Helena Holgersson

Senior Lecturer

Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41255 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
405 30 Göteborg

About Helena Holgersson

Helena Holgersson, senior lecturer in cultural studies. In 2011 she defended her PhD thesis in Sociology, Icke-medborgarskapets urbana geografi (The Urban Geography of Non-citizenship), in which she investigated how undocumented migrants in Gothenburg organize their lives and navigate in public spaces, and how the municipality deal with their presence. After her PhD she has kept researching urban inequalities with ethnographic methods, but moved towards gentrification studies and, in recent years, working conditions in the field of independent performing arts. Since 2021 she is a member of the Faculty Board.

Ongoing Research Project

For whom is the city built? A study of goal conflicts, migration patterns and living conditions in the densified city. (Project leader: Catharina Thörn, Formas 2018-23)

This study analyses how the housing market, with rising socio-economic segregation, is affected by municipal policy to use urban development to foster social sustainability and equality. The focus on Gothenburg is motivated by the city’s implementation of an exceptionally vigorous housing construction programme. The plans contain overarching objectives to use urban development to both strengthen the city’s economic competitiveness and to foster equality. International research has shown there is tension between these two objectives and in this study we will analyse how potential goal conflicts are managed locally and what consequences the prioritisations have for the design of city districts, the living conditions of current residents and social stratification of the city as a whole. In her ethnographic sub-study, Helena put focus on how low-income residents in the areas Frölunda and Gamlestaden experience the upgrading of their neighbourhood.

Expansion and Diversity: Digitally mapping and exploring independent performance in Gothenburg 1965-2000 (Project leader: Astrid von Rosen, VR 2018-2022)

The project takes on the urgent challenge of accounting for diversity in late 20th century performing arts history. By mapping and analysing performing arts outside the institutions in Gothenburg 1965-2000 the project acknowledges a cultural heritage at risk of disappearing. Combining new information technologies with participatory approaches, urban sociology and humanistic research, the project creates inclusive ways of representing performing arts previously excluded from archives and history. Having funded digitization and accessibility of Gothenburg daily papers 1965-2000, the project opens up innovative research possibilities for changing the image of many diverse cultural histories and people. Collaborative partners are the National Library, the National Archives, the Gothenburg Museum as well as independent archives and agents. In her work in the project, Helena focuses on cultural policies and the working conditions in the field.


Helena teaches at the undergraduate’s program Culture and the master’s program Culture and Democracy. She is the course leader of the modules KP1200 Culture and Democracy – Gentrification, KD2120 Voices, texts and interpretations and KD2130 Public Conversations in Practice. She is a partner in the EUTOPIA Learning Unit Creative Methods, led by Hannah Jones at University of Warwick. Together with Hannah Jones she is also conducting a small comparative research project on teaching on racism in Sweden and the UK.


Throughout her academic career Helena has had an interest in art-based research. As a PhD student she participated, together with photographer Karin Grip, in the art exhibition Let there be light (Luleå art hall 2006, curator Meira Ahmemulic). As a PhD student, and then as a researcher, she made interviews in three documentary theatre projects by dramatist Mattias Andersson – The Mental States och Gothenburg (Angered Teater 2006), Utopia 2012 (Backa Theatre 2012) och The Mental States of Sweden (The Royal Dramatic Theatre 2013). In her previous research project “Urban development as ‘city branding’, gentrification and enchantment engineering: The case of Central River City” she worked with photographer Katarina Despotovic. In her recent article “The sociological craft through the lens of theatre: A call for imaginsative social research” (Sociologisk forskning 2021) she argues for such collaborations.