Johanna Gondouin. Foto: Niklas Björling.

Johanna Gondouin


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Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Telephone 08-674 73 07
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E7
Room E 705
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I have a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Gothenburg University. As a literary scholar, I have specialized in modern prose fiction, especially swedish (the swedish 1960’s) and french (nouveau roman), narratology, modernism and modernity. My doctoral thesis deals with the relation between aesthetics, modernity and social interaction in swedish writer Per Olof Sundman’s work (Lundström, J. Terrängbeskrivning. P. O. Sundman, moderniteten och medmäniskan [Terrain Description: On P.O. Sundman, Modernity and the Human Other], Lund: Ellerströms, 2006).

Following my doctorate, I held a position as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department  of Media Studies (Section for Cinema Studies), Stockholm University, for the research project ”Robert Bresson, the Dardenne Brothers and Performative Realism” (funded by the Swedish Research Council), an intermedial and interdisciplinary study of narrative forms in modern prose fiction and cinema that continues my exploration of different types of filmic narration in literature. The project is focused on ”realism” and ”indexicality”,  two pivotal concepts in film theory with topical relevance for contemporary media culture, through the abounding presence of digital media, documentary narrative forms and performance aesthetics. Ultimately, the aim of this project is to contribute to the understanding of visual culture in a broader sense.


My areas of teaching are postcolonial feminist theory, intersectionality, feminist cultural studies and kinship studies.


Research interests: postcolonial feminist theory, critical whiteness studies, intersectionality, media studies, cultural studies, adoption studies, kinship studies.

I am currently working on the research project Mediating Global Motherhood. Gender, race and sexuality in swedish media representations of transnational surrogacy and transnational adoption (funded by the Swedish Research Council 2013-2015). My research deals the ongoing transformations of family and kinship in an age of new asssisted reproductive technologies and globalisation, thorough the lens of swedish media. By exploring the parallells to transnational adoption, this project contributes with a historical and global context for surrogacy which makes its ethical predicaments palpable. The project contributes to our understanding of how media cultures shape our perception of family, kinship and their relation to larger social and political contexs.  In the swedish context, both transnational adoption and transnational surrogacy are tightly connected to gender equality, sexual identity politics and whiteness, and particular attention is given to the distinctly intersectional dynamics of the swedish context.

Recent Publications
Gondouin, J. (forthcoming). ”Global Motherhood with a Feminist Twist. On Single Mother Adoption and White Feminity in a Swedish Media Context”, in Critical Kinship Studies: Kinship (Trans)Formed, eds. C. Kroløkke et al., Routledge.

Gondouin, J. (forthcoming). ”Reproducing Heteronormativity.
Gay Parenting and Surrogacy in Sweden”, in Transnationalising Reproduction: Third Party Conception in a Globalised World, eds. R. Ryan-Flood & J. Gunnarsson Payne.

Gondouin, J. (2012). ”Adoption, Surrogacy and Swedish Exceptionalism”, Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Journal, December 2012.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Johanna Gondouin. Critical Kinship Studies, 101-116

    Single mother adoptions form an influential discourse on transnationl adoption in  contemporary swedish media that this chapter sets out to eplore. What particular understandings of adoption does it construct, and what ideological work does it perform? Drawing on the concept of Global motherhood (Raka Shome 2011) I study how adoption articulates with idealized notions of feminity and whiteness.

    The investigation departs in the aftermath of the major debate on adoption that took place in the early 2000’s, to the present, including a film (Bombay Dreams 2004), a documentary (Min dotter från Kina, 2005), a publicity campaign (Nolltolerans mot rasism, 2010) and print media coverage of the adoption of celebrity Carola in 2012. Bringing together these different kinds of media formats illustrate how a number of recurrent themes central to this understanding of adoption appear across a range of texts.

    Two major discursive strategies are identified: victimisation and moralisation. Single adoptive mothers constitute a complex figure, both privileged (in relation to class and race) and marginalised (in relation to norms regarding family and kinship). However, these representations tend to place these women rather squarely among the latter. Victimisation allows for an understanding of adoption as a feminist question concerning the rights of single women to parenthood. Adoption by single mothers thus becomes a manifestation of Sweden as a feminist nation, in the same way that representations of male same sex couples turning to surrogacy serves as a manifestation of Sweden as an LGBT friendly nation. But adoption is also understod in terms of moral entitlement. Motherhood is presented as a question of moral skill rather than structural privilege. 

    This positioning as both victim and champion comes through as a specifically Swedish strategy for managing the global distribution of privilege and inequality that premise transnational adoption. In this process, white feminity is made the ideal manifestation of Swedish exceptionalism (Keskinen et al 2009).

  • 2014. Johanna Gondouin. Lambda Nordica 19 (3-4), 109-139

    Artikeln undersöker representationen av surrogatmödraskap i dokumentärfilmserien Barn till varje pris? (SVT1, 2011), där ett svenskt manligt samkönat par anlitar en surrogatmamma i Indien. Framställningen är emblematisk för den svenska mediedebatten och illustrerar de komplexa maktrelationer som transnationellt kommersiellt surrogatmödraskap ofta är förknippat med.

    Min utgångspunkt är rollen som känslor spelar i serien: kärlek och sårbarhet har avgörande betydelse för hur surrogatmödraskap framställs, men de är ojämnt fördelade. De blivande föräldrarna skildras som sårbara och drivna av kärlek, medan surrogatmamman framställs som rationell och påfallande känslolös och distanserad. Vad skapar detta för bild av surrogatmödraskap? Hur framförhandlas det svenska bögparets reproduktiva sårbarhet (Riggs och Due 2013) i relation till den indiska surrogatmammans sårbarhet?

    Jag argumenterar för att kärlek och sårbarhet fungerar som individualitetsteknologier (Pantti och van Zoonen 2006) som skyler över de etiska och politiska utmaningarna i kommersiellt transnationellt surrogatmödraskap. Här spelar även sanningsregimer kopplade till Reality-tv genren (Jerlsev 2004) en avgörande roll. Bilden av surrogatmamman analyseras med hjälp av en samtida postkolonial feministisk diskussion om surrogatmödraskap fokuserad på begreppet mänsklig värdighet och parallellerna mellan samtida surrogatkontrakt och indiskt kontraktsarbete under kolonialtiden (Vora 2012). Jag menar att den inkludering av queerhet i en heteronormativ familjemodell som sker i serien blir möjlig genom exkluderandet av den rasifierade, kvinnliga Andra. Dessutom visar jag hur dokumentärseriens ojämna fördelning av kärlek och sårbarhet utför en typ av grundläggande politiskt arbete nödvändigt för att reproducera koloniala värdesystem som bas för den snabbt expanderande globala marknaden för reproduktivt och affektivt arbete.


  • 2012. Johanna Gondouin. Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Journal 8 (2), 1-20

    This article deals with the current discussion on transnational surrogacy and adoption in Sweden. The ethical problems pertaining to new assisted reproductive technologies (ART) that are now the subject of intense debate share common ground with the predicaments of transnational adoption, but this is seldom recognized. By bringing these reproductive methods together, this article sets out to discuss the decidedly intersectional character of the new reproduction, analyzed in terms of ”stratified reproduction” (Colen 1995). One parallel that this article considers is the association in Sweden of both adoption and surrogacy with the struggle for gay rights. RFSL (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) is a driving force in the present political rapprochement to surrogacy. This echoes the situation ten years ago when the opening up of Swedish adoptive legislation to same-sex couples coincided with a turbulent debate on adoption. The article examines the intersectional dynamics that characterize the Swedish context, according to which different power relations are played out against each other. Another aspect that is focused on is how the discussion on transnational adoption and surrogacy expose ”Swedish exceptionalism”, a concept designating a widespread belief of Sweden as untouched by colonial legacies, positing Swedish whiteness as innocent regarding racial matters. The television series Barn till varje pris? (Children at all Costs?, 2011) will be analyzed as a case in point. Through this example I will examine the mediational aspects of the Swedish discussion, in which film and television play key roles.

Show all publications by Johanna Gondouin at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 9, 2018

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