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Diagnosis and Identity: Contextualizing Discourses on Intersex in Sweden and the U.S.

Research project
Avslutad forskning
Project owner
Department of Cultural Sciences

Short description

The project explores discourses on intersex, and the differences between the Swedish and the U.S. context. Departing from a sociological perspective on science questions are: Which actors are identified as relevant when discussing intersex? How, and by whom, is the phenomena of intersex constructed as a medical, social and ethical problem? Scholars have identified three key actors in the U.S. context: physicians, patient-oriented support and activist groups, and feminist scholars with a critical perspective on medical discourses on sex and gender identity. There are few studies on Swedish material, and those done lack the comparative perspective. This lack in the critical, social studies of science concerning the Swedish medical discourse on intersex is the starting point of the project.

”Diagnosis and Identity” explores discourses on atypical sex development or what is often referred to as “intersex”, and the differences between the Swedish and the U.S. context. The project focuses on issues arising from a sociological perspective on science: Which actors are identified as relevant when discussing intersex? How, and by whom, is the phenomena of intersex constructed as a medical, social and ethical problem to be solved? What is thought to be legitimate reasons for medical treatment in general and surgical treatment in particular? Scholars like Iain Morland, Morgan Holmes and Anne Fausto-Sterling have identified three key actors in the U.S. context: practising physicians, patient-oriented support and activist groups, and feminist scholars with a critical perspective on medical discourses on sex and gender identity. There are few studies on Swedish material, and those done lack the comparative perspective. This lack in the critical, social studies of science concerning the Swedish medical discourse on intersex is the starting point of ”Diagnosis and Identity”. The material consists of texts produced by the three key actors (research articles, textbooks, constitution documents for organisations, etc.) and complementary interviews.