Erika Alm

Assistant Dean

Faculty of Humanities
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41255 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

Senior Lecturer

Gender Studies Unit
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
412 55 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
405 30 Göteborg

About Erika Alm

Academic background and research interests

I am associate professor (docent) in Gender Studies and the Associate Dean for Education at the Faculty of Humanities. I earned my Ph.D. in History of Ideas in 2006, from University of Gothenburg. My dissertation reconstructs the discourses on sex, gender, and desire, analyzing understandings of individual autonomy and public interest as formulated and generated in the Swedish legislation on gender reassignment, abortion and sterilization, set in the 1960:ies and 1970:ies. My investment in feminist theory and body politics informed my postdoctoral project, placed at Umeå Centre for Gender Studies, Umeå University (2009-2011). The project focused on contemporary discourses on atypical sex development (in activist nomenclature known as intersex) in Sweden and the U.S. Influenced by actor-network theory, feminist materialism, queer theory and intersex theory I studied the ethical implications of the controversies (scientific and otherwise) generated by the reformation of the medical management of intersex from the early 1990:ies and onwards. Being a scholar with an engagement in issues of a social and cultural disciplining of non-normative expressions of sex and gender I am part of the on-going critical evaluation of such practices articulated by trans* and intersex activists. I consider my scholarly work part of an activist network of strategies for change, and think that one of the most important tasks I have been given as an academic is to communicate the insights of my research in contexts outside of academia. I give lectures open to the public, featured in media, and have been active as an ally in trans and activist organization.

Current research Make/ing room for living: Organizational strategies in transgender activism (2013-2015, funding through Vetenskapsrådet) has allowed me to expand the geographical scope and explore different strategies taken by trans* activists in organizing activist work, with case-studies in Pakistan, the U.S. and Sweden. I am interested in the interactions and entanglements of space-specific strategies and transnational discourses. During February 2013 and November 2015 I did fieldwork in Pakistan, interviewing trans* activists and their allies.

Futures of Genders and Sexualities: Cultural products, transnational spaces and emerging communities (2015-2020, funding through Vetenskapsrådet): in this project the research group (consisting of 9 researchers) follow three travelling cultural products – the veil, entangeled in discourses on religion – the rainbow flag, associated with liberalism, progressiveness and secularism – and manga, articulated as a postsecular phenomena with its relation to Buddhism, Christian iconography, and mythical figurations. The aim of the project is to study the function of these cultural products in the creation of transnational imagined communities of belonging, creations that, intentionally or unintentionally, reiterate, resist or recast gender and sexuality norms.

Pedagogic approach and profile My pedagogical and research work feeds off one another. I have taught on all levels in History of Ideas, Gender Studies and Cultural Studies. A large portion of the teaching has been carried out on interdisciplinary courses and on courses offered at other faculties than the Faculty of Arts; most of which were taught in English. I have supervised more than 70 students on under-graduate and graduate level, all of which have passed examination. As a teacher, program coordinator for the international, interdisciplinary master’s program Gendering Practices (2012-2015) and the associate head of education at the department of Cultural Sciences (2012-2014, 2020-2021) I have gathered extensive experience of course administration and a grounded pedagogical approach to teaching. During the fall of 2014 I was one of the fellows in STINT’s exchange program Teaching Sabbatical (Teaching Sabbatical, STINT), with placement at the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Ohio State University, Columbus, USA ( My stay at WGSS allowed me to develop a course closely related to my research, “Critical Perspectives on Cisnormativity”. To be paired with a group of students with very diverse backgrounds, many with experiences of activist work, all committed to making a critical intervention into structural cisnormativity ­ was a gift and a challenge. As a class we investigated context-specific expressions of cisnormativity and how they are structured by sexism, racism, colonialism and ableism. We discussed how geopolitically specific conditions, like legal recognition and access to medical health care, interact with transnational ones, like neoliberal discourses on human rights.

Throughout my years of teaching, I have come to navigate more exclusively towards interdisciplinary teaching milieus. During the years as a postdoctoral fellow I had the opportunity to design and teach a doctoral course on material feminism with Naomi Scheman (professor of Philosophy, University of Minnesota, U.S.A.). Some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of teaching have been in interaction with practitioners and students aspiring to be professionals in the health care sector (medical students, aspiring physical therapists, speech therapists, public health students etc). I been invited to hold lectures to clinicians (for example at the annual conference of the Swedish association of gynecologists), and I have participated in a doctoral course for Ph.D. students of medicine, biology and public health. For me these interactions with practitioners are a great source of theoretical and methodological inspiration when it comes to my research, and I have co-written pieces with some of the people I have met through my interdisciplinary teaching activities.