media narrativesconflate nation and family and represent military heroes as distinctively masculine and nationalfigures. It is argued that a family trope has become vital in present-day hero narratives. This tropeis disposed towards collective emotions, national loyalty and conservative gender ideals.

  • 2017. Maria Wendt, Cecilia Åse. Politik och kön, 239-250
  • 2016. Maria Wendt, Cecilia Åse. Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift 118 (3), 359-388

    Five Swedish soldiers lost their lives in Sweden’s military operation in Afghanistan (2002–2014). When citizens are killed in battle, justification of the individual sac-rifice becomes essential. For which values/for whom can the democratic state require its citizens to risk their lives? The purpose of this article is to analyse ideas and representations that support public discourse and constructions of meaning connected to the Swedish losses. The democratic implications of these construc-tions are also discussed. The results show that specific notions of gender and nation are central in the discourse. These notions limit what political positions and atti-tudes that become possible. National historical genealogies, as well as gender ide-als and family norms, frame military operations as “natural” and existential rather than political. Discourse is marked by emotions rather than by debate and delib-eration. The democratic discussion of military casualties and war-making is thereby constrained and critical perspectives become difficult to formulate.

  • Article Ship of shame
    2016. Cecilia Åse. Journal of Cold War Studies 18 (1), 112-132

    This article demonstrates that the concepts of gender and nation illuminate the Swedish-Soviet submarine crisis in February 1981, when a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine was stranded for ten days in the Swedish archipelago. The crisis challenged both the Swedish armed forces’ status as protectors of the national territory and the government's foreign policy doctrine of neutrality. The article analyzes Swedish media from 1981 to identify the interpretive frames, with a particular emphasis on emotions and body imagery. Gendered notions of protection permeated the crisis narratives. Male bodies embodied national and military agency, whereas women's bodies symbolically merged with the Swedish nation's territory. The Soviet intruders were disparaged and Swedish military prestige redeemed through gendered and corporeal representations. The article improves our understanding of the way the Swedish ideal of the neutral soldier and the foreign policy doctrine of neutrality incorporated gender.

  • 2015. Cecilia Åse. International feminist journal of politics 17 (4), 595-610

    Stockholm syndrome, or captor-bonding, is a psychological crisis response to which women are considered especially susceptible. The term was coined in connection with a 1973 hostage situation in Stockholm, Sweden. I argue that the syndrome originally indicated a crisis of state authority. The conception of Stockholm syndrome projected a crisis of the legitimate state onto the women hostages and reinforced connections between state protection, masculinity and physical force. Crisis narratives specifically targeted the women's agency, and the state's protector status was restored by gendering dependency and victimhood. The particular circumstances of the original Stockholm incident were a prerequisite for the syndrome's appearance and continue to inform common understandings and scholarly writing on the syndrome. When crisis discourse appropriates the Stockholm syndrome, a unitary perspective and gendered foundations of state power are reinforced. Possibilities of divergent perspectives and counter-discourses, which are critical to feminist interventions into crisis narratives, are thereby diminished.

  • 2014. Cecilia Åse.
Show all publications by Cecilia Åse at Stockholm University

Last updated: June 8, 2020

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