Humtank Think Tank Awards Swedish Women Online (SWO) Annual Prize
Lisbeth Larsson and Maria Sjöberg from the University of Gothenburg have been awarded the 2018 Humtank prize for their development of the Swedish Women Online (SWO) dictionary. SWO is a free online biographical dictionary of historically important Swedish women. It is published in both Swedish and English.
‘SWO has in a very innovative way brought attention to 1 000 historically important Swedish women and has therefore helped to fill the female gaps in the country’s written history. The database is easy to use and offers a convenient way to learn more about women who have made a true difference in their respective fields,’ says Roine Viklund from the Humtank think tank.
The importance of the humanities
Every year, Humtank awards a prize to a scholar who in some way has promoted the importance of the humanities in society. This year’s awardees Lisbeth Larsson and Maria Sjöberg have led the development of SWO, but are eager to point out that the database is the result of persistent teamwork.
‘Although Lisbeth has pushed the idea of a biographical dictionary of women for several decades, and therefore should be given more credit than others, we need to remember that SWO is the fruit of collaboration between our respective departments, the Swedish Language Bank, the Humanities Library at the University of Gothenburg and various experts from around the country. The about 380 authors of the 1 000 biographical articles included in the dictionary have made some invaluable contributions,’ says Sjöberg, professor of history.
Will lead to further research contributions
According to Larsson, professor of literary studies with a focus on gender issues, the prize is a token of recognition of gender studies as a research field.
‘SWO also points to the vast expertise that has emerged in the field and that has made it possible for us to jointly create a research infrastructure that will lead to further research contributions and also yield more knowledge about the conditions women face in society and women’s contributions to society's development,’ she says.
A further expansion wanted
The project team has applied for funds to further develop the database, but nothing has materialised so far.
‘Since the launch of the dictionary in March this year, the value of and need for SWO have been expressed in numerous very positive emails sent to the editors, and the senders of the messages also want to see a further expansion in the future,’ says Sjöberg.
Humtank is a think tank for education and research in the humanities resulting from a collaboration between relevant faculties at 15 Swedish universities. The think tank was formed in 2014 with an aim to strengthen the role of the humanities in both academia and society at large. This is the fourth time the annual Humtank prize is awarded to ‘a scholar who has made particularly strong contributions to the promotion of the importance of the humanities in society.’
The Swedish Women Online (SWO) dictionary (www.skbl.se) was launched 8 March this year. The free online dictionary presents 1 000 women and their contributions in Swedish society from the Middle Ages to the present. The texts are available in both Swedish and English.
According to the award jury: ‘The awardees have brought attention to 1 000 Swedish women and their contributions in science, politics and the arts from the Middle Ages to the present in a particularly effective way. Larsson and Sjöberg have not stopped at merely pointing out that the featured women are missing in existing biographical texts. They have also revised the very origins of this absence by rewriting the source material. In a project funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the awardees have gathered material about oftentimes neglected women and their contributions in a database published in both Swedish and English. The database has been made available to both researchers and the public both in Sweden and internationally. Swedish Women Online has led to the development of new perspectives on Swedish history, which in turn contributes to a both wider and deeper understanding of the people who have lived before us but who are also having an impact on us today. Swedish Women Online is a welcome contribution that has greatly helped to fill the female gaps in the country’s written history.’
The jury consisted of Petra Ragnerstam, associate professor of cultural studies at Malmö University, Sofia Wijkmark, associate professor of comparative literature at Karlstad University, and Roine Viklund, senior lecturer in history of technology at Luleå University of Technology.
The prize ceremony will be held in connection with a seminar arranged by Humtank in Gothenburg on Friday 28 September at 3–5 pm in room T302 of the Gamla hovrätten building, University of Gothenburg.
Lisbeth Larsson, professor of literary studies with a focus on gender issues, the University of Gothenburg:
firstname.lastname@example.org, +46 (0)708 16 30 58
Maria Sjöberg, professor of history, University of Gothenburg:
email@example.com, +46 (0)709 35 37 39
Roine Viklund, in charge of the Humtank prize:
firstname.lastname@example.org, 0920-49 16 50
Photo of Lisbeth Larsson: Johan Wingborg
Photo of Maria Sjöberg: Anders Simonsen